ISLAM offers a complete code of life in every aspect of human existence. The concept of family in Islam was generated from the union of the very first human beings on this Earth, sent forth by the command of Allah – Adam and Eve. This event marked the beginning of the foundations of a family unit in Islam. In today’s world there seems to be an obvious pattern of anarchy, chaos and a discernable deterioration in the familial fabric. We have descended into a structure where silos are created within the same household. The family ties and bonding seem to be fading away into the everyday mayhem. The result is a disoriented and dysfunctional family system with debased values of the next generation or confused youths.
In Islam, family is the foundation of a harmonious setup conducive to furthering the divine cause. It is also the bedrock of a healthy society enriching from an economic and moral standpoint. The Holy Quran has already described the ideal men and women and the behaviour they are to exhibit as members of a believing family. Men who surrender to God, and men who believe and women who believe and men who obey and women who obey and men who persevere (in righteousness) and women who persevere, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who gives alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their modesty and women who guard their modesty, and men who remember God much and women who remember – God has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward”. [Q 33:35].
There is certainly equality in their statures and as responsible members of the society this is the direction in which each believer is expected to conduct themselves. Therefore, it emphasizes the characteristics to chisel in the children who would grow up to be the most obedient vicegerents of Allah. The concept of family is supreme in Islam. It has been divinely ordained. The Holy Quran says: “O Mankind, be conscious of your duty to your Lord, Who created you from single soul, created of like nature, his mate and from the two created and spread many men and women; and be mindful of your duty to God whose name you appeal to one another and to (the ties of) the womb. Verily God watches over You”. [Q 4:1].
The institution of family has been recommended as the manner of the prophets. The notion of family is at the heart of Islam’s defining guidelines. About one third of the injunctions in the Quran relate to the family life in one way or the other. The rights and obligations which govern the family life itself are those which propagate the right attitude and behavior which Allah has willed to be inculcated in a righteous society. The structure of family itself is holistic in the quality of relationships between husband and wife, children, kid and kith, older people and younger people in the family. Unlike the modern day ideas, Muslim family is not restricted to the nuclear setup but is an extension of many generations bound by brotherhood. The first and foremost obligation rests with the immediate family, i.e. the parents, spouse, children and then expands towards relatives, neighbors, friends and the entire Muslim Ummah around the world. The obligations and bonds are unbreakable and undeniable. This can be related to the incident of Prophet’s [PBUH] Hijrat to Medina when he established the beautiful bond of brotherhood between Muhajirs of Mecca and Ansaar of Medina. This relation was so powerful that whatever belongings the Ansaar had were shared whole heartedly with the Muhajir brothers.
The objective of family is to attain emotional, spiritual and mental comfort. The foundations of any family are cast in love, compassion, kindness, mercy, trust, faith, sacrifice and peace. Within the unit of family there resides compassion and emotional fulfillment in a marriage. With children it is the strongly grounded values and lofty morals which manifest itself in the most sound characters.
It is thus the family which carves the façade of the society’s personality as a whole. This is the reason as to why the Holy Prophet PBUH used to say that home is the best place in the world. The Holy Quran says: “And (one) of His signs is that He created for you, of yourselves, spouses so that you may console yourselves with them (and find rest and tranquility in them). He has set between you love and mercy”. [Q 30:21] the element of child bearing is only the first step, however what is most challenging and significantly demanding is the rearing of children and their upbringing. This process is replete with education, character building, grooming as responsible citizen of society who contributes to the welfare and growth of the humanity. It is due to this mammoth responsibility that the family unit becomes an institution which compares to none other in the surroundings. Also, it elicits an accountability which is serious in nature. The Quran clearly states: “O you who believe, strive to protect yourselves and your wives and children from the Fire”. [Q 44:6] One has to be utterly mindful of their responsibilities towards their spouse, children and parents. The Holy Quran says:
“Our Lord! Grant us in our spouses and our offspring the comfort of our eyes and make us a model for the heedful”. [Q 25:74] “My Lord! Make me keep up prayer and (also) let my offspring (do so). Our Lord, accept my appeal. Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents…..”[Q 14:40-41]. The Holy Prophet PBUH is reported to have said that every child is born into the fold of Islam, and it is his parents who transform him into a Christian, Jew or Magian. The Prophet PBUH said: “Of all that a father can give to his children, the best is their good education and training”. “And whosoever has cared for his three daughters or three sisters and given them a good education and training, treating them with kindness till God makes them stand on their own feet, by God’s grace he has earned for himself a place in paradise”. A believer’s first obligation is towards one’s children and younger siblings, however, the institution of family encompasses numerous relations, near ones and distant too. Care of one’s parents and of the weaker or poorer members of the family has been enjoined again and again by the Holy Book and the Prophet PBUH.
— The writer is a senior banker with interest in Religion.