By Harron L Balogun
Strong family ties built on the teachings of Quran and Sunnah provide the necessary foundation for a happy and joyous household and in turn contribute to the overall health of a society.
On the other hand, members of a troubled families struggle to maintain calm within and watch helplessly as day to day troubles tarnish and strain their relationships, and as a result grapple with daily stress in their lives. In extreme cases, this results in corrupting the very foundations of societies at large.
Society becomes messed up and governance becomes disordered. The fact many people tend to ignor is that family is the mirror of athe society. As family members, therefore, everyone has the obligation to take the necessary measures to strengthen these foundations.
Having a family is a blessing and its members must work to make family life at home peaceful and joyful. Allah says in Q16-80: “And Allah has made for you in your homes an abode …”
A home is also a place of protection from the fitnah (corruption) of the outside world. The Prophet (S) said: “The safety of a man at times of fitnah is in his staying home.”
Islamic teachings based on the foundation of the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet (s.a.w) provide us with those guidelines. To benefit from those guidelines, we ought to “live” Islam within our families. We do not become Muslims simply by being born into a Muslim family. Rather, Islamic character is formed from a combination of parental efforts, personal struggle, prayers and supplications.
The necessity to bring Islam within our families is underscored by Allah telling us in the Quran to protect ourselves and our family members from the fire. He says in Quran 66 v 6: save families hell fire
“O you who believe! Protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is human beigns and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded.”
Protecting one’s family from the fire refers to fostering a guiding environment for our families. The Prophet (s.a.w), too, stressed that we all actively help to lead our families in the right direction. He said: “Allah will ask every shepherd (or responsible person) about his flock (those for whom he was responsible), whether he took care of it or neglected it, until He asks a man about his household.”
We know that the walls of a home have little to do with the building of healthy dynamics within family members. That usually comes from living our lives according to the principles of Islam. So, how do we live Islam within our families and nurture a good home? There are six principles that families can use to live Islam within their families. This in turn can help in building the foundations of a joyous family.
Make home a place for the family to worship Allah
Let us start with the basics. Allah clearly tells us that He created us to worship Him. That involves following Allah’s commands in our daily lives as well as remembering Him through various Ibadat such as prayers, Quran recitation and so on. Within a family, we need to ensure following all that is needed to fulfill our minimum responsibilities of worshiping Him along with helping others to perform theirs. For example, Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that the Messenger of Allah (S) used to pray qiyaam at night, and at the time of witr he would wake her up to pray witr. (Reported by Muslim, Sharh al-Nawawi, 6/23).
The importance of family members frequently engaging in Allah’s worship at home is evident through other ahadith as well as the Quran. Allah says in the Quran: “And We inspired Musa and his brother (saying): ‘Take dwellings for your people in Egypt, and make your dwellings as places for your worship, and perform al-salaah, and give glad tidings to the believers.’” (Q10s:87). In a hadith, the Messenger of Allah (S) said: “Do not turn your houses into graves …” (Reported by Muslim, 1/539).
One of the signs of a home that is filled with Allah’s remembrance is for it to become lively at Tahajjud, Fajar, and other prayers. This habit alone can bring tremendous peace to one’s household. The importance of this habit is obvious from a hadith where the Prophet (S) said: “The likeness of a house in which Allah is remembered and the house in which Allah is not remembered is that of the living and the dead, respectively.” With regard to men, the Prophet (S) said: “The best prayer is a man’s prayer in his house – apart from the prescribed prayers in the mosque.” (Reported by al-Bukhari, al-F
Keep Shaytan out of the house
Allah has told us in the Quran that Shaytan is our enemy and we should do everything to keep him out of our lives. Shaytan hurts us by misguiding us toward evil deeds, making the bad look acceptable, bringing misfortune in our lives and families, and so on.
The more we succeed in keeping his tactics and curses away from our lives and our homes, the fewer will be the fights, arguments, misunderstandings, etc., and the more will we enjoy Allah’s peace and blessings.
Both Allah and the prophet (s) have told us how to ward off Shaytan’s whispers and other evil tactics. For example, when entering a house, we should ensure that everyone welcomes the others at home by saying the Islamic greeting of “As-salamun alaikum”.
Abu Dawood reported in his Sunan that the Messenger of Allah (S) said: “If a man goes out of his house and says, ‘Bismillaah, tawakkaltu ‘ala Allah, laa hawla wa laa quwwata illaa Billaah (In the name of Allah, I put my trust in Allah, there is no help and no strength except in Allah),’ it will be said to him, ‘This will take care of you, you are guided, you have what you need and you are protected.’ The Shaytaan will stay away from him. Obviously, what can he do with a man who is guided, provided for and protected by Allah? Certainly nothing.
Also, endeavour to recite Q2 at home. The surah is long, but family members can alternate in the recitation of the Surah. You can also play it from a CD or any device. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: “Do not make your houses into graves. The Shaytaan flees from a house in which Suratul Baqarah is recited.”
Let respect, kindness and trust rule the affairs of the family
Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “The Messenger of Allah (S) said: ‘When Allah – may He be glorified – wills some good towards the people of a household, He introduces kindness among them.’” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad in al-Musnad, 6/71; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 303).
Each individual has a unique identity and individuality that deserves to be respected. Giving time to listen to each other and helping solve problems in the light of Islam will make a household more conducive for productive problem solving. On the contrary, a home filled with frequent argumentation, disputes, and quarrels will only foster bad feelings and is something that stands counter to the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah.
Let’s remember that the prophet (s.a.w) associated an argumentative and disputing attitude with misguidance. He said, “A nation never went astray after being guided except by means of disputation (Tirmidhi #3253 and ibn Majah #48 on the authority of Abu Umamah).” In this context, we should also exercise the use of our tongues with great care. The Prophet (S) said: “Blessed is the one who controls his tongue…”
Family members should also uphold each other’s trust and ensure that family matters stay private unless there is a specific need to share it with others. This especially pertains to spousal issues and matters. The prophet (s.a.w) said, “One of the most evil of people in the sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection will be a man who went in unto his wife and she went in unto him (had relations with each other), then he (or she) disclosed her (or his) secret.” (Reported by Muslim, 4/157). There are other ahadith that clearly and strictly warn the spouses (likening them to devils) when they let others in their very private matters.
Foster a culture of Islamic learning and knowledge
We must teach our children and wives the religion and goodness, and whatever they need of good manners. Fostering and nurturing a learning environment at home where family members share Islamic teachings regularly can help all members to become more knowledgeable about Islam, improving one’s life in turn. Let’s remind ourselves that the prophet (s.a.w) used to teach his wives / family and even servants quite regularly. If the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) used to urge the teaching of female servants, who were slaves, what do you think about your children and wives, who are free?”
Discussing Islamic wisdom regularly can help us to stay informed and involved in ongoing self assessment. Most of us are usually preoccupied with issues related to our responsibilities, work, relationships and disappointments in life. While discussing these matters with our family members, we can relate them to how the prophet (s.a.w) and his companions resolved such matters. We should find opportunities to discuss such issues when everyone comes together as for instance during meal times.
Family members should also use the learning opportunities at home to learn and advise each other on matters of halal and haram. Let’s remind ourselves that once we cross those lines and start characterizing the bad as acceptable, Satan further raises those limits and does not stop until he completely pushes us into the darkness of evil and shirk (polytheism).
Another way to foster a learning environment at home is for each family to instill the love of Islamic literature and books. So, beyond keeping a Quran and a book on hadith, the family should look to maintain literature on Quran interpretation and books of renowned Islamic scholars that can help family members get a deeper insight into the wisdom of the Quran and the Sunnah.
Make family decisions through mutual consultation
Involving the family in important matters before making a decision ensures closeness among the members. Allah says in the Quran 42 verse38. “… and who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation…”
Mutual consultation allows for each member to have a sense of importance and responsibility. Besides, when trying to solve a problem, the more brains that are involved, the better the chances for a solution. Problems can be resolved with one-on-one conversations between parents and children, and other family members. Rather than venting frustrations and focusing on the problems, family members should find ways to engage in conversations where solutions are sought in an amicable manner. Venting frustrations, blaming each other, harsh tones, and demeaning each other not only does not solve problems but also sours relationships and closes all doors for future consultations and trust. Let’s remember the hadith of the Prophet where he compared harshness with good behavior. He (s.a.w) said, “Allah loves kindness and rewards it in such a way that He does not reward for harshness or for anything else.”
Understand and fulfill responsibilities toward other family members
Living with other family members also necessitates that each of us learns the rights of others. As Muslims, we should know the rights of our parents, children, spouses, siblings, and others. For example, Allah provides us clear instructions about kindness to parents. He (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) Has instructed us:
And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor reprimand them but address them in terms of honor.
“And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: “My Lord! Bestow on them Your mercy as they did bring me up when I was young.” (Quran 17: 24)
The Quran is clear with regard to our duties to our parents. By fulfilling our responsibilities towards them we can also serve as a good example to our children in the practice of patience and kindness. Similarly, we should learn our responsibilities in dealing with our children. When parents recognize the child as an individual, address him and include him / her in discussions on general topics, a proper rapport is formed and the child finds it easier to obey them. Reminders could be given and situations that parents themselves were in could be discussed to help each other get and stay on the track of Islam. When parents make the mistake of considering themselves perfect (and their imperfections are quite obvious!) they lose their own credibility and the respect of their children as well.
This applies to other family members as well. Knowing the rights of other individual including the child within the family can help us fulfill our responsibilities as prescribed to us by Islam and can help us live Islam within our families. You can also read Suratul Muminun, (23: 1-11); Surah Luqman (31:13-19) and others. May Allah strengthen our faith and continue to guide us to the right path.