My tummy flutters just as I begin to meditate over the future that awaits me upon the arrival of my baby. It isn’t just going to make me a mother; I feel it’s also going to complete me as a woman. But most of all, I think more of it as a trust than as a gift. I have been chosen to carry out this task and definitely, I’ll be accountable for however I choose to handle this tiny, yet significant member of the world we can’t stop talking about. As Muslims, we talk about proactively establishing justice on the earth, spreading and establishing Islam and making the world a better place. Yet, we often overlook the fact that the very world we want to shape begins with our homes and families.
I remember writing a letter to my lovely unborn babies some years back, promising to give them the best of fathers and the sweetest life too. I remember saying that our home would be a safe haven for them from all the negativity in the world. And as I read that letter for the umpteenth time, the adage ‘home is where the heart is’ sits deeper in my mind. I think of how to establish a safe haven where we’ll all be happy and content, where our hearts would be at ease and find love and tranquility. For if I am able to put my own home in order, then I have realistically taken a step towards changing the world for the better. Generally, good people will spring from good homes and yes, it’s very true even the other way round. How do I make the next generation better than the present – better in terms of their understanding and practice of the religion and better fortified to face the rigours and challenges of the world headstrong?
The messenger of Allah (SAW) said
“Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and the children and she is responsible for them. The servant of a man is a guardian of the property of his master and he is responsible for it. Surely, every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Reflecting on this saying of the Messenger of Allah (SAW) with a balanced outlook casts my mind back to the seerah of the household of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself. He participated in all matters of homely life: sewing his own clothes, darning his shoes, cleaning the floors and what have you. This was by no means a patriarchal, chauvinistic or sexist family. It was the correct picture of the model Islamic home, portraying a great interdependence of each member of a household where everyone is involved in a peaceful and loving manner and where a sanctuary can be built. This cannot be built by wishful thinking but by being proactive and sincere. Over the years, I have been able to gather from the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) six indispensable ingredients to establish a solid foundation not just for a typical Muslim home, but also for an ideal Islamic society.
- Establish Tawheed
Our homes should reflect a firm practice of Islam based on the oneness of Allah SWT in His Lordship, His worship and in His beautiful names and attributes. It should be shirk – free and built upon the ways of the Prophet (SAW) as explained through the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
The messenger of Allah (SAW) said “I am leaving you two things and you will never go astray as long as you cling to them – they are the book of Allah and the Sunnah.” (HAKIM)
- Regular Islamic study times
There is a particular narration which strikes me whenever I think of establishing designated study times in the home as an indispensable ingredient for an ideal society.
Abu Sulayman and Malik bin Huwairith (RAA) narrated that ‘We came to the Prophet (SAW) and we were a few young men of just about the same age and stayed with him for twenty nights. Then he perceived that we were anxious for our families, and we told him. He was kind – hearted and merciful, so he said “Return to your families and teach them (religious knowledge) and order them (to do good deeds) and offer your prayers in the way you saw me offering my prayers and when the stated time for the prayer becomes due, then one of you should pronounce its call (the adhan), and the eldest of you should lead you in prayers. The knowledgeable person should spend time listening to others reciting the Qur’an and correcting them, observing their prayers and teaching them and sitting and discussing about issues of concern in islam”. (Bukhari)
Thus, there should be an established culture of Islamic learning within the home which should be a basic component of collective daily life.
The ideal Islamic home must also establish a culture of kindness and charity. The children especially should be taught to give freely out of what they have or love to their neighbours and the less privileged. They should also learn to be kind to all of Allah’s creations including the animals.
The messenger of Allah (SAW) said
“Every Muslim has to give in charity” The people then asked “But what if someone has nothing to give, what should he do? The Prophet replied “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked “If he cannot find even that?” He replied “He should help the needy who appeal for help” Then the people asked “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds”.
- Establish friendship with pious people and respectable families
The family should establish friendships that will help them along the right path and not divert them from it. This includes paying close attention to the relationships the children build outside the home. The Islamic stipulation regarding free – mixing should also be taken into consideration with all seriousness.
The messenger of Allah (SAW) said “The likeness of a righteous friend and an evil friend is the likeness of a (musk) perfume seller and a blacksmith. As for the perfume seller, he may either bestow something on you or you may purchase something from him or you may benefit from his sweet smell. And as for the blacksmith, he may either burn your clothes or you may be exposed to his awful smell.” (Bukhari and Muslim).
- Build a fortress against Shaytan
Develop a culture of protecting yourselves and your children against Shaytan by following the guidelines in the Sunnah. For example;
The messenger of Allah (SAW) said “Recite Surah Baqarah in your houses, for the Shaytan does not enter a house in which surah baqarah is recited” (Sahih Al – Jami) He also said “When you go to your bed, recite Ayatul Kursiy………for then there will remain over you a guardian from Allah and Shaytan will not come near you until morning.” (Bukhari)
Learn together as a family all the safety measures against Shaytan as established in the Sunnah for it is very important in order to build correct Islamic values in the home.
- Teach mutual love and respect
The Prophet (SAW)’s household was a perfect example of a home where mutual love and respect existed. He was very patient with the members of his household and never scolded or scorned anyone of them. A Muslim family should imbibe this necessary ingredient and establish it as a ground rule in the home.
The Prophet (SAW) said “He is not one of us who does not show mercy to our young ones and esteem to our elderly” (Ahmad, authenticated by Albani). He also said “When Allah wills some good towards the people of a household, He introduces kindness among them. (Ahmad, Sahih Al Jami).
Anas (RA) narrated that “I served the Prophet of Allah (SAW) for ten years. During that time, he never once said to me so much as ‘oof’ if I did something wrong. He never asked me if I had failed to do something, ‘why did you not do it?’ and he never said to me if I had done something wrong ‘why did you do it?’
This is the peak of kindness and respect, one that should be inculcated in every member of a Muslim family in order to build an ideal Islamic society.
The Muslim home is indeed where the heart is. It should be a safe haven, a fortress, a sanctuary and a palace. It is only when we make the true teachings of Islam the heart of our families that Islam will truly settle in our hearts. There and then can we build an ideal Islamic society and make the world a better place.
This article was first published in Sisters Magazine