Tuesday, October 23, 2018 - 14 Safar 1440
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What are the methods for maintaining family cohesion?

What are the methods for maintaining family cohesion?


• Raise awareness of the advantages of family-life. These include settling-down, affection, tranquility, chastity and sincerity between the spouses. They also include provisions for the children like proper and healthy upbringing.

• Raise awareness of the risks threatening a family like separation and loss.

• Spousal respect and avoid anything that may hurt feelings by words or deeds. When asked about the rights of a wife, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “That you feed her when you eat and clothe her when you clothe yourself, that you do not strike her face or revile her, and that you do not avoid her except at home” [recorded by Abu-Dawud].

• Overlook small mistakes without blowing them out of proportion. People are not carbon copies of each other. They have different habits and attitudes. In fact, even twins are different. Differences can at many times be commendable and enriching. This diversity is conducive to development and thought and changes beliefs and methods. So it is not correct for someone to insist on being always right and reject the opinion of others without discussion. When reason and justice prevail, the offender will back down and the wronged person will accept his apology. Even if the offender does not apologize he will at least discontinue his behavior and this is tantamount to an implicit apology. No spouse must blow things out of proportion because all the sons of Adam make mistakes. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to overlook many things he did not like. One day he came and found two girls singing in his house. Lady Aisha narrated what happened next, saying: “The Messenger of God came to my quarters when two girls were singing beside me the songs of the battle of Bu'ath (a story about the war between the two tribes of the Ansar, i.e. Khazraj and Aws, before Islam.) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) lay on the bed and turned his face to the other side. Meanwhile, Abu Bakr entered and [upon seeing the singers] scolded me and said, "[Do you allow] the instrument of Satan in the presence of God’s Messenger!?" On hearing this, the Messenger of God turned towards him and said, "Let them be …”… [recorded by Al-Bukhari]. On many occasions, the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) were heard arguing with him but he did not chastise them. Umar Ibn Al-Khattab did not condone this behavior and once rebuked his daughter on account of it. He related the incident as follows: “One day I was angry with my wife and she answered me back. I did not like this. She said, ‘You do not like me to argue with you. By God! The wives of the God’s Messenger argue with him so much that he remains angry the whole day.’ So I immediately went to Hafsa and asked her, ‘Do you argue with the Messenger of God so that he remains angry the whole day?’ She said, ‘Yes, we do.’ I said, ‘Does not anyone amongst you fear the wrath of God upon her due to the wrath of His Messenger?’” [recorded by Muslim]. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not divorce any of his wives for such slips. A whole chapter in the Quran was revealed “Al-Tahreem” (Prohibition) discussing this matter.

A poet once said:
If you blame your friend for every slip,
Then it is no wonder that you have never met a blameless friend.

Everyone has their imperfections. It is a wise person indeed who is able to overlook any imperfections in his wife and follow the Prophet’s words: “A believer should not hate a believing woman (i.e. his wife). If he find something in her character that does not please him, he will [surely] find something else that does” [recorded by Muslim].

• Respect the marriage contract which God the Almighty calls, “…a solemn covenant…” [4: 21]. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Fear God with regards to women. Verily you have married them with the trust of God and made their bodies lawful with the word of God. You have (rights) over them, and they have (rights) over you with respect to their food and clothing according to your means.”

• Be content with the financial status that you are in and seek to improve your financial means without holding greed or grudges to people of upper financial status. God the Almighty says: “Do not regard with envy the worldly benefits We have given some of them, for with these We seek only to test them. The provision of your Lord is better and more lasting” [20: 131]. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also said: “Always look to those who have less than you and never to those who have more than you. In this way you will never belittle the blessings of God.” Not everyone has the same abilities and means. This is what God the Almighty refers to when He 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]. Putting pressure on the husband to bring in more money almost broke apart the Prophet’s family when his wives requested a higher allowance. God the Almighty revealed a whole chapter which included a verse that told the Prophet’s wives that if they are not pleased with what they have, they could be divorced if they so wished and handsomely provided for.

• Spouses must make known to each other their likes and dislikes. The sincere Muslim woman knows what her husband likes and habits and tries to accommodate them as much as possible in the interests of mutual understanding and marital harmony. This is what every wise and intelligent wife does. It was narrated that the qadi [judge] Shurayh married a woman from Banu Hanzalah. On their wedding night, each of them prayed two rak’as [cycles of prayer] and asked God the Almighty to bless them. Then the bride turned to Shurayh and said, “I am a stranger and I do not know much about you. Tell me what you like so that I may do it and tell me what you do not like so that I may avoid it.” Shurayh went on to narrate their story and ended it with, “She stayed with me for twenty years. During all these years together I never got angry with her, not even for one single night.”

• Take a marriage preparation course before marrying. In the past, young men and women were more capable of shouldering responsibilities and today’s youths are brought up without any values and many girls do not have the vaguest idea about responsibility. When united in marriage, many of these youths wrestle for control without giving in to the other. Ultimately a competitive marriage ends in divorce; this is the case at present when almost half of the marriages end in divorce even in Muslim countries. This phenomenon has led scholars to search for the causes behind it. They realized that the causes usually revolved around recklessness and lack of experience in dealing with each other. If this is so, then marriage preparation courses are of utmost importance to teach a couple how to handle differences properly and steer away from divorce. Maybe the advice of the unlettered woman (the mother of Asma Bint Kharja Al-Fazari) to her daughter is the best that could be said these days and for all times. She said: “My daughter, you are about to leave the security of the home in which you grew up and sleep in a strange bed with a partner you are unfamiliar with. Be his earth and he will be your sky, be his valley and he will be your mainstay, be his mother and he will be your slave. Do not put pressure on him or he will despise you, do not stay far from him or he will forget your closeness. If he draws close to you then draw closer to him. He should never smell anything but a pleasant smell from you, hear anything but good from you, nor see anything but beauty from you.”

• Read books that address marriage-related problems and study examples of successful families. Some people, when they buy a bird, buy books to learn how to care for it whereas we do not even bother to read a single book about how to have a successful marriage and raise children.

• Take courses in managing marital problems and consult family counselors. This is always helpful. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “He who makes istikhara [prayer for guidance and seeking a choice] will not be harmed, he who consults [others] will not be regretful, he who avoids extravagance will not go broke.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never hesitated to consult his Companions; he sought their advice when false rumors were circulating against Lady Aisha. The Companions also consulted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and each other in family matters like when Zayd Ibn Haritha consulted them about divorcing Lady Zeinab Bint Jahsh.

• Not rush into divorce for the simplest reasons. This is because the lawful thing that God the Almighty hates most is divorce. A couple should only resort to divorce when they exhaust all other means for reconciliation. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The lawful thing that God hates most is divorce.” A woman must not resort to khul’ [divorce initiated by the wife in return for remuneration for the husband] except for a very good reason. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “A woman who will ask to be divorced from her husband for no grave reason, will not smell paradise.”

• Manage problems through dialogue, patience, advice, forgiveness and accommodate each other’s needs. God the Almighty says: “If you fear any breach between a man and his wife, appoint one arbiter from his family and one arbiter from her family. If they both want to set things right, Allah will bring about a reconciliation between them: He is all knowing and all aware” [4: 35] and He says: “If a woman fears ill-treatment or indifference on the part of her husband, it shall be no offence for her to seek a reconciliation, for reconciliation is best. But people are prone to selfish greed. If you do good and fear Him, surely Allah is aware of what you do" [4: 128].

Results and recommendations

• The family produces sound individuals.
• The family instills principles and shapes most concepts.
• Family cohesion leads to social cohesion.
• Seminars and lectures on marriage and family life are important to raise awareness of problems affecting families.
• Writers, Islamic speakers, the media and Muslim artists must demonstrate the Islamic concept of the family, emphasize its beauty and advantages and warn against its break-up.

• It is important to establish specialized study centers dedicated to family issues to:
• Coordinate the efforts of Muslim countries to maintain the privacy of Muslims.
• Mobilize the support of non-Muslim intellectuals and reformists to stand in the face of prevailing threats against the Muslim family and expose their true dangers.

Related links
» A non-practicing Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim man
» I treated my wife badly and she wants a divorce, how can I regain her trust?
» My husband speaks badly of me in front of our son. What should I do?
» What are the characteristics of a Muslim family?
» What are the mutual responsibilities of both the wife and the husband in Islam?