Healthy Muslim Family
A Talk By:
western romantic fantasy of marriage: how has it come about, how
is it sustained and what does it sustain.
Bismillah er Rahman er
Before we directly
address the way forward towards creating and maintaining a healthy
Muslim family, we must set the context of this discussion with the
following qualifying principle:
A healthy or unhealthy
Muslim family is a reflection of the parts it contains. If the
leadership of the family is truly living, heart fully in action,
rooted in certainty that Allah is in charge, then that family has
every potential and possibility for health and success. If the
leadership of that family is without divine navigation, subjected
primarily by the influence of the world around it, then it is a
recipe for disaster.
True inner and outer health as it applies to the human being is
the natural result of applying the wisdom teachings of Islam, with
enlightened companionship, guidance and enlightened being, all
these combine to fulfill the clearly articulated Prime Directive
of the creator to know and love Him.
Allah says in a Hadith
Quddsi: "I was a Treasure Hidden, Loving to Be Known, the Creation
was made for Me to be known”
If we align our
objective in life with His Divinely stated purpose, then not only
will we be poised to produce healthy families, but the healthy
transformation of neighborhoods, cities, countries and the world.
So I would like to begin with a brief look at where we have come,
our present situation, and ending with some prescriptions to
improving our family lives and ourselves.
In the beginning of this century there came about a rapid
development in redefining the role of mankind, and by extension
the role of the family and all its members. The industrial
revolution shattered the agrarian based socio-economic society and
catapulted mostly western peoples headlong into a new paradigm
that redefined human worth by the measure of productivity and
usefulness in that very same process.
The idea/fantasy of the future and human progress became well
defined and universally accepted defying rational analysis to the
point of absurdity. Beings with large cone heads, seething with
blood vessels, imply an evolution and transcendence beyond our
animal nature. We would live in homes that would intuit our every
need, work would be limited to a few hours a day and war, disease
and famine would be a thing of the past. This fantasy dream of
techno-material progress and pseudo-evolution was and still is
essentially the carrot at the end of the stick. In this material
consumer world it is the consumer that is consumed.
Through time this fantasy becomes modified and coded to fit the
changing circumstances that meander through the ongoing
development of a material based consumer society. Modern religion,
God, and anything that has to do with God, is filtered first
through this model. Most all so-called religions, including much
of the claimants of Islam have fallen prey to this
fantasy-material world dream.
The events of the last few months have born out the utter
spiritual bankruptcy of both the Christian West and the so-called
It has molded each of us and has borne out a model of living that
has affected the way we perceive and act towards our families,
friends and our interactions with the world around us. Its reaches
are worldwide, systemic, and have all but poisoned the river of
For example, the entertainment industry, which includes, movies,
television, music and most publications, works in concert with
educational institutions to occupy the mind, heart and soul by
capturing our consciousness and conditioning it, to conform to a
unified worldview. Whatever or whomever it does not entirely take
over, it compensates with drugs, alcohol, nationalism, patriotism
and whatever isms it may require to sustain the level of control
over the hearts and minds of its victims.
We are here today because to one degree or another we have
suffered under its influence and are looking for answers and ways
and means to save not only families, but also our communities and
ourselves. This is the good news and we should all congratulate
each other in taking the first steps.
What is that first
This first step is to
awaken, and bring our hearts to life! We can only do this by first
being honest and courageous enough to admit our suffering and that
we proclaim that our intention to transcend the prison that we
find ourselves in. Next, we seek guidance from Allah and those who
we recognize that have light and have saved themselves; living a
life that is worth modeling ourselves after. The best of these
lives was and remains the Prophet's life and profile of Muhammad (SAWAWS).
From him, there are heirs to that living light, through the
ever-present chain of transmission through the Imma, and
the Awliyya ullah. There is no other condition better than
recognizing our neediness and seeking His guidance.
Marriage and family has been designed by Allah in His Infinite
Wisdom to be a ways and means to self-knowledge. He places man in
the role of leadership, woman in the role of support, and children
in trust; together trying, testing, and catalyzing each other into
discovering the true nature, balance and purpose of our being.
Allah says in the
everything We have created pairs in order that you may be
In contrast the
postindustrial model is to utilize each component of the family to
optimize its material expansion. This is easily recognized and
expressed through observing the way in which its different facets
work together, as I mentioned earlier, in propagating and defining
a unified picture of modern humanity.
The good news is that it cannot sustain. Built within this system
is its own demise. There is only one way acceptable to Allah and
that is the enlightened path of Islam. Whatever we see and
experience in time, is but a glimpse. Allah is in charge! For the
Mu`min this is where he or she takes solace and certainty
of the Divine Purpose being served by all creation.
nourishing and growth model within the Islamic context.
How do we raise
healthy, happy children who are well grounded in Islamic
principles and practice.
A man must lead his home. In taking the role of leadership he
mirrors the patterns of universal balance and harmony. But
leadership comes only through obedience. A true leader, whether in
the home or in any other capacity must be lead. In the context of
an Islamic growth model, he must be steeped in the wisdom
teachings of Islam; his heart empty of all attachments and full of
the divine presence. In this state he is optimized to interact and
guide his family in a correct manner. He must be vigilant and
aware that all that is coming his way is the book of his life,
which can only be recognized and read when all other distractions
are put aside. He must remember and be occupied with the Divine
purpose and strive to truly be a Khalifa of his Creator.
When a man’s being is steeped in this path, he is illuminated, and
then capable of leadership and being an example to his family.
In the Allamul
Ghaib gathered all the Arwah, which are bil Amirru
Rabi. They are by the order of Allah. They came into this
Mulk (creation) as Nafs (souls) that became men and
women. Their origin and purpose are the same. The only difference
is in the manifest wisdom of Allah’s decrees as to how these souls
would find their path to His knowledge and submission. It is as
simple as that. There are no barriers, only doors. One soul is not
above another, in its submission and conscience of the Creator.
A woman is the keeper
of secrets, maintainer of the home, solace giver and a barometer
for her man to reflect himself, leading him to greater patience
and integration of wisdom in the world. She holds in her being
keys that make it possible for a man to humble himself in ways
that only an intimate can. Like man, she must also be vigilant,
guarding her heart and mind from the onslaught of distractions.
Women today are at a
greater risk than men to becoming polluted. It is their nature to
be more open and compassionate. We have dragged their hearts into
the market place of the world and sacrificed their purity in the
name of equality and commerce. This misguidance has produced a
generation of under nourished children, starved for mothering, and
over exposed to the electronic feeding frenzy of television, video
games and music media.
Children are brought
into your life as a trust. We must guide and raise them to imbibe
manners, develop discrimination and encourage their innate nature
to discover, in their own unique way, the open secret of the
created universe. They are your children, but they are your
brothers and sisters in the journey of self-realization.
They will try you by
your own weakness, and yet they look to you to provide for all of
their needs. They are the living mythal of Al-Baqi.
You have accomplished a vital fitri force, by having
children and seeing them grow as true Muslims.
Prescriptions for a
Healthy Family Life
Children & General
Be a Successful
Muslim: If you are not in utter joy and contentment within,
enlivened by your practice of the Deen of Islam, do not
expect your children to be. And caution! Why would your child want
to continue in Islam if you are unhappy? The heart and soul of the
Child inclines towards the Deen, in part, through seeing
you as an example of true joyful enlightenment. Put yourself
right. Show the success of the Deen in your own life.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAWAWS)
Maintaining good family relations increases one’s numbers and
wealth, gives life to one’s people, and is a staff for the
weak at the time of death.
A Good Marriage:
When having children, the first consideration is the strength of
your marriage. A solid marriage is the foundation for bringing up
contented children. Your children will learn what marriage means
from your example; it needs to be a good one.
is no greater gift from a parent to a child than that of good
manners. Manners, or adab towards oneself, one’s things,
and towards others are the road map to easy movement through life.
Sounds of worship:
When children are infants and older, expose them to Dhikr,
Qur`an and other forms of sound that carry the message of worship
and Love of Allah.
Establish prayer in the home especially, Maghrib and
Discipline as a
Unit: Fathers and Mothers must always support each other,
working in concert to discipline their children. Discipline must
be consistent, provide meaningful consequences, and be followed by
acceptance and affection. If you are inconsistent you will lose
credibility. If there are no meaningful consequences, then there
is little motivation for change. If discipline is not followed
with acceptance and affection, a child will not learn to forgive
and accept the faults in himself/herself and others.
Departure: As you come and go from the house always greet each
other and show affection. Live in recognition that it may be the
last time you see your loved ones, and value each opportunity to
show you care about them.
Share a meal:
Eat together at least one meal a day, preferably the evening meal.
Use this as time to share with each other daily events, and
practice mutual respect through good table manners.
Kiss and hug your children daily. Tell them you love them. Show
them you care in the service of their needs.
Give your children age appropriate responsibilities. A two year
old can learn to put his shoes and toys away. A five year old can
set the table and help in the kitchen. At each age your child must
be prepared to take on more responsibilities, as he/she will find
ease in taking on the responsibilities that eventually come with
spouses and children of their own.
Encourage your children to healthy foods and exercise. Sodas and
snack foods should be occasional fare, not daily nutrition.
Exercise is equally important to quality food. These habits are
established early in life, our children need our guidance.
modesty to both Boys and Girls starting at a very young age. It is
like salat. If you do not start them out young it will be
Islam is the
Foundation for Discrimination: Impart from very early on a
sense of being different, as illustrated in the Qur`anic ayat
of “lakum din akun wali a-din”. Make it a point in every
day situations to reflect with your children how the wisdom
teachings of Islam contrast with the common prevalent
About TV: Limit
television viewing. When you watch television, watch it together.
Openly identify lies and deceptions. Relate stories and dramas to
Qur`anic ayats, wisdom teachings and hadith literature.
Whatever they witness encourage them to see with discrimination.
Do not let the intake flow without qualifying dialogue.
Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq
to converse with your children, lest others who transgress and
disobey get to them before you.
and travel in the way of Allah often. Expose your children to
movement outwardly, but always with the same intention to the
pleasure and knowledge of the Creator. Movement and travel breaks
habits. It helps to impress the child’s soul with the transitory
nature of life. It prevents them from accumulating set patterns.
Parties: When Boys and Girls reach the age of Balagh,
invite friends to gather to mark the occasion. The child will say
his or her Shahada openly and claim and announce their
commitment. It dignifies the child, welcoming the boy to manhood
and a girl to womanhood.
Establish a “Big
Book”: This is a scrapbook, having the whole family contribute
articles and ads that reflect the teachings of the Qur`an and
Sunnah. This makes the Qur`an come alive when it is related in
young men: Always remember, what I call the “Guerilla.
Factor”. They are on their way to becoming adult men. They will
naturally challenge your authority as the Silver Back. Do not
react with a reprimand.
Closing the Day:
Do not end a day with your children, unless there is Peace and
reconciliation. If you have made an error with your child, admit
your error and apologize. A child gains respect for a parent that
admits faults and sets things right. He/She will see that you also
hold yourself to the same standard that you expect of him/her.
What to expect: Do not
expect your children to express the Deen in the same you
that you do. They will have their own flavor. Once you have done
your best, the outcome is up to Allah. Allah calls the hearts to
Husband and Wife
Marriage is a means of
Khidmat (service) in the way of Allah.
It is the All Wise
that has made access to His knowledge by the means of His
choosing. He has chosen the form of Man and Woman to represent
access beyond duality to Tawheed (unity). A true Muslim
marriage is an outer confirmation of the inner reality. From One
comes two, from two comes many, all returning to the One. Marriage
is a symphony whose final crescendo is being annihilated in His
Tawheed in action.
Allah says in the
He it is
Who created you from a single being, and of the same (kind)
did He make his mate. (7:189).
of His signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves
that you may find rest in them. (30:21)
Marriage must be based
on the mutual acceptance and understanding that, as it says in the
“Wa ma khaliqnal
Jinni wal insi e la li abudoon”
And I did
not create the jinn and the human kind except that they should
serve (or worship) Me. (51:56)
If marriage is made
for any other reason, ultimately it is doomed.
Allah says in the
asr innal insane la fi khusr, illa ladhina amanu wa amallu
man alayha fan wa abqa wahjuh Dhul Jillali wal Ikram.
Shaykh Muhammad ibn
al-Habib says in his great Diwan:
kull hubbin bi ghayri Rabbi, Fee he adhabu fee he shaqahu”.
love, other than the Love of Allah, in it is pain, in it is
Suggestions for the
Marry the right
person. If you are not yet married, you must first decide that
you will be the right person, for the person you want to marry. Is
your deen in order? Are you committed to your path? Marry
someone who will enhance your life on every level.
Are you already
married? If you are already married, find ways to reaffirm
that commitment daily and weekly. If your marriage is not
harmonious, find friends or relatives with a marriage that you
aspire to have, and council with them. How do they do it?
Have a daily tea
ritual. The couple is the foundation of the family. A daily
teatime can be established in the late afternoon or early evening,
allowing for a quiet time of reflection and exchange, without the
children. This is a good time to address any news of the day, or
just share company together.
Husbands: Take your
wife out for a weekly date. As Muslims we do not date before
marriage, therefore we must be deliberate to date after we marry.
Setting aside a time with your spouse, to be a couple, to reaffirm
your commitment, to pause and reflect on the direction your lives
are headed together, is important. Many people feel rushed during
the week, teatime may be infrequent, and a weekly date can help to
redirect your focus together.
grateful for what you have. While gratitude is a quality both
husband and wife should develop, a wife who is content with the
provision her husband provides also brings a provision of her own
to share. Contentment and gratitude are an immeasurable wealth,
ingratitude is a burden of it’s own.
careful of Pride. While pride is a pitfall for husband and
wife, the husband should be careful not to think of himself as
better than his wife. The duties and roles of men and women are
different, but their values are comparable. A husband should be
humble and willing to apologize to his wife when he has been
Do not leave each
other or go to sleep with unresolved issues. This is a daily
practice of “cleaning the slate”. If you address problems as they
arise then they do not have the chance to become a bigger issue,
driving a wedge between you.
In the heat of an
argument someone has got to stop and listen. Ladies, that’s
easier for you because of your more submissive nature. Weigh it
out, is your point more important, or is the harmony of the
relationship more important? Then, slow down, sit down and begin
the conversation by affirming your love and trust of each other,
and wanting to move forward together with Allah’s help.
Share with others:
Invite guests for dinner regularly. Establish a dhikr circle and
sing Allah’s praises together. Sharing your love of the path with
others will enrich your marriage and family life, as well as that
of your friends and communities.
for all the different facets of life, whether marriage, family,
business or politics, all efforts in any direction must be viewed
as secondary realities, which are in service of the one true
purpose of our creation; to know and worship the Creator, Allah.
Make this the tent pole of your life; where all and everything you
do comes under its roof of protection, and you will have success
in this world and in the next.
Poem Written for the
From One, the Soul
makes its way
Housed in body, made of water and clay
Risen from the depths of darkness to Light
Has now been gifted the ultimate delight
To know the Lord
through His creation
Living-Joy in self-realization
So see the signs on
the table spread
For the All-Giving Lord has given life to the dead
In return you worship
Him and Him alone
Good deeds and charity the seeds you have sown
That soon the sun will set upon your life
And into the next world, inshah Allah without trouble and
You will enter the
Garden and say I have tasted this before
A gift of the Beloved who has always been knocking at your door.
So now for those who
are left behind
Beware of the waste and your deeds be unkind
For if you do not
recognize the preciousness given
The world will turn against you in the way you have striven
So take this as a sign
of good news and warning
That soon your family and friends may be mourning
Not only your death
and the end of you
But that your soul may not have made it through.
This talk was given at
the Academy of Self Knowledge gathering in South Africa in April
2003. To listen to this talk online, please