Family in Islam
Written by: Hassan Adam
The family is the very core of society. As it declines so falls the society. As it ascends so ascends the society. From this precept, comes the importance position of the family placed by the divine religions, as well as the notion of the non-essentiality of the family claimed by deviant philosophies, because the disappearance of the family means the disappearance of a virtuous society.
Family life and related issues such as marriage, divorce, parenthood, underage pregnancy and abortion are areas of great discussion and dispute in the world today. The facts emanating from various societies in the so-called ‘developed’ world show that the current state of affairs is unsustainable and illogical and will inevitably result in the decline and self-destruction of these societies.
A sensible and well-balanced family system is the very foundation of a happy life. Indeed, it is the root of an advancing civilization. Religion comes to take human beings nearer to God. Therefore, it must create an atmosphere conducive to that ideal; otherwise, it cannot achieve its goal. No religion can be regarded as complete unless it has a well-defined code of family life which expressly shows the exact responsibility and role of each member of the family. The family is a closely-knit unit of human society; and this nearness creates eminent danger of friction and conflict unless every member knows their rights and duties.
Islam is the Final religion and has the most ideal shari’ah (revealed law). An unbiased observer cannot help admiring the equilibrium which it has achieved balancing the demands of body and spirit, providing guidance concerning life in this world as well as teachings concerning life in the hereafter. It is the Leading Light which brightly illuminates every turning in the highway of human life. It is the Perfect shari’ah which cater for all human needs.
The Family in Islam
There are some fundamental problems in present day Islamic societies ranging from the phenomenon of unmarried young men and women, issue related to marriage and many others. The only solution to them is return to the simplicity and to the Islamic teachings and laws in this vital area of life. Muslim world should revert to the true teachings of the Qur’an and the Prophet and Imams. Islam has detailed teachings, which promise success in every area of human life on individual and societal levels. The practicality of the teachings have been historically proven despite being under constant attack from the outset till the present time.
Marriage as a complement factor which gives sense of maturity can be a cure to many diseases haunting the youth. Islam has provided the answer to all questions pertaining to human life; and so it has to this one.
The human society is comprised of families. Islam attaches great importance to real pleasure and prosperity of human beings through islamically balanced, highly ethical, well-educated and well-behaved families and happy homes.
Marriage as a necessity
Marriage is a vital necessity. The survival of the species depends upon it and the survival of any organism is an intellectual necessity. Hence the world’s intelligentsias try to prevent the extinction of a particular organism. So what of humanity? The Qur'an states:
'But when he turns his back, his aim everywhere is to spread mischief in the land and to destroy crops and progeny, but Allah loves not mischief'.
In the matter of destroying progeny there is no difference between active destruction and passive destruction. Qur'anic verses and prophetic traditions stress marriage as being mandatory for the common good and recommended for the individual good.
Marriage is a natural necessity for every human being. It bears many good outcomes of which the most important ones are:
(1) The formation of a family through which one can find security and peace of mind. A person who is not married resembles a bird without a nest. Marriage serves as a shelter for anyone who feels lost in the wilderness of life; one can find a partner in life who would share one's joy and sorrow.
(2) The natural sexual desire is both strong and significant. Everyone should have a partner for satisfying their sexual needs in a secure and serene environment. Everyone should enjoy sexual satisfaction in a correct and proper manner. Those who abstain from marriage often suffer from both physical and psychological disorders. Such disorders and certain social problems are a direct consequence of the abstinence of youth from marriage.
(3) Reproduction: Through marriage the procreation of mankind is continued. Children are the result of marriage and are important factors in stabilizing the family foundations as well as a source of real joy to their parents.
A great deal of emphasis has been given in the Holy Qur'an and the Traditions to both marriage and having children. The Almighty Allah states in the Holy Qur’an:
"And among His signs is this that He created for you mates from among yourselves..."
The Holy Prophet [S.A.W.A.] said: "A two rak'at prayer that a married person establishes is worthier than when a bachelor keeps up prayers at nights and fasts during the days”.
The Holy Prophet [S.A.W.A.] also said: "The sleep of a married person is better with Allah than an unmarried one who fasts during the day and keeps vigil at night, establishing prayers”.
The Holy Prophet [S.A.W.A.] also said: "(Mostly) the doers of good of my Ummah are the married ones, while the vicious of them are unmarried."
Imam Sadiq [AS] said: "Once a man came to my father. He [a] asked him whether he had a wife and he answered he had not. Then, my father said that he would not like to possess the world and what it includes but sleep one night without having a wife. Then he [AS] added that the two rak'at prayer established by a married man is worthier than that an unmarried man keeps vigil at night praying and fasts during the day. After that, he [AS] gave him seven golden coins (Dinar) and told him to marry with that”.
A faithful, pious, and harmonious partner plays a crucial role in having a respectable and honest life. Indeed having such a partner is an important factor when wanting to avoid evil deeds and enables the commitment of one self in performing the obligatory acts of worship. A pious couple, not only would not meet any obstacle in achieving religious goals, but would be a source of encouragement to each other.
The youth standing upon the origin of a new way with their hopes, abundant aspirations and hearts full of love and commotion, with the idea to move towards and independent and responsible life. They confront two important decisions, two vital obstacles, two lofty peaks and two big selections.
So they must necessarily pass through these two obstacles, reach these peaks and take decisions and selection regarding these two essentially important problems. It cannot be that they leave these two, or either one of them. And neither are they energetic enough to cross through them all alone, without any kind of guide or assistance, to reach their aim safely. The good luck and prosperity or misfortune and misery of their lives is, to a great extent, connected and linked to these two decisions and selections. If they are able to safely cross these two obstacles and peaks, then they have, to a great extent, get closer to prosperity and fortune. And if, God forbid, they do not succeed in taking these decisions and selections (properly), then many difficulties and agonies will come into their life. One of the two is choosing a job and the other is selecting a spouse. Each of these two decisions and selections is big and sensitive; but one of them is even bigger and more sensitive than the other, and that is the selection of spouse.
One of the great Gnostics said: "If a man spends half of his life in the search of a suitable teacher, it is worthwhile, since he will become prosperous in the other half of it."
I too say, "If a man spends half of his life searching for a proper and suitable spouse, it is worthwhile, because he will be prosperous, for the rest of his life."
In order not prolong this article as the family issue is vast one and could not be discoursed in a piece of writing like this at once, let’s conclude with a piece of admonition: A pious person would always invite his partner to goodness, just as a corrupt person would tempt his partner towards corruption. It is then reasonable that, in Islam men and women, who want to get married, are advised to regard the piety and good manners of their future partners, as essential conditions.
In our next article we will take a glance at some clues that can help in choosing an ideal partner.