, by SYED AKBAR HASSAN
All our discussions thus far, from last couple of weeks was related to individual character of a matured personality in the light of Surah Al-Asr, Surah Al-Baquara (ayat 177), Surah Al-Muminun (ayaat 1-11), Surah Al-Marij (ayaat 22-35) and Surah Luqman (ayaat 12-19) and the last ruku of Surah Al-Furquan (ayaat 63-77). As we know that the basic and most important unit of a society is an individual. The stronger the character of an individual the better would be his family, and the more ideal and near-to-perfect families around us the better would be the society for us to live in leading to an ideal state and just social order. So, now, on getting closer to the Qur’ān, particularly the ayaats as mentioned above, it becomes the duty of the transformed matured personality to shift his attention towards the formation of a family based on strong bond of love, principles and values and as per references for the same in the ayaats of the Holy Qur’ān.
The family comes into existence when a man and a woman are married. The Qur’ān has given us very clear-cut and comprehensive advice as regards to marriage. With whom we are allowed to marry and among whom within our family and society we are not allowed to marry. The limit to number of wives, conditions for and under which more than one wife is allowed or not allowed. All such things are mentioned in detail in more than one place in the Holy Qur’ān and Hadith. The importance of institution of marriage in Islam is so strong that on getting closer to the Qur’ān and Hadith we come to realise that nikah should become very easy so as to put seal on adultery i.e. zina.
Furthermore, as long as a person does not have a wife, his life is more like a wanderer and many of his abilities remain shrunk and undeveloped. Same is the case with a woman; as long as she is unmarried she is like a creeper which is not able to grow and prosper for want of support. But once we have our spouses, our abilities develop and increase, and when we start to strive in life together then Allah the Exalted blesses us in our struggle and our circumstances also change for the better.
Stressing further on the importance of nikah (marriage), the Qur’ān, in Surah Nur, ayat 32 says: “Marry those among you who are single, and those who have the capability for marriage among your slaves, male or female. If they are poor, Allah will give them means out of His grace: for Allah is ample-giving, and He knows all things. Let those who find not an opportunity for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah gives them means out of His grace”. But “…If they are poor, Allah will give them means out of His grace…” does not mean that Allah will certainly bestow wealth on anybody who marries but it is actually to discourage a calculative approach which one may adopt in this materialistic world. This instruction is for the parents of both the girl and the boy.
The parents of a girl should not reject a saleh (pious) and nek (virtuous) rishta (suitor) merely because he happens to be poor. Similarly, the boy’s parents should not go on postponing his marriage because he is not yet fully settled or is not yet earning sufficiently or has not yet achieved some self-imposed bank balance, property or status. Rather they must not go on postponing the marriage of their sons and daughters unnecessarily waiting for better times. Even if the income is not yet sufficient, one should marry with full faith in Allah. Very often the marriage itself becomes the cause of prosperity. The wife helps to control the family budget, or the husband starts to exert himself more to meet the new challenges and responsibilities. Then, who knows what the future holds in store for him. Good times can change into bad times and bad into good. One should therefore refrain from being too calculative in this regard simply on the basis of our own intellect and worldly pursuits, thus, ignoring the Qur’ānic advice in this direction.
Once a man and a woman enter into wedlock, they have certain rights and duties over each other and are expected to discharge their responsibilities towards each other so that the family enjoys tremendous understanding and trust. It is not permissible for both men and women to try and intrude into each other’s biological and natural divisions. In fact, they should perform their duties in their respective fields and hope for equal reward from the Almighty. The Qur’an reveals this fact: “And do not covet that wherewith Allah has excelled one of you above another. To men shall be the portion of what they earn and to women shall be the portion of what they earn. And ask Allah for some of His grace. Verily Allah is all knowing.” (4·32)
These verses clearly show that both man and woman equally share attributes that enable each of them to excel over the other. Secondly, it becomes evident that a man or a woman should not envy each other for their attributes, but thank Allah for whatever blessings He has bestowed upon them, in order to succeed. Nature is not mean in blessing man and woman. If man is blessed with the element of invention and innovation, woman is blessed with the ability to take care of the results of this creativity. If man has the aptitude for certain fields of study, woman also has aptitude for some others. If man possesses chivalry, steadfastness and courage, woman possesses beauty, frailty and grace. In this piece of art created by nature all sorts of colours have their own value and importance.
A much greater evidence is provided by an incident that took place in Holy Prophet’s time. Hazrat Asma Bint-i-Hazid once came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) and said, ‘A group of women has sent me as their representative and they all have the same opinion, including me, about which I wanted to enquire. Allah has sent you as a Rasool for both men and women; therefore we believed you and followed your footsteps. But we are women who remain behind the veil and inside our homes. Men fulfil their desires with us and we take care of their off-springs. Men have excelled in prayers and Jihad, and every other act of piety. Will we be rewarded with them too?’ After listening to her speech, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) asked his companions, ‘Have you ever listened to such a fine speech by a woman before who had enquired about religion?’ All the companions answered in the negative. Then the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) said to Asma, ‘O Asma, help me in conveying my message to the women who have made you their representative, that their taking care of the household and keeping their husbands happy is equivalent to all those deeds of men you have just mentioned.’ After hearing this Asma returned happily thanking Almighty.
In this incident Asma not only represented women of her times but also women of our times to a certain extent. Today women belonging to the feminist movement consider all these duties degrading which nature wants them to perform and hold the responsibilities imposed on men in high esteem. That is why they argue that it is against justice that all we do throughout our lives is taking care of children and household while men write the destinies of nations. Then they demand equal opportunities to work shoulder to shoulder with men in every walk of life. What they fail to understand is that a man fighting in the battlefield can only do so if there is a warrior-like woman taking care of his house and children. This Jihad (struggle) of a man is just a dimension of the devotion and dedication of a woman. In the eyes of Allah the Exalted both kinds of Jihad (struggle) are equal and deserve the same reward.