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Building the family based on Islamic teachings

By: Abdul Adheem al-Muhtadi al-Bahrani
Question: I would like to build my family on sound bases according to Islamic teachings. What is the guiding principle to achieve this goal?
The answer: First, you should know the features of a good family and those of a bad family, and then you can decide which of the respective features to follow.
The features of a good family are as follows:
1. The absence or fewness of controversies between the members of the family, especially between the husband and the wife
2. The parents’ being as a successful example for their children through their conducts and thoughts
3. Observance of religious occasions, both the happy and sorrowful ones, and also of family occasions, like birthdays, as much as possible
4. Exchanging visits with good people and especially with relatives
5. Communal meetings with interactive discussions, jokes, and narrations of amusing incidents
6. Satisfaction of the material needs of all family members such as clothes, food, shelter, and others, besides the moral needs like love, sympathy, care, respect, and the like
The features of a bad family are as follows:
1. Always or often criticizing and disparaging each other and not respecting or encouraging each other
2. Looking at problems from a pessimistic view, as if they are not experiments from which success can be derived
3. Excessively watching others and suspecting every behavior of the family members
4. The dictatorship of the responsible member in the family and his autocracy in making all decisions
5. Cold relationship between the husband and the wife, while the children live in separation and with bad relations
6. Not reciprocating visits with relatives and other people
Of course, you may not find a family with all the ideal qualities, but you should try your best to raise the moral level of your family to be as near the ideal qualities as possible. When you find a good family, try to become acquainted with it and cooperate together to reach the required level of sound social relations. Beware of being ideal theoretically because reality has its own area that is narrower than in theories.
Generally speaking, to achieve your goal, you should try to achieve the following four points as Imam Ali (a.s.) said, ‘There are four things that bring happiness to man: a good wife, dutiful children, good friends, and living in one’s own country.[215]’
[215] Jami’ al-Akhbar, p.285.

How can we create tranquility and quiet time in our family life?
Question: Noisiness, quarrels, and idle talking prevail in our family life. There is no moment of tranquility that allows us to rest and think quietly. The flame of disputation burns at everything and at every moment in our house. I can say that there is no ordinary word said in our house unless hundreds of words burst after it like splinters everywhere, and that does not even include the quarrels between the families of our relatives. Would you please show us the reasons and solutions for this destructive phenomenon?
The answer: First and foremost, let each one of your family members and relatives remember that his life is short, then how would it be if he spends it in quarreling and brings himself senility and death before time? Let them remember too that happiness comes in the boat of discernment, tranquility, delightfulness, and reasonability. Happiness does not approach a person or a family leading a disorderly life. If one loves his life, health, and happiness, surely he will not involve himself in troubles and idle disputations. I do not think that there is someone who knows this fact and does not abide by its conditions!
In order to avoid disputations and quarrels, each person who lives in this house should bear in mind the following points:
1. The house is a place of tranquility and peace of mind
2. When disputations and arguments begin, the more reasonable one from both sides is he who keeps silent, regardless of whatever the other side encroaches upon him
3. The subjects of disputations or the situations that take place during quarrels should not be revealed to those outside the house or to those who are not present when the quarrels take place
4. One should be satisfied and not pine for the blessings others have
5. One should be aware of the mentalities and the ways of thinking of others before dealing with them
6. One should avoid violence
7. One should avoid any differentiating in dealings with others when there is no excuse
8. The Qur'an and other supplications should be recited in the house, and on different occasions, religious meetings about Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) should be held
9. Gifts should be offered on occasions of joy
10. One should constantly be mentioning words praising Allah, such as (la ilaha illallah-there is no god but Allah), (la hawla wela quwwata illabillah-there is no power save in Allah), (alhamdu lillah-praise be to Allah), (astaghfirullah-I ask Allah to forgive me), (aamantu billah-I have believed in Allah), (tawakkaltu alallah-I have relied on Allah), (ya Allah- O Allah), (ya raheem- O Merciful), (ya haleem- O Clement), (ya ghafoor- O Forgiver), etc.
What may prevent family quarrels is if children heed the following points in regards to their parents:
1. They should respect their parents and not raise their voices before them.
2. They should acknowledge the fact that their parents do not wish anything for them save goodness and success.
3. They should be patient with their parents whenever the parents unintentionally make a mistake, especially since we know that because of the pressures of life, parents may sometimes do unwelcome things towards their children but they definitely do not intend to harm them.
4. They should provide their parents with financial assistance before they declare their need, and then they should not remind them of that as a favor to them.
5. They should not ask their parents for what they cannot provide, especially when it comes to buying some things.
6. They should greet them courteously and always ask about their health.
7. They should try their best to treat them when they are ill.
8. They should provide them with all of what they need in the house.
As for the behaviors of parents towards their children, they are as follows:
1. They should care a great deal for the religious education and modern scientific learning of their children.
2. They should praise their children in the presence of others.
3. They should satisfy all their needs as much as they possibly can.
4. They should treat them with love, kindness, mercy, and smiles.
5. They should be friends with them.
6. They should not beat them except when it becomes necessary in order to educate them.
7. They should not insult them in the presence of others.
8. They should give them some pocket money.
9. They should buy them good books and encourage them to read more and more.
10. They should watch their relations with others.
11. They should teach them Islamic teachings and the true beliefs.
12. They should accompany them to picnics and travel with them if it is possible.
13. They should encourage them to learn swimming, archery, and handicrafts.
14. They should marry them to suitable spouses at the suitable time.

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