Under a roof of rights and duties, a profound educational, moral, emotional, and psychological institution is built that represents the nucleus of society. This nucleus is the family. And to protect this important nucleus, from one side today’s society tends to honor the different family bonds, through celebrations like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents` Day, and even Siblings’ Day. However, from another side, terms such as Marital Discord, Child Abuse, Parental Criminality, and even Child Criminality coexist with these celebrations. It seems as if different institutions such as religions work on turning the scale in favor of the first side.
In the Muslim world, the Quran gives special and unique importance to the different family bonds. Perhaps the Qur’anic verses that come first to a Muslim´s mind when asked about what the Quran says in this topic would be “Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor (23) And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: „My Lord! bestow on them thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood. (24)“ Q17:23:24. These two verses do not only show the rules how children should treat their parents and make the children remember the parental sacrifices in cherishing them, but also state the importance of respecting the parents. Being kind to them is as obligatory as worshiping and scholars unanimously agreed that it is obligatory to honor parents and that disobeying them is a major sin. Meanwhile, the Quran puts a limit for this honor in Q29:8 “We have enjoined on man kindness to parents: but if they (either of them) strive (to force) thee to join with Me (in worship) anything of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not. Ye have (all) to return to me, and I will tell you (the truth) of all that ye did.” Hence, it urges children not to follow their parents when it comes to what is wrong such as disbelieving or believing in something else than God.
Islam is not the only religion that cared about organizing family life and it seems like the Quran recalls what came in many biblical chapters and verses that put rules to the family bonds such as:”18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in theLord.19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.21 Fathers,[c] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:18-21. It is evident in these verses of the Bible also associate obeying parents and worshiping as a way that delights God. However, it should be noted that such verses in both traditions seem very challenging in today´s society. The idea of submission to another member of the family is questionable with regard of notions of freedom and free will. This does not negate the role of religions reminding us that it is God who established the framework and the context of the life of the family and that our role is to apply ourselves to play the role that He expects of us.
Nadia Saad ist Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin am Seminar für Islamische Theologie der Universität Paderborn.
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