HOW DOES ISLAM BUILD THE FAMILY
Imam Al-Sadiq relates that a woman who came to the Messenger of
Allah (s.a.w.) was asked by him whether she was a `put-off woman'? She
asked the meaning of that, and the Prophet replied: 'She is the woman
who, when her husband calls her for some need (i.e. to make love), keeps putting it off until he falls asleep. Such a woman will, then, continuously be cursed
by the angels until husband wakes up."
The Qur'an briefly states the right of enjoying one's wife, by
"Your women are tilth for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilth when
you like and do good beforehand for yourselves, and be careful (of
your duty) to Allah, and know that you will (one day) meet Him. Give
glad tidings to believers, (O Muhammad)." Holy Qur'an (2:223)
According to the above verse, the Qur'an confirms man's right to
enjoy his wife in diverse ways, as she, too, has the right to enjoy
The moral and legislative note of the above verse regarding this
lawfulness is evident by the ideal advice of the Qur'an:
"... and do good beforehand for yourselves, and be careful (of your
duty) to Allah, and know that you will (one day) meet Him. Give glad
tidings to believers".
These pieces of advice concerning man, woman and the sexual relations
prove the fact how intelligently Islam has devised ways for both
husband and wife to enjoy themselves according to their respective
rights, so that there can be neither oppression, nor exploitation of
the woman as a result of man's extravagance or misuse.
Islam, which encourages the woman to pay attention to her beauty,
appearance and adornment for her husband and to show affection to him,
at the same time prohibits her from doing the same for any other man
than him, because it would create psychological separation between the
couple and drive the woman to deviation, shamelessness and
faithlessness, besides creating tension, mistrust and hatred in her
husband's heart, and finally destroying the noble edifice called
Hence a Tradition says:
"If a woman angers her husband unjustly and sleeps, Allah would not
accept her prayers until the husband is content with her; and if a
woman uses perfume for other than her husband, Allah would not accept
her prayer until she washes it away as she washes pollution from
3. The Rights of Children Upon Their Parents:
Children are the fruits of marital relations. They are the adornment
of the house, the beauty of the family, and the seeds guaranteeing
the continuation of life. That is why Allah has made maternal
affection the strongest of all other living instincts. Childbirth is
linked to the desire to survive and be eternal and children represent
the continuation of the parents' survival in life.
Islam expresses and interprets these and innate human feelings
through its laws and legislations, regulating marriage, parental
relations and responsibilities, defining the parents' relations with
their children and designing the rights and duties of each member in
proportion to his role in the family.
a. The father is responsible for providing sustenance for his
children as well as meeting their other needs as long as they are
below adulthood and even after it, should they be unable to earn their
own livelihood due to reasons accepted by Islamic law, such as illness,
disability, and the like.
In this way this relationship and the principle of reciprocal
undertakings continue. These relations have material and moral
dimensions effective in the construction of the family and the society
and in strengthening the ties among the members of the family. So the
father is the one who is responsible for arrangements to bring up,
nurse, suck and attend his children during their childhood. The
mother is exempted from this task. Islam gives the mother the right to
be paid for giving suck to her children and for nursing and bringing
them up, as the mother is not responsible for that. But she is
responsible for proper care and guidance for her children and to bring
them up as best as she can, since her role at home is that of a
teacher, educator and guide.
But if she volunteers to take care of her children, give them the
suck, nurse them, etc., it will be a deed Allah likes to see, and
rewards her for it. Actually, Islam encourages her to do so but
without any compulsion or obligation.
b. The second right of the children upon their father is the latter
duty in bringing them up with proper guidance, and treating them with
the spirit of love and affection.
Naturally a child needs paternal care, love and affection, much as it
needs milk, medicine, clothes, etc. The following Traditions urge love
and affection towards children:
"Love children and have mercy on them. When you promise them, keep
it, as they think it is you who support them."
"Whoever kisses his child, Allah the Exalted writes for him a reward;
whoever pleases his child, Allah will please him on the Resurrection
Day; and whoever teaches his child (how to read) the Qur'an, he and
the mother (of the child) will be dressed in the hereafter in suits
whose illumination will light the faces of the dwellers of paradise".
"Allah will have mercy on the man who passionately loves his child".
It has scientifically been confirmed that children who live in an
environment of love, affection and parental care, grow up free from any
complexities, psychopathics and symptoms of weak personality. Science
has also proved that harmonious parental relations have positive
effects on the behavior of the children and on their relations with
the others, in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. On the contrary,
the child who lacks affectionate treatment and grows up in an
atmosphere of hatred, spite and negligence, acquires a loose and weak
personality, irresponsible and aggressive behavior and suffers
from inferiority complex.
Consequently, Islam lays stress on the responsibility of fathers in
bringing up the children with proper guidance. It says:
"O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire
whose fuel is men and stones, over which are set angels strong and
severe, who do not disobey Allah in what He commands them, but do as
they are commanded." Holy Qur'an (66:6)
A man came to the Messenger of Allah and asked him: "What right has
this son of mine upon me?" The Prophet replied: "Give him a good name
and a good education and place him in a good position".
Thus, it is the responsibility of the father to guide his children
and educate them so that they can lead a righteous life. Islam
entrusts the father or the consanguineous grandfather, authority and
control over the children. At the same time, it holds him responsible
for his children's behavior to the rights of others in society
4. The Rights of Parents Upon Their Children:
"And We have enjoined man concerning his parents - his mother bears
him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning takes two years - Be
grateful to Me and to your parents. To Me is the eventual coming."
Holy Qur'an (31:14)
"And your lord has decreed, that you worship none save Him and (you
show) kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them reach old
age with you say not `Fie' to them nor repulse them, but speak to them
a generous word. And make yourself submissively gentle with compassion
to them, and say: O My Lord! Have mercy on them both as they did care
for me when I was little." Holy Qur'an (17:23-24)
Islam does not grant such great attention and respect to any others
except the parents, nor is anybody else granted rights similar to
those of the parents upon their children.
Allah states their next to His upon man. As He commands man to
acknowledge Allah's generosity and to thank and worship Him, likewise
he commands man to thank his parents, obey them, show kindness to
them, have mercy on them and be humble to them, as they are the means
of man's existence and the source of life. The mother had borne him in
her womb. nourished him with all her heart and love, tenderly
whispered lullabies in his ears day and night, deprived herself from
comfortable sleep in order to attend him, throughout her life
surrounded him with feelings of love and care. She regards him as her
soul and her heart beating in another body. So naturally she deserves
to be treated with kindness.
Is there anyone more deserving than her?
There is a Tradition which says:
"Paradise lies at the feet of the mother."
How expressive was the Prophet's answer to a man who came to him and
asked: "O Messenger of Allah! Whom should I be more dutiful to? The
Prophet (s.a.w.) replied: "To your mother". The man asked: "Then to whom?"
He replied: "To your mother. " Once again the man asked: "Then to
whom?" The Prophet (s.a.w.) Said: "To your father."
The respect for the mother does not mean that Islam has neglected the
father. In fact both the parents are to be obeyed and respected by the
children. A Tradition says: "Allah's pleasure is in father's pleasure
and Allah's displeasure is in father's displeasure."
The father is the beloved sustainer, the spender, and
the one who exerts his efforts and bears hardships to provide for his
children a happy and comfortable life. He sees his children as a
reflection of his own existence and an extension of his life after his
The letter which the Imam Ali (a.s.) sent to his son, the Imam Hasan,
is an example for all fathers who believe in Ali's noble principles
and endeavor to follow his lofty ideas:"
...My dear son, you are a part of my body and soul and whenever I
look at you I feel as if I am looking at myself. If any calamity
happens to you, I feel as if it has befallen me. Your death will make
me feel as if it was my own death. Your affairs are to me like my own
So, if these humane feelings and noble aspirations logic of morals
and the conduct of conscience dictate to the children to respect their
fathers and be kind and thankful towards them, since the children's
offers and feelings are too meager to match those of their fathers.
Therefore, the sons' duty is to be kind, thankful and grateful, as an
acknowledgement and an attempt to feel content, never as a complete
and full compensation, nor even a quittance.
In order that the paternal rights may not be mere moral advices or
recommendations, Islam has defined these rights as legal duties and
obligatory legislations, imposed on the sons, and warns them of severe
punishment for neglecting to carry them out. The sons must take care
of their fathers when aged and in need. They have also to sustain them
if they are incapable of working. in case of any deviation on the part
of the son the judiciary has the right to force the son to obey. Islam
regards negligence towards one's parents a capital sin, and prohibits
even the slightest sign of such disobedience, even the utterance of
such an expression as "fie", let alone showing the signs of hatred
A Tradition says:
"The least disobeyance??? is to say `fie' [to the parents]. Had Allah
known anything less than that, He would have forbidden it."
"Whoever looks at his parents with aversion, even if they have
wronged him, Allah would accept none of his prayers."
Thus, Islam enjoins the sons to be kind to their parents, even if the
latters wronged them. So it keeps on emphasizing the necessity of
being kind and lenient to the parents that it regards a look of love
and mercy at the parents a kind of worship to Allah, as is evident
from the following Tradition:
"An affectionate look by a son towards his parents is servitude to
This is encouraged not only during their life-time, but this
heartfelt and deep human relation of the sons to their parents is to
continue even after their death, as a dead father is more in need of
kindness than a living one. Life is the world of events and human
activities, where man can manage his own affairs, or seek the help of
others to accomplish or solve them. But a dead man can do nothing:
"My power has gone from me." Holy Qur'an (69:29)
"And a barrier is set between them and that which they desire..."
Holy Qur'an (34:54)
They cannot make bequest nor can they return to their own families."
Holy Qur'an (36:50)
Therefore, a dead man is cut off from this world except for the
causal relations created during his life.
Good deeds done during lifetime are the only assets in the hereafter.
So he needs a virtuous existence here, enriching and growing it with
means of goodness, since his fate in the hereafter depends on what he
has done in this world.
He cannot go back, but he is still in need of help to set his misdeeds
aright. So who can help him? Who can make up for the man's misdeeds in
this world to which he cannot return? The Traditions of the Prophet
(s.a.w.) answer these questions. They point out the extension that the
man has left behind and which continues even after his death. This
extension is part of him, a good harvest of the seeds the had sowed.
The Prophet (s.a.w.) said:
"When a man dies, his acts stop, except for three: (In leaving) a
running charity, a benefiting knowledge (for mankind) and a virtuous
son who prays for him."
Thus, as the prophet (s.a.w.) says, kindness towards parents does not
stop at their death but should continue even after.
A bedouin once asked the Prophet (s.a.w.): "O Messenger of Allah! Is
there any more kindness that I can do for my parents? "He answered:"
Yes, pray and ask forgiveness for them, pay their debts which were
left unpaid, keep the kinship bonds which may not be kept without them
and honour their friends."
Therefore, sons have to be kind to their parents, do good to them,
pay their debts, perform their obligatory duties which they could not
do during their lives, such as prayers, fasting and pilgrimage, and
continually ask Allah to forgive them. These are the rights of parents
upon their sons, as are clear from the following Tradition:
"If a man is obedient and kind to his parents during their lives, but
when they die neither he pays their debts nor he asks forgiveness for
them, Allah would register him as a disobedient, And likewise if a son
who is neither kind nor dutiful towards his parents but after their
death he pays their debts ans asks forgiveness for them, Allah the
Exalted would register him as an obedient son!”
So, Islam enjoins the eldest son to compensate for the prayers which
his father could not perform during his life, in case the father had
not paid somebody else to do so. Furthermore, the heirs are to pay for
the deceased's pending Hajj pilgrimage, fasting and debts, as well as
to re-compensate those who had been wronged by him, all out of his
legacy before dividing it among the heirs.
This is the fifth and the last base of an organized family. Heritage
is a financial legislation with economic and psychological objectives,
aiming to strengthen the ties among the members of the family. The
heritage law in Islam achieves a number of goals, among them are:
1. It strengthens the ties of love between the father and his
children, wife and other members of his family. He is satisfied that
his family inherits his wealth, the fruit of his efforts, while they
feel he has favored them with his belongings which will assist them
in their lives, opened to them the doors of work and helped them earn
2. It guarantees an orderly and balanced economic distribution as the
wealth owned by an individual is divided among the survivors. It helps
in controlling inflation on one hand and in overcoming poverty on the
3. It encourages the individual to do productive work and double his
efforts, as he knows that it is his nearest and most beloved ones that
would inherit him and, therefore, he will be keen on providing them
with a happy and secure future, especially if they are still minor and
incapable of earning their livelihood. (Compare this wise Islamic law
with the absurd laws of a society disbelieving in heritage, such as
the socialist society. The individual there, finds no justification
for increasing production and doubling his efforts, since his wealth
goes to the government after his death, that is, it would be seized by
those who are not connected to him and avail him or his survivors no
4. The just distribution of the legacy among the relatives of the
deceased makes them all, male or female, feel equal, wipes away from
their souls aversion and hatred, and safeguards legal and moral
justice in its best form, unlike the laws' that grant the legacy to
males, excluding females, or grants it to the eldest son, as is the
case in many man-made laws and deviated legislations.
Thus the Islamic religion builds, in this way an orderly and
harmonious family and keeps its members, even after the death of its
sustainer, by providing them with financial security founded on a
sound psychological and moral basis.