The family is the most important moment in the Muslim social structure. Family members form a kind of community with particularly strong bonds, as evidenced by the fact that older people do not go to nursing homes and orphans are not sent to orphanages. Moreover, nearly one-third of the Quran's legal norms concern the family and its normal functioning.
The family's foundation is marriage, the purpose of which is to create a solid foundation for the social structure, protect morality, and forge spiritual bonds between spouses. According to the Quran, the marriage of a man and a woman is following the divine order. Numerous passages from the Quran confirm this. The Sunnah also emphasizes the particular importance of marriage. Muhammad said that "marriage is part of His journey" and "anyone who strays from is not one of us."
Features of Muslim families
The Muslim family has three layers. The first includes husband, wives, and their children, as well as parents. The second are close relatives who live with family or not, have certain rights wit respect to one another, move freely around the house. They have the right to financial resources and are considered mahram, persons with whom marriage is prohibited. Sharing joys, sorrows, hopes and fears is the core of every family, and relationships based on this principle arise from kinship and brotherhood. Relationships based on kinship include father, mother, grandparents, and other direct descendants, sons, daughters, grandchildren, and granddaughters. Second-degree kinship relationships include the sisters' father and mother, but no longer with their offspring.
The family is protected by the prohibition of sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Adultery is prohibited and severely punished. To prevent even the possibility of any extramarital or premarital contacts, Islam blocks all ways and measures to facilitate them. Hence, for example, a system of specific rules regarding clothing, behavior, and the conclusion of contracts between the sexes protect the family and exclude the possibility of illegal contacts or mass contacts between the sexes in society.
The main goals and objectives of the Muslim family
What functions should a Muslim family perform in relation to itself and the society in which it functions? In the end, it is not only created for procreation. At the same time, it is a self-sufficient mechanism that ensures social, ideological and cultural balance in all its layers.
The main social unit, which is the family, is also aimed at protecting morality. The sexual instinct is a natural need. However, in the case of a man and a woman, they still have their own characteristics. Animals are called upon to produce offspring at certain periods and cycles of fertility, while in humans this need persists constantly. Controlling and regulating this sexuality is essential for a healthy life, even in a purely biological sense. At other levels, they become even more significant, but neither total abstinence nor the possibility of unlimited sexual intercourse lead to a stable and healthy life. As mentioned earlier, Islam prohibits any contact outside of marriage. On the other hand, it encourages a legal relationship that allows natural needs to be satisfied and allows people to enjoy them while maintaining responsibility limits. Thus, marriage becomes a natural defense mechanism against debauchery and a mechanism for controlling all needs.
Another goal of starting a family is to establish a mental, emotional, and spiritual relationship with your partner. The relationship between family members, especially between husband and wife, is not purely practical. It is a spiritual relationship that results in love, kindness, compassion, mutual trust, support, and comfort. Thanks to the family and mutual contacts within it, there is a spontaneous development of these qualities, consequently developing the best human qualities. The spiritual potential of a woman and a man can develop 100% only in a family. In the process of teaching children, feelings of partnership, love, compassion, devotion, tolerance and kindness are included in them. It is the family that creates a favorable climate for the development and realization of the individual.
What is marriage in Islam?
Marriage is primarily a civil contract, the duration of which depends on the consent of the parties. Thus, it is not just a private matter of a man and a woman. Both families are involved in these relationships and in their normal functioning. The essential elements of marriage are mutual consent and a public declaration of the relationship. According to the message of the Quran, marriage is a lasting contract and solemn promise (4:21), as well as a natural place for intercourse and conception. However, Islamic law does not determine the form of this agreement, nor the details of the religious ceremony. On the one hand, the Quran emphasizes the equality of men and women, encouraging them to complement each other (2:21) in an atmosphere of love and mercy (30:21). On the other hand, it gives the man power over the woman (2228). The spouses have different responsibilities in family relationships. The husband is responsible for their external dimension, that is, for ensuring living conditions and the position and interests of the family in society. The woman is responsible for the home and child-rearing.
For a marriage, certain conditions must be met. To get married, a man and a woman must reach the appropriate age, which is not specified in the Quran. This is usually associated with reaching adulthood, for boys - 12 years old, and for girls - 9 or 12 years old. However, customary law is contrary to civil law, which in some Muslim countries defines the age of marriage as 16 or 21 for men and 15 or 18 for women. To this day, in traditional Muslim societies, there is a practice where parents, before their children reach marriageable age, make marriage promises on their behalf, which the spouses confirm upon reaching the full age.
In what situations is it prohibited from marrying in Islam?
The main obstacles to marriage in Islam are consanguinity, treason, and religious differences. First-line relatives cannot get married. However, it is allowed to marry a cousin to a cousin. In the context of polygamy, the prohibition also applies to kinship by spouses, that is, mother-in-law or daughter-in-law. The relationship between the mother and the child she feeds and the children fed by the same woman is also a significant obstacle. The obstacles formulated by the Quran (4: 22-23) are confirmed by the civil law of most Muslim countries.
Another obstacle to marriage is the difference in religious affiliation. Muslims are not allowed to marry non-believers. A Muslim woman is only allowed to marry a fellow believer. On the other hand, a Muslim can marry a non-Muslim as long as she is Jewish or Christian. Children from such a union must be Muslim.
During a legal relationship, a woman is not allowed to remarry. On the other hand, men are allowed under Muslim law to marry several women at the same time. However, there cannot be more than four of them. By legitimizing this form of marriage, the Quran encourages relationships with one wife (Sura 4.129) and also imposes certain conditions on polygamy. A man is called to treat all wives equally, and if he cannot do this, then a relationship with only one is recommended. It is popular in countries where similar relationships were practiced in the pre-Islamic period, mainly in Africa. For example, in Muslim countries such as Turkey, Tunisia and Syria, polygamy is prohibited by law.
In the context of Muslim marriage, there is a so-called temporary relationship (muta) for a certain period. Transitional unions attach importance to marriage, although the wife receives no dowry. The duration of such a marriage varies from one day to several months or even several years. Children from such a relationship belong to the father. In Sunni Islam, this type of marriage is considered incompatible with the orthodox message of the Qur'an.
Features of divorce in Islam
If we talk about divorce, then there are also certain features. It is allowed to dissolve a marriage if it does not achieve its goal and falls apart, despite the fact that, as one of the hadiths says, “among the permitted things, divorce is the one that God hates the most.”
As a rule, either party can file a petition to dissolve the marriage. Divorce conditions: loss of faith by one partner or mutual consent. There are three forms of divorce: at the request of the husband (talak), divorce at the request of the wife (huld), and divorce by court order as a result of legal proceedings. At the same time, it is much easier for a man to distance himself from his wife than for a woman from her husband.