Family in Islam

The foremost and fundamental institution of human society is the family unit. A family is established by the coming together of a man and a woman, and their contact brings into existence a new generation.

By Khwaja Mohammad Zubair (Ramadan Reflections)

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Sun 21 Aug 2011, 8:41 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:45 AM

It then produces ties of kinship and community, which gradually develop into a large society. The family is the institution through which a generation prepares the succeeding generation for the service of human civilisation and for the discharge of its social obligations with devotion, sincerity and enthusiasm.

This institution does not merely recruit cadets for the maintenance and development of human culture but its guardians. They earnestly desire that those who have to replace them in future should be better than themselves. In this respect the family can be truly called the fountain-head of the progress, development, prosperity and strength of human civilisation on the earth.

Hence, among the social problems Islam devotes much attention to those relating to the family and strives to establish this important social unit on the healthiest and strongest foundations. According to Islam, the correct form of relationship between man and woman is marriage, that is, the one in which full social responsibilities are undertaken by them and which results in the emergence of a family. Free sex and irresponsible behaviour are not condoned by Islam as innocent pastimes or ordinary transgressions. Rather, they are acts, which strikes at the very roots of human society. Hence, Islam holds every form of extra-matrimonial sexual relationship as sinful, forbidden (haram) and punishable under the criminal law of Islam. Islam does not merely regard asceticism and perpetual celibacy as no virtue at all but as aberrations and departure from the true nature of man and acts of revolt against the divine scheme of things. It also strongly disapproves those rites, ceremonies or restrictions which tend to make marriage a difficult and tedious affair. The intention of Islam is that marriage may become easy and fornication the most difficult thing in society, and not vice versa as it is in most of the societies today. Hence after debarring a few specified relatives from entering into matrimony with one another, it has legalised marital relations with all other near and distant kith and kin. It has removed all distinctions of caste and community and permitted matrimony of any Muslim with any other Muslim. It has enjoined that the amount of mehr (dower) should be fixed at a low and easy figure, the burden of which can be easily borne by the husband and has dispensed with the necessity of priests and offices of compulsory registration. In an Islamic society marriage is such a plain and simple ceremony as can be performed anywhere before two witnesses, though it is essential that the proceedings should not be kept secret. The idea is that the society should know that the couple is now going to live a matrimonial life.

Within the family itself Islam has assigned to man a position of authority so that he may maintain order and discipline as the chief of the household. Islam expects the wife to obey and look after the comforts and well-being of her husband and expects the children to behave accordingly with their parents. Islam does not favour a loose and disjointed family system, which is devoid of any authority, control and discipline and in which someone is not pointedly responsible for the proper conduct and behaviour of its members. Discipline can only be maintained through a central authority and in the view of Islam the position of father in the family is such that it makes him the fittest person to take over this responsibility. But this does not mean that man has been made tyrant and oppressor in the household and woman has been handed over to him as a helpless chattel.

According to Islam the real spirit of marital life is love, understanding and mutual respect. If woman has been asked to obey the husband the latter has been called upon to exercise his privileges towards the welfare of the family and treat the wife with love, affection and sweetness. Islam makes the marital bond strong but not unbreakable. It aims at keeping the bond intact only so long as it is founded on sweetness of love or at least the possibility of lasting companionship exists. When this possibility dies out, it gives man the right of divorce and woman the right of separation, and under certain conditions when married life has become a source of misery and nuisance, gives the Islamic courts of justice the authority to annul the marriage.

Source: From The Islamic Way of Life by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi

More news from