Dear Brothers and Sisters, as-Salaamu alaikum!

Praise be to Allah (swt) and May His Blessings and Peace be showered on His beloved Prophet Muhammad (S), his family and his companions.

In the beginning of every khutbah on Fridays, the Imam follows the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (S) by reminding people of the foundations of Islam with three Ayahs from the Qur’an. They are as follows:

“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam…”(3:102)

“O mankind! Be dutiful to Your Lord, who created you from a single person (Adam) and from him He created his wife (Hawwaa’a or Eve) and from them both He created many men and women; and fear Allah through Him you demand your mutual rights and do not cut off the relations of the wombs -Kinship. Surely, Allah is ever an All-Watcher over you.” (4:01)

“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak always the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed achieved a great achievement.” (33:70-1)

The first Ayah reminds us of the necessity of having taqwa – that is not only fear and love of Allah but also the awareness of the duties we have towards Him and the covenant we have with Him – in the best and most sincere way. Taqwa is the foundation of the pure heart. Then Allah stresses explicitly that when we die we should die as Muslims by living as true Muslims and sticking to the Jamaa’ah of the Muslims and avoid anything which will lead us to split and scatter as a living body splitting to dead pieces because the Jamaa’ah is the foundation of the Ummah.

The second Ayah also stresses the necessity of Taqwa of our Lord Allah by reminding us of our origin and the creation of Adam and his wife Eve (Peace be upon them) – and how the continuation of mankind was assured by the leave of Allah through marriage and establishment of the first family. An offspring was multiplied through the marriage of men and women. Then Allah orders us to have Taqwa of Him by being conscious constantly of the “Arhaam” meaning the relationships of kith and kin that are through family ties. And this shows that family is the foundation of life and the continuation of mankind, which was chosen by Allah to be the vicegerent on earth.

In the third Ayah we are reminded to always heed Allah by speaking straightforward and in a truthful and decent manner. Good speech – or words- is the foundation of good communication between people in one community and in one family.

The meanings of these Aayaat clearly explain why the prophet (S) did specifically read and recommend them every Friday and in the beginning of every formal speech or during the marriage of someone and in a few other occasions.

These Aayaat are very comprehensive; they remind us of who we are, to what category and kind of people should we belong, about which people we should care for the most, and what should we say all the time? In other words, there are priorities for the Muslim individual to look after. The message of the Qur’an teaches us how to set these priorities. In fact, most of the problems that many people live are the result of the inability to set priorities and act based on a balanced view of things through weighing between benefit and harm.

The consciousness of duties means the responsibility of the individual in front of Allah in the Day of Judgment. As Muslims, we must act in a responsible manner towards these priorities. The word “responsibility” means to be able to respond or answer the questions of an authority. That is why the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, “each one of you is in charge of something and each one of you will have to respond later for questions about what he was in charge of. The ruler is in charge of his subjects and he will be asked about them. And the husband – leader of the household – is in charge of his family and he will be asked about it. And the wife is in charge of the household and the children and she will be asked about them. Therefore each one of you is in charge of something and each one of you will be asked about it” al-Bukhari.

In the second Ayah Allah addresses us with: “O mankind” instead of “O you who believe!” It is simply because the family is a social concept that is a universal one. A family is an important fort for protection in every culture. It is one brick of a building or a cell of a body in every society. A healthy family means a good chance for a society to recover from its weaknesses and a broken family means another manifested symptom of a disease in the society.

A disunited community is something that cannot be avoided. We live it, we suffer from its fragmentation, but a disunited family is something that cannot be tolerated and it is known to the entire world that is something destructive to the society. To the point that Islam allowed us to even go beyond the religious affiliations and take care of the parents who may even be disbelievers. Yes, even if they do not believe in what we believe and might be against our faith, we still owe them respect, care and honor. It is in fact a duty to take care of them even if they are not Muslims. For the sake of “ar-Rahim” – the womb of the mother – a son is obliged in the Islamic law to provide for his parents if they need his help and support. This is one area to show the seriousness and sanctity of family ties in Islam.

However, in Islam the family also includes the parents of the husband and the wife and the grand children. In the Islamic law, the family ties extend to uncles from both sides whether through marriage relationship or blood relationship. Allah (swt) says, “And Allah has made for you spouses of your kind, and has made for you, from your spouses sons and daughters, and grandsons and granddaughters, and has bestowed on you good provision. Do they then believe in false deities and deny the favor of Allah.” (16:72)

Amazingly, there is no family relationship that the Qur’an does not talk about and give examples of. It comes either as a story of a prophet, or a simple person, or as a legislation for inheritance, marriage, divorce, nursing or Hijaab. Whether talking about a relationship between a husband and a wife, parents with their children, sons and daughters with their parents, or brothers and sisters, the family structure is conserved by setting up the “huqooq” or rights, of one towards the other and the guidelines to preserve them. Allah gives examples of many people and shows clearly the proper behavior and conduct.

In the treatment of the parents, people have to know the duties upon themselves towards those who were a mean for them to exist in this world. In fact, the second commandment in Islam – if we may put it this way- is to be kind and beneficent to one’s parents. Before even ordering us to pray, give zakaat, fast and perform Hajj, in the early days of the Makkan period, the Qur’an made it explicit and clear that the parents are of great priority after Tawheed; that is to worship Allah alone with no partners. Allah says, “And Your Lord Has decreed that you should not worship none but Him alone and that you should be kind, beneficent and dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honor. And lower for them the wing of humility through mercy and always repeat saying, “My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was young.” (17:23-4)

And there are many similar Aayaat in the Qur’an in the same content.

In the example of marriage, the relationship between the husbands and the wives is directed towards peace and mercy by explaining the goals and purposes. Allah (swt) says, “And among His signs is that He created for you your wives from among yourselves, that you may find tranquility in them, and he has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.” (30:21) and then He orders each party to live with other honorably and to see what is positive and not emphasize on what is negative. The Qur’an has tens and tens of Aayaat dealing with the rights and duties of both spouses and also shows the tools, which help people have a successful marriage.

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) made the standards of goodness in a man in looking at the way he treats his wife. He said once, “The best among you are those who are good to their wives and families, and I am good to my wives and my family.”

Marriage is a threefold relationship or contract. It is between a husband and a wife and vice versa, between a husband and Allah and between a wife and Allah. This relationship is so important that it became half of the religion.

A husband and a wife in Islam both have more than one relationship with one another. They are first a brother and a sister in Islam and partners in the business of raising the children and establishing a family. Allah has equipped each one of the parents with special qualities that reflect themselves in the child’s personality. Children take after their parents, faith, mercy, principles, morals, compassion, responsibility, respect, awareness, justice and also attitude…etc.

In the treatment of children, there are many chapters and verses as well as many authentic hadiths where the guidelines of a sound and blessed upbringing of children are laid out. As mentioned previously, the parents are responsible for their children until they reach the age of maturity or they get married. Thus, it is a religious duty upon parents to give the best nurturing and education for one’s child. To make it simple and easy for the parents, Islam categorizes for them the areas they should focus on the most and not neglect. These areas of upbringing are of great priorities. Islam wants to produce strong individuals in a sane environment – at least in a sane and immune family atmosphere – in order to have a strong society. The strength is in the spiritual, the physical and the intellectual aspects. This means to implant in the children the Iman, or faith, to feed them and to look constantly after their health as well as for what keeps it safe and sane, and to educate and instill in them the necessary tools and skills to allow them to think, to produce and to become independent to a certain extent.

However, the Qur’an emphasizes more on the spiritual aspect because the responsibility of teaching Islam and Iman extends to the other life unlike the other aspects. One of the Aayaat in the Qur’an reads as follows, “O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire -Hell – whose fuel is people and stones, over which are appointed angels stern and severe, who disobey not the commends they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded.” (66:6) This Aayah makes a concerned person shiver because of the double responsibility, which means the double reckoning in the Day of Judgment. Every parent who believes in Allah and the Hereafter should constantly do as Luqman did with his son as mentioned in Chapter Luqman (31). In that chapter, a person can find the basic principles of Iman that should nourish the soul of one’s child.

Family is not the goal of Akhirah, but one of the good means to it. However, it could also be the opposite. Children, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters are blessings for one another, but they can be of a great trial to one another. That is why knowing the rights and duties of each of one them is a must.

Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Verily, among your spouses and your children are your enemies who may stop you from the obedience of Allah; therefore beware of them! But if you pardon them and overlook and forgive their faults, then verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. Your wealth and your children are only a trial, whereas Allah with Him there is a great reward.” (64:14-5)

He also says, “Wealth and children are the adornment of the life of this world. But the good righteous deeds – such as the remembrance of Allah, the five daily prayers, and the good behavior – that last, are better with your Lord for rewards and better in respect of hope.” (18:46)

The trials come in different forms and kinds, but one of the main shields is the awareness of the tricks of Satan and how he manifests himself and uses people against each other. Allah warned us as individuals, husbands, wives, children, parents and communities to take all the measures to weaken the devil and to vanquish his purpose.

When Adam (Peace be upon him) started his life on earth, it was with his family. And the major challenge of that family according to the Qur’an was the challenge of their enemy Iblis, or Satan, (May Allah curse him). Jealousy and rebellion were the sins that took Satan out of Heaven and they were also the reason why one of Adam’s sons – Qaabeel, or Cain, killed his brother – Haabeel, or Abel. Jealousy between the brothers or the sisters is heated by Satan. Mistrust and disrespect between the husbands and wives infiltrate through Satan. Mental and physical abuse of the children by the parents is rooted for by Satan. Rebellion, disobedience and disrespect of the parents by the children is cheered by Satan.

Miscommunication and anger are shared problem in all the above examples and Satan uses them as bridges to cause Fitnah and destroy all kinds of relationship including Family relationship. Therefore, we recommend to stop the root of evil at the beginning of a quarrel or a misunderstanding by clearing away miscommunication and cooling anger. An the best way to do that is by remembering Allah and saying, “A’udhu billahi mina as-Shaytaani ar-Rajeem!”, which means, “I seek refuge in Allah from the cursed devil”. This will help us all, Insha Allah, to have the constant awareness of Allah, Taqwa, and lead us to join the rank of Muttaqeen that Allah described as His faithful happy servants when He mentioned them as always supplicating to him with this du’aa,

“And those who say: “Our Lord! Bestow on us from our spouses and our offspring the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders of the Muttaqun.” (19:74)

Imam Hamid Slimi