The Role of the Family in Constructing Society

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The family as a building-block of society seems so fragile nowadays. A society whose families are not based on spiritual values is vulnerable in the face of upcoming crises.

Human beings are born into the arms of their parents and for their survival they are in need of the society of which their parents are a part. That’s why the smallest unit that forms and represents the society is not an individual but rather a family. The family is the core of the society, it is what makes the society and is its soil. If it gets spoiled, it will not be able to bear the tree that is expected from it.

In many countries, one in two children is born out of wedlock and statistics show that 50% of newly married couples divorce within the first five years of their marriage. That simply shows us that the institution of marriage is under threat. According to statistics, an increase in the education level and women’s inclusion in modern business life both lessen the rate of marriage and weaken the institution of family. Social institutions that study the family state that the true foundations of the family are love, respect and trust between spouses. However, modern life, which encourages personal benefit, individualism and egocentricity, does take people away from marriage and makes it more difficult for them to be in wedlock, let alone establishing love, respect and trust within a family.

Unfortunately, this social fire has also burned Islamic countries, which have been distanced from Islamic education for 100 years now. Most of this fire has its roots in European Philosophy and Science. As we look for our lost property – which is knowledge – we have been lured away from our homes, become trapped in Satan’s ambush and lost.

While the world looks for a solution, not only does Risale-i Nur neutralise the attack from science and philosophy, but also establishes guidelines for issues related to family. Now we will attempt to project the fundamentals of family life, duties and rights of spouses and evaluate how happiness in family can be attained.

Most probably our greatest gain out of this would be to understand once again the value and general acceptance of the Qur’an and the praised Sunnah of Prophet (PBUH).

In the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) says:

“Marry those among you who are single (whether men or women) and those of your male and female slaves that are righteous (and fit for marriage)” (Nur, 24:32)

“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (Rum, 30:21)

“Get married so you may multiply. I shall indeed be proud of your multitude on the Day of Resurrection.” (Hadith)

Verses and ahadith like these always guided Imam Bediuzzaman when he wrote on the family in his books such as The Guide for Women, The Guide for Youth, Short Words and the like.

“Love and have affection for your spouse as she is the obedient and beautiful present to you from Divine mercy. Be aware, do not bind your love to her apparent beauty. The most alluring, sweetest beauty is the inner beauty, the inner subtlety and kindness that is specific to womanhood. And the most valuable and finest beauty is her elevated, sincere and enlightened compassion and tender-heartedness… And the rights of this weak and slender creature can only be preserved through love”. This sentence in the Risale-i Nur and those like it take this verse as a basis and teach people the foundation of guidance for the survival of the family, focusing on love and compassion. It is stated there as the most important fundamental: “Know your friend of life as mercy of Allah (SWT). That is, the most important basis for family life is faith in Allah.”

In the meantime, it is proved in the Epistle of Resurrection that true family life could only be gained through eternal friendship and perpetual togetherness. The most significant feature of future spouses is that they should sincerely seek to gain the true faith. In this regard, with its strong lessons of faith, the Risale-i Nur should be a most efficient teacher and counsellor.

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it is said in a meaningful and beautiful proverb that “the female bird makes the nest”. The Risale-i Nur confirms the priority of women in society and family life. As compassion is an important principle of the Risale-i Nur and women are the heroes of compassion, they are accepted as natural students of Nur. That is why Imam Bediuzzaman wrote the epistle called “The Guide for Women”.

In this guide, Imam Nursi says: “Rather than religious education within the circle of Islam, there is not a single solution, for saving the worldly and eternal happiness and their elevated morality from being spoilt.” He points to three reasons for marriage. First of all, continuity of generation. Divine wisdom grants an innate inclination and enthusiasm for this service as a reward. The second is that “woman due to her weakness in terms of livelihood needs support”. The third is that “woman has an inclination in her innate nature to love and care for children.”

While these three are given as main reasons, women are especially advised to get married to pious men. It is also stated that if they were to take on the heavy life burden, they would lose their worldly life and their Hereafter.

In The Twenty-Fourth Flash, it is nicely explained and proven that tasattur (covering of women) in social life is obligatory and natural, and that it is an indispensable reality.

“Yes, a woman is not only a spouse for this worldly life. She is also a spouse in the eternal life. It is important that she should not attract the attention of men other than her husband to her beauty, in order not to offend him and make him jealous.” And he also highlights that “… Her weak nature requires and warns fiercely that she should not encourage other men’s desire and should not let others behave immorally…. And her covering is her protection.”

By pointing to the command of the Noble Prophet (PBUH) “Get married so you may multiply”, it is stated that:

“The removal of covering from women does not increase the instance of marriage, but rather decreases it. Even the naughtiest and most modern young man wants his wife to be modest. As he does not want his spouse to be like him, that is, that she should be obscene and uncovered, he remains single, and maybe goes the way of fornication. Women are not like men, and they cannot have control over their husbands. Being an internal manager in family life and a guardian of all properties, children and things of her husband, the most basic virtue of a wife is loyalty and trustworthiness. Obscenity destroys the trust and she loses her trustworthiness in the eyes of her husband. And the husband’s duty is not to guard the property of the woman and be restricted to one marriage, but his is to protect her in terms of livelihood, have compassion for her and respect her.”

In these lines, apart from the necessity of covering for women, we see the roles of the husband and wife in family life.

Amongst the lessons for women are important lessons for men as well. For example, Risale-i Nur advises men, who are innately lovers of beauty, to choose a spouse primarily according to moral, not physical, beauty. It is mentioned again that a man should marry a woman with the aim of gaining an eternal life friend and to preserve himself from sins. Pleasures within the legal and acceptable circle are enough; and without the light of iman, humankind would suffer in merciless perpetual torture even in this world. It turns man’s face from transient love to the eternal and true love.

The second duty of men towards their wives is respect and reverence. Women’s due respect can only be satisfied through men’s love enlightened by Islam.

Imam Nursi also mentions in his book “Words” that the heroic services of women are due to their compassionate nature and those of men are due to the honour and dignity in their innate nature. This nature of women produces a pure and sincere heroism which is seen through their helping out and protecting their babies and poor parents in exchange for nothing and with no thought of recompense, however in this age the situation mentioned here has changed to a certain extent. The Imam encourages men to do their own share by being protective, merciful and supportive in return for their ladies’ true heroism.

Now let’s briefly look at children, the fruits and light of the family, and at their education.

Risale-i Nur reminds us of the necessity of Islamic education in the education of children and extends it with examples. It warns parents who encourage their children to receive vocational education, but who do not help them to get religious education. Their concern to protect their children’s future can turn out to be exactly the opposite of what they expected in the first place, and they could be used for bad movements. Otherwise, if they don’t get Islamic education in early stages of their childhood and if minds of the children are spoilt by harmful philosophy and science, their spirits would hardly accept the tenets of iman and Islam. Even more, he explains the benefit in helping children to get used to daily prayers from the age of seven.

In this regard, Imam Nursi highlights the importance of mothers by giving specific examples from his own life: “Although I received lectures from eighty thousand people in my eighty years of life, my late mother’s advice and spiritual lessons were in my fitrah and become seeds in my physical body. I see that the rest of the lessons are built upon them.”

It is interesting that Risale-i Nur accepts children as its natural students before women. It takes their education in some sense to itself, that is, it becomes a beautiful guide for families. Along with the epistles and books like Words and The Guide for Youth, there is also an epistle for parents who have lost children. Its name is Child Condolence and it supports and comforts those parents and gives them good news.

We need to remember some other members of the family with regard to their role in educating the children and being pillars of community life: grandmothers and grandfathers. The Risale-i Nur, by explaining the verses like, “… and that you be kind to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say no word that shows impatience with them” (Isra, 17:23), has become a competent instructor and tutor regarding this issue. We see samples of this in many treatises, especially the ‘Treatise for the Old’.

For example, ‘every child who has not lost his humanity and been transformed into a monster honours those respected, loyal, self-sacrificing friends, serves them sincerely, and tries to please them and make them happy. Uncles and aunts, maternal and paternal, are like parents.’ And with statements like, ‘O you who struggle to secure his livelihood! The means of plenty and mercy in your house, and the repeller of disaster, is that elderly or blind relative of yours, whom you belittle’. The Risale-i Nur calls the adult children to be merciful and heals the blindness of the soul by bringing light into the heart.

We have shown the main principles of the family which constitutes the society; considered the responsibilities and rights of spouses, and seen how a family may attain happiness by quoting some excerpts from the Risale-i Nur. What remains for us for now is to heartily embrace the Risale-i Nur, which is a great guide and a master of faith and Islam.