Faith and Love: the foundation of family life in Islam
Family is the holiest social structure as well as the initial core that establishes the human society. In establishment of a safe social relationship, mutual respect, protection of rights and duties of its members, consideration of morality and generosity, plays key role in safeguarding its consolidation, fluency and stability.
This structure, at the same time being the primary social unit of human relations, pro¬claims a high position in customs, laws, social and historical traditions of humans. In the society’s customs and traditions, the basic members of the family including father, mother and children and at the next level grandfather, grandmother, uncles and aunts benefit from written or non-written rights and duties. Each of the various sciences such as sociology, psychology, and socio-psychology; as well as, law, literature, poetry, art, tribal myths or even at international convention such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, reflect the man’s susceptibility and his emphasis on the family. The monotheistic religions which are the great messenger of morality, truth, friendship, and respect have approached this matter with creativity which springs from their feeling of responsibility. This can be easily proven with a quick glance at the history, literature, religious texts and the written or non-written heritage that is left by our ancestors. Islam, the last Divine religion whose holy text, the Holy Qur’an, is considered by Muslims unchanged and safe from distortion, has studied this subject more than any other religion and culture and has emphasized on its importance. At this point, it would be beneficial to mention the following documents in order to make clear the Islamic principles and values concerning family and its rights and duties:
1- In the Holy Qur’an many verses relate to the family system and the rights of its members as well as the rights of parents, children, old people, girls, women even about the servants who live at their home.
2 -The words of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who has taught his apostles and companions about these important issues.
3- The words of the members of his household and the successors of Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) who had been the trustees of his knowledge. It is possible to study these statements in Nahjul-Balagha, which is a collection of sermons, letters and maxims of Imam Ali (AS) as well as other traditions (ahadith) books.
4- The Prophet’s (SAW) behaviour. The generous companions and Imams (AS) of the Prophet’s household who are the merited examples for the Muslims to be followed, and their relationships with their fathers, mothers, other family members and Muslims. Such behaviour can be widely found throughout the historical books.
5- The prayers that have been left by the great religious men. These prayers are very rich sources and are also filled with Islamic training about family rights.
6- And finally, one of the very valuable and rich sources that can be used is, treatise (Resa’ lat al Hoqouq) of Imam Ali ibn al Hussain (AS). This treatise is a valuable and exact explanation of the Imam’s opinion of rights in Islam. Imam Ali ibn al Hussain (AS), mentioned 50 important rights, concerning individual and social responsibilities in relation to Allah and oneself. These rights include the rights of close relatives. This treatise (resa’la) is worth reading and learning from. The importance of cultural and social backgrounds in the interpretation of family rights in Islamic texts, can be categorized as:
1. Mutual love between a wife and a husband: “And one of His signs is that He created mates ‘for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them, and He put between you love and compassion; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect. “ (Quran, sura ar-Rum:21).
In this Holy A ‘yah in addition to emphasis on the most important principle of a matrimony life (love and peace), they are also considered to be the kindnesses and favours of Allah, which He has reated.
2. Coordination between the faith and religion of man and woman: Man’s matrimonial life cannot stabilize and continue on the basis of conflict and contradiction. Love cannot be continued if it is established solely on feelings of affection. This type of love is nothing but passion (Hawa). In an Islamic family the important thing is common belief, deep and holy love. So, a woman and a man who are Muslims and share the same religion are true mates. If this common idea is incorporated with “love” and “responsibility”, it will form the foundation of a good family life.
3. Common cultural and economical background: This principle is a form of social advice of Islam to the families that similarity in cultural, social and economical status should be considered in atrimonial life. But of course this is not a general principle. There are several cases among the Prophet’s (SAW) apostles who were encouraged by the great Prophet (SAW) to marry a girl from a wealthy family, with her consent, to a faithful and honest boy of lesser means. But it is experienced that such marriages must have strong religious and cultural support. In general, it is better to onsider the suitability of education, economics, beauty, and ‘professional position in the society.
4. The Holy agreement between a man and a woman: It is very simple. Two brief sentences that express this concept are the acceptance of mutual love and the responsibility as regard to rights and duties. This agreement destroys the possibility of chaos in the relationship between a man and a woman; more over it makes this relationship legal and divine.
5. Mutual respect and moral dominance: Even though, in Islam like all other legal systems, rules that compose the rights and duties of family members are dominant in the relationship, consideration of morality, forgiveness, generosity and devotion hold a high position. Living under the protection of morality offers such a special serenity and spirituality that a formal life under the control of law is not able to provide. This only becomes possible if there is bilateral forgiveness and generosity. All the Divine religions like Islam are interested in making morality and mutual respect dominate over all fields of society, but the sweet taste of this principle is more manifest in family life.
6. Being responsible towards children: Children as members of the family are the result of human sexual instincts and his need to procreate. Parents and children have mutual rights. There is a right for each duty and in contrast, a duty for each right that is stressed in Islamic verses and traditions. The safe haven, which exists in the family and results in the improvement and promotion of man, can be established by considering these rights and duties.