Family is a Mutual Commitment
The Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) said: “Women are the other half of men.” The unit of humanity is not a man or a woman. It is a man and a woman in that unison that makes them a family (just like the smallest part of water is not oxygen or hydrogen but both united). Like Judaism, Christianity and many other religions, Islam decrees that the pairing off of a man and a woman to make a family constitutes a sacred bond that the Holy Qur’aan calls “a stout pledge”, that has to be documented and authenticated by the “marriage contract” or wedlock.
It signifies the commitment of the spouses to one another and establishes their mutual rights and responsibilities as well as those vis-a-vis their children.
Children have the right to legitimacy (birth under a marriage contract and having and knowing their father and mother), loving care as they are raised, being nurtured and catered for both physically and spiritually, and the right of education and getting them equipped to face life and bear its responsibilities as mature and useful citizens.
As the parents attain old age or get incapacitated some way or another, it is the children’s religious duty to look after them and cater to their comfort without feeling impatient or distressed about it. It is a right towards Allah.
Of course, it is the perpetual insurance for the future of the children as they themselves grow up and become parents and attain old age. This solidarity of the family and strength of the family ties is of paramount importance in Islam. It spreads even beyond the nuclear family along the widening circles of blood ties. The Quran calls it “the relation of the womb”.
It is both a duty and a rewardable charity to be kind to those blood kindred through friendly care or financial support if needed. Even after parents have died, it remains one’s duty to pray for them, and even to maintain the ties with their friends, show them courtesy, and offer help if needed.
Purpose of Marriage in Islam
In Islam, marriage subserves two functions, and it is only marriage that lawfully subserves them. The one is to fulfil the yearning of the one half to its other half and their becoming one, both physically and spiritually. Says the Holy Qur’aan: “Amongst His signs is that He created for you, from amongst you, consorts, with whom to dwell in tranquility; and He laid love and compassion between you.” (30:21)
The other function is to procreate and have a progeny. Says Allah Almighty: “God made for you, from amongst you, consorts, and out of your consorts made for you children and grandchildren; and bestowed on you from His bounty; would they then believe in the vain things and deny the blessings of God?” (16:72) Marriage is the only legitimate venue for sex and reproduction. Trespassing outside marriage is a grave sin. To satisfy these legal criteria must be a very rare event, and it seems it was meant to be so.
It is noteworthly that the same moral principles used to prevail also in America and the West, but with the slippage of more and more people into atheism or microtheism, change was inevitable. Atheism is when God is denied. Microtheism is when God is acknowledged but with reduced Godliness. We worship Him but on our own terms. We visit the houses of worship usually on weekends, but we do not allow God out to tell us what to do with our private or public lives. This erosion of faith set the stage for the “sexual revolution”, as all religious values became subject to radical revision.
Origin of the Sexual Revolution and the Immorality of the West
The sexual revolution did not start as recently as we think in the sixties. Nor was it the outcome of a passive natural social change. It was the result of intelligent planning, hard work and perseverance. It all started with the extreme fascination with scsience and its technological capabilities, in the wake of banishment of the church from delving into public life.
The human mind became the Ultimate arbiter of all human affairs, and all time-honoured values were subjected to its new rulings. In their haste and superficiality, however, people missed the obvious fact that the human mind itself, and by its own admission, is an imperfect instrument, and that with its limitation it cannot pass such ultimate judgments as those concerning the absolute moral standards.
To further replace God by man, a movement arose between the two world wars called “Morality without Religion”, accusing religion, and not human error, of causing enmity and conflict between people. They pretended the same moralities could be attained without necessarily ascribing them to religion and called them “unattached moralities”.
But as religion moved out of focus, God was dethroned, and new codes of morality were issued wherein the immoralities of yesterday became the normalities of today, and secular humanism could, at last, frankly declare that human values must be made by human beings and without relevance to any non-human or supernatural reference.
With the shift towards materialism, such values as honour, chastity and purity became empty words and nonviable currency. A full range of indoctrination worked to stretch the boundaries of freedom to include licence, and in a society that emphasises individuality, every human whim became a human right.
It was another setback when the tidal wave that hit society deluged also many of the traditional custodians of religion and protectors of its values. These were the Trojan horse, because instead of leaving the religious camp to the libertarian camp, they started working on religion itself by new re-interpretations and new exegesis of the texts to render lawful and permissible what has been unlawful and reprehensive along the whole history of those religions. Many of those clergy themselves fell prey to the germs they were supposed to fend off. Some even interpreted the institution of “celibacy” as refraining from marriage but not from having sex.
The result, as expected, is this chaotic sexual conduct of whole societies. Without the values of chastity outside marriage and fidelity within it, came the desecration of sex as a very special bond between a man and a woman, mass and promiscuous sex, spur posses, rapes, unwanted pregnancies ending in abortion or unwanted children stripped of their right of legitimate double parentage, and children begetting children.
Further, family trust is eroded when even in stable families some 15 percent of the children are not having their fathers, added to all this are health hazards due to the epidemic spread of sexually transmitted diseases, whether new diseases or the recurrence of old ones we thought have been conquered long ago. Their causative organisms have acquired resistance to known antibiotic therapy, and with rising promiscuity they are exacting a heavy toll on the community, especially the youth.
No Confusion in Islam
We, Muslims, do not have any confusion or vagueness about what is lawful in our religion and what is unlawful. The moralities and the immoralities specified in the Holy Qur’aan will remain so forever, and cannot be diluted or manipulated or rationalized according to anyone’s whim. There are no clergy or scholars who can claim to be endowed with the right or ability of special interpretation. This does not mean that all Muslims are, therefore, virtuous people who do not sin. Of course, Muslims violate their own religion by committing sins and abominations, but at least they know it is sin, and it will remain on their conscience until they desist and repent to Allah.
The real challenge the Muslim citizens of the Western communities are facing is that their children are raised under social and moral norms that conflict with the teachings of Islam. But the Muslims are not alone in this, because there are also Jews, Christians and others who uphold the same divine moralities and make every effort to endow their children with them.
Our way with our children follows an early introduction to Allah, and that when we believe in Him it means we accept and abide by His rules. If we follow His rules, we do not bother if the others do not, for when one is on the side of Allah then one is in the majority. This breeds the confidence that resists peer pressure and the vagaries of temptation. “They all do it” ceases to be an excuse.
The vaccination approach aims at building up immunity long before the child is exposed to disease: be it physical or moral. Just like a soldier is prepared to battle before and not during the battle, future hazards and catches are discussed with the child so that he/she would decide in advance what position to take when the time comes whether the offer is smoking, drink, drug or sex.
Fortunately, the preaching of premarital chastity entails more than an order to obey (of course the teaching is that when Allah orders, we hear and we obey). Discussions with Muslim and non-Muslim youth presented the case equally powerfully even along purely intellectual lines. “Who believes in equality of the sexes?”, and it is an unanimous vote. “Who believes in justice?”, and again it is a unanimous agreement. The proposition is then introduced that any relationship between two partners, the consequences of which are not equally shared by both, cannot constitute justice; and they all agree.
In a situation of liberal sex, the consequences are not equally shared, because the female side is the loser all the way, whether she is deserted, or gets pregnant and goes for abortion, or gives birth and signs away her baby for adoption or ends with a fatherless baby to support alone for the rest of her life. When we observe the consequences and ask the question, “Can this be justice?” the general shout is “No!”.
Homesexuality and its Consequences
The homosexuality movement was a fairly late comer on the wagon of the sexual revolution. Homosexuality, of course, is not a new invention as it has always been there in practically all cultures and among all people but, one would guess, in more limited proportions. It had its lobby whose activities followed more or less subtle ways, but its influence mushroomed only over the past decade or so.
A “Gay Bowel Syndrome” was described in the medical literature, and later it was AIDS that made the news and its relation to homosexual behaviour being established. Very soon the AIDS problem was pushed out of the medical arena and its rules and regulations for handling infectious diseases.
It became a political issue, and the homosexual lobby further grew into a political power capable of intimidating office bearers and political figures and gaining the support of many in the media, the arts and the clergy. Instead of AIDS being contained, it spilled over to blood recipients, drug addicts, the foetus in utero, heterosexual contacts with wives and others and accidental infections.
It became a global epidemic that is spreading at a serious pace. To the AIDS patient we have empathy and compassion and hopefully the best available medical and nursing care. To those not infected, we recommend the preventive approach. This is not the condom, for there is no such a thing as safe sex. It is chastity until marriage, and fidelity within marriage.
The debate about homosexuality is ravaging. “Be what you are” they say, “and do not be ashamed of it”. Many unsuspecting youth started to experiment, to discover what they really are. Consent is a requisite, and the lobbies in Scandinavia are trying to bring down the consent age to four years. A ‘Gay Pride Day’ is annually observed in California with media coverage, a ‘Gay Pride Month’ in some school districts has been established to remove bigotry and prejudice, and two-man or two-woman households are being presented as alternative forms of family.
Recently, science began exploring a possible anatomical or genetic basis for homosexual orientation. We Muslims are not impressed, and to us the matter is that simple. We do not make our religion, but we receive it and we obey it. We cannot impose anything on anyone, but to us, the Holy Qur’aan and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) clearly and explicitly condemn homosexual practices.
Whether you have the orientation or not, whether you harbour the gene or not, your feelings and desires shall not dictate your behaviour. You might be dying to do something (be it homosexual contact or heterosexual with a partner who is not your wife or taking an alcoholic drink or an urge for a violent action or a desire to steal something that is not yours), what you feel need not be what you do.
Says Allah Almighty in the Holy Qur’aan: “It is not for a believing man or woman if a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, to have a choice of their own. If anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong path.” (33:36). Every human being has an undisputed gene without which they cannot be a human being: it is called the “gene of self-control”!