Any Muslim who has a reasonable grasp of the religion understands the importance of the family in Islam. All aspects of Muslim society are based around the family. This is in stark contrast to the Western style that we see prevalent nowadays all over the world, where almost all aspects of life relate to the benefit of individuals. This is something that is apparent even to people who are on the outside. It is noticeable that in Muslim-majority countries, we often see the family system in focus. Everything revolves around the family, and often, even extended families live with each other.
Humans are naturally a very social species. They tend to depend on each other. That may be for material needs or even simply moral support and friendship. However, nothing can be stronger than the family bond when people focus on developing family ties and relationships. Individual humans get close to each other by various bonds, but family bonds are the strongest of all. Additionally, they also form the basis for a healthy community. The family unit forms the basis for a society, and if the family unit collapses, the rest of the community is also at risk of falling apart.
We can see this process in action all over the world nowadays. With the advent of capitalism, people are encouraged to focus on themselves and their betterment at all costs. Additionally, there is an intense focus on personal development, no matter the cost. People place individual needs and desires above everything else. As a result, everything else takes a back seat. In the context of this discussion, it’s usually the family system that suffers the most. Divorces and family differences often result due to this. It’s common nowadays to see families fighting each other for material benefit.
Marriage and the Family System
Marriage is a common part of social life all over the world. Even the most isolated communities engage in this practice. When Allah created the first human, He created a man and woman, i.e., Adam and Eve. Allah created the two genders as companions for each other, as He tells us in the Quran. Men and women naturally have desires that involve each other. However, if they do things as they wish, it can cause a lot of problems. We see this in the West, where the focus on personal relationships has gone on to destroy many families.
The legal and proper way to fulfill those desires is through the sanctity of marriage. That is what Islam preaches so that people can satisfy their desires within a legal framework. For this reason, Islam has emphasized the importance of marriage on many occasions. The prophets that Allah sent took part in the ritual of marriage. Hence, they served as an example for their people. The prophets, of course, aimed to teach by example. Engaging in marriage was one of the ways of doing this. Since Islam sanctions marriage, it should be something that all Muslims should gravitate toward.
And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought. (Quran 30:21)
…They are a clothing for you, and you are a clothing for them. Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so He accepted your repentance and forgave you. So now, have relations with them and seek that which Allah has decreed for you [i.e., offspring]… (Quran 2:187)
The Suppression of Carnal Desires
Over a lengthy period, many communities have failed to reconcile sexual relations with morality and religion. Hence, many have fallen into the trap of considering all such acts as forms of evil that must be stopped. Some groups till today hold extreme beliefs in this regard. They consider women as an utter form of evil that they must oppose. Therefore, these people believe that they must steer clear of women, and being in contact with them is thought of as harmful. This has led to many unnatural situations, where the family system is eliminated.
Monasticism is an example of the extreme, where monks and even nuns focus on living their whole lives while abstaining from sexual relations. They feel that this is something that is dearer to God, and they stay well away from marriage. However, this disrupts the family system immensely. Moreover, it leads to many forms of evil. Sometimes, the pious people who are trying to stay away from all forms of sexual relations end up committing criminal acts to compensate. We see the prevalence of child abuse and homosexuality as an example of this in some communities.
In Islam, the family system is paramount. Islam is a religion of practicality, which shows that it is the only true religion. Sexual relations are not bad if people engage in them without the system of marriage. This is a core part of the family system. The Prophet (PBUH) would say that he was the most God-fearing of the people. Yet, he got married and had children, and he made it clear that this was the way to live within the Islamic framework. In Islam, if you do something in the correct and permissible way, it is an act of worship.
Breakup of the Family System and Divorces
There is no doubt that divorce rates are on the rise all over the world. This has held to the decay of society in various countries. However, not realizing the consequences of this happening, or perhaps not caring about it, people continue to walk that path of destruction. Here, we must differentiate between divorces that are a must and should be encouraged versus those that are harmful. Hypothetically, if a woman is suffering abuse from her husband, she should undoubtedly search for relief. However, having illicit relations and causing the breakup of a marriage is very harmful.
No one is immune to this problem. Both men and women often engage in illegal relations outside marriage. While Islam heavily discourages this, it is quite common in various parts of the world. Sometimes, people justify it on the basis of freedom or the ability to choose. These ideologies are even spreading to the Muslim world, and it is common to see the breakup of families in Muslim-majority countries. Still, on the whole, Muslims are aware of the importance of marriage and being faithful. They know about the harms of divorces for selfish reasons and how it harms children.
In fact, the primary harm of divorces falls upon the children. In many cases, people can get over the effects of a divorce. However, if they have children, the situation is much more complex. Children need a mother and father to grow up properly and to have support. With one parent missing, things become very complicated. For the parent with custody, it proves to be a challenge as the parent has to fulfill multiple roles. Meanwhile, the children are unlikely to find the exact same experience with just one parent as they would with two. Hence, divorces shatter the family system.
Parenting and the Family System
The main aspect of the family system revolves around the future. The ultimate goal of most families and couples is to have children and raise them for the future. In Islam, there is great emphasis on the importance of parenting and how parents should raise their children. This develops a healthy family system, ensuring that everyone is on the same page with similar goals. On the other hand, we see the opposite in many secular societies. There, people often have kids and then let them grow up on their own. Once they get to a certain age, they must sustain themselves, as we see in the animal kingdom.
In the family system, Allah has defined everyone’s roles. There is a Hadith in which the Prophet (PBUH) states that people are like shepherds, and they are responsible for their own flock. Hence, Allah has ordained that Muslim men must support their families. They must earn a livelihood so that they can cover their wives’ and children’s expenses. As a result, the man is also the head of the household. Since he is the one who supports the family financially, he is also the head of the household. He also serves as a role model.
Meanwhile, the woman is also the shepherd. She guides the children during their upbringing, ensuring a peaceful environment at home. Of course, this is not the job of the mother alone – at home, the father must also play a key role. Still, regarding parenting, the mother is usually the one who plays the main role in their upbringing. She guides them and their education. This means that there is a well-defined overall structure that most families follow. This ensures a methodical approach to parenting within the family system.
Children and Parents Interactions
It’s important to know how both parties must treat each other. Allah has outlined the way for everyone regarding how they should behave. For parents, they must ensure they give their children a good upbringing in a family system. They should teach their children manners at a young age, and when they are able to, they should teach them how to read the Quran. Of course, they should ensure that they feed the children well to ensure that they grow healthy. Furthermore, they must provide them with adequate education (worldly as well as Islamic) to brighten their future.
When it comes to the family system and how children interact with parents, Islam has laid out strict guidelines. The respect of parents is one of the most fundamental aspects of Islam. No disrespect of parents can be tolerated. Allah has placed the importance of treating parents well right after the importance of worship. That shows the immense respect that Islam grants to parents under all circumstances.
And your Lord has decreed that you worship not except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.” (Quran 17:23-24)
Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. (Quran 6:151)
Converts to Islam and Family Values
One of the notable things about the family system is that it will attract like-minded people. Therefore, if someone likes the idea of a family system, that can compel them toward Islam. All over the world, we see that there is a very high rate of females accepting Islam. It is not unreasonable to suggest that it may be due to the family system. The emphasis on this in Islam ensures that in most Muslim-majority communities, even if they’re not renowned for being religious, people understand the importance of family. For that reason, many individuals live together, sometimes even as large, combined families.
Hence, people who value traditional family values may feel more inclined toward Islam. Naturally, this means that people who are socially conservative may feel like Islam aligns more with their opinions. Islam goes side by side with all aspects of family life. Staying together as a family and being pious enables people to remind each other about Allah and the required acts of worship. For people of other religions who partake In acts of worship, this can be endearing. It is also undeniable that Islam provides discipline and an environment for personal growth.
Another thing about the family system is the focus on children and their growth. In a family system, people don’t leave their children on their own. Rather, they help them to grow in a methodical way. Additionally, Islam and the family system places a heavy emphasis on respecting elders. That’s not something that is prevalent around the world nowadays. Hence, this aspect of Islam can attract people who feel strongly about this. In Islam, the respect of elders and people in authority is paramount. These traditions are common among many religions.
The family system is a core part of Islam and forms the basis for a successful community. When we look at the early Islamic State during the time of the Prophet (PBUH) and the caliphs, we can see that families were a crucial part of it. The Prophet (PBUH) always put a strong emphasis on marriage and its importance. Additionally, he focused on the importance of good treatment of parents and elders. Once when someone asked, the Prophet (PBUH) stated that the mother is the most deserving of companionship. The second and third time, he said the same, then he said the father.
Unlike the secular style of preferring oneself over everything else, Islam values family life. Hence, while people can focus on their own betterment, they should not do something that results in severe neglect of their close ones. Everything goes hand in hand, with family life being one of the most critical parts of a Muslim’s life. A healthy family and strong relationships breed strong characters who can withstand all kinds of adversities. They do get easily affected by hardships if they have the benefit of a family alongside them.
We see the importance of the family system manifest itself time and time again. People all over the world who value family life understand that a family system is essential. The sacred institution of marriage must be respected and nurtured. Two adults must live a proper married life, have kids, and raise them according to Islam. Then, the kids must learn how to behave within that system. Following Allah’s guidelines is a must. They respect their parents, and as they grow older, they learn to respect their elders. In this way, a proper family and community develops.