A family life based on the dictates of Islam is an ideal lifestyle that will never fail you. In light of the Sunnah, here’s some light on the critical aspects that will ensure a happy and stable family life amidst the challenges our modern society faces.
How many of us truly wish that we were on our own – no one to care for us or be cared for by us? Be it a millionaire, a world-renowned celebrity, the super intelligent or the recipient of the highest civilian award, every human being wants a family to fall back on for love, caring and a reason to live for at the end of the day.
You will all agree that sleeping in your mom’s lap gives us immense comfort however old you may get. A father’s hug is reassuring at all times, a spouse’s look of admiration can work wonders for our self-esteem and our child’s laughter can fill our home with cheer.
How do we manage to retain this peace, well-being and progress of our family with society throwing up challenges that are threatening the very fabric of our family life? Lying, cheating, jealousy, peer pressure and of course, blindly following social media are leading to broken marriages, disturbed children, addictions, and permissive lifestyles among the many ill effects causing the disintegration of family life.
In such a scenario, holding on to the dictates of Islam is a fool-proof method of steering clear of the vices and leading a happy and progressive life.
Haven’t we often heard of the adage—The family that prays together stays together? Islam prescribes coming together to remember the Lord in prayers in these verses, “And enjoin prayer upon your family [and people] and be steadfast therein.” (20:132).
“O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire…” (66:6)
Now, what is the significance of praying together one may ask. When we bow down to the Almighty while offering prayer, we are doing so as a single unit—a family. We are steadfast in our request to Allah in each prayer to lead us to the path of Sirat-ul Mustaqeem (the straight path mentioned in Surah Fatiha). To seek this is asking that we are not led astray and away from the family. As Allah says, “It is your duty to make dua and my duty to fulfill it.”
This becomes more significant in the face of the erosion of values and disintegration of the family system that we are all witnessing in present times.
Prayer is just one crucial aspect. Similar virtues of relying on Allah’s will for every action, and refraining from bigger and smaller sins like lying, cheating, using bad language, and disrespecting elders become ingrained in the lifestyle of the family following the path of the Sunnah.
The head of the family and his wife are a team that holds the family together. They work tirelessly to bring the food to the table, keep the house clean and lively and raise a family. So, it is significant that there is mutual love, respect and a sense of well-wishing between them.
Allah swt prescribes what is needed to keep this partnership strong and stable to stand rock-solid and lend able support to run the family life when He says: “The believers, men and women, are protecting friends (Awliya) of one another; they enjoin the Ma’ruf (that which Allah commands) and forbid people from Munkar (that which Allah prohibits); they perform salat, and give the zakat, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have mercy on them. Surely Allah is Almighty, All-wise” – (Quran – 9:71).
A wife is to be protected by her husband. The Quran states “Men are the protectors of women, because Allah made some of them excel others and because they spend their wealth on them….” (Qur’an – 4:31) In return, the wife helps her husband to obey the commands of Allah, be the source of his happiness, share his burdens and help him face his ups and downs and also respect his family and do things that make him happy. In short, the husband- and wife exhibit through their actions the greatness of living a life with mutual love and respect and thereby transferring these feelings to their children. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) narrated “When they (a husband and wife) hold hands, their sins will fall away from between their fingers.”
Allah said in the Quran “And we created you in pairs’’ (Qur’an – 78:8). This ayah explains that males and females complete each other and are one with no boundaries or differences. One of the best ahadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) stated “The woman who dies in the state of her husband being pleased with her will enter Jannah (paradise).”
Enough emphasis is placed on this unique relationship in Islam which is the strongest pillar of healthy family life. In this regard, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Iblis places his throne upon water; he then sends detachments (for creating dissension); the nearer to him in rank are those who are most notorious for creating dissension. One of them comes and says: “I did so and so.” And he says: “You have done nothing.” Then one amongst them comes and says: “I did not spare so and so until I sowed the seed of discord between a husband and a wife.” Then Satan goes near him and says: “You have done well.” He then embraces him.” [Sahih Muslim]
So one of Satan’s greatest goals is to inflict egos and instill disagreements between the husband and wife which will lead to having weak, broken homes and accordingly, a weak Ummah becomes unable to fulfil its purpose of creation.
A husband and wife are the strongest pillars of a family; when they separate, it is dangerous for the family to stand still.
Living by example, they set standards for their children on how to conduct themselves and live their life as fine human beings.
Our beloved Prophet(peace be upon him) stresses marriage as the valid and ultimate way of entering a man-woman relationship. In contrast, our modern world which permits extra-marital affairs, live-in relationships and same-sex marriage is challenging this concept and going against nature. If these concepts were indeed gratifying, why would people be suffering from depression, why would the divorce rates rise and why would family life disintegrate at a rapid pace? To make matters worse, children born out of wedlock or growing up in such a permissive environment are known to suffer from personality disorders. On the other hand, a happy family life which instills sound values in the children is found to have a long-lasting and positive effect on the children.
It is the responsibility of the parents to teach and educate the message of Islam to children at an early age otherwise they will grow up heedless. They will not know any better and you cannot expect them in their older age to pray for you, look after you, and spread Islam to their kids. On the other hand, if you raise kids with the right values, you can expect eternal sadaqah jariyah (recurrent charity).
Islam prescribes not only an antidote for fighting evils but also a soothing balm as simple as exhibiting your love to your children.
Loving and demonstrating love for one’s children is preferable in Islam. It is related by ‘Aisha (RA): Some desert Arabs came to him one day and asked: ‘Do you kiss your children?’ He answered: ‘Yes.’ They said: ‘We never kiss them.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘What can I do if your hearts have been stripped off compassion?’ (Bukhari)
Abu Hurayra (RA) narrated: The Prophet (peace be upon him) kissed Al-Hasan the son of ‘Ali (RA) while Al-Aqra’a Bin Habesh Altaimi was visiting him. Al-Aqra’a said: I have ten kids and I have never kissed any of them, then the Prophet looked at him and said: Those who are not merciful will not have the mercy (of Allah). (Bukhari).
Today, research has proven that nurturing touch during parent-child interaction is very important for a child’s social, emotional, and intellectual development. Studies have established that humans are “hardwired to crave touch and actually require it for normal physical, social, and emotional development to occur. Many systems in the brain are activated by touch, without which optimal physiological development is not possible. Also, positive, nurturing touch triggers the release of the ‘bonding hormone’, oxytocin, which increases feelings of closeness and facilitates parent-child attachment and social-emotional adjustment.”
So, why shy from lovingly stroking your child’s hair or arm? A hug, a light peck on the cheek or just uttering ‘I love you’ with sweet endearments is much-needed for the bond to grow and nurture into a beautiful and understanding lifelong relationship.
Spending on family is given prominence in Islam. It is considered an act of charity, hence there is a reward to be earned through this generous act too.
A Hadith states “When a Muslim spends on his family seeking reward for it from Allah, it counts for him as charity.” (Muslim). Also, according to a hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘“A dinar you spend in Allah’s way, or to free a slave, or as a charity you give to a needy person, or to support your family, the one yielding the greatest reward is that which you spend on your family.” (Muslim).
So, when a man spends his hard-earned money on his family’s food, clothing, accommodation, education and other needs, he is not only fulfilling his rights as the breadwinner of the family but is also gaining Allah’s mercy through it. In short, a man not only earns his family’s love and respect through his selfless actions of being their provider but also earns Allah SWT’s mercy.
“You never spend anything but you will be rewarded for it, even the morsel of food that you lift to your wife’s mouth.” (Muslim)
Islam prescribes that one maintains good ties with relatives too. Indeed, one of the first things the Prophet said to his followers when he arrived in Medina was “keep the family ties strong.” Once, someone asked him about the family member who had cut him off. He replied that he should keep the tie strong, even if the other person wishes to cut it off. Try to reconcile with estranged family members, even if they were wrong. It is following in the Prophet’s footsteps.
As they say, we can choose our friends but not our relatives. It has been seen that maintaining family relations has become a task in today’s times with jealousy, inheritance issues and other issues playing spoil-sports among relatives.
But Allah SWT commands human beings to rise above petty issues for the larger good. In this regard, our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The person who perfectly maintains the ties of kinship is not the one who does it because he gets recompensed by his relatives (for being kind and good to them), but the one who truly maintains the bonds of kinship is the one who persists in doing so even though the latter has severed the ties of kinship with him“[Al-Bukhari].
Jubair bin Mut’am (RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“The one who severs the ties of kinship will not enter Paradise.” [Agreed upon].
So maybe it could be helpful to pause and ask ourselves: is it worth it? Is whatever reason/excuse that led us to break the ties of kinship worth losing eternal Jannah?
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain
good relations with kins” [Al Bukhari and Muslim].
Giving zakat to relatives has a dual reward. As the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Charity given to a poor person is charity, but charity given to a relative is two things, charity and upholding the ties of kinship.”
So, when we work on maintaining relations with our extended family, we are in fact practising true faith in Allah as we are adhering to His will as against our own. Anas reported the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) as saying:
“Anyone who is pleased that his sustenance is expanded and his age extended should do kindness to his near relatives.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]. So, this actually leads to a longer, healthier and more productive life, as well as, more sustenance and rizq from Allah.
The Quran is the perfect guide to follow in every aspect of our life. Through his commands and by giving examples of prophets, Allah SWT showed us the perfect path to follow. In Surah Yusuf, we read how Prophet Yusuf AS was unjustly treated by his own brothers, yet he faced those trials with beautiful patience (i.e. complaining only to Allah, not to people). Eventually, Allah brought him his right back and elevated him above all his brothers and elevated his status in this world and the next. And he then said after everything he went through and experienced: “Indeed, he who fears Allah and is patient, then indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of those who do good.” [Qur’an 12: 90).
Some doable tips:
- How about buying a gift for your loved one? According to a hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Exchange gifts with a relative. Give presents to one another. Presents remove malice from the hearts.”
- Visit your loved ones. If meeting them regularly is not possible, you can stay in touch over the phone. The reward of that will put peace and blessings in your life.
- If your efforts are met with disdain, be resilient and leave the desire for retaliation for the sake of Allah. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good or remain silent.” [Al- Bukhari and Muslim]
- Follow the example of Prophet Yusuf AS and take the lead in forgiving and letting go.
- Help relatives in times of need. Allah says: “And let not those of virtue and wealth among you swear not to give [aid] to their relatives and the needy and the emigrants for the cause of Allah, and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Qur’an 24: 22)
- Make dua for them. Our hearts soften when we make dua for one another, and the angels make dua for the one who makes dua for others in their absence.