Family life is one of the most significant aspects of human life, and in the Islamic worldview, families are given great importance due to the role they play in the progress and success of society at large.
At a very basic level, families are a unit composed of the husband, wife, and their children, who then take on a communal identity of their own and attain certain legal and spiritual rights over one another.
A family is meant to be a source of tranquility for its members, as it facilitates the mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of the husband, the wife, and their children, and allows them to collectively work together to prepare themselves for communal life,
where they can deal with the challenges of their day and age. The husband and wife who are the very basis of a family, are in a sacred union for which the Quran says:
[30:21] And it is among His signs that He has created for you mates from among yourselves, so that you may find tranquility in them, and He has created love and kindness between you.
The ethical trait that binds all members of a family together is love and kindness, and without that, family members remain vulnerable, fragile, and very susceptible to corruption.
Moreover, Islam emphasizes the responsibility of the mother and father in upbringing their children through love. Proper upbringing of children is key because they will become the basis for the success of the next generation of Muslims.
Numerous traditions from the Holy Prophet (p) and the Imams (a) demonstrate the care and attention parents must pay towards their children to ensure a righteous upbringing. Regarding the rights of children, Imam Sajjad (a) has addressed parents by saying:
You are responsible for what has been entrusted to you, such as educating them in good conduct, pointing them in the direction of their Lord, and helping them to obey Him. (Treatise of Rights – Rights Womb Relatives)
Children in a family have been entrusted to the parents, so any amount of negligence towards them is unacceptable. On the contrary, children are to be raised with proper education with their identities correctly nurtured, they also maintain proper respect and etiquette with their parents and can fulfill the rights of the mother and the father later in life.
In today’s day and age, the family structure has come severely under attack, particularly by certain feminist theories and liberal agendas on reproduction and family life, as marriage relationships have been undermined and there are concentrated efforts to ensure parents are unable to give their children the proper upbringing they deserve.
Such an attack on the family structure only foreshadows the subsequent corruption and downfall of society at large, as it is only when families are successful that a society flourishes and is prosperous.
For this reason, the Quran says regarding the husband and the wife:
[2:187] They are a clothing for you and you are a clothing for them
[66:6] O believers! Protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, overseen by formidable and severe angels, who never disobey whatever Allah orders—always doing as commanded.
One of the implications of the word clothing in this verse is that the couple, who later become the father and mother, are a protection for one another, and the family unit is a safe haven for its members where spiritual and physical well being are all taken care of.