The Stark Problem of Family Violence – How Does Islam Resolve It?
From the Islamic perspective, family violence is nothing but a violation and open transgression of Islamic teachings. Islam has admonished Muslims about their obligations towards their families.
By Ghulam Ghaus
The phenomenon of family violence is very deep-rooted. Every day, we seem to be bombarded by stories and news in the media about family violence. This violence occurs in the behaviour of a husband towards his wife and vice versa. In some cases, the parents and in others the children are depicted as victims of violence. Sometimes, the spark of violence extends to other family members, relatives, neighbours and co-citizens. By and large, almost everyone is confronted with family violence.
From the Islamic perspective, family violence is nothing but a violation and open transgression of Islamic teachings. Islam has admonished Muslims about their obligations towards their families. As a complete code and conduct of life, Islam has emphatically called them to exercise love, sympathy, tolerance, patience, peace, cooperation and respect in their family affairs. So, we Muslims as a family must keep in our minds the teachings Islam has taught us, so as to save ourselves from every kind of violence.
Islam forbids Violence and Calls for Love between Husband and Wife
One of the leading objectives of Islamic Shariah in legislating marriage is that love, friendship, peace and good ties of kinship prevail between the spouses. It is for this reason that Allah the Almighty ordered the husband to live with his wife lovingly and honourably. He says: “treat them (wives) honourably”. The context of the verse is about the duty of a husband towards his wife. In its broader understanding, treating wife honourably means prohibition of violence over a wife. So, a husband in Islam is not allowed to exercise violence over his wife.
In another verse, Allah the Almighty says, “Live with them in kindness; even if you dislike them, perhaps you dislike something in which Allah has placed much good” (Quran, 4:19).
Allah the Almighty has given equally balanced rights to the married couples in matter of living, expenses, caring, obedience and respect, as He the Almighty says, “Women too have rights over men similar to the rights of men over women. Men, however, have an advantage over them. And Allah is All-Mighty, Most Wise.”. (2:228)
Love and Gentleness for the Family
It is forbidden for a husband to practice any kind of violence over his wife, as Allah the Almighty says: “Retain them (wives) in kindness or release them in kindness. But do not retain them for injury; so that you exceed the limits, and whoever does this, he indeed is unjust to his own soul” (2:231).
In addition to the Quranic verses, there are many hadith that teach the husband to maintain good ties of kinship, love and gentleness for his family. Prophet Muhammad said, “The best among you are those who behave well with their women (wives) and daughters”
Once someone asked Prophet Muhammad, what are the obligations of husbands towards their wives. He replied: “Feed her when you eat, and provide her clothing when you provide yourself. Neither hit her on the face nor use impolite language when addressing her”
As for wife, Islam suggests her to conduct good relationship with her husband. Allah the Almighty says: “So the pious wives are obedient. They guard (their chastity) in the absence of their husbands with the protection of Allah” (4:34). The Quran describes the obedient wife as pious.
Guarding chastity is equally the responsibility of both men and women. In another verse, Allah the Almighty says to the prophet “Direct the believing men to keep their eyes always lowered and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Surely, Allah is Well Aware of the (works) which they are busy doing” (24:30).
The sacred texts of the Quran and Sunnah imply that both husband and wife are obliged to fulfill their respective duties towards each other. Obedience to each other’s responsibilities is binding upon them. The spouses ought to take care of each other’s emotions and sentiments. Their primary purpose must essentially focus on co-operating with each other in joy and sorrow with patience. They should never let themselves be possessed by anger, as it is unlawful in Islam. Anger destroys the faith of a man and often breaks even good ties.
So, the husband and the wife must avoid getting angry, as it causes nothing but tension, depression, frustration, mental torture and violence. Adhering to Islamic teachings is therefore binding upon both of them to bring prosperity and peace in their married life, and thus to save from every kind of violence.
Islam forbids Violence and Calls for Love between Parents and Children
Relation between children and parents in Islam is of great sacredness. Islam has endowed them with their respective rights to consolidate this sacred relationship. The rights given to them include features of tolerance, patience, benevolence and love. These features, if truly taken into practice as a part of faith as they are per se, will never ever ensure the child-to-parent violence or parent-to-child violence.
However, before going into some details of Islam, can you imagine what it would be like to be physically attacked by a child who you have brought up to be caring and loving for you, at least in your old age? Can you explain the pain of violence you are getting from your parents, even in return for your passionate obedience? However, it is very easy to know the solutions Islam has given to such an embarrassing situation or save the sacred relationship between parents and children from any possible violence. Parents and children both need to keep in their mind the ideal teachings of Islam. For them, It is just as important to know what not to do (i.e. the actions that will lead to violence) and how best to resolve their matter.
According to a verse of the Qura’n, kindness towards parents has been stated as a second priority, right after the confession of the oneness of Allah the Almighty. Allah says “Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him and do good to parents” (4:36). By doing good to parents, we mean good manners with them such as obedience, kindness, love, respect, non-violence and tolerance.
There are other verses too, where Allah commands the children to behave with their parents kindly:
“And We have enjoined upon man to behave benevolently with his parents. And if they contend with you that you should associate (others) with Me, of which you have no knowledge, then do not obey them. To Me you (all) have to return. So I shall inform you of (the deeds) which you used to do (in the world). (29:8)
He the Almighty also says, “And We have commanded man to be benevolent towards his parents. His mother bears him (in the womb) with pain and gives birth to him with pain. And bearing him (in the womb) and weaning of him (i.e., the period of pregnancy and feeding) is (spread over) thirty months. Till, when he attains to manhood and then reaches (the age of) forty years, he says: ‘O my Lord, bestow on me the ability to give You thanks for the favour which You have done to me and my parents, and that I may do such deeds as may please You, and endow me and my children with virtue and piety. Assuredly I turn to You, and certainly I am of those who obey You in submissiveness.’ (46:15)
Let alone talking about violence over parents, Allah the Almighty has forbidden even saying ‘Ugh!’ to them.
“And your Lord has commanded you not to worship anyone other than Allah, and treat parents with benevolence. If either or both of them attain old age in your presence, then do not say even ‘Ugh!’ to them, nor reproach them. And always speak to both of them submissively, observing polite manners. And always lower your wings of submissiveness and humility out of soft-heartedness for both of them, and keep supplicating (Allah): ‘O my Lord, have mercy on both of them as they brought me up in (my) childhood (with mercy and clemency).” (17:23-24)
According to a Hadith: “To be good and dutiful to one’s parents” is one of the deeds loved most by Allah the Almighty. (Al-Bukhari)
Kindness Towards Neighbours
Prophet Muhammad said: “By God he is not a believer, he is not a believer, he is not a believer,” It was said, “Who is that, O Allah’s Apostle?” the one who could not provide peace and security to his neighbours.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Number 45)
This Hadith applies to all neighbours, whether or not they are Muslims. So, a Muslim is one who provides peace and security to all neighbours regardless of their creed or colour. This Hadith obviously prohibits Muslims from practising every kind of violence over his neighbours.
“O’ people spread greetings, feed people, keep kinship ties and pray at night while people are sleeping and you will enter paradise safely” (al-Hakim)
Having explored the Islamic solutions to the rising problem of family violence, we as a Muslim community should not let any kind of violence occur in our family. It is essential to memorize these solutions, for we may have to utilize them, when sensing the concerned problem. A family can never achieve progress unless all its members are non-violent, tolerant, benevolent, loving, caring and peaceful towards one another. Therefore, the husband and the wife, the parents and the children, the neighbours and the relatives- all should remember this Islamic suggestion for a successful life in the world and a great many rewards in the hereafter.
Though, the problem of family violence is not confined to Muslims alone and though Islam forbids family violence, they should never forget that the problem is not only destroying their family life but also defaming the Identity of Muslims and Islam together. Hence, to maintain their dignity and identity around the world, Muslims are in great need of practising true teachings of Islam and inculcating sound happiness and love into their family life. n
(Ghulam Ghaus completed his Alimiat and Fazilat from Jamia Warsia Arabic College, Lucknow He did his graduation in Arabic (Hons) and post-graduation (Arabic) from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi).
(Extracted from newageislam)