The Structure Of The Muslim Family | Muhammad Aman Al-Jami
In short, the basic family unit is an environment of cooperation between a man and a woman and the domain of the child’s earliest upbringing.
The family, according to the Islamic concepts, is not a mere means of satisfying animal instincts, nor is a family’s home merely an abode for sleep. In fact, it represents an educational environment both for spiritual sublimation and intellectual development. It is a place where there are mutual noble sentiments particularly between husband and wife and among the members of the family in general.
The family in Islam is built upon a holy bond and a mutual contract of tranquillity, love, and kindness between two hearts. The Quran says:
By another sign, He gave you wives from among yourselves, that you might find rest in them, and planted love and kindness in your hearts. Surely there are signs in this for thinking men. T. Q., Sura 30, The Roman Empire, verse 21.
In order to facilitate discussing the role of the family in Islam, we can divide it into three main divisions:
1- The primary or initial family. It is the basic unit and is made up of husband, wife, children, and relations of both or either one of the two spouses.
2- The intermediate family. This is more comprehensive than the first, for it covers the whole territory and homeland. It may be called the national family.
3- The human family. This is by far the most extensive family and represents, or rather includes, all of mankind on the earth.
Thus, by virtue of these definitions, the role of the family in Islam can be seen as having an important connection with all of the sectors mentioned above.
The Primary Family
Its rise, and the roles, functions, and relationships among its members, their rights and duties, are critical to building a stable society.
The family comes into existence as a consequence of a legal marriage, which is one of Allah’s sanctioned traditions in creation and formation. It is a common and regular practice to all human creatures. Allah says:
O mankind, revere your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single Person, created of like nature, his mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. T. Q., Sura 4, The Women, verse 1.
It has been Allah’s will and decree that the family is based upon the relationship between a man and a woman. It is founded on their mutual consent [offering and acceptance denote this consent] to belong to each other, thereby restricting the instinct to seek other unsound and illicit relationships, so that the progeny may be protected and women safeguarded against being regarded as public property, or a burden upon society.
Role and Functions:
1. Protection and sustaining of the human race: It is through family life that human offspring are perpetuated by multiplication till the end of this earthly life. The Quran says:
Allah has given you wives from among yourselves, and through them, He has granted you, sons and grandsons. T.Q., Sura 16, The Bee, verse 72.
2. Safeguarding lineage and descent: A well-grounded family consists of members that take pride in descent from their forefathers and ancestors. One cannot ignore the psychological and personal significance which this sort of family linkage implies: it endows man with dignity and pride.
3. Freedom and intactness of society from immorality: The social structure is intact only when the proper way for building the family is followed, otherwise nations are afflicted with social decay and moral degeneration. For this precaution, Islam has ordained that families must be the result of legal marriage in order to keep people secure and to ensure good morals and virtuous manners. Muhammad says O young people, those of you who can marry let them do so for this cause abstinence and continence but those who cannot go on fasting, which makes them refrain and it safeguards them.
4. Keeping the community secure against disease: A Muslim family is a source of bounty, chastity, and cleanliness. For this reason, the percentage of sexual infections in Muslim communities are low compared to other communities, where family life is unstable as a result of indiscriminate and illicit intercourse between males and females. The AIDS disease emphasizes the importance and necessity of the family are founded on moral decency and a monogamous relationship, with its restricted intercourse and the lack of intermingling between the two sexes.
5. Spiritual and Psychological ease and tranquility: The family is the origin out of which all love, kindness and intimate familiarity springs between the spouses, their children and other family members. Any civilization that is expected to survive must be built upon love, balance, and bounty. Moreover, psychological and spiritual peace of mind and calm impels parents to do their best looking after and taking good care of their children.
6. The family is a cooperative institution: The two spouses collaborate and share responsibilities, each of them in his or her own special capacity and sphere. Consequently, children are imbued with cooperative trends and altruistic intentions.