Islamic Laws

The Formation of a Household

By: Ayatullah al-Uzma Hussain Madhahiri
Today’s discussion is concerning the formation of the family and the importance that Islam gives to it. This is a very useful topic for discussion and I do hope that we shall be able to discuss several issues concerning our society. Formation of families gives tremendous advantages to people and the satisfaction of the sexual instinct becomes insignificant when compared to the benefits that are concomitant with the formation of the family structure. In the previous talk we have stressed the point that suppressing the sexual instinct is not right from the Islamic point of view. Satisfying the sex instinct is absolutely necessary and the benefits accruing to the family from this are very distinct. The first step for the formation of a family is to respond positively to the urge of nature because man and woman are absolutely necessary for each other. The progeny emanates from the mating of man and wife. When the human beings first set foot on the world, one woman was chosen for one man and they parented a few offspring. The first example of a human couple has been Adam (a.s.) and his wife Hawwa. If the family can give virtuous offspring to the society, then, in the eyes of Islam, there is, probably, nothing more blessed and rewarding than this act.
A verse from the Holy Quran stresses on the great value of human life:
… whosoever killeth a human being for other than man-slaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one,it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Sura al Maidah: 32
What we have mentioned here is the apparent meaning of the Verse. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a.s.) has given another, finer (lateef), meaning to the verse. He says that if a person misguides a person from the right path, his sin is as severe as if he has massacred the entire population of the world. Similarly, if a person guides another person to the right path, saves him from going astray and turns him into a pious and truthful person, then the act will be equivalent to giving life to the entire population of the world.
Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
“Beware! Don’t lead men astray with your talk. In your homes you should not implant in the minds of the children, distorted notions about the Faith, the scholars, the prayer niche and the pulpit. If you let this happen, it will be tantamount to massacring the entire population of the world. You should always use your tongue, your pen, your manners and behavior to bring people to the right path to the best of your ability. If you do this, it will be equivalent to giving life to the entire population of the world!”
The interpretation of the verse given by Imam Jafar al Sadiq (a.s.) highlights another meaning of the verse. If a husband and wife train pious offspring for the society, the reward will not only be equivalent to making a mosque or a school, nor equivalent to giving life to one or two persons, but it will be equal to giving life to the entire population of the world! The recompense for giving noble and pious offspring to the society is more than that for any other pious act. This is possible only if the family is established on the right path!
There are several traditions of the Prophet of Islam (s) and the infallible Imams on the subject. When a person dies, his actions are terminated and he will not earn any further benefits on account of his actions. But a person who has left behind Baqiyatus Salehat ( pious assets), will continue to get more and more rewards. Pious and truthful offspring are included in the Baqiyatus Salehat of a person. When a person leaves behind a pious son or a daughter, and they offer prayers, recite the Holy Quran and perform other pious deeds, then the parents will share the rewards that the children earn! When a son or daughter earns reward for a good deed, an equivalent reward will be allocated for the dead parents too. The good deeds of such parents will not stop with their death!
One tradition that is very popular with both Sunni and Shia scholars is quoted by Sheikh Saduq (a.r.) in his book, Sawaab al Aamaal:
‘If a person leaves behind Baqiyatus Salehat in the world like building a mosque, establishing a school, building a bridge or any other constructive activity, he will get rewards. But a better Baqiyatus Salehat is a person leaving behind pious and noble offspring in the society. In addition when the child performs any good deed, one reward is for the child himself, another is for his father and a third reward is given to his mother.’
There are umpteen traditions of this nature. Therefore people should strive to form families of a pious and noble character, so that good offspring can be turned over to the society. This is the demand of Islam which is a faith that conforms with nature! But the enemies of humanity have, from times immemorial, perpetrated such activities that hamper the growth of pious and noble generations in the human race. The Quran says about them: mufsid fil ardh – their work is to spread mischief on the face of the earth
And among the people is he whose conversation on the life of this world pleases you and he calls Allah to witness as to that which is in his heart; yet he is the most rigid of opponents. Sura al Baqarah: 204
This verse means that some people make sweet talks and win the hearts of the people till they form their own school of thought. Some examples of such persons are Marx, Freud, Nietze etc. They write books, and establish their schools of thought which then take root in the East and the West. But Allah knows what is in their hearts. The Holy Quran says that such men are the worst enemies of humanity. The Quran doesn’t say that such men are enemies only of Islam. It says huwa ‘aladdul-khisaam which means that they are the enemies of the human race! The Holy Quran enumerates one of their characteristics that if they are unable to usurp power, then they create discord in the minds of the people. But if they are able to attain power, then:
And when he turneth away (from thee) his effort in the land is to make mischief therein and to destroy the crops and the cattle; and Allah loveth not mischief. Sura al Baqarah: 205
When they attain power, they misguide people. They loot assets and destroy entire generations. The same thing happened with Iran after the Revolution. The American bred dog attacked hapless populations in the villages and perpetrated general massacre. He not only destroyed the buildings and mosques, but also uprooted the trees and destroyed crops. Quran says, yuhlikal harsa wan-nasl, meaning that when aggressors like Saddam get power, they lead the people astray or massacre people. Their aim is always to destroy the habitations.
Another meaning of the verse is that those who are the enemies of humanity try to mislead the young generations. They entice women to discard their hijab. In the name of progress they introduce forbidden habits in the society. They misguide men into forbidden ways. They make people engrossed in serving their selfish ends and satisfying their base desires, and thus the present generation is destroyed. This way they ensure that not only the present generation is ruined but the future generations, too, are destroyed. This is the reason that they work more in the schools, colleges and the universities. They try to keep the children away from the pulpit and the mosque. If they don’t succeed with their foul motives on the present generation, they turn their attention to ruining the future generations. Russel is a well known British philosopher. The world recognizes him as a philosopher of high caliber. He very foolishly thought it unnecessary to have a family. Even the Pharoah was of the same opinion. But the Quran says
Lo! Pharaoh exalted himself in the earth and made its people castes. A tribe among them he oppressed, killing their sons and sparing their women. Lo! he was of those who work corruption. Sura al Qasas: 4
Pharaoh was an evil person. He created major problems for the Bani Israel when he established power over them. First he created differences amongst the people, and thus ensured his own success. Generally all the commentators of the Holy Quran interpret the words, yudhabbihu ‘abnaaa-‘ahum, to mean that he arranged killing of all new-born males to ensure that Prophet Musa (a.s.) was prevented from coming in the world! He left the new-born females of the tribe unharmed. But some researchers interpret the verse saying that Pharaoh did this to demoralize men and make the women shameless and hand them over to the society as play-things!
One act of Pharaoh was to destroy the future generations of Bani Israel. His plan was to make the women totally shameless. Pity on the society in which women render themselves shameless! We read in the traditions that haya (shame) or bashfulness is divided into ten parts. Nine are for women and only one for men. It is a shame for a society where all the nine parts of modesty in women disappear. That is the stage when a woman wears perfume and comes out in public, scantily dressed. So shameless does she become that she exposes her face and bares her bosom. In this condition she moves about in the bazaar or goes to a shop, talking and laughing with namahrams. Shame on such a society and more shame on such women! Pharaoh was enforcing these shameful things to strengthen his hold over the tribe of Bani Israel and to weaken their future generation. Today’s exploiters too have similar plans to destroy the coming generations.
Modesty and Bashfulness
When these people succeed in their nefarious schemes, they destroy modesty and bashfulness in women. They involve the women in sensual acts and destroy the manliness of men. A father sees namahram males eyeing his daughter sensually, but it does not affect him. Men see their wives, daughters and sisters going to the market in see-through dresses, without hijab, they know that their women have dressed up for others. When a society comes to this pass, we should offer a silent prayer for it! You might wonder why the autocratic Reza Shah and the king of Turkey ordered general massacres. They did this to succeed in rendering women immodest through their tyrannical force! Whenever Reza Khan came to any meetings, he used to say that he personally did not want the women to come out of the veil, but that they were themselves insisting on this change in their lifestyle! He said that the only thing he wanted was that the women should not wear the chadar. When Reza Shah had gone to Isfahan, the elders had gone to meet him with a request. He told them that the women could be in hijab, only they should not wear the chadar (full body covering). The Westerners knew it well that if women don’t wear the chadar, there will be no stopping them; they will spiral towards complete immodesty! And, unfortunately, we saw that women reached the stage where they were seen moving semi-naked on the streets. In addition, they were proud of their immodest behavior!
Reza Shah and the king of Turkey wanted to make Iran and Turkey “liberated” and immodest in this manner. Whether it is the Pharaoh, or the foreigners, Haman or America, they all aim to misguide the future generations and promote immodesty. Therefore it is binding on Muslims that they implicitly follow the commandments of Islam, otherwise they will be dragged towards evil. Pharoh planned to make men weak and the women immodest. He used to start with the girls when they were still small, so that they grew up to be immodest women, and men feel no compunction. When a society is reduced to this state, then it becomes very easy to dominate and overpower the people. When you see the Quran and traditions stressing on the formation of the family, do not be surprised. Only a pious generation can truly bring about sound progress. Only a virtuous generation can make scientific progress to the extent that others envy them. Islam calls on us to look after our children so that we can turn over a virtuous son and a modest daughter over to the society. The reward for doing so is more than constructing a mosque, or visiting the Kaaba or any other worship. If a person does a lot of good deeds and another gives two virtuous children to the society which deed is better? According to Islam handing over virtuous children to the society is better. Hence I congratulate the ladies who stay within the four walls of the house, and raise virtuous children. These ladies are like the mujahideen (soldiers) who are fighting the enemy on the frontline. In addition their house is also like a school. They are rewarded so much, as if they have given life to the whole world.
Giving Virtuous Progeny to the Society
Islam wants men and women to pay attention to certain things. A wife and husband, while in the act of copulation, should not think of others. For example, the man thinking of some other woman or the wife, may Allah forbid, thinking of some other man at that time. If a child born out of such mating turns out to be an adulterer when he grows up, it is the parents who should be blamed and not the child. Islam is so particular about the upbringing of the child that it forbids the parents to display sexual behavior even if the child is still in the cradle! They must go to another room to fulfill their urge, if they desire to do so. It is mandated that during copulation no third person should hear even the breathing of the couple. They should exercise care that no third person sees their faces or the bodies during their conjugal act. Islam forbids its followers looking at namahram persons. All these commandments are to protect the future generations from going astray. The person who stares at namahram or the trader who looks at namahrams cannot give virtuous progeny to the society. Try and become modest. Islam warns you against immodesty! Islam has warned of grave danger for a lady who doesn’t mind looking at and dealing with a namahram.
The day a child is born, Islam says that the adhaan is to be recited in its right ear and the Iqamah in the left ear. If you wish the child to be a good Shia, put a little soil from the graveside of Abi Abdallah al Hussain (a.s.) near his lips prior to feeding the mother’s milk.
Feed the child with the mother’s milk. Mother’s milk is most important for the baby’s health and welfare. However the milk should be one which is from Halal sustenance. The Prophet of Islam (s) used to say:
If the child becomes foul mouthed, the sin will go into the nama-e-Aamaal ( the Account of Deeds) of the parent, as well as that of the child because he is the one who has used abusive and foul language. This will go in to the accounts of the father and the mother, even if they are dead and gone! Bihar al-Anwar, Vol 1, page 71
A person who has given immodest progeny to the society, the traditions mention, will get retribution for the sins of the offspring in addition to the retribution of the perpetrator of the sins himself.
A lady told me once that whenever she wanted to fight with her husband, she used to leave her children with their maternal grand-parents. After the fight was over and a truce declared, she used to bring the children home! What a thoughtful way it is!
Ladies and gentlemen! If you want to fight and abuse each other, please take the child in the cradle somewhere else so that he doesn’t hear your foul talk! I wish to tell you something. Our ladies, in the days when they never stirred out of their homes, kept some pebbles in their mouths when they were required to speak with strange men. The purpose was to make their voices as unattractive as possible to the strange men! Our fathers were men who used to recite the Quran and were regular at offering prayers. But what is our status? What is the status of our children? Such women have been endowed to the society that they take out their young daughters without a chadar. It is a pity that they visit the mausoleum of Hadhrat Masoomae Qom in the same state!
One lady told me that she saw Hadhrat Masooma in her dream. Hadhrat Masooma told her that in the past she used to cry about the pitiable state of others. But now she cries over the state of affairs of our own people!
Pity the children that in the laps they witness and are raised in an environment of sexually provocative scenes, provocative songs, backbiting, slander, abuse, shouting and fights. I appeal to you again and again! Please have concern for the coming generations! At least think of your own self. God forbid you are addressed as the murderer of human beings! You will say that I have never committed such a crime in the world. You will be answered that you have killed a whole world of people .as you did not take care to give proper upbringing to your children!
The Benefits of Matrimony
In the previous talk we discussed the advantages of forming families. One very significant advantage for the partners to establish a family is the natural satisfaction of the sex instinct. The other, and very important, advantage is providing virtuous and healthy progeny to the society. The enemies of humanity always devise stratagems to ensure that virtuous members are not there in the societies. This is the reason that the institution of the ‘family’ is attacked by them .This is also the reason for making immodesty so common. It is your duty to give importance to the family so that a healthy progeny is turned over to society. This will help to control the effects of Western Culture.
Peace of Mind
Today’s topic of discussion is about the fact that a decent man and wife are the source of comfort and contentment for each other. This is reflected in one of the verses of the Holy Quran:
And of his signs is this: He created for you helpmates from yourselves that ye might find rest in them… Sura Rum: 21
One of the signs from Allah is that he has created man for woman and the woman for man! If we analyse the human nature we find that a man without a woman remains incomplete. Similarly a spinster woman is incomplete without a man. In fact a man and a woman combine to form a complete identity i.e. each one is dependant on the other. In the view of the Holy Quran man is the support for woman, and similarly the woman is a support for man. In this world everyone needs a confidante. If we consider human nature, and the guidance given by the Holy Quran, the best source of comfort for a person in difficult times is his wife or her husband! Wa ja-ala bainakum mawadda wa rahmat -Allah has created wife and husband as well-wishers of each other. By nature, man and wife love each other.
If we don’t destroy this abode of peace, then man and wife are always a source of comfort and peace for each other. Pity on the home which offers no peace to the man or wife ! These people are like the insomniacs who don’t get sleep. Look at a person who doesn’t get sleep. How restless such a person is! He cannot think properly. His body becomes sick. According to the Holy Quran sleep is the cause of comfort for the living creatures. Similarly the Holy Quran says that man and woman are the cause of comfort for each other. Therefore a man who remains single has no means of comfort. A woman who is a spinster is like a person who is suffering from insomnia. Man and wife are a source of comfort for each other. It is our duty to protect and promote the institution of marriage and formation of families!
Man and Wife – Ornaments for Each Other
According to the Holy Quran, man and wife are not only the source of mutual comfort, but are like ornaments for each other. The Holy Book says:
They are raiment for you and ye are raiment for them… Sura al Baqarah: 187
There are two or three meanings of the word ‘raiment’ in the verse. One meaning is that the wife is an ornament for the husband just as a good raiment is an ornamentation for him. The Holy Quran itself is witness to this fact that it says:
O Children of Adam! Put on your adornment on every occasion of prayer, and eat and drink, but do not waste; indeed Allah does not like the wasteful Sura A’raaf 7:31
This means that when you plan to go out anywhere – to the mosque or to a meeting – dress properly and decently. Here the term ‘raiment’ connotes ornamentation and the meaning of the words hunna libasun lakum wa antum libasun lahun is that women are their husbands’ ornamentation and they are the ornaments for their wives. The other meaning of the word ‘raiment’ here is that a wife is the protection for the man and prevents him from going astray. The man too performs this task for his wife. The third meaning of the word ‘raiment’ is that man and wife are satar or coverings for each other. A man who is single is devoid of the cover that a wife provides and similarly a spinster too is devoid of this cover or protection in the absence of a mate. In a nutshell, the verse says that the man and wife are adornments and covers for each other. We should therefore take care of our adornments and coverings.
Imam Jafar e Sadiq (a.s.) has said that the husband is like a necklace for the wife. As the necklace is an ornament for a woman, a husband too is an ornament for the wife. Then the Imam (a.s.) observed that one should take care what type of woman one chooses for a spouse. The Imam (a.s.) further added that if one has a virtuous wife, then he has a big blessing. A good wife is an invaluable possession. She is worth more than any amount of gold and silver. If the wife is not good, she is worthless, even less than a handful of sand! The same is true for a husband. If he is modest and his wife is pleased with him then it is a great blessing. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says that if husband and wife are compatible and are an ornamentation for each other, then definitely this is a great blessing.
Man and Wife – Source of Comfort for Each Other
In addition to being a source of comfort and protection for each other, the home is a place of amusement for the man and wife. This is definitely so if the home is as has been defined and ordained by Islam. If the wife is a lady who fits into the definition of a spouse as given by Islam and the husband fits into the standard fixed for him, then the best place for amusement is the home itself! It is possible that at this meeting there are present many husbands whose hearts are with their wives at home! They would love to reach the comfort of the home after a full day of toil and hard work! Also it is possible that in the gathering there are ladies who are eagerly looking forward to their husbands returning home after performing their duties and business. They look forward to the husband’s familiar knock at the door to welcome him and dispel all his cares and tiredness with a smile of welcome! The Prophet of Islam (s) has observed thus on the subject:
There is no greater blessing for a Muslim man after Islam than a Muslim wife who causes him joy when he looks at her. Wasail alShia, Vol 14, page 23
The smile of a man and wife, for each other, is a source of joy and pleasure. It is mentioned in the traditions that the value of a good wife is far more than that of gold and silver. In fact if there is anything that is most valuable after the faith of Islam, it is a good spouse for a person! The most pleasurable thing for a wife is to converse happily with her husband. Men should take care to make their wives happy and the women too should strive towards the same end.
A man came to the Prophet of Allah (s) and said, “O Prophet of Allah! My wife is so thoughtful that when I reach home, she herself comes to open the door and receives me with a smile. She gives me attention and converses with me. Whenever I am unhappy and tired, she humors me to dispel my unhappiness and tiredness!” The Prophet (s) said,
“This woman is a servant of Allah! She is an angel and will get the same rewards for her actions as the angels get! Her actions are most valuable!”
Men too can be like that. They should know that it is only their wives who can provide them comfort. The wife’s smile and her talk provide comfort to the husband. If there is no love and care in a home, the atmosphere there becomes very unpleasant. Such atmosphere is not only harmful to the husband and wife, but it badly affects the children as well. You will notice that children from homes where the atmosphere is not good have inferior abilities and poor memories when compared with other children. Remember, the shortcomings in the children are due to the mistakes of the parents. When there is no atmosphere of love and affection at home, the man becomes a victim of psychological ailments. The home then becomes a prison for him.
It happens sometimes that a husband prefers sitting at the wayside cafe till late in the night rather than going home. In certain homes the wife doesn’t bother to find out about her husband. It is our own fault that we have destroyed these abodes of comfort and peace by using harsh words. This happens even after they have become old or are materially very well off. Beauty is not just in dressing well but actual beauty is in the way the eyes of the other person perceives you
Perhaps the fable of Laila and Majnoon is only a fiction. But there are very good lessons in such stories. It is said that the story of the love of Laila and Majnoon reached the ears of the king of that time. The king called both of them. When they reached the court, he was surprised to see that Laila was a bedouin girl, ugly and dark with thick lips! In surprise he asked Majnoon, “How could you fall in love with this ugly girl?” Majnoon recited a couplet in reply:
“If you had seen Laila with Majnoon’s eyes, you would have seen nothing but beauty in her!”
People used to tell Majnoon that he was running after a dark, ugly looking girl. He would reply that darker the musk, the more fragrant it would be!
If a wife loves her husband she will not dwell on his shortcomings. If someone tells a woman that her husband has some failings, she stands up in his defense. She does this, even if the complainant is her own mother or father! If the husband loves his wife, he too will come to her defense. She may not be very good looking, but for him she is the fairest of the fair! It is not necessary that women approach sorcerers to gain the love of their husbands. This is a big sin.
One woman came to the Prophet of Islam (s) and said, “O Prophet of Allah! I have committed a sin. I tried to win the love of my husband through sorcery.” The Prophet (s) was furious and said, “You have turned the sky into earth, and the earth to sky! You have rendered your world dark! Pity on you!” The woman was very penitent and busied herself in perpetual prayer. The Prophet (s) learned about this activity and said, “Allah will not pardon her! He will not pardon her!” The meaning of the Prophet’s observation is that the real repentance for the woman should have been in going home to serve her husband and home i.e. not to abandon the world while being fully engrossed only in worship. According to the Holy Prophet (s) if a lady desires the attention of her husband and wants him to be happy with her, then she should look after her husband, their house and the children well. He will automatically love her even if she is not good looking. Similarly if a husband desires to have the love and affection of his wife, he should treat her with respect and it is imperative that he does not use foul language. Foul language is a major cause of termination of love and affection between people. When he enters home, he should not vent his anger on his wife. If he has faced some problems in the work or the profession, his wife should not have to bear the brunt of these problems Upon entering the house do not complain and wail in front of children nor fight with your wife as these are great sins that cause Fishare Qabr (the squeezing of the grave) when the person dies!
One of the close companions of the Prophet (s) died. The Prophet (s) himself attended his burial. The people said that the person was lucky that he was interred in his grave by the Holy Prophet (s). The Prophet (s) observed, “The grave has given him so much fishar that the bones of his ribs have shattered!” The companions asked, “O Prophet of Allah (s)! He was a good man! Why did he suffer this hardship?” The Prophet (s) replied, “He was a good person but he always fought with his wife and behaved badly at home!”
A Muslim should not be foul mouthed. If someone uses abusive language, he is not a Muslim. God forbid! If someone beats his wife! If he does that, he is a shameless person, he is not a Muslim. However much learned or progressive the person might be, he will taste the hardship of Fishare Qabr when he dies. Such persons are not the friends of Allah, the Prophet (s), and the Imams (a.s.). The Prophet of Islam (s) used to say that on The Day of Judgment two groups will have such long tongues that they would be touching the ground and others will trample their tongues! The companions asked, “Who these people will be?” The Prophet (s) replied,
“The first group will be of the persons who backbite about others and are always finding faults in others. The other group will consist of women who misbehaved with their husbands, and the men who verbally abused their wives!”
Some persons deceptively look very respectable but, in fact, they are so immature that in the presence of their impressionable children they use abusive language. For example they address their children as: “the son of a dog!” or “son of a donkey!” . Such people are in fact using foul language to address themselves; they should realize that the father of a dog is also a dog. If a person becomes foul-mouthed at home and irritable, this becomes his habit. His dog-like behavior is clear to others, but he himself is unaware of his own bad habit. If he had insight, he would have realized his dog-like behavior.
The persons who call their sons dogs in a rage of anger and use abusive language against their wives, themselves develop the traits of dogs. If someone had the vision and insight of Allama Majlisi or Sadr al Muta’aleheen, he would have seen himself as a dog! Ladies should not get angry. You may be known in the society for your looks or your youthfulness, but the angels see you as nothing more than a she-dog. Perhaps you have a very imposing personality and the society views you with respect, but because of your foul-mouth you may render yourself into a virtual dog! When the angels in the skies look at you, you appear like a dog to them. It has come in the narratives that the misbehavior at home and use of abusive language or beatings change the status of a person. When this person dies, his spirit goes to Allah and from there it proceeds to Heaven or Hell. On the way it passes through all the stages, and when the spirit of this ill-mannered person reaches the seventh sky, the inhabitants say that a dog has arrived! Are people with such bad manners desirous of going to Allah in the form of a dog!
If you heed today’s talk, then your home will be a place of peace and comfort. If a husband and wife become a source of support and comfort for each other and if they become a beautification for each other, then, when they die, the angels will praise them. Allah will be happy with such persons and, certainly, they will be destined for the Heaven!
O Allah! For the sake of the children of Abi Abdallah al Hussain, make our homes, our spouses and our children sources of comfort. O Allah! Give good wives and husbands to our sons and daughters who bring joy in their lives!

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