Lecture for year 4 Medical Students on June 30 & July 07, 2001 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr.




The Qur’an has used the term ahl to refer to the family (p 165 3:121, 4:25, 4:35, 4:92, 5:89, 7:83, 11:45-46, 11:81, 12:25-26, 12:62, 12:65, 12:88, 12:93, 15:65, 19:16, 19:55, 19:66, 20:10,  20: 40, 20:132, 21:76, 21:84, 23:27, 26:167-170, 27:7, 27:57, 28:12, 28:29, 33:33, 35:43, 36:50, 37:134, 38:43, 39:15, 42:45, 48:11-12, 48:26, 51:26, 52:26, 75:33, 83:31, 84:9, 84:13). The term bayt is used to refer to the home (p 213 4:15, 10:87, 12:23, 16:80, 24:27, 24:29, 24:61, 28:12, 33:53). The term dhuriyyat is used to refer to children or offspring (p. 441 2:124, 2:266, 4:9, 6:133, 7:122-173, 13:38, 17:3, 17:62, 36:41, 37:113, 57:26). Some of the offspring may be righteous, dhuroyyat saalihat (p. p 441-442 2:127, 3:33-39, 6:84, 6:87, 10:83, 13:23, 14:37, 14:40, 19:58, 25:73, 29:27, 37:77, 40:8, 46:15, 52:21).



The family is the basic building unit of a healthy community. It is a natural unit that has existed since the start of human history. There is no conceivable alternative to the family. Communities that neglect families eventually weaken and fail. The family is a social unit that facilitates social intercourse and establishes and strengthens social relations. It is the best institution for child-rearing in biological, psychological, and sociological terms. The family provides psychological security for three generations: grandparents, parents, and children. The family is a forum for mutually dependent relations. The family is the best school. It teaches knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes in a friendly non-threatening atmosphere.



The family is both a social and biological unit. The members of the family must have a biological relation either by marriage or parentage. No other method of family-formation is allowed. Legal adoption was prohibited in Islam, maniu al tabanni (KS 134) because it leads to a family relation that is based on neither marriage or parentage.



The family has sexual/reproductive, social, psychological, and economic functions.

Sexual regulation: legal fulfilment of sexual desires protects other families and the society at large. Fulfilment of the sexual urge outside the confines of the family leads to social corruption and social failure. Sexual satisfaction within the family ensures that sex is part of a whole relationship of love and compassion and not just a base animal instinct.


Reproduction: The human reproductive function is best fulfilled in the family because the parents stay together and help one another in child upbringing. Human gestation and child-rearing to adulthood take a long period of 15-20 years and require that the parents live together in a long-term relationship.

Socialization: culture and norms of behavior in society are learned in the family. It is only within the family that close and intimate contact necessary for teaching the details of life in society is possible. Parents who love and care for their children are the best agents of socialization because they will be careful not to introduce negative experiences to their children.


Affection: Every human wants to be loved. The family provides unconditional love that is not easy to find in the general society outside.


Status: any family, however humble it may be, gives social status and self-esteem. You are at the least known as someone’s husband, wife, son or daughter. A good, successful family enhances the status of all the members. On the other hand a bad family lowers the esteem and reputation of all its members.


Protection: The family provides physical and psychological protection especially for the children. (g) Economic support: the healthy and strong members of the family provide support for others and in turn will get support when they get weakened by illness or old age.



Each member of the family husband wife, or child, has both rights and responsibilities. Many families fail because they can not find the right equilibrium between the two. The family will succeed if each member knows their rights and responsibilities. There should be a balance between the two. In a healthy family, members fulfil their obligations and responsibilities before demanding their rights.


Both parents are jointly responsible for the upbringing of their children (aqidat, emotional, physical, psychological, and social), both can undertake any responsibility but division of labor is more efficient such that each parent does what they are best at. It is the primary duty of both parents to save the family from hell-fire. This responsibility starts with teaching of religion, character and behavior.


Women are emotionally and psychologically equipped for child-rearing. They have traditionally been left to care for children. The traditional roles of the spouses may be changing. Traditionally men were providers and decision-makers. Women were housekeepers, preparers of meals, and caretakers of children. Women are now being involved in many societal activities outside the home. There has been no corresponding increase in men's home responsibilities with the result that the family ends up as the ultimate loser.


Each of the spouses has rights and responsibilities to the other. The husband has the right to enjoy the body of his wife. The wife has the right to sexual enjoyment, financial support, nafaqat, and good company, muasharat.



The husband is the legal and customary head of the family. His position of leadership, qawamat al rajul (p 1102 4:34) is based on having more responsibilities. He is a leader and not a dictator. His leadership means carrying more responsibility. His is not a power relationship but a relationship of service, love, and consideration. The husband should not be an overlord high above the rest of the family members. He should partake of domestic work. He must be directly involved in the happiness and sorrow of the family.

The husband is legally responsible for the financial up-keeping of the family. He should provide financial security for his family within reasonable limits. Whatever the husband spends on his family is sadaqa. The husband also has the duty to protect his family both physically and emotionally.


The man has more legally-binding social responsibilities outside the house. If these were given to the woman the family unit as we know it would disappear because she would then have little time or energy for the family.


There are many aspects of the family's life in which the wife's leadership must be recognized because she is the specialist. The prophet recognized this role as a caretaker of the home, al mar at raa’iyat fi bayt zawjiha (KS 540). The extent of the wife’s responsibility varies by culture and custom for example women of the ansaar played a bigger role that women of the Quraish in Madina (KS 108). The wife is the primary educator of children. She has more impact on shaping their character and personality. The wife is better suited to assure psychological well-being of the whole family. Breast-feeding and psychological bonding to mother make her a model personality. She has to live up to the expectations in order that the children will grow up well.


The wife and children must obey the head of the family in order to keep the family united and orderly. He in turn should listen to and respect the opinions and interests of all members of the family. A family can not survive if there are two equal and competing heads. A wife who wants the success of her family and its happiness will defer to the husband's leadership role.



There are certain habits that enable families to succeed. They are learned from childhood and experience. A parent need not learn from their personal experiences; they can learn from others' experiences and mistakes. Habits are transferred from one generation to the next. Spouses who come from happy and balanced families are more likely to have good families. Spouses who come from unhappy and broken families are more likely to have dysfunctional and failing families.


Inculcation of good habits starts from the formation of the family and continue all through the life of the family. The start is by choosing the right spouse. Efforts must be exerted to correct any defects in a spouse once married. The family must be developed spiritually by remembering Allah often, praying in the home regularly, inculcating iman in the children, following the sunnat and reading the Qur’an regularly especially surat baqara.


The family’s education must be taken care of. Both the spouses and children have to be taught. Book and audio-visual libraries must be provided. Good and righteous persons should be invited to visit the home. Visits should be exchanged only with good families. Irreligious people or those known to be involved in sins should not be allowed into the home.


The family should be treated as a small social unit. Shura should be established by discussing family matters with the spouse and children. Problems are solved amicably and within the family. Children should not be allowed to see differences or conflicts between the parents. The head of the family must exercise control over family activities with compassion and firmbess. He should monitor what the children are doing. Make sure that the family follows fixed meal and sleep times. All members of the family should cooperate in the household work. Members of the family can joke and have fun with one another.


Waste and extravagance must be avoided. Waste leads to poverty. What is wasted could have been helpful to some one else in the community. A life of hyper-consumerism is un-islamic. The family should buy only what it needs. It is even advisable to buy less than what are thought to be the needs, because the needs are often over-estimated. The temptation to always 'want' things should be resisted. Showing off or competing must be avoided. Indebtedness must be avoided. A debt is an instrument of enslavement. A debtor soon finds himself telling lies. He will also take more debts to pay old ones and will not get out of this vicious circle. A few debts are inevitable; most others are a result of unnecessary expenditures.



In order for members of the family to interact and develop the necessary bonds, they need time together isolated from the rest of the community. This is ensured by maintaining a certain degree of privacy in home. The privacy of the home must be guarded jealously. Family secrets should be kept within the home.


All members of the family must feel secure in their home. Involved here is not only physical and financial security but also psychological and emotional security. Members of the family may have to make sacrifices to make sure that their families are secure. The sacrifice may be time, financial or even accepting some incoveniences and humiliations.





Marriage is a natural institution: Marriage is sunnat al laah encouraged by Islam al targhiib fi al nikaah (KS 462). Celibacy and monasticism are forbidden la rahbaniyat fi al Islam (KS 253). A person can fast for a short time whikle awaiting for the means to marry. Marriage is a mutually supportive relationship. Spouses help and protect one another. It is a permanent institution. The principle of parity that is found in all creation requires that husband and wife constitute a natural team. The Qur’an mentioned marriage, zawaaj, in many verses (p 545

Marriage in a civil contract and not a sacrament: Marriage is legally valid if the following conditions are fulfilled: (1) written contract (2) 2 adult witnesses (3) question and answer to make sure the two spouses are entering the contract on their own free will (4) dower (mahr). Unlike other civil contracts, it can not be concluded for a limited duration. No conditions repugnant to the sharia can be valid in a marriage contract



Marriage is a source of psychological, social, and emotional tranquility and stability. Un-married people do not function well in society. It preserves sexual modesty by allowing expression of the sexual instinct in a controlled and responsible way. Marriage is protection from sexual corruption, husn (KS 547). It provides the best social structure for child-bearing and child-rearing. Marriage is the only workable basis for family formation and child-rearing. No other viable alternatives exist. Celibacy for any reason is discouraged. Celibacy if  prolonged and if it becomes a norm will eventually lead to sexual and social perversions. Everybody must marry, poor and rich. The old, the infirm, or the handicapped must all marry. The insane, majnoo; the leper, majdhuum; and the congenitally blind, abras, also marry (KS 550). Economic dependence, high dowries, lack of housing, and the need to complete education can be impediments to marriage. These can be overcome by living in an extended mutually-supporting family. All help should be extended to whoever wants to marry in order to protect chastity (KS 547).



Age at marriage: The ideal age for marriage varies by gender and society. Generally the earlier the better. Too early marriage is associated with a higher risk of marital problems because of immaturity of the spouses.


Exogamy and endogamy: Exogamy is preferred because it brings about more social mixing and cohesion. Endogamy on the basis of race, ethnicity, kinship or social class has the advantage of a more stable marital arrangement because the souses are similar in many ways. It is however discouraged on biological grounds.


Monogamy and polygamy: Monogamy is marriage of one man to one woman at a time. Polygamy means plurality of mates. There are three types of polygamy: group marriage, polyandry, and polygyny. Group marriage, found in both primitive and modern industrial society, is a type of sexual communism in which any man can have sexual interaction with any woman in the group. Polyandry is when a woman is wedded to more than 1 husband. Group marriage and polyandry are strictly forbidden. Polygyby is when more than I woman is married to a man. Monogamy is in most cases the most suitable marriage arrangement. There are however many cases in which using the Islamic permission of polygyny is the better alternative. Each circumstance should be considered on its merits. Polygamy is prohibited if justice can not be maintained between or among the women, ‘adl bayna al zawjaat (p 1094 4:3, 4:129).



Success in marriage starts with selection of the spouse: Selecting a wrong one will doom the whole enterprise. Husbands and wives can be good or bad. A good person may get a bad spouse. Success in marriage requires careful choice of the spouse, al takhayyur li al nutfat (KS 544). Compatibility, nikaah al akifaau (KS 544),  of the two in psychological, emotional, socio-economic and cultural aspects helps succeed in marriage. Marriage from the same ethnic or cultural group as well as the same neighborhood reduces the risk of incompatibility. Compatibility ensures a happy and tranquil home atmosphere. In case of certain incompatibilities, each spouse must learn the other and try to adjust. Compatibility is such an important consideration that the 2 prospective spouses are allowed to look at one another before marriage, al nadhar qabla al tazwiij (KS 546).


Qualities of a prospective husband: The qualities looked for in a husband are religious commitment, kindness and a gentle attitude to women, intelligence, strength of personality, a good family background and a known lineage, knowledge of the Qur’an and sunnat


Qualities of a prospective wife: The ideal Muslim wife is not a stereotype. The 4 main qualities looked for in a woman are religion, pedigree, wealth, and beauty (KS 547). The best and permanent value is religion (Islam, iman, taqwat). Religion guarantees the other qualities. Religion determines character and character is more important than wealth or beauty. All the others change and can be illusionary. A marriage contracted on any basis other than religion could end as a disappointment. What we mean by religion is the total personality and not deceptive outward manifestations of religiosity that cover a bad irreligious character inside. The following are additional desirable traits in a woman: intelligence, akhlaq, potential fertility, lineage, virginity, beauty, and not being a close relative. A good wife is patient, humble, charitable, sincere, loyal, and trusts her husband. She will give moral support to her husband especially when he is having difficulties in his external affairs. She will accept the husband's administrative leadership of the home with grace and without feeling inferior. In sum she will try to maintain a peaceful, enjoyable, cheerful home atmosphere. A good wife will try to be attractive inside and not outside her home. She will guard her chastity and honor jealously. As part of her respect and love for her husband, she should respect and treat well her husband's parents, relatives, and friends. We learn from the sunnat that three women were perfect, kamula min al nisaa thalaatha (KS 539). Most women have their positive and negative aspects. In the end we should look at the balance and not seek out the perfect one because she may not exist. The Qur’an gave us examples of good and bad wives. Among the good wives were: the mothers of the believers and wives of the prophet, ummahaat al muuminiin (p. 1099 33:28-32, 33:52, 33:59), Ibrahim’s wife (p 1099 11:71-73, 14:37, 51:29-30), the wife of Zakariyyah (p. 1099 3:40, 19:5, 19:8), the wife of Umraan (p. 1099 3:35-36), and the wife of Fir’aun (p 1099 28:9, 66:11). Among the bad wives were the wife of Abu Lahab (p. 1098 7:83), the wife of Lut (p 1078 7:83, 11:81, 27:57), and the wife of Nuh (p. 1097 66:10).




Who should marry: There is a difference in determining who should marry between men and women. The man must have the desire for marriage and must be financially capable. In the woman it suffices that she has the desire to marry. Both men and women enter the marital bond on their free will. The woman has freedom of choice, hurriyat al mar at fi al zawaaj (p 1094 4:19, 4:127, 33:50) and can not be forced into marriage.


Pillars of marriage, arkaan al nikaah: (a) pronouncement (siighat) including any conditions in marriage contract (b) witnesses:  upright, good sight, good hearing, male, understands the language of transaction wali: male, mukallaf, sound judgement (d) bride (e) bridegroom. The prospective spouses must be of legal age, buloogh al nikah, and must be legally competent, aaqil, to be able to conclude the marriage contract. Social equality, kafa’a,   is not a necessary condition for marriage but helps because major social status differences often lead to marital failure. Ability to sustain the wife, nafaqat, is not an absolute pillar of marriage but is an important factor to consider to ensure stability of the marriage. Some scholars have given the opinion that availability of 1 day’s nafaqat is all that is necessary. Nafaqat consists of  food, hygiene materials, clothing, and housing. Endogamy is not an absolute contra-indication to marriage but should be considered seriously. Marriage of near relatives is good because people from similar background are more likely to succeed. The problem is that inherited disease may appear more often in marriages of close relatives. As a pre-requisite for establishing her financial independence, the woman must demand for and receive mahr for the marriage contract to be valid, haqq al mar at fi al mahr (p. 1094 4:4, 4:20, 4:24-25, 4:127, 5:5, 28:27-28, 33:50, 60:10-11).


People who cannot be married: by marriage - by descent - by breast-feeding - the adulterer and adulteress.  two sisters cannot be co-wives. (KS 547).



Marrital success: Success in marriage leads to success in work. One characteristic of many successful leaders is their happy home life. An unhappy marriage can not support a successful public life and leadership. People who are happily married are generally more satisfied with life. A good spouse is the best asset on earth, khayr mataa’I al duniya al maraat al saalihat (KS 540). A good spouse gets a lot of reward, ajr al zawjat al saalihat (KS 539). Mutuality is what is needed. The best of husbands is one who is best  to his wife (KS 547). The prophet enjoined good treatment of wives (KS 541). The best of women is one who does not annoy her husband (KS 547).


The Qur’an uses the term, husn al muasharat, to refer to good and positive relations in marriage (p. 1094 2:187, 2:223, 4:19, 58:2-3). There are no hard and fast rules for success applicable to every marriage. Only general guidelines can be given. Each spouse must be prepared to adapt and to try to do what will please the other one. It is this mutuality that is the secret potion of a happy marriage. In the end men and women have the same origin, wahdat asl al rajul wa al mar at (p. 1105 4:1, 7:189, 16:72, 30:21, 39:6) and should find out how to live together. The following factors determine success of failure of the relationship: successful conflict resolution, love and empathy, mutual understanding, successful communication, shared activities, tolerance, and mutual respect.


Communication is a key. Maintain continuous communication. Make sure you always have interesting things to talk about. There are many cases when it is better not to communicate. If communication is going to be quarrelling and exchange of negative feelings, it is better not to communicate at all until everybody has cooled down.


Love and empathy: Marriage is sustained by both love and empathy. Both are given by Allah to both spouses (p. 1303 19:96). Both are needed when love decreases empathy can sustain the relationship and vice versa. Each marriage has its "ups" and "downs". Each spouse must invest a lot of effort in the "ups" to serve as an emotional reserve or savings account that you can draw from to sustain the relationship during the "down" periods. Spouses need to be loved. However sometimes bad spouses behave in ways that destroy goodwill and with it love and then become victims not knowing the source of the problem. The prophet loved his wives, hubb al nabuy al nisaa (KS 479).


Mutual respect between spouses in private and public is a condition for a happy marital relation. Spouses who do not respect each other will quickly destroy the good-will between them and end up on a path to conflict and misery.


Mutual understanding is a key to success. Know the likes and dislikes of your spouse. Know their strengths and use them. Know their weaknesses and compensate for them. You must know, anticipate, and deal with the changing moods of your spouse. Faults and short-comings must be tolerated. Some character traits, tics, mannerisms, idiosyncrasies, and habits are well established. It is easier to tolerate them in a spouse than to try to change them. Attempts to change them are some of the follies of human experience. All you can do is mitigate the bad consequences or actually plan the environment in such a way that they find no room for expression.


Rights and responsibilities: Rights must be known and must be respected. The rights of the wife are: (a) ‘ushr (b) Teaching/Training in essentials of religion (c) Enjoining good and forbidding evil  (d) Moderation in ghiira: take measures only when there are reasonable grounds for fear of zina. Ghiira in natural. One without ghiira is not normal (e) Mahr  (f) Nafaqa  (g) Justice in distribution  (h) Not molesting her; taking care of her feelings (I) Protecting her secrets. The rights of the husband are: (a) Respect (b) Obedience (c) Attractive appearance of the wife (d) Clean and comfortable house (e) Protection of  his wealth (f) Protection of  his honor. A wife is not a servant in the home. She is not required by law to cook or serve her family. However if she wants to maintain loving atmosphere in her home she has to serve. It is especially important that she prepares meals because that is partly fulfillment of her nurturing role. A wife who is not nurturing will soon lose the love of those she values most: her husband and children.


Kindness: Acts of kindness and consideration are an emotional savings account that can be drawn upon in times of conflict. A matter that could be a cause of conflict could be minimized by remembering the good done in the past. Sexual attractiveness: Both spouses should take care of their physical appearance. The sexual relationship should not be ignored. Many tensions that eventually break a relationship could have their start here. Often neglected are women’s sexual needs, al mar at wa al shahwat (p. 1105 3:14, 7:81, 27:55).

Conflict resolution: Conflicts left unresolved will eventually lead to marriage failure. Avoid should be avoided at all costs. Being angry solves no problems.


Control of jealousy: Jealousy (ghina): good and bad consequences. Too much jealousy leads to suspicions and unnecessary conflicts. Lack of jealousy may lead to too much relaxation and marital infidelity. It may also indicate lack of love and concern.



Occurrence of marital problems: Problems occur in marriages even among the best of people. The prophet (PBUH) had a domestic problem that resulted in a 1-month separattion from his wives (KS 479). The problem was resolved peacefully when the prophet gave the women a choice and they chose Allah and the messenger returning to their marriages. Fatimat al Zahra the princess of women in the universe, sayyidat nisaa al ‘aalmaiin (KS 419) and the best of women in jannat, afdhal nisaa ahl al jannate (KS 419), and a highly desired bride courted by both Abubakr and Omar (KS 418), married Ali Ibn al Abi Taalib (KS418) and experienced marital problems. She found household work hard, mashaqqat ‘amal al ddaar (KS419). She complained about her spouse and the prophet reconciled them (KS 419). Spouses change; a good person on marriage may become something else once in the home. It is therefore a constant struggle to maintain the good and suppress the bad. Marriage by its own nature is not a perfect institution but it is the best alternative for bringing up children, building a society and providing psychological security. The imperfections arise from putting together people of different psychological make-ups, different moods, different upbringing and life experiences. It takes time for them to work out their differences, find their compatibilities and live together happily. Problems preferably should be prevented or solved peacefully. No good ever comes out of a marital fight. Those involved should be aware of the consequences of marital discord on the whole family in both the short and long terms.


Symptoms of marital dysfunction: Marital failure manifests in the appearance of the home, and behavior of the 2 spouses. The general atmosphere in the home is unhappiness. There is depression, loss of interest, and de-motivation. A failing wife feels uncomfortbale with failure of her nurturing role as home manager. She may try to compensate or prove herself by outside activities. This only makes the home situation worse. A failing husband behaves like a dictator and avoids being in touch with the problems in his home. He resorts to being psychologically distant and uninvolved in the affairs of the family.


Causes of  problems in marriage: The following are possible causes of marital problems: sexual dysfunction, poor communication, infidelity, incompatibility, mental illness, personal incompetence of either spouse, social stresses, social dysfunciton, and poor communication. Sexual problems can be discussed and treatment sought for them like any other illness. It is prohibited to abandon the marital bed for any reason, tahriim hijrat al firaash (KS 542). Incompatibility is the commonest cause of marital conflict. Spouses may be incompatible on the basis of age, socio-economic status, religiosity, and basic personality characteristics. Attempts should be made to avoid incompatibility while selecting a spouse. When it is discovered after the marriage it should be accepted, analyzed, and measures taken to mitigate its impact. You have to think "we' instead of "I" and "you". Selfishness and egotism are expressed as: pride, stubbornness, arrogance  rage/anger, hate, envy and jealousy, impatience, and narcism. Infidelity could be the crime of zina. Lesser forms of zina that also destroy a family may involve a secret longing, love, or bonding to another person of the opposite sex whether real or imagined. This creates a situation of comparison that always puts the spouse at a disadvantage and eventually results into an emotional gap between the spouses. Mental illness and unresolved psycholgical scars from childhood could destroy a marriage. The original problem should be recognized and treated. Many problems should not destroy a marriage because they are manifestation of mental ilness that can be treated. Incompetence of the spouse and neglect of basic duties eventually causes frustration that detroys the family. Some sources and factors can put severe stress on a marriage. A strong marital relation can withstand them; a weak one may succumb. Among the causes of stress are: arrival of the first child, poverty, inlaws, and intimate involvement of outside parties. The involvement of outside parties is condemned (KS 547).


Marital conflicts: Misunderstandings should be minimized. The best policy is to avoid conflict by each spouse doing what pleases and avoiding what annoys the other. Unresolved conflicts could lead to spousal physical or emotional abuse. Conflicts should be solved primarily by the two spouses talking to one another and finding the cause of conflict. If they can not resolve the matter they should seek arbitration by people of wisdom and character.



Marital dissolution: A marriage can be dissolved in three ways: (1) death (2) divorce (3) annulment by a court of law due to defects such as insanity, male impotence, vagina closed, riddat etc. The Qur’an has given legal guidelines on divorce (p. 1100 2:227-232, 33:28, 33:49, 65:6-7). The causes of divorce may be from the husband, nushuuz al rajul (p. 1220 4:128) or from the woman, nushuuz al mar at (p 1280 4:34). Divorce is not a solution to marital problems. Although permitted, it is the most hated of the permitted things, abghadh al halaal (KS 348). It is a sin to ask for divorce, ithm man talaba al talaaq (KS 345). Reconciliation should be attempted before the final divorce, al islaah (KS 348). Even after divorce, good treatment of the wife in enjoined by the institution of the post-divorce financial support, nafaqat al talaaq (p. 1095 2:229, 2:236-237, 65:6-7). When a divorce occurs, both spouses are partners in the failure. Marriage is not disposable. You do not abandon a difficult relation instead of correcting it. Alternatives to divorce must always be explored before resort is made to this most hateful of all permissible things. The following factors are related to the risk of divorce (1) Socio-economic (SES) differences between spouses (2) a big age difference or both being too young (3) financial difficulties. Divorce is preceded by (1) withdrawal of love (2) lack of attention to the needs of each spouse (3) belittling (4) criticism. Divorce impacts both the spouses: anger, depression, and a feeling of relief if the relation was abusive. Children of divorce are affected economically and emotionally. They can not understand what happened. The effects are long-term.


Broken family: A broken family has either sufferred from death of a spouse or family breakdown. Some families are healthy and are functioning well to fulfil their functions. Others are are abnormal and pathological. A familly can be broken in two ways: divorce and death of a spouse. Divorce is the worst that can happen to the family. It breaks the family unit and members are scattered while continuing to nursse bitter feelings towards one another. Death of a spouse is a cause of material and psychological deprivation but is not as bad as divorce because there are no continuing feelings of enmity among family members. In some cases it pulls the remaining members of the family more closely together


Family failure: The signs and symptom of family failure are usually very obvious even to a casual visitor: bad physical appearance of the home (dirt, poverty), poor behavior and interaction of family members (conflict, laziness, lack of outings and regular meals). The house is not organized and is often dirty. A dirty and poorly- kept house indicates lack of pride in the home and family. Meals are not regular. An occasional visitor will not feel comfortable. The children avoid being in the home and prefer being out somewhere. One or both of the spouses may opt to stay out of the home as much as is possible usually giving excuses related to work or responsibilities out of the home. Poverty may be inevitable due to circumstances beyond your control. In many cases it is due to family failure when family members can not work together as a team to support the family materially. Unhappy family bread-winners can not be as economically productive as those who come from happy and supportive families. Conflict is more likely in a family than other social settings because of the close interaction and inter-dependence of family members. Conflict is the commonest manifestation of family failure. Love and mutual help are replaced by acrimony and bad feelings. Conflict is commonest between the spouses. It could also occur between parents and children or among the children. Other members of the extended family may also be involved. Lack of routines and regular meals are manifestations of lack of leadership and initiative in a failing family. Laziness indicates lack of purpose and low motivation.




The Qur'an has in many verses enjoined good treatment of parents, birr al waalidayn (p 188 2:83, 2:215, 4:36, 6:151, 17:23-24, 29:8, 31:14-15, 46:15-18). Good treatment of parents is one of the most loved work to Allah (KS 247), is a reason for for entering heaven (KS 247), and has great rewards (KS 247). Good treatment of elderly parents ensures entry to jannat (KS 247). Good treatment covers both the father and the mother, wasiyyat bi al ab wa al umm (KS 247). The mother has preference in companionship, al umm ahaqq al naas bi al suhbat (KS 248). Birr al walidayn includes doing good for them, ihsaan ila al aba. (p 1 2:83, 4:36, 6:151, 17:23, 46:15),  honoring them, takrim al aba (p 1 12:99-100), praying for them, dua li al aba (p 1 9:114, 19:47, 26:86, 60:4), and extending the good treatment to their friends (KS 247). The friends must be respected during the life and after the death of the parents.



Parents must be respected and never shown any contempt whatever their behavior.  Each spouse should show consideration to the parents of the other spouse like his or her own parents. Talking to parents must be polite. Ibrahim (PBUH) was polite with his non-beliving father. Righteous parents should be followed (p 12 2:133, 12:38). Parents must be obeyed as long as they do not order committing a sin (p 14 37:101-102). Their reputation and wealth must be kept. Attempts must be made to do what pleases them. They must be consulted and apolofies must be offered them if for some reason their advice can not be followed. There must be an immediate response when parents call. Kindness and generosity to parents in their senility and weakness is only a partial repayment of their efforts when the children were young. Gratitude for the parents' suffering and sacrifices must be shown.



Parents can not be abused, insulted, or cursed.. Cursing or mistreating, uquuq,  parents is considered one of the major sins, kabair, and leads to severe punishment (KS 248). Allah responds to parents' dua against their children (KS 248). The voice should not be raused in the presence of parents. Parents must always be told the truth and no lies should ever be told to them whatever the excuse. The grand-children and spouses can not be preferred above parents in any situation. Generosity must be extended to parents; miserliness to them should be avoided. Parents of others should bever be mistreated or insulted. They may insult your parents as a return and you will have caused injury to your own parents.



The near kindred, dhawi al qurba (KS 248) are…. The Qur’an enjoins good treatment of the near kindred, al ihsaan ila dhawi al qurba (p. 937 20:83, 4:36). This includes feeding them, it’aam dhawi al qurba (p. 937 90:14-15), giving them financial support, infaaq ala dhawi al qurba (p. 937 2:177, 2:215, 4:8, 8:41, 24:22, 59:7), joining kindred relartions, silat dhawi al qurba (p. 937 16:90), and loving them, mawaddat al qurba (p. 938 42:23). They have definite rights that should not be violated, huquuq dhawi al qurba (p. 937 16:90, 17:26, 30:38) and these include rights of inheritance as enunciated in the law of inheritance, miraath dhawi al qurba (p 937 4:7-8, 4:11, 4:33). There is great reward for joining kindred relations, ajr silat al rahim (KS 246, KS 247). A person is rewarded for good companionship with relations, ajr husn suhbat al aqaarib (KS 248). It is sin to cut off kindred relations, ithm qatiu al rahim (KS 246). Doing good for relations is expiation from sins, birr dhawi al arhaam kaffaarat (KS 246). Good treatment of the paternal uncle, birr al ‘amm and the maternal aunt, birr al khaalat (KS 248). Kindred relations are more deserving of charity, dhawi al rahim ahaqq bi al sadaqat (KS 247).



Islam teaches joining kindred relations and castigates cutting them off. The extended family is supposed to be an association for mutual material and psychological support. Good relations within this association ensures that help will be available at the time of need.



It is duty to call the kindred relations to Islam, dawa dhawi al qurba (p. 937 6:74, 19:42-47, 21:52, 26:70, 26:214). However love for kindred relations should not stand in the way of establishing the truth, ‘adam muhabaat al qurba fi al haqq (p 937 4:135, 5:106, 6:152) or the correct aqidat, ‘adam muhabaat al qurba fi al aqidat (p 937 9:23-24, 9:113-114, 11:42-47, 19:47, 43:26, 58:22, 60:1-4, 111:1-5).




Physical Growth: Gowth refers to increase in body size. The stages of physical growth are: infancy, early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle adulthood, and old age.


Physical Development: Development refers to the pattern of movements or change that begin at conception and continue throughout the life cycle. Development increases functional specialization and capability. Development involves change but not all change is development. Development includes both maturation and increasing experience. Development  has biological, cognitive, and social aspects. They normally go in tandem in a normal child. Development is a continuous process. Later development builds on earlier experiences.


Breast-feeding by the mother, irdhau al mar at waladaha (p. 1093 2:233, 65:6, 2:233, 65:6) is strongly emphasized because it is the best nutrition in the first stages of growth and also has important psychological effects.


Retarded growth and development: Development impairments early in life could affect the capacity for development later in life. Parents must be aware of the rapid growth and development of children and should adapt their parenting to the requirements of each stage of growth and functional development.




Lineage, nasab (p. 1217 25:54): For psychological stability a child must belong to a set of parents, a family and a community. Knowing the parents is the basis of the child’s self-identification. Without it the child will have no self-esteem. The ceremony of aqiiqat introduces the child to the community (KS 389).


The only acceptable way parenthood is established in by legal marriage, majiu al walad bi al zawaaj (; 1323 3:47, 4:1, 19:20). However even a child conceived in adultery, is given legal lineage by being made to belong to the legal husband of the mother, al walad li al firaash (KS 263). A husband can not reject a child who does not resemble him (KS 263) neither can he ….him, maniu al intifau min al walad (KS 577). Legal adoption was prohibited in Islam, maniu al tabanni (p 226 37:4-5, 37:37-38, 33:40) because it distorts lineage relations. 


It is considered kufr to claim a false lineage (KS 543). Pride in lineage is prohibited, iftikhaa bi al ansaab (KS 543). It is also forbidden to make fun of others’ lineages, ta’ayiir fi al ansaab (KS 543). Among the legal relations between the child and the parent are the obligations of child financial support, infaaq ala al walad (p. 1322 2:233) and rearing the child, ri’ayat al walad (p 1322 12:21, 28:9, 71:21, 71:77). There are also rights of inheritance between the child and the parent, miraath al walad (p 1322 4:11, 4:12, 4:176).


Name, tasmiyat: A child acquires identity by carrying the family name of the father which indicates the lineage. The children are in addition given a forename usually by the 7th day (KS 85). The name should be selected with care because it has a great influence on the self-concept, identity, and self-esteem of the child. The best of names should be selected, tahsiin al asma (KS 85). The prophet changed the names of his grandchildren ro Hasan and Husain when he found that the names they had been given were not good (KS 200).



Parents are tested by Allah when given children, al ibtilaau bi al walad (p 1322 8:28, 64:15). Some may become so pre-occupied by their children that they forget remembrance of Allah, inshighaal bi al walad ‘an dhikr al llaah (p 1322 63:9, 64:14). Some become proud of having many children, tafakhur bi al awlaad (p. 1322 7:55, 9:85); takaathur bi al walad (p 1322 9:69, 18:39, 19:77, 34:35, 57:20).



Children are a gift from Allah. They must be valued. Children should know quite early that they are valued members of society and that they have roles to play. These roles change with changes in their social competence. Children are not miniature adults. They have to be treated differently. The prophet was very tolerant when Hasan and Husain jumped on his back during prostration in the mosque (KS 200).


Love for children, hubb al awlaad (p. 147 20:38-40, 28:7, 28:10-13) is a natural instinct in all parents and many adults of the human and non-human species. It ensures protection and security for the children. The love between children and parents is mutual. Children who are loved also love their parents. The old help the young while the young respect the old (KS 576). When parents age and become physically weak, the children extend physical help.


The prophet (PBUH) loved his daughter Fatima dearly, hubb al nabiy li Faatima (KS 418). He said lovingly that she was part of him, ba;adhu minhu (KS 418). While on his death-bed he whispered to her that he would die soon and she cried. He then whispered to her that she would be the first member of the family to join him and she laughed. She died 6 months after the passing away of the prophet (KS 418). Fatima loved her father and nursed him when sick (KS 418 and KS 419). The prophet also demonstrated a lot of love for his two grand-children, Hasan and Husain, hubb al nabiy li al hasan wa al husain (KS 199). He descended from the minbar one day in order to hold Hasan (KS 200). He prayed for Hasan and Husain, duaa al nabiy li al Hasan wa al Husain (KS 200). He kissed both of them before his death (KS 200).


The love for children and their treatment should be the same for all, al ‘adl bayna al awlaad (KS 576).Girls should also be well treated, husn mu’amalat al banaat (KS 575)



Parenting is not easy. Both parents have roles in child up-bringing. Oft forgotten is the father’s role in tarbiyah, masuliyat al ab al tarbawi (p 14 18:80-81, 19:28). Parenting is not easy. It requires time and patience. It is a process of learning by trial and error. It is physically and mentally exhausting but can be very rewarding. In the end guidance is from Allah. Despite our best efforts children may turn out as bad adults. In a few exceptional cases poorly-reared children turn out to be good adults. We should not lose heart as long as we had done the best we could for them.


Parenting starts right from the moment of conception. The period of gestation, haml al mar at (p 1095-1096 7:189, 13:8, 35:11, 65:6) is a physiological challenge for the mother. She has to maintain herself in the best physical and mental state for optimal fetal growth. She has to continue the effort throughout the parenting period until the child reaches maturity. Goodness of the mother, salah al umm (p. 147 5:75, 19:28), is a pre-requisite for proper growth and development.


Parent communication with children must be open, honest, mutual, and nurturing. Parents’ words must be consistent with actions. If parents fail in living up to the standards they set, they should be honest about it and show the children that they are trying to make up.


Parents must have time to play with their children. Children should be shown love by kissing and hugging. Parents must also pray with them and try to be with them as much as possible even at some social functions where children's presence could create some nuisance. Parents must not continue the unhealthy attitude of keeping aloof so that the children may fear and respect them. In this way you can cower and control them while young. They rebel or distance themselves as soon as they are able to establish their independence in the teenage years. While children they do not share their concerns and experiences with the bossy parent who as a consequence can not influence them. Successful parenting requires a high tolerance level for children. Children's actions and behavior can not be judged by adult standards. Each child is an individual; each is different. Successful parents accommodate the individual variations in children and do not follow stereo types.




Children are born in a pure and natural state, fitrat (KS 575); it is the environment that shapes them into either good or bad people. Muslim upbringing of children is thus very different from the Christian one. Christians who believe in original sin think that child upbringing is cleansing them and saving them from their innate sinfulness. Islam wants to build on and develop their innate good. The first 7-10 years are the formative period of personality. Influences at this stage of life, positive or negative, have long lasting impact. Children are born sinless in a state of fitra. Capacities for both evil and good exist; the final behavior is determined by the way they are reared. The instinct to do right exists at the start. If a child is left completely in a state of nature without any outside interference they will choose to do right. The age of legal maturity is defined biologically as either 15 years or the appearance of definitive signs of puberty: In boys the first sperm and in girls menarche. Attaining the age of legal maturity does not mean attaining wisdom. Many problems arise from high expectations of legally mature but unwise children.



Good manners and attitudes are not taught but are shown to children Behave as you want your children to behave and be consistent; they will emulate you. Keep out any other competing ideas or models of behavior. The social environment that children are exposed to should be carefully controlled. Do not allow children to play with mischievous / rebellious children in the neighborhood. TV is a social environment that must be controlled. Whom you visit and who visits you matter. The main aim is to keep out negative influences. The range of positive experiences to which children are exposed should be wide and varied. Moral development is the most important aspect of parenting. Morality is ability to distinguish right from wrong. It is innate but can be developed further. Children must be guided to understand moral issues as soon as possible. Moral values are universal and are not relative. Intellectual and moral development go hand in hand. Moral values can be taught by use of stories since young children can not appreciate abstract notions like honesty. Children should be taught the kalima, love of Allah,  love of Jannat, reliance on Allah, salat, reading Qur'an, attending Salat al-Jama’at, truthfulness. Hardwork, love of learning, exploration, bravery, and courage should be encouraged. Selfishness should be discouraged. Children should be warned against sins such as: Kufr, hirk, gambling, pornography, and smoking. They should be taught to wear Islamic dress, to use the right hand, cleanliness, and respect for the visitor.




Children are not a tabula rasa. They certainly are born with instinctive knowledge of their creator. However their data-bank is limited. Their ability to learn from the environment is also limited. At the start of life, a child has only instincts. Children gradually learns from the environment and finally have an intellect.



Two educational principles are involved in early learning, the primacy and the structuring principles. The primacy principle states that what is learned early is learned best. The structuring principle states that what is learned first structures later learning. The span of life is fixed. The aim is to prepare the child to get the best out of a fixed time. It is therefore very important to pay attention to the first years of life. Good upbringing requires exposing children to a continuum of social development so that there are no sudden jumps from stage to stage. Development is individual and there are no fixed norms. Children reach milestones in cognition, learning, intelligence, and language at different rates. The tarbiyah given must be related to the level of intellectual and social development.


Often ignored is helping children grow intellectually. 


A child has both body and mind. Both must be taken care of for balanced growth and development. This is the crucial difference between man and animals. Animals have no mind; only their bodies grow. Genetic endowment determines basic intelligence. It defines the ceiling or the potential. Environmental stimulation can increase or hamper further development. The type of early environmental exposure determines the final level of intelligence. Early stimulation has an impact because the brain is still physically growing. Children start learning very early. Parents should learn listening to children. You can learn much from them. You also understand them more to be able to guide and parent them more efficiently. Never talk baby talk to children, talk serious things to them but use the vocabulary suited to their stage of development and repeat important things often. Children understand and retain information at a level higher than what most parents imagine. Children are born with an inner drive to investigate, explore and learn from the environment. This should be used in the learning process. The natural tendency of children to explore the world and learn by experimentation should be encouraged. It should never be viewed as a nuisance to be suppressed. Learning should be a pleasure. Fear or scolding are counter productive. A warm and democratic home fosters intellectual growth. The lay-out, organization and running of the home should be designed to facilitate child development and not for the convenience of adults.


The first intellectual skills that should be taught are language skills. Language influences the way people think. The first words that children learn should emphasize Iman. Complex, detailed, stimulating language should be used. Read to children as early as possible. The rhyme in poetry is liked by children. Early interest in books carries through to adulthood. A second language should be taught as soon as the primary language is stable. A second language is best mastered before puberty. Arabic, the language of the Qur’an, is the preferred second language. There should be zero tolerance for colloquial Arabic.



Children should be taught obedience. It is of religious, moral, and social importance in later life. Obedience is an attitude. It starts with obedience of Allah then the parents then those in authority. It also includes obedience of the physical laws, sunan al llaahi fi al kawn, and acceptance of social realities. Disobedient individuals tend to be marginal individuals in society, they may commit crimes and can not be good and religious individuals with stable family life.


Parents unknowingly teach their children to be disobedient. A wife obeying her husband and a husband obeying his parents are very good models for children. Children do what they see and not what they are told to do. Unusual/bad behavior of children is often a reflection of bad environment. First understand the causes before deciding on corrective measures. Disciplining of children must be firm, fair and appropriate. There must be house rules that are not broken. Too much scolding or belittling is child abuse. Children should be treated as individuals. They must be respected as humans with rights, feelings and concerns. As individuals they have a God-given self-worth and an identity that is unique. Children can not be the same and should not be expected to behave is similar ways. Neither should you expect your children to be exactly like you.


Children must be loved and that love should be shown. Most anti-social, destructive and emotionally unbalanced adults did not have a loving environment in childhood. Parental love for the youngest children should never be conditional. As they grow you can show them your anger at their misbehavior but they should never at any one moment feel rejected by their parents whatever the magnitude of their transgression. Preference for either male or female children is an un-Islamic custom that must stop. Preferential love or treatment of boys is wrong and unacceptable. All children  are equal and should be treated similarly. Children who feel they are not well treated may develop feelings of inferiority or jealousy. On the emotional level, it is difficult to love children equally. Some children are loving, obedient, and kind. They tend to be loved more than rebellious unaffectionate ones. Parent must recognize the differences but treat them equally.


Building self-esteem in children requires time and effort. Teach them to communicate their feelings. Listen to them. Negotiate and compromise with them in matters that are not strict rules. Your disciplining must be fair and consistent. Give them responsibilities and tasks. Allow them to make some decisions. Have a sense of humor. Give them loving care.




There are behaviors and habits that weaken and eventually destroy the family. Since a successful family is the basic building block of society, its destruction means destruction of the whole society. Family destruction could be due to internal or external factors. The internal factors are zina and its antecedents. The external factors are: socio-economic and political stresses. Minor zina is committed by the eye, ear, tongue & mouth, limbs, hands etc. These are antecedents to the actual crime of illegal intercourse. A community that allows sexual misconduct in public will soon find its family morals corrupted. Spread of zina is one of the signs of the Last Day, min ashraat al saa’at dhuhuur al zina (KS 265) Social controls against zina are more powerful than the law and its deterrents. Toleration of zina violates this control which arises primarily from the immediate family. Ghiira for a wife, a daughter, and a sister is one of the social controls that prevent zina. Indecent exposure affects the family negatively in the following ways: it causes sexual stimulation that may lead to zina, it is a form of covert zina because a man can be among women without being identified, it undermines the emotional and private bond between men and women, and it removes the instinctual gender identity and facilitates zina. Free mixing of the sexes (ikhtilat) could lead to illegal temptations and sexual crimes. Isolation of a man with an unrelated woman, khalwah, (KS 540) is a strong temptation for evil and should be avoided. A woman traveling alone without her husband or an unmarriageable male, mahram (KS 542-543) or a women should displaying her ornamentation, karahiyat khuruuj al nisaa fi al ziinat (KS 539), are all causeas of temptation. Display of ornamentation is more prohibited in the absence of the husband, al nahyu ‘an al tabarruj idha ghaaba ak zawj (KS 540).



Socio-economic changes put stresses on the family. Demographic changes may not favor family stability when husbands can not earn enough to feed the family and mothers are forced to join the labor force. Imbalance of the gender ratio is one of the signs of the Last Day, min ashraat al sa’aat kathrurat al nisaa wa qillat al rijaal (KS 106).



Certain regulation are necessary to protect the family from evils that will lead to its destruction. The following measures are needed: (a) Preventive measures: education, tarbiyyah, early marriage, following the sharia, maintaining the privacy of the home. Marriage must be declared publicly to avoid any confusions (KS 548). (b) Avoiding zina and its antecedents: modesty in dress, no ikhtilaat, no khalwat, huduud as deterrent, privacy of the home.


Avoiding zina: Zina is prohibited, tahriim al zina (p. 544 4:24-25, 5:5, 17:32, 24:2-3, 25:68, 60:12). There is great sexual temptation between men and women (p. 1101 12;23-24, 12:30-34). The private parts must be guarded, hifdh al furuuj (p 891 21:91, 23:5, 24:30-31, 33:35, 66:12, 70:29). Both men and women must be modest by covering their awrat. Nobody is allowed to see anybody else’s awrat (KS 405) except the spouse (KS 405). The awrat should be covered in salat, al awrat fi al salat (KS 405), during bathing, al tasattur fi al ghusl (KS 405), in the bath, al tasattur fi al hammaam (KS 405), in the toilet, al tasattur ‘inda qadhai al haajat (KS 405), and at all times, al tasattur kull al waqt (KS 405). The covering of the woman, hijab al mar at (p. 1092 24:30-31, 24:60, 33:53, 33:59) was enjoined on the wives of the prophet and all Muslim women (KS 185). It involves covering parts of the body, satr al mar at (p. 1091 24:31) when outside the houseThe reason for the verses of hijab, sabab nuzuul ayat al hijaab (KS 541). Hijab gives the women protection from sexual harassment so that she can undetake her duties outside the home without any fear. In addition to the physical hijaab, the woman must be modest, hayau al mar at (p 1091 28:23-25; p 1096 28:23-25) and lower her gaze, ghadh al basar (P 1091 24:31). It also involves following the regulations about the woman’s ornamentation, ziinat al mar at (p. 1078 2:234, 43:18). Un-related perons should not enter homes without permission. Their entry violates the privacy of the home and could be a source of unnecessary temptations. Each gender should maintain its psychological, emotional identity and physical appearance in manners of dress, walking or speaking. Trying to blur the distinction interferes with the complementality that is supposed to exist between the two genders. The complementality is necessary to ensure cooperation. Blurring the differences could also make sexual misconduct easier. Severe punishment is reserved for those men who imitate women, mukhanathiin, and women who imitate men, mutarajilaat (KS 190) as well as those who try to resemble the opposite gender, mutashabihiin and mutashabihaat (KS 540).


Go to Part II

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. June 2001