Sunday, November 19, 2017 - 1 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439
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What are the responsibilities of the father and husband in the family?

What are the responsibilities of the father and husband in the family?

Answer

A father and husband has many responsibilities and duties, both material and moral. These duties fulfill the first foundation in the making of a family, promoting its mission, and eventually its objectives. It is important to delineate these responsibilities because a father is responsible for successful parent leadership, effective guardianship, and translating principles into a tangible reality. These responsibilities are:

• Religious and spiritual instruction
A father and husband is the head of the family, the focal point and the frame of reference within the family unit. Consequently, he must establish his family on a solid moral and religious basis and guide its members to observe the rules and pillars of Islam; motivate them to do good deeds and obey the commands of God the Almighty; protect them against any deviation, immorality or evil; and encourage them to believe in themselves and pursue righteousness. In brief, this is what is called ‘preparing a good citizen’. To accomplish this, a father and husband must first start by instilling the tenets of Islam in every member of his family. In this manner, he establishes a sound foundation and guardianship over them.

• Educational and moral instruction
A father must give attention to all the foundations of the upright Islamic and ethical education. He must start with his wife—his marriage partner, the mainstay of the family inside his home, the maintainer of children’s behavior at home, and the one entrusted with informing the father of all their activities and praiseworthy or blameworthy behavior. A mother’s righteousness is, after all, what guides her children to righteousness.

If parents are good enough to be role-models, their children will surely be influenced by them. They will follow their example, abide by their morals and live by their upright guidance. If not, the children will show signs of deviation. It is worthy of mention that deviation is more detrimental to the future of any family and more worthy of rectification than parents’ constant reminder to their children to do their homework or observe proper manners.

The father, who is also the guardian of the house, has the primary authority and responsibility in his household followed by his wife. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “‘All of you are guardians and all of you are responsible for your wards. A leader is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A man is a guardian in his family and is responsible for his dependents. A woman is a guardian in her husband’s house and is responsible for its charges” [recorded by Al-Bukhari].

Educational instruction is accomplished by wisdom and kindness rather than sternness and cruelty. Parental supervision is important when it comes to raising children to obey God the Almighty and follow the teachings of the Quran. Islamic morals are founded on truthfulness, honesty, chastity, politeness, sincerity and dedication to duties… etc.

Good manners are the best legacy a father can leave to his children. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “A father leaves his child nothing better than good morals.”

• Good treatment, kindness and companionship
A father must treat his wife and children well. He must not be cruel, arrogant, demonstrate his superiority, recount favors, or coerce or force them into anything. Instead, he must use such methods as convincing and explaining. He must establish his authority with love and help them understand that his desire is to ensure the soundness and uprightness of their life in this world and in the hereafter. God the Almighty says: “…And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them - perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good” [4: 19]. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also said: “The best among you is he who treats his family the best, and I am the best among you in this.”

Good companionship requires the husband to treat his wife. It prevents him from harming her by words or deeds, undermine her dignity or disgrace her. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Fear God and treat women kindly - they are like captives in your hands. You have been entrusted with them and are able to enjoy their persons based on the contract you have conducted. So be mindful of God and treat them well.”

• Provide financial obligations or commitments
Islam enjoins the husband to give his a wife a dowry which is a commitment according to the marriage contract. The dowry becomes payable upon marriage, separation or death. It is unlawful for a husband to take any portion of the dowry or force his wife to waive any portion as it is likewise forbidden to delay paying it. God the Almighty says: “…even if you have given her a treasure. Would you take it by slandering her and with manifest sinfulness?” [4: 20].

A husband is obliged to provide his wife with financial support for life provided she is dutiful to him. Financial support includes housing, clothing, food and drink etc…. But if a wife is nashez [disobedient], she forfeits her right to maintenance. The Quran outlines a husband’s financial duties. God the Almighty says: “Let the man of means spend in accordance with his means; and let him whose resources are restricted, spend in accordance with what Allah has given him. Allah does not burden any person with more than He has given him. Allah will soon bring about ease after hardship” [65: 7]. It is incumbent that a father should support his children even after they graduate from college– according to modern jurisprudence – if there is a dire need as in God’s words: “…But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms…” [2:233].

• Protect honor and moral values

The husband is required to safeguard the honor of his family by exhorting the female members of his household to wear the hijab. He must also protect his family from invasion of privacy and moral jealousy.

Similarly, he must safeguard his family from succumbing to degrading morals and anything that undermines or threatens its honor. He must not allow back-biting, gossip, foul language, swearing or insolence. A Muslim must always have a chaste tongue for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “It is not fitting for a believer to curse. If a Muslim curses another Muslim, it is immorality and if a Muslim fights another Muslim, it is infidelity.” This hadith demonstrates that cursing and swearing must be avoided at all costs, whether they are directed at a human being or an animal.

Apart from nurturing his children’s moral development, a father must also ask his wife to adopt the manners, virtue and all the qualities mentioned in the Quranic chapter of “Al-Hujurat” (The Inner Apartments) which include fostering brotherhood, thinking well of others and refraining from cynicism, mockery or arrogance.

The Prophetic teachings promote ethical conduct so it is recommended for a father to study the forty Nawawy hadiths, read the book Riyad As-Saliheen (The Meadows of Righteousness) Al-Shifa (The Healing) by Al-Qadi Iyad, and Al-Targhib Wal-Tarhib – (Exhortation and Discouragement) by Al-Hafez Al-Mundhari.

A father must promote Islamic morality by demonstrating and role model to his children the values of truthfulness, kindness, keeping trusts, leniency, forbearance, generosity, hospitality, spreading greetings, charitable treatment, and fulfilling financial commitments. He must also teach his children to refrain from lying; betraying; harboring envy, hate or contempt towards others; cruelty; avarice and stinginess. After all the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was sent to perfect noble qualities and morals for he said: “I was sent to perfect good manners.”

A husband and father must treat his wife and children with dignity for God the Almighty says: “We have honored the children of Adam…” [17: 70].

The whole family must be committed to religion, abide by the Quran and Sunnah and faithfully observe devotional acts like praying and frequenting the mosque. The family is the first school and parents the first teachers—it is within the family that children develop solid moral beliefs. The more a family is armed with values and good manners, the more likely it will spread virtues that will be emulated by neighbors and friends.

A Chaste Wife
A chaste wife is a prerequisite for maintaining morals and values. Encouraging early marriage is a means to blocking immorality and preventing unlawful desires and lust. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “O young people! Whoever among you is able to marry, should do so, and whoever is not able to marry, is to fast because fasting diminishes sexual desire” [Al-Bukhari].

Keeping bedroom secrets

It is unlawful for a husband to divulge the secrets of his bedroom to anyone to maintain his wife’s dignity and protect her from any defamation or disgrace should they separate. The Prophet said: “Among those who will occupy the worst position in the Sight of God on the Day of Resurrection is the man who has intercourse with his wife and then spreads her secret” [Ahmad]. In the same vein, a wife must not disclose any secrets about other women (her friends) and impart details of their beauty to her husband or others since this may lead to sin. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “A woman must never look at another woman then describe every detail to her husband as if he can see her in person.”
 

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