The family is a part of the Islamic social order. The society that Islam wants to establish is a society based on social justice, liberating people from the worship of man to the freedom and liberation to worship their one true god. The Islamic society is based around the human nature, it works perfectly with human nature, it encourages all that the human desires but it lays out guidelines and establishes rights between people. Islam recognises the human sexual desires, so it facilitates the satisfying of such desires in a manner that is ideal. A manner which produces an ideological society, with a high level of moral awareness, strong commitment to the laws of Allah, and it closes the door of evil, sexual abuse, and any deviation in sexual matters. Islam encourages young people to get married and live their lives in halal, it also offers man the choice of marrying two, three, four or sticking with one. These are not obligations but are options and more importantly solutions to real practical problems of the day. Islam mandates that children are born inside of a marriage, as it is the right of the child to know his mother and father, and to be raised by both of them in the best of manners.
Importance of the Family in Islam
It is for these reasons that Islam places real importance on the family. This can be seen in:
- The Holy Qur’an, in chapter “At-Talaq” [Divorce] addressing family matters.
- The Holy Qur’an, in chapter ”Al-Mujadalah” [The Dispute] which comprises of solutions to family problems.
- The Prophet Muhammad encourages the youth to marry young and if they are unable then to fast.
- The explaining of the rights and duties of every member of the family. Allah says: “Divorced women should wait for three menstrual cycles, it is lawful for them, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day, to hide what Allah has created in their wombs. Their husbands have the right to take them back within that time, if they desire to be reconciled. The wives have rights corresponding to those which the husbands have, according to what is recognised to be fair, but men have a rank above them. Allah is Al-Mighty and All Wise” [2:228]
- Managing family conflicts by following the divine teachings that require the couple to exercise patience. Allah lays out a step by step procedure to fix marital discord.
The legal objectives of the Muslim family
Marriage is the halaal way for both man and woman to satisfy their innate need for sex. The Prophet said: “O young people! Whoever among you is able to marry, should do so, and whoever is not able to marry, is to fast because fasting diminishes sexual desire” [Bukhari]
This contract of marriage completes a person’s faith, because this is how the Prophet defined marriage: He said “He who marries has completed half of his religion, so let him fear God with regard to the remaining half.”
To produce sound offspring that are aware of both parents and contribute positively to the society in which they live. The Prophet said: “Marry the loving, child bearing women for I shall have the largest number of followers among the prophets on the day of Resurrection.” [Imam Ahmed]. So, having children is an objective of marriage, one’s children will serve as an on going sadaqa even after the persons death. The Prophet Zakarriyah prayed to God the All Mighty for a child, saying “Do not leave me childless, You are the best of givers” [21:89]. In addition to that he said: “Lord, grant me by your own grace virtuous offspring. You are the hearer of all prayers.” [3:38]. So, one of the purposes of getting married is to produce righteous offspring, not just any offspring but god fearing offspring. The Prophet said: “choose well for your children and seek to marry the competent.”.
Another legal objective of marriage is to raise competent people to help build society through knowledge, work, promoting virtue and forbidding evil.
The family should produce individuals who are strong in their faith and of fine character. These people are then seen as role models by others. Families that follow the sunnah of the prophet Muhammad will surely result in producing great leading examples for others. It is the objective of the family to produce pleasing children and a good loyal wife. In addition to that, that the family produces offspring that will lead on to become leaders. Allah says: “Our Lord grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.” [25:74].
Islam places great emphasis on looking after the elderly, especially looking after ones old parents. The concept of care homes and neglecting elderly parents is unheard of in Islam. Rather, children compete amongst themselves to look after their aging parents as this consists of a lot of reward. So, in order to create that competitive environment where the youth want to take care of the parents, then families are needed to raise their children upon Islamic values. This is why Zakariyyah called upon Allah saying: “Now I fear my kinsmen when I’m gone. For my wife is barren, so grant me a successor from yourself, to be my successor and to be the heir of the House of Jacoub and make him o my Lord acceptable to you.” [19:5-6]. The Prophet said: “when a human being dies, his work comes to an end, except for three things: ongoing charity, knowledge by which people benefit from, or a pious son who prays for him”. [recorded by Bukhair].
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