Family Life And Human Rights In Islam
Why is the family so important to Muslims?
The family is the foundation of Islamic society. The peace and security offered by a stable family unit are greatly valued, and seen as essential for the spiritual growth of its members. A harmonious social order is created by the existence of extended families; children are treasured, and rarely leave home until the time they marry.
What about Muslim Women?
Islam sees a woman, whether single or married, as an individual in her own right, with the right to own and dispose of her property and earnings. A marriage dowry is given by the groom to the bride for her own personal use, and she keeps her own family name rather than taking her husband’s.
Both men and women are expected to dress in a way that is modest and dignified; the traditions of female dress found in some Muslim countries are often the expression of local customs.
The Messenger of God [PBUH] said: ‘The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in the manner and kindest to his wife.’
Can a Muslim have more than one wife?
The religion of Islam was revealed for all societies and all times and so accommodates widely differing social requirements. Circumstances may warrant the taking of another wife but the right is granted, according to the Qur’an, only on condition that the husband is scrupulously fair.
Is Islamic marriage like Christian marriage?
A Muslim marriage is not a ‘sacrament’, but a simple, legal agreement in which either partner is free to include conditions. Marriage customs thus vary widely from country to country. As a result, divorce is not common, although it is not forbidden as a last resort. According to Islam, no Muslim girl can be forced to marry against her will: her parents will simply suggest young men they think may be suitable.
How do Muslims treat the elderly?
In the Islamic world, there are no old people’s homes. The strain of caring for one’s parents in this most difficult time of their lives is considered an honor and blessing, and an opportunity for great spiritual growth. God asks that we not only pray for our parents but act with limitless compassion, remembering that when we were helpless children they preferred us to themselves. Mothers are particularly honored: the Prophet [PBUH] taught that ‘ Paradise lies at the feet of mothers.’ When they reach old age, Muslim parents are treated mercifully, with the same kindness and selflessness.
In Islam, serving one’s parents is a duty second only to prayer, and it is their right to expect it. It is considered despicable to express any irritation when, through no fault of their own, the old become difficult.
The Qur’an says: Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and be kind to parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, do not say ‘uff’ to them or chide them, but speak to them in terms of honor and kindness. Treat them with humility, and say, ‘My Lord! Have mercy on them, for they did care for me when I was little.’ [17:23-24]
How do Muslims view death?
Like Jews and Christians, Muslims believe that the present life is only a trial preparation for the next realm of existence. Basic articles of faith include the Day of Judgment, resurrection, Heaven, and Hell. When a Muslim dies, he or she is washed, usually by a family member, wrapped in a clean white cloth, and buried with a simple prayer preferably on the same day. Muslims consider this one of the final services they can do for their relatives, and an opportunity to remember their own brief existence here on earth. The Prophet [PBUH] taught that three things can continue to help a person even after death: a charity which he has given, knowledge which he had taught, and prayers on their behalf by a righteous child.
What does Islam say about war?
Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defense, in defense of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. It lays down strict rules of combat which include prohibitions against harming civilians and destroying crops, trees, and livestock. As Muslims see it, injustice would be triumphant in the world if good men were not prepared to risk their lives for a righteous cause. The Qur’an says:
Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits. God does not love transgressors. [2:190]
If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in God for He is the One that heareth and knoweth all things. [8:61]
War, therefore, is the last resort, and is subject to the rigorous conditions laid down by the sacred law. The term jihad literally means ‘struggle’, and Muslims believe that there are two kinds of jihad: The other ‘jihad’ is the inner struggle that everyone wages against egotistic desires, for the sake of attaining inner peace.
What about food?
Although much simpler than the dietary law followed by the Jews and the early Christians, the code that Muslims observe forbids the consumption of pig meat or any kind of intoxicating drink. The Prophet [PBUH] taught that ‘your body has rights over you’, and the consumption of wholesome food and the leading of a healthy lifestyle are seen as religious obligations.
The Prophet [pbuh] said: ‘Ask God for certainty [of faith] and well-being; for after certainty, no one is given any gift better than health!’
How does Islam guarantee human rights?
Freedom of conscience is laid down by the Qur’an itself: ‘There is no compulsion in religion.’ [2:256]
The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred whether a person is Muslim or not.
Racism is incomprehensible to Muslims, for the Qur’an speaks of human equality in the following terms: O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in God’s sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. [49:13]