FULFILMENT of family obligation is the litmus test for greatness. Many men, considered being otherwise great, have failed in this test. There are persons, who go beyond the realm of right and wrong when it comes to serving the needs and desires, genuine or false, of their family members as if family was more important than society at large. There are other persons who consider family to be a liability and its obligations to be undesirable. Such persons simply ignore the genuine demands of family life. For these men their own engagements, activities and preoccupations are so much important and engrossing that family as such becomes impediment and so its demands are sacrificed at the altar of their greatness! Human beings err and falter and tend to adopt lopsided attitudes in life.
A balanced approach in life has to be taught to mankind. All the Prophets of Allah taught this correct approach in life where all its ingredients: the self, the family, the society, the other creatures along with the sole Creator have their specific obligations and there is no clash between their respective demands.
The last Prophet of Allah, Muhammad (peace be upon him), taught this middle path and translated these into practices, leaving a recorded and rich legacy in the form of his Sunnah (the Traditions) which may also be termed as the Seerah, i.e. the Prophet’s life history.
The Prophet’s Tradition recorded by both Bukhari and Muslim (i.e. agreed upon Tradition) and related by Abu Masood is that a man who spends (his earning) on his family members, with the intention of getting reward (from Allah), will be (duly) rewarded. So earnings have to be spent on those persons who are dependent. There are many other clear and emphatic Traditions in this regard. Persons doing hard labor to fulfill the needs of their parents, children, wives and other family members are termed as those striving in the path of Allah.
Sa’ad Bin Abi Waqqas, a companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him), at the time of his critical illness sought permission to donate his total property in the path of Allah. He was not allowed. The Prophet (peace be upon him) instead told him to leave at least two-thirds of his property for his natural heirs because any benefit derived by the family members from the property will also be rewarded by Allah.