Friday, 8 May 2015


Culled from Nigerian Tribune on Eye of Islam

Writer: Siraj Islam Mufti

The Western society as a whole is in a deep social crisis. This is primarily due to the breakdown of family institution through dominant secular forces. Family constitutes the foundation of a society and on its strength or weakness lies the strength or weakness of the society. If the family institution is weak, nothing else can make up for this weakness. Therefore, despite its present greatness, the entire West is heading towards a disastrous end.

The breakdown of Western families is proceeding at an alarming speed. Rising divorce rates show that the West tops the world.

In 2014, the United Sates stood at 10th place with 53 per cent, and Belgium led at 71 per cent. With a population of 320 million, it is estimated that there is one couple breaking up in the US every six seconds. Unbelievable! Isn’t it?

Less than 50 per cent American children live in a first marriage family, and the fastest growing form of family is a single mother.  Two of the biggest problems among children are teenage pregnancy and drug abuse. In 2012, 89 per cent of pregnancies in ages 15-19 years were outside of marriage. And the newborns are often left at the doors of others or dropped into dumpsters. One could go on dwelling into other problems that the Western society is suffering from, among these, alcohol consumption and drug abuse, which have bad consequences for a family.

But let us discuss the subject of Islamic family and its importance for Muslims.
Ismail Faruqi, an Islamic intellectual, who was a professor of religion at the Temple University and a founder of International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon, Virginia, observed that “the Islamic family, if it is rightly Islamic, is the very ideal to which Western people aspire. In other words, the reality of Western people today stands diametrically opposite; if they can say that they can stand at the bottom of human, social, and ethical development, because of what we see happening around us in their midst, the Islamic family with its ideals, with its norms and standards, stands at the opposite highest, and, therefore, there could be no better way of convincing Western man, the non-Muslim man or woman, of the value of Islam, of the greatness of Islam, than to invite them to visit a Muslim family.”

However, he warned Muslims, “But then, the Muslim family must be a good one. In other words, it must be truly Islamic and it must live up to the standards expected of an Islamic family.”
Let us compare and contrast some of the reasons for the wellbeing of an Islamic family versus a Western family.

Even before an Islamic family is started, it carries divine blessings on the premise that there is no sex before marriage. Thus, it saves Muslims from the evils of sexual promiscuity that is rampant in the West. It is the cause, among others, of the spread of venereal diseases.

In the Western societies, virginity is looked upon as an oddity. The youngsters mix freely with one another and have sex as they desire with more than one partner. And this habit continues after they get married. Therefore, there is great infidelity in marriage. And even a father may not consider that children born are legitimately his - leading to his emotional ruin. In females, this is the cause of widespread teenage pregnancy and of unmarried mothers.

Islam confers different roles on man and woman. As such, women do not compete with men, but complement each other.  This is clear from the following Qur’anic verse: “Husbands are the protectors and maintainers of their wives because God has given the one more strength than the other, and because they support them from their means.” (Al Nisa 4:34).

Islam assigns the family leadership role to men because God has endowed them with somewhat greater physical and emotional strength and endurance. As such, men are responsible for supporting all female relatives in addition to their own household. On the other hand, God made women biologically and psychologically very much suited to concentrate on the home and family and all that is required to operate and develop this institution and its associated areas.  This is a tremendous responsibility. And no one else can either take it away from her or adequately attend to it.

Khurshid Ahmad, another great Islamic intellectual, was quoted as saying: “The function of child-bearing remains incomplete without its more crucial part of child-rearing and upbringing - their education, orientation, character-building and general initiation into religion and culture. If is because of this aspect that family care becomes a full-time job. No other institution or even a number of institutions can take care of this function.”
However, differences in roles or functions between men and women do not mean differences in their humanity. Or that one is superior to the other.

The Qur’an tells us at several places on the equality of men and women before God and in His judgment in the Hereafter. For example: “If any do deeds of righteousness - be they male or female - and have faith, they will enter heaven. And not the least injustice will be done to them.” (Al Nisa 4:124).

An Islamic family begins with affinity between the two families and prospective spouses. The courtship between husband and wife starts after marriage and grows and becomes stronger with passage of time. And marriage is the beginning, not the consummation of this process of courtship and love. In the Western system, love and courtship start before marriage. Marriage is the culmination of this relationship and there is no excitement left to look forward to in marriage except
To be concluded next week

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