Sunday, May 30, 2010

How to Treat the Family

The Children

It is clear from many verses in the Quran that having children is considered a blessing from Allaah..

Hence, Allaah says while recounting some of his blessings upon humankind:

“Allaah has made for you wives of your own kind, and has made for you, from your wives, sons and

grandsons, and has bestowed on you good provision. Do they then believe in false deities and deny

the Favor of Allaah (by not worshipping Allaah Alone).” (Quran 16:72)

Thus, one finds the prophet Zachariah praying to Allaah that He bestow upon him children (Quran

3:38). In addition, having children is something known to be beloved to parents. Thus, Allaah says:

“Wealth and children are the adornment of the life of this world...” (Quran 18:46)

At the same time, though, every parent must realize that having children is a great responsibility and

trial from Allaah. Allaah has said:

“Your wealth and your children are only a trial, whereas Allaah—with Him is a great reward (Paradise).”

(Quran 64:15)

Allaah also says,

“O you who believe, guard yourselves and your families from the Hell‑fire whose fuel is men and

stones…” (Quran 66:6)

The meaning of this verse was reiterated by the Prophet Muhammad, sall'Allaahu alaihi wa salaam,

when he said:

“All of you are shepherds and all of you will be asked about your wards... The man is responsible for his household and will be asked about his responsibilities. The wife will be asked about the house of her husband and her responsibilities.”[1]

Islam, therefore, fills the human with appreciation for being blessed with a child while at the same time

realizing that this child is a heavy responsibility. The parents must care for the child and bring the

child up in the best possible manner, trying to protect the child from the Hellfire.

Muslim scholars consider that the rights of children appear long before they are even conceived, via

the selection of a pious and righteous spouse. This is the first step in providing a good household

and environment for the child. Around the time of the child’s birth, there are other important

obligations, such as giving the child a good name and offering an animal sacrifice on the child’s

behalf.[2] Beyond that, the most important rights of the child include:

(1) being maintained and provided for in a healthy manner;

(2) being taught the tenets of the religion;

(3) being treated with compassion and mercy;

(4) being just among multiple siblings; and

(5) having a good example set for them by their parents.

Other Relatives

A family also includes siblings and other kinfolk. Islam has certainly not ignored any of the relatives

of an individual. In numerous places in the Quran, Allaah emphasizes the importance of treating one’s

relatives in a good and kindly fashion. Allaah says, for example:

“Worship Allaah and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk…” (Quran 4:36)

Allaah also speaks about spending on one’s relatives:

“They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend. Say: Whatever you spend of good must be for parents and kindred…” (Quran 2:215)

Allaah also says:

“It is not piety that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers); but Al-Taqwa (piety) is

(the quality of) the one who believes in Allaah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and

gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk…” (Quran 2:177)

The Prophet Muhammad was requested:

“Inform me of a deed that will take me closer to Paradise and distance me from the Hell-fire.” He

replied, “Worship Allaah and do not ascribe any partner to Him, establish the prayer, give the zakat and

keep the ties of kinship.”[3]

Keeping the ties of kinship refers to doing good towards them with one’s speech, actions and wealth.

It includes kind words, visits, charity and generosity. It also includes keeping any harm from coming

to them and doing one’s best to bring happiness to them.

The Muslim must understand that keeping the ties of kinship is an obligation and not simply a

meritorious act. In the Quran, Allaah praises those…

“…who join that which Allaah has commanded to be joined (i.e. they are good to their relatives and do

not sever the bond of kinship), fear their Lord, and dread the terrible reckoning” (Quran 13:21)

The Prophet said:

“The one who cuts off the ties of kinship will not enter Paradise.”[4]

Islam has emphasized every type of familial tie possible. It has provided guidance showing the

importance of the ties with parents, children, spouses and other relatives. It exhorts every Muslim to

fulfill these ties to receive Allaah’s pleasure in return. In addition (although not completely stressed in

this short paper), it has provided laws and strict regulations that allow the individual to realize how

best to keep the proper ties with all of his or her kith and kin.


[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim.

[2] In this sacrifice, called the aqeeqah, meat is distributed to the poor, one’ family, and friends and

neighbors (IslamReligion).

[3] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim.

[4] Saheeh Muslim.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The First Two Years: A Marriage Survival Guide ... part 3

9. Not keeping secrets

A number of young married couples are notorious for not keeping secrets, especially related to sexual matters, and exposing their spouse's faults. This is not only unacceptable. It's unIslamic.

Couples should seek to hide each other's faults. They should seek advice on marriage problems from a "marriage mentor", someone who is older, wiser, trustworthy and has the best interests of both parties at heart.

10. Finances

How much should be spent on furniture, the house, food, etc. These are staple issues of any household and can lead to a tug-of-war between husband and wife.

To keep spending in check, husbands and wives need to draft a budget then stick to it. The household will run more efficiently and that's one less source of conflict in the marriage.

A special note to husbands: in the beginning of marriage, husbands tend to shower their wives with gifts. They do this as an expression of love and because they want to provide for their wives. However, as time passes and they keep giving, they go into debt or experience financial difficulty. As well, wives get used to a certain level of comfort which husbands can no longer afford.

Providing for a wife (and later on, a family) is not just reserved to material things. It includes spending time with her, and treating her with equity and kindness. In fact, most wives would prefer this kind of provision over expensive gifts.

11. Give each other space

A number of couples think being married means always being together and serving each other hand and foot.

Wives may initially take over all household chores, not letting the husband help or even do his own things (i.e. ironing his own clothes). They later regret this as household responsibilities increase and their husbands become dependent on them for the smallest things.

Husbands may think getting married means being with their wives all the time. This later may lead them to becoming irritable and cranky.

The key is to focus on being caring, fond of and accepting each other and giving each other sufficient space. Doing this provides a necessary balance in a relationship which is so close physically and emotionally.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The First Two Years: A Marriage Survival Guide ... part 2

5. In-laws

The first few years of marriage are not just a period of adjustment for the married couple. It's one of getting used to in-laws and vice-versa.

Husbands, wives and in-laws need to practice the Islamic rules of social relations with each other. These include: avoiding sarcasm, backbiting, calling each other by offensive nicknames, and making a special effort to respect each other as family members.

As well, comparisons need to be avoided, since every individual and every couple is different. So wives should not be compared to mothers and sisters. Husbands should not be compared to fathers and brothers. In-laws should not be compared to parents, etc.

In addition, there should be regular, healthy contact between spouses and in-laws. This can mean visiting each other at least once or twice a month, or calling if distance makes it difficult to get together.

6. Realism

Boy meets girl. They fall in love. They live happily ever after.
This is the plot of many a Hollywood and Bollywood movie, where everyone is "perfect". Real life is very different.

Couples may enter marriage with high-flying romantic ideas and expecting their partner to be the ideal human. But all humans have good and bad points. Husbands and wives have to learn to accept each other, warts and all.

7. Making a schedule and establishing rituals

Making a schedule may seem like an end to spontaneity but it's not.
This allows you to establish your own lifestyle and rituals as a couple. It's especially important if both the husband and wife are going to school and/or working. In this scenario, a schedule helps in setting time aside for each other during a fast-paced week of work and studies.

Some rituals couples can establish may include:

• praying at least one prayer together
• attending a study circle together once a week
• deciding on a weekly menu
• having a pancake breakfast every Saturday morning
• setting aside one day on which no work or studying will be done
• setting a day when both the husband and wife will clean up the house
• setting a time to discuss finances and a budget
• making a phone contacting during the day
• deciding on a particular day and time once a month at least to visit  each other's parents

By discussing and setting up these rituals, couples learn how to talk to and feel responsible for each other. They also learn to become a team instead of two people living in the same with separate lives.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The First Two Years: A Marriage Survival Guide ... part 1

The First Two Years: A Marriage Survival Guide

More Muslim marriages in North America are breaking up in their first year than ever before, according to Shahina Siddiqui, executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association of the United States and Canada (ISSA).

The first five to seven years are the most challenging of any marriage. They are a time a couple spends getting to know each other better and adjusting to each other's habits and personalities.

Below are some of the main problems couples face in the early years and some possible solutions.

1. Lack of proper information before marriage

A number of problems are caused simply by the fact that the couple and their families have not discussed crucial issues beforehand. Some of these include:
• whether or not the wife will work outside the home
• will the couple wait to have children
• which city and country the couple will live in after marriage
• will they live with his parents or have their own apartment
These and other relevant issues need to be discussed and decided in the beginning stages of the marriage process.

2. Who's in charge?
One of the biggest problems is the tug-of-war between couples over who is in control in the relationship. This has led to a stalemate in disagreements, as well as bitter feelings.

Many couples today are refusing to compromise within moderation when differences arise.
While from an Islamic perspective, the husband is given the leadership role in the marriage relationship, this does not mean he runs the couple's family life like a dictatorship.

It must be remembered that Islamically, a leader is one who serves, manages, provides and nourishes. A leader must also have humbleness and humility.

A husband exercises the right kind of leadership by being listening to and consulting (doing Shura) with his wife.

Also, a husband is bound to follow the rules of the Quran and Sunnah. So differences in opinion should be referred back to these sources, instead of becoming a source of tension and problems.

3. The divorce option

Once upon a time, "divorce" was the seven-letter word most Muslim couples avoided using. Today, amongst many Muslim couples in North America, it is one of the first recourses turned to when conflicts occur in marriage.

It should be remembered that out of all of the things Allah has made Halal, divorce is the one He hates the most. Couples need to look at several other alternatives before turning to this drastic measure.

They should seek the help of older, wiser and trustworthy elders who will try to help them resolve their differences. Generally, they need to make a sincere, concerted effort to try to work things out before divorce is seriously considered.

4. Sexual problems
It is unrealistic to expect the issue of sex and sex-related problems to mysteriously disappear once a couple gets married.
In the sex-saturated culture of North America (and everywhere else), couples tend to place very high expectations of each other in this area. They also expect instant results.

In reality, it takes time, commitment, disappointment and investment to establish a sexual relationship in marriage which is in tune with the needs of each partner.

It's important for Muslim couples to walk into marriage with proper information about sex and sexual etiquette from an Islamic perspective. They need to know what is Halal (permissible) and what is Haram (forbidden). They should also keep in mind that spouses must never discuss their sexual relationship with others, unless it is to get help for a specific problem with the right person or authority figure.

On a similar note, it's important for both the husband and wife to remember that they need to make themselves physically attractive to each other. Too many couples take marriage to mean an excuse to now let themselves go. The couple or one of the partners may gain too much weight, or may not care about hygiene and their looks in general. The reverse should be true: spouses should take the time out for these things and give them even more attention after marriage. Our beloved Prophet has recommended husband and wife both to do that, May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Little Touches

Husbands and wives have to get into the habit of doing those little things that mean so much. If a man comes home to find his wife asleep, he can cover her and tuck her into bed.

A husband can give his wife a call from work just to say hello and to let her know that he is thinking about her.

If a wife finds that her husband has fallen asleep, she can give him a little kiss on the forehead, even if she thinks that he will not be aware of it. Indeed, on some level his senses are working even though he is asleep and he may very well be aware of it.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) emphasized the value of these little things, “…even the morsel of food that you place in your wife’s mouth…” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

It may very well be that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was alluding to the expenditure of a man for his wife’s needs. Nonetheless, the Prophet (peace be upon him) chose to express it in the way he did for a reason. Most importantly, this is the way the Prophet peace be upon him) conducted himself with his family.

This type of behavior is governed by the tastes of the people involved. It may take some getting used to, but it really does not take a lot of effort.

A person who is not accustomed to such things may feel embarrassed just hearing about them and may prefer to leave matters the way they are rather than try to change his behavior and do things that he might see as ridiculous.

Still, we must be willing introduce new habits into our lives if we do not want our problems to go on forever.