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Family Life In Islam

Family Life in Islam

by Olivia Monem

•Husband and Wife •Parents and Extended Family

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (one who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” (Qur'an 49:13)

Husband and Wife
• Adam & Eve • Rights and duties of spouses • Divorce & Widowhood • Polygamy
“And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may live in tranquility with them, and He put love and mercy between you; Verily, in that are signs for people who reflect.” (Quran 30:21)


Adam & Eve
The Islamic story of Adam and Eve is found in several places in the Quran, for example: "O Adam dwell with your wife in the Garden and enjoy as you wish but approach not this tree or you run into harm and transgression. Then Satan whispered to them in order to reveal to them their shame that was hidden from them and he said: 'Your Lord only forbade you this tree lest you become angels or such beings as live forever.' And he swore to them both that he was their sincere adviser. So by deceit he brought them to their fall: when they tasted the tree their shame became manifest to them and they began to sew together the leaves of the Garden over their bodies. And their Lord called unto them: 'Did I not forbid you that tree and tell you that Satan was your avowed enemy?' They said: 'Our Lord we have wronged our own souls and if You forgive us not and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be lost' " (Quran 7:19-23). The Quran places equal blame on both Adam and Eve for their mistake. Nowhere in the Quran can one find even the slightest hint that Eve tempted Adam to eat from the tree or even that she had eaten before 4 him. Both Adam and Eve committed a sin, both asked God for forgiveness, and both were forgiven by God.

Rights & Duties of spouses
Rights of the Wife
• • • • • to accept or reject any marriage proposal to receive “MAHR”, a gift from the husband to be treated with kindness and respect to be provided with food, shelter, and clothing to possess personal property, to acquire education and to seek employment to be consulted before any major family decisions to seek divorce if her husband chooses to marry another woman

Rights of the Husband
• • • • to be treated with kindness and respect to have his property, secrets and privacy secured by his wife to have the final say in major family decisions, after consultation to marry up to four wives, provided he abides by all conditions

• •


Rights & Duties cont.
Duties of the Husband
• • • • • to give “MAHR”, a gift, to his wife to treat his wife with kindness and and respect to provide his wife and family with food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities to fulfil his role as Father to his children to consult his wife before making any major family decisions

Duties of the Wife
• • to treat her husband with kindness and respect to keep, protect and guard her husband’s secrets, their marital privacy, and her husband’s property to manage household affairs to fulfill her role as Mother to her children to abide by any decisions made by her husband, after consultation

• • •


Divorce & Widowhood
Regarding divorce and widowhood in general, there is no stigma attached to divorce or widowhood in the Quran - Widows and divorcees have the freedom to marry whomever they choose. Islam recognizes and allows divorce, but discourages it. The Quran offers Muslim married couples advice on how to save their marriage. If one of the partners is jeopardizing the matrimonial relationship, the other partner is advised by the Quran to do whatever possible and effective in order to save this sacred bond. But if a marriage has to end, then Islam allows the partners to separate peacefully and amicably.

“When you divorce women and they fulfil their terms [three menstruation periods] either take them back on equitable terms or set them free on equitable terms; But do not take them back to injure them or to take undue advantage, If anyone does that, he wrongs his own soul. Do not treat Allah's signs as a jest" (2:231).

The Quran, allowed polygamy, but also restricted it: "If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with them, then only one" (4:3). This verse of the Quran was revealed after one of the battles, in which dozens of men were killed leaving behind widows and orphans. The Quran, limited the maximum number of wives to four under the strict condition of treating the wives equally and justly. In Islam, polygamy is only allowed, and is not the norm. It only provides a moral and practical solution to a situation in which there would be a great number of widows and orphans (like after a war or epidemic for example), who would otherwise be very vulnerable and in need of a stable family atmosphere. Men may choose to be monogamous, and in fact a first wife may include in her marriage contract that her husband stay monogamous (a condition mutually accepted, of course).

Parents & Extended Family
• Special status for Mothers • Children • The elderly
“We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says ‘Oh my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favor which You have bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as


Special status for Mothers
In Islam, the honor, respect, and esteem attached to motherhood is unparalleled. The Quran places the importance of kindness to parents as second only to worshipping God. The Quran in several other places puts special emphasis on the mother's great role in giving birth and nursing: "And We have enjoined on man to be good to his parents: In difficulty upon difficulty did his mother bear him and in two years was his weaning. Show gratitude to Me and to your parents" (31:14). The very special place of mothers in Islam has been eloquently described also by Prophet Muhammad: "A man asked the Prophet: 'Whom should I honor most?' The Prophet replied: 'Your mother'. 'And who comes next?' asked the man. The Prophet replied: 'Your mother'. 'And who comes next?' asked the man. The Prophet replied: 'Your mother!'. 'And who comes next?' asked the man. The Prophet replied: 'Your father'" (Bukhari and Muslim).


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From the Islamic perspective, children are a gift and a blessing: “Wealth and children are the adornment of the life of this world” (Quran ‘Al-Kahf’:46) “And Allah has made for you spouses of your own kind and has made for you, from your wives, sons and grandsons, and has bestowed upon you good provisions.” (Quran ‘Al-Nahl’:72) Before Islam, daughters used to be killed; Islam forbade the practice of female infanticide: “When news is brought to one of them of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief! With shame he hides himself from his people because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain her on (sufferance and) contempt or bury her in the dust? Ah! What an evil (choice) they decide on!” (Quran 16:58-59) Also, a girl’s inheritance became confirmed in the Quran: “From what is left by parents and those nearest related, there is a share for men and a share for women, whether the property be small or large - a determinate share.” (Quran 4:7)


The elderly
In Islam, there is no room for institutional homes for the elderly. Caring for one’s parents during their old age is considered an honor and a blessing. The Quran says that serving one’s parents is second to worshipping God: “Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, But address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, Lower to them the wing of humility, and say: 'My Lord! bestow on them Your Mercy as they Cherished me in childhood' " (17:23-24). The extended family plays a role in family disputes, and the opinion of the elderly (grandparents, great uncle/aunt, etc.) are usually sought in most discussions. Marriage in general is not just between two people, but between two families! When a Muslim dies, he or she is washed, usually by a family member, wrapped in a clean white cloth and buried with a simple prayer, preferably the same day. Muslims consider this one of the final 12 services they can do for their relatives, and also an opportunity to remember their own brief time here on Earth.