The first condition is to follow Islamic guidelines for selecting a suitable spouse. The essence of these guidelines is that believers should not select their spouses based on the temporary beauties of this world, like physical appearance and wealth. Instead, their selection must be based on spiritual qualities such as faith and morality. In this respect, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says:
“A woman is married for four things: her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. Try to marry the one who is religious; may your hand be scented with goodness!” (Bukhari, Nikah, VI, 123; Muslim, Rada, 53)
Even though this tradition is about the qualities of an ideal wife, it is also applicable for choosing an ideal husband, because to have a righteous spouse is the second most valuable thing for every Muslim to have, after piety. A righteous husband is the unshakable pillar of the family palace and a righteous wife is the most valuable adornment of that palace. This is expressed in the following saying of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him):
“People’s rank is hidden in their religion; their dignity is hidden in their reason; and the beauty of their progeny is hidden in the goodness of their morality [protected by marriage].”
The second important thing is to be careful about is equivalence between the spouses. Equality must be assessed according to qualities such as wealth, manners and cultural levels. The steps after these two depend on maturity and willpower. Maturity develops through seeking perfection in faith and practice; willpower can be achieved through embracing the Divine Law’s orders and prohibitions.
A peaceful family, in which the commands and prohibitions of Allah are observed, is the foundation of felicity in this world and one of the greatest blessings of our Lord. Continuation of this felicity and blessing is contingent upon togetherness of the spouses in a spiritual atmosphere, which relies on mutual understanding and willing sacrifices.
In the present day, the most significant source of erosion of the traditional family is women who try to resemble men and men who try to resemble women. Allah the Almighty has bestowed different qualities upon men and women. These qualities are shaped in order to give all the ability to do their best in society. The natural qualities of the sexes, from their physical appearances to their spiritual features, are formed according to the responsibilities assigned to them by Allah the Almighty.
Men require spiritual and physical strength in order to provide for the family and to lead it. Women are not held responsible for the provision of livelihood. If they are forced to provide, it is oppression and hardship, because women are not created to earn a family’s sustenance, but rather to raise and protect its children. However if the environment and conditions are suitable, then women can work in positions that are favorable to their natures, such as being a teacher at Qur’anic schools for girls, or a gynecologist .
It is their natural abilities that make men and women different but complementary to each other. When spouses transgress the limits of these characteristics, the family’s felicity suffers.
We should also mention that male authority in the family does not give any man the right to use brute force and that female obedience should not be tantamount to slavery. If both man and woman pursue their traditional roles in accordance with the principles of Islam, there will be neither an oppressor nor an oppressed in the family.
A woman’s defiance of her husband by violating the principles of chastity and obedience and a man’s abuse of his authority for his selfish desires, can each destroy a family. A man may sometimes experience stressful circumstances during the day at work. When he does, it is not just his need but also his right to find an understanding and consoling wife at home. On the other hand, it is both the need and the right of a wife who waits for her husband at home all day long to find sympathy and warmth in him when he arrives. Each person in a family must know his or her rights and responsibilities in the presence of Allah the Almighty. The only principle that can maintain felicity and joy in a family is mutual love and respect.
We should not forget the saying of our ancestors, “The female bird builds the nest.” Women do have a more effective role in protecting a family. That is why women’s intuition, understanding and efforts in this regard carry more significance than men’s. Allah has bestowed greater emotional wisdom and capability upon mothers than upon fathers.
İsmail Hakkı Bursevî says about the interpretation of the term “al-tara’ib” from Sura 86 of the Quran, “When a child falls into a stream, its mother jumps into the stream, no matter how dangerous it is and does everything she can to save her baby. The child’s father, on the other hand, does not act like this. If there is no hope from the baby, its father just sits on the shore and weeps.”
Of course, such heroism shows itself in mothers who have not lost their spiritual qualities. It is not seen in those heartless women who abandon their children in front of mosques or at the edges of cemeteries. They are like ruined souls who have destroyed all the good qualities of their creation.
A mother is a truly a mother not because of her physical qualities, but because of her spiritual qualities. If a woman gives up these spiritual qualities, then she is no longer a mother and a monument of mercy. Instead she becomes a hunter – and she destroys many young souls. Therefore women should value and protect the blessing of motherhood as more than simple animal reproduction. For other creatures there will be no questioning about their offspring in the Hereafter. But for humans, there will be.
Our children will count either for us or against us in the on the Day of Reckoning. They should be raised carefully, for they are means of entering Paradise. A good religious education, good manners, morality and consciousness of divine service come at the head of the things which should be taught to children.