Significance of Knowing the Narrators of Prophetic Hadith

By Truth Seeker Staff

Prophetic Hadith

The methodology of the expert scholars of Hadith in assessing narrations and sorting out the genuine from the mistaken, fabricated etc., forms the subject-matter of a wealth of material left to us by the scholars of Hadith

The narrators of Hadith are the most honourable and respectable Muslims, as they are keepers and preservers of the Prophetic Sunnah. Most of them are the Companions of the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention) who witnessed the acts and learnt the sayings of the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention). Others are the Successors of the Companions. Who were blessed by Allah and they are highly respected by all Muslims. They are the shinning stars of Islam.

Their hearts were free from worldly desires. Reading their biographies will increase love and devotion towards them and develop more interest to be faithful and obedient in the heart of the Muslim who reads their biography.

Allah Almighty Says (what means): “Verily, We have sent down the Reminder, and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).” [Al-Hijr 15:9] The above promise made by Allah is obviously fulfilled in the undisputed purity of the Qur’anic text throughout the fourteen centuries since its revelation.

However, what is often forgotten by many Muslims is that the above divine promise also includes, by necessity, the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah exalt his mention) for it is the practical example of the implementation of the Qur’anic guidance, the Wisdom taught to the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention) along with the Scripture, and neither the Qur’an nor the Sunnah can be understood correctly without recourse to the other.

Allah preserved the Sunnah by enabling the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, and their followers, may Allah have mercy on them, to memorize, write down and pass on the statements of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah exalt his mention) and the descriptions of his way, as well as to continue the blessings of practicing the Sunnah. Later, as the purity of the knowledge of the Sunnah became threatened, Allah caused the Muslim nation to produce outstanding individuals of incredible memory-skills and analytical expertise, who journeyed tirelessly to collect hundreds of thousands of narrations and distinguish the true words of precious wisdom of their Messenger (may Allah exalt his mention) from those corrupted by weak memories, from forgeries by unscrupulous liars, and from the statements of the enormous number of scholars, the Companions and those who followed their way, who had taught in various centers of learning and helped to transmit the legacy of Muhammad (may Allah exalt his mention) – all of this achieved through precise attention to the words narrated and detailed familiarity with the biographies of the thousands of reporters of Hadith. Action being the best way to preserve teachings, the scholars of Islam also revived the practice of the blessed authentic Sunnah.

Unfortunately, however, statements will continue to be attributed to the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention) although the person quoting them may have no idea what the people of knowledge in the field of Hadith science have ruled regarding those Hadiths, thus ironically being in danger of contravening the Prophet’s (may Allah exalt his mention) widely-narrated stern warnings about attributing incorrect/unsound statements to him.

The methodology of the expert scholars of Hadith in assessing narrations and sorting out the genuine from the mistaken, fabricated etc., forms the subject-matter of a wealth of material left to us by the scholars of Hadith (Traditionists).

A Prophetic Hadith is composed of two parts: the Matn (text) and the Isnaad (chain of reporters). A text may seem to be logical and reasonable but it needs an authentic Isnaad with reliable reporters to be acceptable. `Abdullah Ibn Al-Mubarak, may Allah have mercy upon him (d. 181 AH), one of the illustrious teachers of Imam Al-Bukhari, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “The Isnaad is part of the religion, had it not been for the Isnaad, then people would have claimed whatever they wished.”

Among the sciences of Hadith is the study of the Chain of Reporters (the Isnaad). Many Muslim scholars have specialized in this field. It includes identifying the name of each and every narrator (reporter), his character (his truthfulness, piety, public behavior), his ability and reputation as a memorizer and the types of narrations he is known to report, whether authentic, weak, fabricated, etc. In addition, each narrator should be identified by a rating given by other narrators who knew him. So all of these and many other details must be considered to know the degree to which a Hadith may be used as a basis for Islamic belief or practice (Shari`ah), or merely as a point of interest (not to be attributed to the sayings, etc. of the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention)).

After the Book of Allah (The Qur’an), the books of Hadith collection that were collected by Imams Al-Bukhari and Muslim, may Allah have mercy upon them, are considered by the Muslim scholars to be the most authentic books of Hadith. However, there are other famous scholars in the field who compiled books of Hadith such as; Abu Dawoud (d.275), At-Tirmidhi (d. 279), An-Nasa’i (d. 303) and others, may Allah have mercy upon them.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from islamweb.net

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Infection Control in Islam

Infection Control in Islam

By Aisha Stacey

infection control

Islam is a holistic belief system and it takes into account the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of individuals and societies.

In recent years, health professionals around the world have become increasingly concerned with the spread of infectious diseases. Outbreaks of swine flu, avian (bird) flu and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) have meant that infectious diseases have taken on a global context and are now on the agenda of world leaders and health policymakers alike. In developed and developing countries, health officials are focusing on infectious disease research and linking it to policymaking and infrastructure.

The scope of infectious diseases is progressively more challenged by globalization. Easy and frequent air travel allows diseases to spread rapidly between communities and countries. Infectious disease control will continue to be confronted by 21st-century issues including global warming, conflict, famine, overpopulation, deforestation, and bioterrorism.

Due to ongoing media attention, most of us are aware of the dangers associated with swine flu and bird flu and in 2003 -2004 the world held its collective breath when 8098 people became sick with SARS before the global outbreak was contained.[1] These three diseases have led to renewed interest in infectious diseases by the public; however, Gideon Informatics[2], the world’s leading global infectious disease database, has tracked and documented more than 20 major infectious diseases since 1972.

Some basic measures are appropriate when trying to control the spread of any or all infectious diseases. These include meticulous hand washing, covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing, proper disposal of tissues, staying at home and away from public places, and in extreme cases such as SARS, quarantine. In the series of articles entitled Health in Islam, we explained in some detail that Islam is a religion concerned with creating a community of healthy believers.

Islam is a holistic belief system and it takes into account the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of individuals and societies. Although care of the individual is important, safeguarding communities, including its weakest members, is of paramount importance. More than 1400 years ago, Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, was teaching his followers hygiene practices that are still applicable in the 21st century.

From the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, we find evidence that clearly indicates Islam’s stance on coughing and sneezing openly. Prophet Muhammad instructed the believers to cover their faces when sneezing. [3] The most obvious effect of sneezing and coughing without covering the mouth is the spread of airborne bacteria and viruses, in addition, droplets invisible to the naked eye may fall onto surfaces or other people.

 

According to the Centre for Disease Control in the USA, the virus that causes SARS is thought to be transmitted most readily by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. What is known as droplet spread can happen when droplets from the cough or sneeze of an infected person are propelled a short distance (up to 3 feet) through the air and deposited on the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, or eyes of persons who are nearby. The virus also can spread when a person touches a surface or object contaminated with infectious droplets and then touches his or her mouth, nose, or eye. The SARS virus might spread more broadly through the air (airborne spread).

Islam is referred to as the religion of cleanliness. “Truly, God loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.” (Al-Baqarah 2:222) In the traditions of Prophet Muhammad cleanliness is mentioned as half of faith, therefore, it is important to keep the body fresh and clean and Islam insists on several practices to facilitate this. The private parts are washed after using the toilet and Muslims must pay particular attention to being clean before praying. They wash their hands, faces, (including rinsing the mouth and nose) arms and feet, a minimum of five times per day. Prophet Muhammad insisted that the believers wash their hands, before praying, before and after eating [4] and upon waking up in the morning.[5]

When trying to stop the spread of any type of influenza, including swine flu and bird flu, the first line of defense is frequent hand washing. Both the World Health Organization and CDC recommend the following precautions. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and dispose of the tissue in the trash after use. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, germs spread that way. Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Infection control in Islam includes isolation and quarantine. Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, instituted strategies that are today implemented by public health authorities. He commanded his followers not to travel to places known to be afflicted with illness and he advised those in the contaminated areas or communities not to leave and spread the disease further afield. He said, “If you hear that there is a plague in a land, do not enter it; and if it (plague) visits a land while you are therein, do not go out of it”. [6] He also counseled ill people not to visit healthy people. [7]

During the worldwide outbreak of SARS, quarantine officials arranged for appropriate medical assistance, which sometimes included medical isolation and restricted travel movements. The CDC says isolation is necessary not only for the patient’s comfort but also to protect members of the public. Many levels of government around the world are legally able to compel sick, infectious people to remain in quarantine or in isolation in order to stop the spread of disease.

The teaching and principles of Islam are designed to benefit all of humankind. Rules and recommendations for personal hygiene and cleanliness promote the well-being of individuals and communities. Infection control is inherent in Islamic hygiene behavior. Washing the hands, covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing, voluntary isolation, when one is feeling unwell, and restricted travel is an effective and comprehensive public health strategy. Measures taken in the 21st century to prevent the spread of infections and viruses conform almost exactly to the hygiene and infection control practices taught by Prophet Muhammad.

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] (http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/basics.htm)

[2] (http://www.gideononline.com/index.htm)

[3] Mustadrak Haakim

[4] Abu Dawood

[5] Saheeh Al-Bukhari

[6] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim

[7] Saheeh Muslim

 

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from IslamReligion.com.

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Give Advice with Sincerity and Kindness

Give Advice with Sincerity and Kindness

By Truth Seeker Staff

advice

The Muslim propagator or missionary does not call to gain a personal benefit for himself, his people, his tribe or group. Otherwise he will have no reward.

The one who invites others to Allah is from the closest people to Allah our Lord. In addition, Muslims collectively agree on the importance of propagating Islam and inviting people to Allah, and many talk about it being mandatory upon Muslims, and we agree with them, that it is an obligation, to enjoy that which is good and forbid that which is evil and to spread chastity and fight immorality and educate people and remind them and advise them.

Therefore, there is no doubt that one who invites to Allah is a chosen one, and form the best of his creatures. He loved Allah, responded to Him and invited to Him so in return Allah loved him. That is why Allah Says in a short statement and made it very clear (what means): “And who is better in speech then he who invites to Allah, meaning, Islamic monotheism and does righteous deeds and says; `I am one of the Muslims`” [Fussilat 41:33].

Al-Hasan Al-Basri, may Allah have mercy upon him, said after he has recited the abovementioned verse: “This is the beloved one to Allah, this is the Waly of Allah, meaning supported and loved by Allah. This is the chosen one by Allah, this is the best of preachers to Allah this is the dearest from the dwellers of earth to Allah. He responded to Allah and called people to Allah and acted righteously while responding and calling and said “I am from the Muslims.””

To attain the level of this rank, it is necessary for the Muslim missionary or propagator who is seeking the reward from Allah to be mindful of the following issues in order for the mission to be fruitful:

1) Being sincere in the objective and intention: Sincerity is the foremost of all deeds and certainly the most important of them all; it is the foundation for all other deeds; it is the essence of Islam and the one of the principal matters that the prophets called their people to. Allah Says (what means): “And they [i.e. the People of the Scripture] were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give Zakah. And that is the correct religion.” [Al-Baiyynah 98:5]

Sincerity is the essence of worship; Imam Ibn Hazm may Allah have mercy upon him said: “The relationship between sincerity and deeds is like that between the soul and the body.”

Sincerity is the basis upon which deeds are either accepted or rejected, and thus it is the cause of one’s ultimate success or failure. Sincerity is the way leading to Hell for those who do not fulfil it and the path to Paradise for those who can attain it.

Those who fulfil Islamic monotheism are also referred to as the sincere, and its Islamic definition is as Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “…To have only (the pleasure of) Allah in one’s intention whilst performing acts of obedience.”

The Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “Deeds are but with intentions.” This is one of the most important prophetic narrations from amongst all that the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention) taught us.

On the other hand, those who perform deeds in order to be seen by others are dispraised by Allah and are promised punishment, as Allah Says (what means): “Whoever desires the life of this world and its adornments – We fully repay them for their deeds therein, and they therein will not be deprived. Those are the ones for whom there is not in the Hereafter but the Fire.” [Hud 11:15-16]

Therefore, the Muslim propagator or missionary does not call to gain a personal benefit for himself, his people, his tribe or group. Otherwise he will have no reward.

2) Being kind whilst calling people: Using the proper means leading to the achievement of the objective is achieved by one following the way of the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention). Allah addresses the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention) Saying (what means): “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching and argue with them in a way that is better”. [Al-Nahl 16:125]. Some of the people who are invited to the way of Allah are good in nature, if they recognize the truth they stick to it. They are thirsty and eager, and as soon as one shows them the truth, they hasten to it. Such a person is to be invited with wisdom.

Regarding the method of calling people, Allah Says in the above verse (which means): “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best…” [Al-Nahl 16:125] Thus, one should not be aggressive and harsh in the way he calls people to Islam; rather he should use words that would soften their hearts, so that they would yield to his instructions and pay heed to his words. Allah commands us to be this way, even with the disbelievers, when He says (what means): “And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them…” [Al-`Ankabut 29: 46]

In our era, such wisdom, soft words and kindness when calling to the path of Allah are especially important. This is of course required in all situations, but in a period in which ignorance and submitting to desires has overwhelmed the masses, it becomes all the more essential. Once, a scholar entered into the presence of an ‘Abbasi caliph and said: “I am going to admonish you in a harsh manner, so listen.” Upon hearing this, the caliph said: “O brother! Be gentle, for I am not worse than Pharaoh, and you are not better than Musa whom Allah addressed along with his brother, Harun, Saying (what means): “And speak to him [i.e., Pharaoh] with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allah].” [Ta-Ha 20: 44]

Furthermore, the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “He who is deprived of gentleness and forbearance is deprived from a great deal of goodness.” `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, reported that the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “Whenever forbearance is added to something, it adorns it; and whenever it is withdrawn from something, it leaves it defective” [Muslim].

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from islamweb.net

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Why British Women are Turning to Islam

Why British Women are Turning to Islam

By Truth Seeker Staff

Islam

“Within the next 20 years the number of British converts will equal or overtake the immigrant Muslim community that brought the faith here”, says Rose Kendrick

The Spread of a World Creed

Lucy Berrington finds the Muslim Faith is winning Western admirers despite hostile media coverage.

Unprecedented numbers of British people, nearly all of them women, are converting to Islam at a time of deep divisions within the Anglican and Catholic churches.

The rate of conversions has prompted predictions that Islam will rapidly become an important religious force in this country.  “Within the next 20 years the number of British converts will equal or overtake the immigrant Muslim community that brought the faith here”, says Rose Kendrick, a religious education teacher at a Hull comprehensive and the author of a textbook guide to the Koran.  She says: “Islam is as much a world faith as is Roman Catholicism.  No one nationality claims it as its own”.  Islam is also spreading fast on the continent and in America.

The surge in conversions to Islam has taken place despite the negative image of the faith in the Western press.  Indeed, the pace of conversions has accelerated since publicity over the Salman Rushdie affair, the Gulf War and the plight of the Muslims in Bosnia.  It is even more ironic that most British converts should be women, given the widespread view in the west that Islam treats women poorly.  In the United States, women converts outnumber men by four to one, and in Britain make up the bulk of the estimated 10, 000 to 20, 000 converts, forming part of a Muslim community of 1 to 1.5 million.  Many of Britains “New Muslims” are from middle-class backgrounds.  They include Matthew Wilkinson, a former head boy of Eton who went on to Cambridge, and a son and daughter of Lord Justice Scott, the judge heading the arms-to-Iraq inquiry.

A small-scale survey by the Islamic Foundation in Leicester suggests that most converts are aged 30 to 50.  Younger Muslims point to many conversions among students and highlight the intellectual thrust of Islam.  “Muhammad,” said, “The light of Islam will rise in the West”[1] and I think that is what is happening in our day,” says Aliya Haeri, an American-born psychologist who converted 15 years ago.  She is a consultant to the Zahra Trust, a charity publishing spiritual literature and is one of Britain’s prominent Islamic speakers.  She adds: “Western converts are coming to Islam with fresh eyes, without all the habits of the East, avoiding much of what is culturally wrong.  The purest tradition is finding itself strongest in the West.”

Some say the conversions are prompted by the rise of comparative religious education.  The British media, offering what Muslims describe as a relentless bad press on all things Islamic, is also said to have helped.  Westerners despairing of their own society – rising in crime, family breakdown, drugs, and alcoholism – have come to admire the discipline and security of Islam.  Many converts are former Christians disillusioned by the uncertainty of the church and unhappy with the concept of the Trinity and deification of Jesus.

Quest of the Convert – Why Change?

Other converts describe a search for a religious identity.  Many had previously been practicing Christians but found intellectual satisfaction in Islam.  “I was a theology student and it was the academic argument that led to my conversion.”  Rose Kendrick, a religious education teacher, and author, said she objected to the concept of the original sin: “Under Islam, the sins of the fathers aren’t visited on the sons.  The idea that God is not always forgiving is blasphemous to Muslims.

Maimuna, 39, was raised as a High Anglican and confirmed at 15 at the peak of her religious devotion.  “I was entranced by the ritual of the High Church and thought about taking the veil.”  Her crisis came when a prayer was not answered.  She slammed the door on visiting vicars but traveled to convents for discussions with nuns.  “My belief came back stronger, but not for the Church, the institution or the dogma.”  She researched every Christian denomination, plus Judaism, Buddhism and Krishna Consciousness, before turning to Islam.

Many converts from Christianity reject the ecclesiastical hierarchy emphasizing Muslims’ direct relationship with God.  They sense a lack of leadership in the Church of England and are suspicious of its apparent flexibility.  “Muslims don’t keep shifting their goal-posts,” says Huda Khattab, 28, author of The Muslim Woman’s Handbook, published this year by Ta-Ha.  She converted ten years ago while studying Arabic at the university.  “Christianity changes, like the way some have said pre-marital sex is okay if it’s with the person you’re going to marry.  It seems so wishy-washy.  Islam was constant about sex, about praying five times a day.  The prayer makes you conscious of God all the time.  You’re continually touching base.

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The Times – Tuesday, 9th November 1993 – Home-news Page

Footnotes:

[1] There is no such statement by Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) – IslamReligion.

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Rains which Bring a Dead Land Back to Life

Rains which Bring a Dead Land Back to Life

By Truth Seeker Staff

Rains

The information about the revitalization of plants in the verse is just one of the countless miraculous properties of the Qur’an.

The rain’s function of “bringing a dead land back to life” is indicated in several verses of the Qur’an:

“… We send down from heaven pure water so that by it We can bring a dead land to life and give drink to many of the animals and people We created.” (Al-Furqan 25:48-49)

As well as bringing water, an essential requirement for living things, to the earth, the rain also has a fertilizing property. Drops of rain which evaporate from the sea and reach the clouds contain certain substances which “revitalize” dead soil. These raindrops with such “revitalizing” properties are called “surface tension droplets.”

These form from the top layer of the surface of the sea called the micro-layer by biologists; in this surface layer, less than one-tenth of a millimeter thick, are found large quantities of organic waste formed from the decomposition of microscopic algae and zooplankton. Some of these wastes collect and absorb elements such as phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium, which are rarely found in seawater, as well as heavy metals such as copper, zinc, cobalt, and lead.

Seeds and plants on the surface of the earth receive large quantities of the mineral salts and elements they need to grow from these raindrops. The Qur’an refers to this in these terms:

“And We sent down blessed water from the sky and made gardens grow by it and grain for harvesting.” (Qaf 50:9)

These salts which descend with the rain are examples in miniature of fertilizers traditionally used to enhance productivity (calcium, magnesium, potassium etc.). Heavy metals of the kind found in aerosols create elements which increase productivity during growth and production of plants. In short, rain is an important fertilizer.

With the fertilizer which provided by rain alone, within a hundred years, a soil of poor quality can obtain all the elements necessary for plants. Forests also grow and are nourished with help from these chemicals which originate from the sea.

In this way, every year some 150 million tons of particles of fertilizer fall to earth. Were it not for this fertilizing function, there would have been far fewer plants on the Earth and the balance of life would have been disturbed. The information about the revitalization of plants in the verse is just one of the countless miraculous properties of the Qur’an.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from Miracles of the Qur’an website.

 

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The Family Institution in Islam

The Family Institution in Islam

By Siraj Islam Mufti

family

The Islamic family, if it is rightly Islamic, is the very ideal to which Western people aspire.

The Western society as a whole is in a deep social crisis. This is primarily due to the breakdown of the 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 its 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 States stood at 10th place with 53%, and Belgium led at 71%. With a population of 320 million, it is estimated that there is one couple breaking up in the U.S. every 6 seconds. Unbelievable! Isn’t it?

Less than 50% of 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% of pregnancies in ages 15-19 years were outside of marriage. And the new-borns 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, drinking alcohol and use of other drugs, which have bad consequences for a family.

But let us discuss the subject of Islamic family and its importance for Muslims.

I will quote Ismail Faruqi, a great Islamic intellectual who was a professor of religion at the Temple University and a founder of the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon, Virginia.

He observed, “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 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.

  1. Even before an Islamic family is started it carries divine blessings on the premise that there 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.

  1. Islam confers different roles of 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.

Let me quote from Khurshid Ahmad another great Islamic intellectual: “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)

  1. An Islamic family begins with the affinity between the two families and prospective spouses. The courtship between husband and wife starts after marriage and grows and becomes stronger with the 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 the burden of responsibility.

  1. Arranged marriage in Islam means a marriage not between two individuals, but of two families. As such the two families with all their human, economic, and wisdom resources are at the service of the newly married couple. And all these resources are available for the two spouses if there is any problem.

In stark contrast, young men and women in the West meet on their own and decide to get married. As such after marriage, they are left on their own, and there no one to help or guide them to solve their marital problems.

  1. Marriage in Islam means a civil contract between two individuals with the backing of two families. It requires the consent of the two entering marriage, is signed and agreed upon and witnessed by guardians and elders of the spouses and becomes a legal and binding document. It serves as a constitution for the home state with all of its functionaries with responsibilities in the home.

The Western marriage has no constitution. It calls marriage a sacrament but is without any defined framework and when there is trouble between couples, it resorts to custom, common law and whatever the judge may arbitrarily decide.

  1. In Islam, a woman, married or single is seen as a person in her own right, and not merely an adjunct to another person. As such, she has the full right of ownership and disposal of her own property and earnings, even after marriage. When she is married, she retains her family name, instead of adopting her husbands.

Despite its other achievements, the West has still to learn a great deal from Islam on the question of the legal status of women, regardless of the marriage relationship.

  1. As stated above, marriage in Islam is a commitment of the spouses and their families to each other, and therefore it increases the sense of responsibility among them and induces a spirit of sacrifice for each other. And defeats and overcomes any individual selfish tendency for their common good. As a result, Muslim families are stable as indicated by the low divorce rate in Muslim countries.

There is no stability in marriage in the Western societies, as discussed above. After all, marriage requires adjustment to the new situation by the two spouses, and the two have to compromise to find a common ground as a solution to the problems encountered.

Since people in Western societies are highly individualistic, the essential ingredient of sacrifice for each other is missing in the West. Therefore, marriages have a very tenuous relationship and people stay married as long it is convenient for them. Each of the couple insists on fulfilling his/her personal idiosyncrasies, and none is willing to give in.

And when problems develop along with declining morals, they seek comfort elsewhere which results in infidelity, which is so very common. Finding solutions to marriage problems takes time, and instead of waiting most marriages in the West end up in divorce courts.

  1. A most important characteristic advocated by Islam is an extended family system. Dr. Faruqi calls the extended family of Islam as “the noblest, the greatest, the most valuable social institution the world has ever seen.” And that, “By going nuclear, that is to say by going individualistic, Western society has lost all these values and they are suffering terribly.”

An extended Muslim family is endowed with all its human wisdom and all the resources that it could contribute.

Because we live with our parents and our elders who have brought us up, played with us at our young age, told us stories, were patient with us, educated us, guided us, advised us – so we love them because we are in constant communion with them.

However in the West, there is alienation, and as soon as a youth grows up, he strikes out on his own. And when parents are old there is no respect for them and they end up pining for their children in old or nursing homes.

There could be no more cruel death than dying slowly in these homes for old age, away from their progeny, deprived of the love of their own children. Respect for elders has to be cultivated and it cannot be cultivated by separation from them. This is the greatest benefit of the extended family.

There are numerous other advantages of an extended family. Such as if there is a real need by the community, a Muslim woman can have a career without jeopardizing the upbringing of children, because there are others to take care of them.

Also, an extended family meets the needs of its individuals at different times. The need for love, for play, for consulting and counseling, for letting out the pent-up emotions, and so on and so forth.

And most importantly, there is no generation gap in an extended family. Thus social norms and values are passed on from one generation to the next, and there is a continuity between generations without a generation gap. This important quality is gravely missing in the Western societies.

The last point that the current research has shown is that as a result of the support system provided by an extended family, its individuals do not suffer from many of health complications and illnesses – such as depression, psychological and mental disorders, and even diseases such as cancers.

In summing it up, here in America, it is important to emphasize on brothers and sisters to stay chaste, guarding the elements of respect and shame within their God-given bodies. And to consult with parents regarding the selection of marriage partner, and live in close contact with extended family – we will ignore them only at our peril.

Giving utmost attention to these characteristics is extremely important because living in the same environment American Muslims are facing the same problems. It should be a cause of great concern for us that among American Muslims there are frequent reports of domestic violence and increased divorces – now estimated at about 31 percent. And if we are not careful we would get into more and more problems losing our very identities as Muslims. We must reform ourselves as well as teach others of the beauty of Islam: It is a vital role that we have to play for our good, the good of America and the wider humankind.

 

Notes:

  1. Ismael Faruqi, Role of Family in the Spread of Islam, http://joerzack.tripod.com/role_of_the_family_in_the_spread.htm.
  2. Khurshid Ahmad, Family Life in Islam. The Islamic Foundation. Third Edition, Leicester, U.K., 1980.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from isamicity.org.

Siraj Islam Mufti, Ph.D. is a journalist and author. This article was given as Friday sermon and is part of his upcoming book on Family and Islamic Civilization due in November 2015. His two other books are Muslims At The Crossroads, 2012 and Basic Islamic Dynamics, 2015.

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