بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ
Islam, the last of the Revealed Religions, gave to the world a concept of a family, which was either not known or practiced before. It informs us that the family began with the entry of the human species on earth, as Allah created Eve out of Adam and from both of them He caused the entire human family to grow. He tells us about this as follows:
O mankind, reverence your Guardian Lord, Who created you from a single nafs; and created from it its mate; and produced from both of them countless men and women. (4:1)
Just as how the children of a husband and a wife vary in color, size, etc. so too, the children of Adam and Eve varied in color, size and tribes as they were scattered all over the earth. Allah says:
O mankind, verily, We created you from a single pair of male and female, and made you into nations and tribes. (49:13)
The Merciful Lord gave every human being a body, a soul and a free will, conditioned by an intention. He gave guidelines for interaction with one another; whether it be the immediate family members or others. The common principles are supposed to be upheld at all times in all places and under all conditions.
So important are these qualities which every human being is supposed to develop, that the Imams in many Mosques all over the world conclude their Friday sermons with reminders to their congregations of the common universal principles for a good and healthy family life.
When observed it will result in a co-operative and productive community for each one of them. Some of the verses of the Holy Qur’an advising the believers of living a purposeful and united life are:
Verily, Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin. He forbids all shameful deeds, injustice and rebellion. (16:90)
Be loving, kind and merciful to others as Allah is towards to you. (28:77)
Do not wrong and be wronged. (2:279)
When these principles are practiced the family as a unit, and society at large, will develop a special outlook of life and a unique life style. They will allow themselves to be bound together as with a rope, and will not be separated; they will be helpful to one another, and will generally make life much easier in the neighborhood.
The Qur’an gives us a beautiful example of the negative impact on society when the family, or the members of the community, do not uphold the principles that bind them together; and the positive result of prosperity when a people live like a united body. All these are found in the Story of Joseph in the Qur’an.
In the beginning the brothers of Joseph were a selfish people desiring only their material benefits. In the process of achieving their goal they did not mind causing hurt and harm to their loving brother, Joseph and did not estimate the impact that harming him was to have had on the father.
They thought that material strength was the only ingredient necessary for success in life; they never stopped for one moment to ponder on the fact that life is not just for one day, and no one knows what is in store for him or her in the days ahead. They never realized that circumstances can reduce a person from abundant of wealth to destitution. The brothers of Joseph did not take note of a very important principle regarding the daily activities of every human being, i.e. it is very difficult to climb anywhere but it is very easy to slip and fall back to the ground
On the other hand, the outlook of Joseph, was totally different from that of his brothers. He was kind, polite, respectful to his parents, and was a very righteous son who was not selfish. This story brings out two important principles that are extremely necessary in creating unity and harmony in the family and in the society. They are:
- Sabrun jameelun: to persevere with patience is a beautiful thing.
- Laa tai-a-su min rawhillah; or laa taqnatu min rahmatullah: do not be despondent with the soothing Mercies of Allah.
Islam teaches that there must be co-operation with one another in doing good and resisting evil. Allah says:
Co-operate with one another in righteousness and piety, and do not co-operate with one another in sin and transgression. (5:2).
Every single believer in Allah has his or her individual responsibilities, as a unit in the family, and as a unit in society. Regarding one’s attitude towards family members Allah says:
Take care, (by educating, molding the personality and helping) your nearest family members. (26:214)
There are many people even in the Muslim Society who are prepared to preach to the world, and are quick to condemn others, but their own near and dear ones are living like the brothers of Joseph instead of the loving and kind, submissive brother of Benjamin.
Because the principles for a healthy united family and by extension the society, are Qur’anic injunctions, they are universal and become part of the Islamic Culture which is universal and are based on divine revelations. As such they remain constant and are binding on every one.
Every parent is expected to transmit the basic fundamentals of this beautiful way of life to their dependents. It begins with total expression of love and compassion for the younger ones and a similar pattern of conduct towards the elders when the child grows up. This is manifested in the prayer which the adult is taught to supplicate for parents. Allah says:
Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, do not say a word of contempt (to them) nor repel them; but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: My Lord, bestow on them Your Mercy, just as how they cherished me when I was small. (17:23-4)
One of the ways in which Islam brought out universal brotherhood is by inclusion of every believer, irrespective of race or color, into becoming a member of the family of believers.
This is based on the Qur’anic injunction in which Allah Commands them as follows:
O you who believe, fear Allah as He should be feared, and do not die except in a state of complete submission (i.e. in Islam).And hold fast all of you to the rope of Allah as a community and be not separate. And keep in mind Allah’s blessings on you all, when you were enemies (i.e. selfish and divided among yourselves,) he joined your hearts with love and compassion; so that, by His Grace you became brethren. (3:102-3)
Allah made it known to Muslims that situations can arise in families which may cause disunity; and when removed the family can become, once again, a beautiful unit. Such situations form part of the Message contained in the story of Joseph in the Qur’an.
Through perseverance with patience, Jacob was finally able to get the ten sons to admit that they were wrong, and Joseph finally got them to seek forgiveness from him and from Allah for their treachery against him.
Islam came to unite mankind into one community, irrespective of race and color. Allah says:
Verily, this Brotherhood of yours is one Brotherhood, and I am your Lord so worship Me (alone). (21:92)
As a perfect way of life, Islam established, among other principles, the following beliefs:
In the oneness of the Creator of the universe,
No creature can be like the Creator
A divinely revealed Code of Life applicable to all and not subject to change
A Messenger who is a universal model
In the fact that the goal of every individual should be similar as was ultimately demonstrated by Jacob and his family, when they acknowledged Jacob’s leadership over them. Even then, Joseph himself acknowledged that power and position are gifts from Allah and He may bestow them on whoever He pleases.
While the Qur’an enjoins upon us to try our best to live like one big Muslim family, enjoining good and avoiding evil, Allah makes it clear that whoever should deviate from this principle, it will be to his or her own peril. He says:
Say: shall I seek for (my) Cherisher other than Allah; when He is the Cherisher of all things (that exist)? Every soul draws the consequences of its acts on none but itself; no bearer of burdens can bear the burdens of anther. Your goal in the end is towards Allah; He will tell you the truth of the things where you disputed. (6:164)
The way to success is selfless love, total resignation and sincere dedication; as our beloved Messenger (pboh), demonstrated in his own life; as Allah tells us about him in the Qur’an. He says:
Your Companion is neither astray nor misled; nor does he say anything of his own desire. (53:2-3)
We should try our best to avoid the negatives and uphold the positives if we are to live like one big happy family.
Maulana Dr. Waffie Mohammed