, by PROF. M.A. HAQUE
Today we find broken homes, marital discord, divorces, desertions, uncared for children, juvenile delinquency, shattered family life, pre-marital sex and sex beyond marital boundaries, abortions and illegitimate births, intoxication, gambling and speculative trade leading to loss of money and peace and familial blissful life, following from wayward conduct of man. Hypertension, insomnia, anxieties, uncertainties of future, fear of morrow and suspicion of others’ conduct causing harm or injuring one’s economic interest and unexpected turn of events upsetting our future calculations resulting in loss of mental or emotional balance, sometimes driving one to the extreme step of committing suicide is the gift of the present day tensions of life.
CAUSES OF TURMOIL
A little cool analysis will show that basically it is because of ignorance for or lack of belief in articles of faith – tawhīd, prophethood, day of judgement and man’s accountability for his actions, fate, etc. – which control, guide and regulate the conduct of man in various situations. Another reason for such harmful effects is the shattering of a healthy family life which is the source of solace, comfort and contentment for each member of family. Today mankind does not find satisfaction even after huge material possessions, electric and electronic contrivances, explosion of knowledge and various therapies to attend to the physical and mental diseases to soothe the ailing human beings and diversions of sorts through internet – music, literature and sources of entertainment. The situation calls for deeper probe in the cause so as to eliminate them to restore serenity, grace, dignity and majesty of individuals with welfare of humankind by leading a happy and satisfying life.
PRESENT DAY CRISIS
There is near unanimity on the fact that the modern day crisis is deepening in proportion to the ever quicker pace of disintegration of the family life, particularly in America and Europe which consider themselves to be at the zenith of their material development. An examination of various trails and the motivation behind them clearly brings out the fact that the very foundations of free Western societies and those following in their footsteps are threatened from within and without. The family, as the basic unit upon which society structure is raised, is being undermined by destructive forces unleashed by man’s unbridled passions, often by the explosion of sensuousness. The situation obtaining today is undoubtedly very grim and does not allow for any delay in effectively tackling this catastrophe. The foundations, structures and appurtenant structures of family life can still be saved if we revert to the forward-looking, solid Islamic approach to objectives of life, religion and principles leading to a balanced concept which considers man’s needs of self-preservation, safety, security and support, resources and background of man’s psychology, rationality and emotional aspects of mutual relationship and behaviour.
BELIEF IN SCRIPTURES WAY TO PEACE
God is the Creator, the Master, the Sustainer and the Sovereign. Through his prophets, He has revealed the right path for the conduct of human beings. Still man has been given the freedom of choice to adopt the instructed path or go astray by losing it by disbelief or mischief. He is responsible for his actions. The ill-effects of man’s transgression as a result of misuse of this freedom have been visiting him throughout human history as is evident from the teachings of apostles Hood, Saaleh, Loot, and Shoaib, etc. (peace and blessings of Allah be with them all) , a few among God’s messengers. Hood castigated his ummah for raising memorials at every high ground which were of no use. He also severely disapproved of this conduct which showed as if they would live on this earth for ever. Likewise, Prophet Saaleh asked the people of Samood to give up their favourite pastime of excavating mountains and making grand buildings therein and feeling proud of this activity. Prophet Loot condemned severely his people’s shamelessness and lust of resorting to sodomy to which no other people had morally sunk earlier. Similarly, finding his ummah indulging in corrupt practice of using faulty weights and measures, Prophet Shoaib exhorted his ummah to be just and accurate in transactions, and fear God.
While the vice of sodomy, rendering irreparable harm to the institution of marriage, is manifestly shameful, degrading and immoral, the tendency to cheat customer through faulty weights and measures is indicative of dishonest conduct which may result in one spouse cheating on the other. As to raising memorials and building palatial houses is concerned, these are wasteful expenditure and encourage and abet corruption in society. The practice of idolatry in Prophet Noah’s misled ummah in later period emanated from raising memorials for good men of their times such as Yaooq and Nasra (Surah Noah 71:23). Also the trend to build grand, imposing and majestic buildings to surpass others is a sort of undesirable competition. Accommodation in excess of the real need, for the sake of name and fame is quite prevalent these days with manifest dangers to a happy living on sound economic lines.
DIVINE LIGHT OF ISLĀM
Man has been created with a purpose to fulfil. His journey of life begins with the God-consciousness. He does not have to grope in darkness to identify his mission or seek meaning to life. The criterion for success has been brought to his knowledge in unambiguous terms, through divine revelation. This life will be followed by an eternal life which will be awarded in accordance with man’s actions in this world which is a sort of trial. The Qur'an is very candid about a man or a woman reaping reward or punishment of his / her performance in this world. It explicitly makes it known: “And whosoever does righteous deed, be they male or female, and is a believer, We shall assuredly give them a goodly life to live; and We shall certainly reward them according to the best of what they did” (16: 98). Likewise it has been proclaimed: “Men who surrender to Allāh and women who surrender to Allāh, and men who believe and women who believe, and men who obey and women who obey, and men who persevere (in righteousness) and women who persevere, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their modesty and women who guard their modesty, and men who remember Allāh much and women who remember – Allāh has prepared for them forgiveness and mighty reward” (2: 208). This clearly shows their equality (except in administrative matter of man being head of family, with corresponding responsibilities to bear; being an earning member is one such).
INTEGRATED, GENUINE APPROACH TO LIFE
Islām gives an integrated view of life and does not compartmentalise life in religious and non-religious (secular) activities, requiring man to adhere to Islamic principles in religious matters only and allowing him freedom in other worldly affairs. The teachings of Islām cover all fields of human activity, individual and collective, social, material and spiritual, economic and political, cultural and educational, national and international, diplomatic dealings and economic transactions, scientific experiments and technological advancements, research-related and professional, mundane and temporal, trade and commerce, business and industry, sex and social manners, etiquette and conduct, life and death, joy and sorrow, victory and defeat. All the activities fall within the gamut of Islām, and are carried out with God-consciousness, in accordance with principles laid down by Islām with utmost importance attached to human, religious and moral values established by divine injunctions and guidance encompassing wisdom, justice and balance.
The example of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) is the model for a Muslim in relation to all spheres of human activities, be it highly personal to purely social, religious or political. We can conjure up his activities and conduct as ideal son, ideal father, ideal husband, ideal teacher, ideal preacher, ideal man, ideal leader, ideal commander-in-chief, ideal establisher of a government, ideal consolidator of the Islamic state, ideal speaker, ideal companion, ideal judge, ideal planner, ideal hero, ideal head of state and ideal mobiliser of human beings. He commanded love and respect of one and all. He was graceful, yet simple; an inspiration, yet practical; powerful, yet forgiving; humble, yet firm; ready to sacrifice all his possessions in charity, yet unyielding in enforcement of divine law. He was embodiment of trust and truthfulness even before being bestowed with prophethood.
A COMMUNITY WITH A DIFFERENCE
Communities have been raised depending on geographical conditions of an area and its historical background, race, blood, language, tribe kinship and as a consequence of war but Islām’s uniqueness lies in highest importance having been accorded to faith and religion which is the mainspring of fountainhead for networking of relations. Race, colour, place of birth, profession, station in life, material prosperity, language or descent have no consideration and do not raise one in esteem except by taqwa (following Allāh’s commandments, having His fear instilled in heart to adhere to noble conduct).
WORKING OF A FAMILY
Since family is the basic unit of society, this institution is very important for smooth working of life. As it operates like a society in miniature, it lays down rights and duties of every member of a family which initially starts with Nikah. It is important to know that this institution came into existence with the advent of man. The human race is the product of this institution and not the other way round. The Qur'an says: “O mankind, be conscious of your duty to your Lord, Who created you from a single soul, created of like nature, his mate, and from the two created and spread many men and women; and be mindful of your duty to Allāh in whose name you appeal to one another and to (the ties of) the womb. Verily Allāh watches over you” (4:1). The institution of marriage and the family have been commended as the ‘way of the Prophets’. It is a social contract between the spouses. The primary duty of a woman is to concentrate on looking after the family and be a homemaker. The responsibility for being a bread earner rests with man, while that of proper upbringing, education and training of children and optimal functioning of the home and wider family relationships rests with the wife (33:33).
ROLE OF SPOUSES
Family is the basis of socio-cultural structure which ensures a self-sustaining mechanism to achieve social, ideological and cultural stability during the present and future generations. It is necessary for preservation and continuation of the human race. It is a protector of morals. Sex urge is natural and needs to be satisfied. However, total abstinence or promiscuity cannot lead to a stable and healthy living. Thus family provides psycho-emotional stability to human beings and generates kindness, love, mutual confidence, self-sacrifice, compassion, solace and succour, so essential for a sense of fulfilment in life. Husband and wife are described as each other’s garment which provides covering, proximity, protection and beauty to the spouses. Good relationship between spouses causes children to develop their full potential and be a conscientious and useful member of the Muslim society. Stressing the importance of education and training in moulding the personality of a child, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) said: “Of all that a father can give to his children, the best is their good education and training.”
The disintegration of the family in western countries is the culmination of confusion about the role of family in society. If the objectives and values of life are not set right further disintegration with attendant dangers will destroy other social institutions also. It is time that people, believing in Islām, stop the drift to anarchy and moral bankruptcy. Without a balanced attitude towards life, all our achievements in fields of science and technology cannot save us from self-annihilation.