Acceptance of Islam carries the obligation to be part of its message by living one’s life in accordance with this message so that one is a Muslim in belief, worship, and morals. Living the message of Islam means working hard within one’s surrounding community at all levels from the family to the nation, to the community of mankind, since Islam was revealed for all mankind.
The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said: “Whoever does not care about Muslims is not one of them.” If one’s duty is to establish the ummah or moral community in one’s society and to convey Islam to this society, the first step in fulfilling this duty is to make one’s home Islamic. One must establish the din or Islamic way of life in one’s immediate community, that is, in one’s family, with one’s wife or husband, children, and relatives in the extended family.
This is exactly what the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) did at the beginning of his mission. Allah, the Almighty, has said:
“So call not on any other god with Allah or you will be among those under the penalty. And admonish your nearest kinsmen, and lower your wing to the believers who follow you.” [Qur’an, Surah Ash-Shu'ara', 26:213-215]
So the first responsibility of a Muslim, other than to oneself, is to one’s family, because Allah, the Almighty, has said:
“O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe who flinch not (from executing) the commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded?” [Qur’an, Surah At-Tahrim, 66:6]
Responsibilities Before Marriage
Islamic teachings and practices help one to establish a Muslim family and secure it on the right path. The following directives facilitate observance of marital responsibilities:
1. Marriage is for the sake of Allah. Its purposes are to establish a Muslim family, have offspring, transmit the message of Allah, and through them, carry on the human race. Allah, the Almighty, has said:
Say: “Allah did choose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of ’Imran above all people, offspring, one of the other.” [Qur’an, Surah Al-‘Imran 3:33-34]
2. Marriage serves to protect one’s modesty and dignity, and one’s fear of the Lord. The Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“Three [people] are entitled to Allah’s help. The fighter (mujahid) in the cause of Allah, the trustee, and the person who marries for protection (of his or her modesty).” [Reported by Tirmidhi]
“Whoever marries, has completed half of his religion, and the other half is fear of Allah.” [Reported by Tabrani]
3. The choice of a lifetime partner, a wife or a husband, demands one’s best effort. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“Choose[the best] for your generation because [the failure of a single] generation can lead to a crisis.” [Reported by Ibn Majah]
4. The qualities of a good wife are good behavior and religious commitment, not wealth and beauty. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“Do not marry women because of their beauty; their beauty may spoil them. Do not marry them because of their money; their money may oppress them. But marry them because of their piety (din). And a slave girl, deaf, but pious is better.” [Reported by Ibn Majah]
“If a man marries a woman because of her (worldly) status, Allah will reward him only with degradation; and if a man marries her because of her wealth, this will bring him only poverty; and if a man marries because of her family, Allah will reward him only by humiliation; but if a man marries for the sake of Allah, Allah will bless him with her and bless her with him.” [Reported by Tabrani]
Responsibilities In Marriage
The choice of a good spouse does not reduce one’s responsibilities after the marriage. As a matter of fact, one’s major responsibilities start right at the first moment of marriage. These are to:
1. Deal with one’s wife kindly so as to achieve mutual understanding. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“The best of you are those who are best to their wives and I am the best (among you) to my family.” [Reported by Ibn Majah and Al-Hakim]
“The believers with the most perfect faith are those who have the best disposition and are kind to their wives.” [Reported by Tirmidhi]
2. Develop harmony in thought and spirit based on love and not only on sexual compatibility. A Muslim couple should read together, worship together, organize things together, and have time to enjoy each other and play together. Thus the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) used to challenge his wife, ‘Aisha, to run races and helped in her housework, even by mending shoes.
3. Base the relationship of marriage on Islam and in no way denigrate it or forsake it for convenience or out of weakness. It was narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said: “Whoever is submissive to the likes and dislikes of a woman will be thrown by Allah into Hell,” and. “A man’s sin is as great as his wife’s ignorance.” And, “Shame on a man who becomes his wife’s slave.” [Reported by Al-Firdausi]
Responsibilities of Raising Children
A good wife builds a successful marriage by helping to raise the children according to good principles of Islamic education. The choice of a bad wife or failure to achieve Islamic marriage will cause severe problems and eventually will destroy the whole family.
Any conflict and tension in the life of husband and wife will be reflected directly on the education and psychology of the children. Furthermore, the children will inherit the problems and will be misled. One’s first responsibility in the Islamic education of one’s children therefore is to build an Islamic marriage. Allah, the Almighty, has taught us to pray:
“Our Lord! Grant to us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes and give us the grace to lead the righteous.” [Qur’an, Surah Al-Furqan, 25:74]
All children are born innocent. If they are raised well, they will become righteous, but if they are raised in a bad environment, their future will be dim. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said, “All children are born innocent. It is their parents who make them Jewish, Christian, or Zoroastrian.” [Reported by Bukhari and Muslims]
“Rearing a son is better than giving a charity. There is no better gift from a father to his children than good (education and) behavior.” [Reported by Tirmidhi]
“Be good to your children and teach them good manners.” [Reported by Ibn Majah]
When a man dies, only three deeds will continue to earn him merit. These are an endowment or scholarship or continuous charity, beneficial knowledge, and righteous sons who pray for him.
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