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Author: - Prof. Khurshid Ahmad

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We are now in a position to state briefly those principles which determine the nature of the institution of the family in Islam and also define its place in the overall framework of Islamic society.

1.Divinely-Inspired Institution
The family is a divinely-inspires institution. It was not evolved through experimentation involving a process of trial and error spread over time. It was an institution that came into existence with the creation of man. The human race is a product of this institution and not the other way round. The Qur'an says:
"O Mankind, be conscious of your duty to your lord, who created you from a single soul, created of like nature, his mate, and from the two created and seated and spread many men and women; and be mindful of your duty to Allah in whose name you appeal to one another and to (the ties of) the womb, verily Allah watches over you;"
At another place the creation of man and woman and the marriage relationship permeated with tranquility, love and mercy have been described as ‘signs of god'. The institution of marriage and the family have been commended as the ‘way of the Prophets". And Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has said: "Marriage is a part of my sunnah, whoever runs away from my path is not from amongst us".

2.Social Contract
Although marriage is a divinely ordained institution, each marriage as such is in the nature of a contract. The word nikah, used for marriage in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, means ‘ aqd, that is contract. In Qur'an, marriage has been specifically referred to as Mithaqan ghaliza a strong covenant. The pre-Islamic practice of inheriting women was forbidden. The consent of both spouses is an explicit condition for a valid marriage in Islam,

This means that marriage is a social contract, a noble and sacred contract, but a contract nonetheless. It leads to a number of relationships and engenders a set of mutual rights and obligation.
Each contract, however, is not a sacrament; it is not irrevocable. Divorce is permitted in cases where marriage has failed. Remarriage is allowed, even encouraged. There is no stigma attached to remarriage or to marrying a divorced woman or a widower.

3.Faith and the family
Faith constitutes the bedrock for the institution of the famiy. A Muslim is not permitted to marry a non-Muslim. Marriage should be among partners who share common out-look on life and morality, and who participate in this co-venture to fulfil their destiny as God's vicegerents. In fact, it has been emphasized that a guiding principle in matrimony should be that of "corrupt women, and corrupt men for corrupt women; good women for good men for good women." And that "the fornicator shall marry none but a woman who fornicates
Faith continues to play a decisive role in the entire system of family relationships A father or a son is not to inherit or make a bequest to a non-Muslim son or father. Similarly, if one of the spouses change his or her faith, the marriage contract is broken.

Thus marriage is not simply a form of sex-relationship, it is
a basic religious and social institution.

Islam enjoins marriage.26 It forbids all forms of sex-relationships
Outside marriage (i.e. pre or extra-matrimonial relations.) It prescribes that this relationship must not exist simply in the pursuit of momentary and ephemeral pleasure, 'just to have a good time', but should be had via marriage and should proceed in
Responsible, well-planned and stable man-ner. It has to be institutionalized, in the form of marriage and a stable family life.
This relationship is not a temporary relationship; it is permanent and enduring one and each partner is expected to make a serious and sustained effort to live together and play their role in society.
The institution of the family plays a very important part in Muslim
society. It is a basic unit of that society and is organized in such a way that it operates as society in miniature. About one third of the Ahkam (legal injunctions of the Qur'an) relate to the family and its proper regulation. the network of rights and obligations that provides the basic of family life aims at producing those attitudes and behavior patterns that Islam wants to foster in the individual and in society. A new balance has been established in the roles and relationships that exist between men and women, between young and old, between near-relatives and distant kith and kin, between freedom and discipline, between individual discretion and social control.
The Muslim family is an extended family, different relations occupying different position. Is not a nuclear, atomistic family consisting of the parents and children only; it normally has three or four generations under its umbrella. A carefully look at the Islamic law of inheritance shows that all these relations are an Islamic law of inheritance shows that all these relations are an integral part of the basic family structure and not just peripheral to it.
5.Equality of the sexes

Islam affirms the equality of man and women as human begins. This, however, does not entail no differentiations of their respective roles and function in society. Islam disap-proves of the free mixing of the sexes and regards this as conflicting with the role it assigns to the family in society. The primary responsibility
Of a woman is to concentrate on the home and the family, and all that is refried to operate and develop these institutions. She, too,
Has certain social responsibility, rights and duties, but her primary concern is the family. This is a functional distribution of roles and activities ad is regarded as essential for the proper functioning of different institutions of society and for its moral and social heath and well-being.28 the responsibility for earning a living rests with the husband while that of proper education, training and upbringing of the children and optimal functioning of the home and wider family relationship rests with the wife.


What are the function which Islam wants the institutions of the family to perform in the lives of the individual and the society? The family is not just a factory for the procreation of the human species, although the preservation and communication of the race is one of its objectives. It is the basic of the entire socio-culture structure and a self- sustaining mechanism to ensure social, ideological and cultural stability over the entire span of society on the one hand and in the time past, present and future on the other. Let us briefly outline the objectives and functions of family as enunciated in the Qur'an and the Sunnaah.
1.Preservation and Continuation of the Human Race.

The survival of the human race and culture, and continuity in the functioning of man's Khilafah depends on the effective operation of the mechanism for this in that the reproduction. Nature has provided for this in that that psychological and physiological difference between the sexes are complementary to each other. All the facts of the procreation demand that the process needs a stable structure to come into operation. Man, women and child all are in need of a permanent and lasting institution in order to fulfill this role. The family is the institution which can take of the entire process, from the initial phases to its fruition. The Qur'an says: " O Mankind, be conscious of your duty to your Lord, Who Created you from a single soul, created of like nature, his mate, and from the two created and spread many men and women,
"your women are a tillage for you; so come into your tillage as you wish and take care of what is for you, and be conscious of your duty to god and know that you shall meet Him.

2- Protection of morals

Sex-urge is a natural and creative urge. Although common to all living beings, in the case of men and women there are some unique aspects. In other animals, it is primarily for procreation and regulated through instinct and the process of nature. The mating urge is not effective ‘at all times; it is bound by its own seasons and cycles. With man, this is not so. The urge is always there and built-in physiological control mechanism. But control and regulation are essential for a healthy existence. Even at biological level. They become more important at the social and cultural levels. Either total abstinence or unceasing promiscuity can lead to stable and healthy existence.
Islam forbids non-marital sex in all its forms. But it enjoins marriage to enable men and women to fulfill their natural urges, to enjoy this aspect of life in such a way that pleasure and responsibilities go hand in hand. Sex through marriage and marriage alone provides the control mechanism for the sex-urge. It also acts as a safety- valve for sexual morality. Through it, fulfillment and sublimation are achieved in a balanced way and equilibrium is attained in inter-sex relations. The Qur'an calls marriage a hisn, i.e. (it is a protection)against a life of debauchery. It says:
"so marry them by permission of their folk, and give them their portion of kindness as women in wedlock, so that they be honest, not debauched, nor of loose conduct. At another place the same point is stressed with reference to the man: "(it is lawful for you) to have the virtuous women of the believers and virtuous women of those who were given the scriptures before you, when you give them marriage portions and free love.

2.Psycho-Emotional stability, love and kindness
Another objective of marriage is to attain psychological, emotional and spiritual companionship. The relationship in the family, between all its members, and most important of all, between the husband and wife, is not merely a utilitarian relationship. it is a spiritual relationship which sustains and generates love, kindness, mercy, compassion, mutual con-faience, self-sacrifice, solace and succor. The best in the human nature expresses itself in the flowering of these relation-ships; it is only in the context of the family that what is spiritually potential in men and women becomes real and the pace for the blossoming of goodness and virtue within the family and outside it. In marriage companionship, each partner seeks ever- increasing fulfillment. With children in the family, the values of fellow-feeling, of love and compassion, of sacrifice for others, of tolerance and kindness are translated in to reality and implanted in character. It is the family that provides the most congenial climate for the development and fulfillment of human personality. That is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said that home is the best place in the worlds. This function of marriage and family is emphasized in Qur'an in a number of ways, it says:

"And (one) of His signs is that He created for you, of yourselves, spouses that you may repose in them (and find rest and tranquility in them)' and he has set between you love and mercy.
At another place the relationship between the spouses has been described as that between ‘the body and the garment;
"They are like a garment to you and you are (like) a garment to them.
This emphasizes their one nests, something much more sublime than legal equality. The husband and the wife both are described as each other's raiment, not one as the garment and the other the body. A Garment is something nearest to the human body; it is that part of the external world which becomes a part of our being. Such is the closeness of the relationship between the spouses. Dress is something that covers the body and protects it. The spouses are protectors and guardians of each other. The dress beautifies the wearer. One feels oneself incomplete without it. Husband and wife complement each other; one completes and perfects and beautifies the other. This relationship also protects the morals-without this shied one is exposed to the dangers of illicit. All these aspects have been captured in the single but succinct phrase: you are like garment for each other-
4-Socialization and Value-Orientation
The function of child-bearing remains incomplete without its more crucial part of child-rearing and upbringing- their its more crucial part of child-rearing and upbringing-their education, orientation, character-building and gradual initiation into religion and is because of this aspect that family care becomes a full-time job. No other institution or even a number of institution can take care of this function, ".. and be conscious of your duty to Allah in whose name you appeal to each other (for your rights) and to (the ties of) the womb.

To be conscious of duty to the womb is an all-embracing demand which includes obligations towards the wife, the children and other relation. "And take care of what is for you''
in surah al-Baqarah also refers to the same function. One is enjoined to take care of one's self and the members of the family
"O you who believe", says the Qur'an, "Strive to protect yourselves and your wives and children from fire." This objective is set forth in the form of a prayer at a number of places:
"Our Lord! Grant us the comfort of our eyes from our wives and our offspring and give us all (the grace) to be in the forefront of the righteous,
"My Lord!: Make me a performer of the prayer and make my offspring prayer-performing. Our Lord, accept my petition, Our Lord, forgive me and my parents."

The family's role as a basic organ of socialization is referred to by the Prophet in a number of ahadith where he has said that every child is born in the nature of Islam and it is his parents who transform him into a Christian. Jew or Magian.
The Prophet has said:

"Of all that a father can give to his children, the best is their good education and training.
"And whosoever has carried for his three daughters or three sisters and given them a good education and training, treating them with kindness till God makes them stand on their own feet by God's grace he has earned for himself a place in the paradise.'' Although one's first responsibility is to one's children and younger brothers and sisters, this institution of family care covers a number of relations, near distant, according to the circumstances. Care of one's parents and of the weaker or poorer members of the family has been enjoined again and by the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

5-Social and economic security
The institution of the family is an important part of the Islamic system of socio-economic security. The rights do not relate merely to moral, cultural and ideological aspects; they include the economic and social rights of the family members. The Prophet has said: "when God endows you with prosperity, spend first on yourself and family,'' Maintenance of the family is a legal duty of the husband, even if the wife is rich. Spending on the "relations of the womb'' has specifically enjoined. Poor relatives have a prior claim upon one's zakat and other social contributions within the family structure. The reasonability extends to a number of relations. One's parents and grandparents and paternal and maternal relations have a claim upon one's wealth and resources. Someone once said to the Prophet "I have property and my father is an need of it, " The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, "you and property belong to your father. Your children are among the finest things you acquit. Eat of what your children acquire.