Muslim families are at the crossroads today. The Western model is not a suitable pattern for the family life. Its style of family life has resulted in conjugal infidelity, large scale marriage breakdown, high rates of divorces, separations, broken homes, alcoholism, drug addiction, libertinism and the like.
Those who blindly mimic Western model, exploit their women to such an extent that the latter are made mere sex objectives. The only solution to the Muslim family’s predicament is maintenance of Islamic family values. Islam builds the family on solid grounds, which are capable of providing continuity, security, mutual love and intimacy.
With a view to making the foundations of the family strong and natural, Islam not only recognizes but also lays emphasis on marriage, which is a wholesome pattern of lawful intimacy harmoniously blended with decency, morality and gratification.
Marriage and the family are the focal point in the Islamic system. There are many verses in the Qur’an and many statements of the Prophet (Pbuh), which declare marriage to be a moral safeguard and a religio-social commitment. For example, in the Surah Nissa, Allah calls upon mankind to be dutiful to Him, who created them from it, created its mate and from the two of them scattered abroad many men and women.
The Qur’an says that Allah has created for you from among yourselves mates to seek mutual love and mercy. The Noble Prophet (Pbuh) is reported to have said: “Marriage is my Sunnah; who so violates my Sunnah is not one among us.”
The aim of the Muslim family must be worship of Allah, as marriage is considered to be yet another form of Ibadah. If the aim of the family is carnal satisfaction or worldly gains, then the family institution fails miserably.
The responsibility of the family does not revolve solely on the husband or the wife or on children or grand-children. It is a collective responsibility on all of them together and even beyond that to the previous generation of grand-parents.
A family can be a Muslim family, only if parents behave correctly and follow the Sunnah. If they do not live in accordance with the Sunnah, they have no right to hope or expect their children to be good Muslims. As you sow, so you reap.
Cultivation of Islamic values is essential in a Muslim family and they should not only be cultivated but also nurtured. Our likes and dislikes, our conception of nice and vulgar, good and neat and chaotic, etc., must be in conformity with the Sunnah, for the Prophet (Pbuh) is reported to have said: “The one among you does not believe unless his own desires and likings are in conformity with what I have brought.” Remember this applies to personal habits, dress, food manners, etc.,
For the preservation and maintenance of the Muslim family there must be instilled in its members a strong sense of belonging to the Muslim Ummah. The family is not an individual entity; it is a social aspect and so must be strengthened.
A Muslim family must socialize with other Muslim families. Parents must, no doubt, avoid corrupt people and refrain from socializing in sick environment and also see to it that their children avoid corrupt people and refrain from socializing in sick environments.
At the same time, they must provide better alternatives and there can be no better alternative then befriending good Muslims, especially Ulemas.
These are some ways of promoting and preserving the Muslim family. In conclusion, I fervently appeal to my fellow-religionists to remain continuously conscious and creative about the Islamic aspects. Educated Muslims must apply the Islamic concepts; “think”, contemplate”, “look”, “realize”, “know”, “become wise”, “reason”, etc., on the Muslim society, and help in transformation of the Qur’anic and Prophetic concepts of the family into our daily life.
From the viewpoint of Islam, a good wife is considered to be the best thing in the world. This accords her a special position, and places responsibility on the husband to treat her according to this elevated position. The role of the wife in the marriage is extremely important, indeed it is the decisive factor.
Wives must do their best to keep their husbands pleased with them. The ideal wife combines in herself three merits; she pleases her husband when he sees her, by taking care to appear beautiful before him; she obeys him when he gives a command; she does not go against his wishes regarding her person or property.
To refuse to go with her husband when he calls her to bed is a grave mistake that a wife must avoid.
When a wife intends to fast voluntarily, she may do so only with her husband’s permission. If she does not receive his permission, then he has the right to make her break her fast when she is observing it. The reason for this is that he might wish to exercise his conjugal rights with her, which he cannot do if she is fasting with his permission.
It is a wife’s duty not to allow anyone, that her husband does not want, to enter the house without his permission. She may not give anything away of her husband’s property without his permission. She should avoid asking a husband for extra money, or for that which he does not possess and cannot provide, and she should show gratitude for whatever is given.
A good wife is one who is true to her husband’s word if he adjures her to do something. On a husband’s return home, a wife should receive him kindly and meet him with a good and beautiful appearance. She should try not to neglect her husband’s needs nor ignore his demands. The more a wife takes care of her husband, the more she will be loved. Most husbands consider their wives care of them as an expression of their love.
A wife should discuss family problems with her husband to alleviate any later problems or misunderstandings. It is for her to hold her husband’s close relatives in respect and treat them kindly, which is a mark of respect and honour for the husband.
Leaving the house frequently is a bad habit for a woman. She should also not leave the house if her husband objects to her doing so. She does not have the right to lend anything of her husband’s property against his wishes. However, she can lend from her own property.
If a husband’s friends enquire about him, a wife should answer them but without indulging in lengthy conversation. Too many arguments and disputes with a husband, heaping abuse on him, leads, in fact, to hatred and deterioration of the relationship. Taking care of the house and running the household are the wife’s responsibility.
If the husband gives his wife permission to go out to work, this should not be seen as a licence to equality. In fact, the issue of also producing income to the households is something which might later act as a dividing factor between husband and wife. If the wife works outside the house, her income is entirely hers to do with, as she pleases. Her husband has no right over it. If she prefers not to work, she must be satisfied with the level of comforts her husband can provide on his income and not pose unreasonable demands on him.
A wife may not give alms from her husband’s property without his permission. Speaking to or telling others about sexual matters between a husband and wife is a grave sin in Islam. This applies to both parties. She should not be afraid to express her love and affection for her husband. It will please him and bind him closer to the family; Moreover, if he does not find an attractive, loving woman at home, he may be driven for solace elsewhere, outside the home.
Leadership in the family is given to the husband. For the wife to demand complete and full equality with her husband will result in having two masters in the family and this does not exist in Islam. However, the husband should not behave in an autocratic manner and misuse his position. He should display love and affection and treat his wife as a partner in life. Marriage is a partnership of love, trust and mutual respect between two people. Its foundations are solidly established by Islam and exists as a sanctified castle, so to speak.
We have listed here the many and varied duties and acts of commission as well as omission by the wife. This does not imply that the husband has no reciprocal duties and obligations. On the contrary, his function within the marriage bond is equally important. However, one should bear in mind that marriage means understanding and behaving tenderly towards one’s partner. It is a partnership of give and take. (Courtesy Islamic Future)