Mr. and Mrs. Siddiq migrated to the United States in the late 1980s from Pakistan. Sponsored by Mrs. Siddiq’s brother, they had a clear and simple goal: to take advantage of better educational opportunities for their four children in the New World.
Muhammad Uthman came to the United States as a master’s student in the mid-1990s. He studied computer engineering at a prestigious university, with the intention of returning to his native Egypt. As it turned out, he met his future wife, a Syrian American, and decided to stay.
Mary Kief was one of two brothers born to an Arab father and an American mother. With very little contact with her father’s family, Mary thought little of her identity, except as an American born and raised. However, things started to change when she started attending college, embarking on a journey of self-discovery.
The three examples above adequately characterize the diversity of Muslim families that inhabit the United States. While many have converged here from different parts of the world, others have no sense of “coming home.” Still others find Islam in their search for the truth and from there they begin their legacy as Muslim families.
Family in Islam
Family unity is an important component of Islam, and all elements of a family are given due meaning – from parents to children, spouses and relatives.
The Holy Quran repeatedly reminds its readers of the duties that children have towards their parents, particularly in their old age. God says in the Quran:
Your Lord decreed that you worship only Him. And decreed benevolence to your parents. If one or both of them hit you, do not say “phew” or mistreat them, and say noble. And the wing of humility lowers in both. And say, “My lord! Have mercy on them, as when they took care of me as a little boy.” [Holy Quran 17: 23-24]
And we recommend human beings benevolence towards their parents. His mother carries him painfully, and gives birth to him, painfully. And her gestation and weaning are, in all, thirty months; and it develops, until, when it reaches its full strength and reaches the age of forty, it says:
“My Lord! Induce me to thank You for the grace with which you have bestowed me and my parents, and to do the good that pleases You; and mend my offspring. Certainly, I am sorry for You and, of course, I belong to the Muslims. ” [Holy Quran 46:15]
One of the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (that peace and blessing be upon him) also supports him strongly. A companion once asked the Prophet:
“WHO DESERVES MY BEST TREATMENT?” “YOUR MOTHER,” SAID THE PROPHET. “WHO’S NEXT?” “YOUR MOTHER,” HE REPLIED AGAIN. “WHO IS NEXT?” “YOUR MOTHER,” HE REPLIED AGAIN. – WHO NEXT? – YOUR FATHER.
Obeying parents and treating them with respect and affection are highly prized virtues, even if they are not Muslim. A companion of the Prophet once asked him how he should treat the mother who was not a Muslim and followed the pagan tribal customs and beliefs. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ told him to be kind and considerate and to behave towards her, as was the mother of a daughter.
However, obedience to parents should not be greater than obedience to Allah. Allah says:
And we recommend human beings benevolence towards their parents. And we said to him, “And if you both fight with you, so that you associate with Me that you have no knowledge, do not obey them.” It will be your return to Me; then, I will inform you of what you were doing. ” [Holy Quran 29: 8]
Islam further advises parents to treat their children with mercy, love and equality. In addition, parents must provide adequate education for their children, along with raising them to be morally upright and responsible individuals in society. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said that the best gift a father can give his son is a good education. The Prophet ﷺ also placed great emphasis on the proper treatment of his daughters and promised the reward of paradise for parents who take good care of their daughters. At the same time, God calls for moderation in the Quran:
“O you who believe! Do not allow your wealth, or your children, to divert you from the remembrance of God; And who does it, these are the losers. ” [Holy Quran 63: 9]
Importance of Marriage
Marriage is a sacred social contract between a man and a woman. Like all major religions, Islam also emphasizes the institution of marriage. God says in the Holy Quran:
“And among His signs is that He created women for you, of yourselves, to be at ease with them, and made affection and mercy among you. Certainly, there are signs in this for a people who reflect. ” [Holy Quran 30:21]
Furthermore, the Qur’an beautifully describes the depth of a marital relationship by invoking the metaphor of “dress” for the husband and wife: “They are dress for you, and you are dress for them.” [Holy Quran 2: 187].
In addition, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ Specifically mentioned marriage to be one of his traditions and even equated to completing half of the faith.
References to marriage within the Qur’an and the words of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ are unmistakably heterosexual. In fact, homosexuality is strictly prohibited in Islam. Lot’s story is mentioned repeatedly in the Qur’an and the behavior of his people is called indecent, excessively sinful, lustful, evil and shameful.
While Muslims do not discriminate against gays and lesbians as human beings, they detest their homosexuality as something that violates the limits set by God since the beginning of time. In this sense, orthodox Christianity and Judaism continue to strongly condemn homosexuality as well.
The Marriage Process
The concept of dating does not exist in Islam and premarital sex is prohibited, the Islamic notion of marriage recognizes the need to determine compatibility between future spouses. For example, by marrying their eldest daughter, Sarah, the Siddiqs ensured that she and her suitor had the opportunity to speak to each other with moderate supervision before either side compromised. Once they made a commitment, the two continued a dialogue via phone and email.
Spouses are selected in different ways. Some weddings, like Sarah’s, are “organized”. Other individuals find their own partners through interaction with each other, as in the case of Muhammad Uthman and his wife, Eman, who met on campus and liked each other. Through it all, the focus is on the immediate goal of marriage. In this way, Islam strives to keep the spirit of marriage alive: a union is not just between two different people, but their diverse points of view, their unique backgrounds and their extended families as well; A promise to intertwine their hitherto autonomous lives, hoping that successfully, and continue the legacy onwards.
Contrary to popular beliefs, Islam does not confess to forced marriages, regardless of gender; In fact, a marriage is incomplete without express approval by both the bride and groom. In practice, arranged marriages in Islam refer to the process in which a third party introduces two families with children of marriageable age.
Weddings are festive occasions involving family and friends and can last for several days, depending on your culture. However, the essence of the wedding lies in the nuptial contract signed by both the bride and groom after the verbal affirmation to marry, which is overseen by two witnesses. This ceremony is called “nikah” and links the two as husband and wife. A party after the wedding called “walima” is hosted by the husband, as was the custom of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
Interestingly, the practice of changing a woman’s name to her husband’s continues to exist in many Muslim countries, but practicing Muslim women are increasingly choosing to keep their maiden names, realizing that no matter who they marry, they will be your father’s daughters. They take your suggestion from the following words from Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
“YOU WILL BE CALLED ON THE DAY OF RESURRECTION BY YOUR NAMES AND THE NAMES OF YOUR PARENTS …”
Women at the time of the Prophet ﷺ including His own wives, were all known by the names of their parents, not by their husbands. Following this tradition, Mary Kief decided to keep her surname after the wedding without any objections from her husband.
Furthermore, Islamistically, the wife is free to maintain her income as long as the husband provides for the maintenance of the home and family. In reality, however, many couples maintain their joint bank accounts and share the household’s burdens together.
Divorce, although not recommended, is an accepted and legalized social reality. The wife or husband can begin the annulment process, which involves months-long negotiations with arbitrators on both sides in hopes of fixing the relationship before a final decision is reached.
Although polygamy is practiced by a minority among Muslims, it is by no means the norm. Islam allows men to marry up to four wives and this custom is more prevalent in some cultures than others. If a man chooses to have more than one wife, he must deal with all of them fairly.
The Qur’an says: “… espouse those who please women: be it two, three or four. And if you fear that you are not righteous, you will wed one… ”[Holy Quran 4: 3]
Unlimited polygamy has been practiced in a variety of cultures; However, Islam humanizes this practice with a limited subsidy, recognizing a variety of factors, such as a greater proportion of women in certain countries, the number of deaths of men and women in society and offering a legitimate and protective solution against adultery.
Taking the legacy forward
Having children is often the natural step for many Muslim couples, although some choose to wait a few years before having children, while others do it immediately – as is practically the case for people all over the world. Naming the child can become a family affair with grandparents’ involvement at times, while some couples choose to name their own children.
On the seventh day after the child’s birth, a religious slaughter sacrifice is performed, and the baby’s head is shaved, giving the monetary equivalent of the weight of his hair in charity. This ceremony, called “aqeeqah”, can be performed on the 14th, 21st, 28th (etc.) of the baby’s birth.
The Koran repeatedly emphasizes the meaning of safeguarding the bonds of the womb. Two examples:
“And give relatives your due.” [Holy Quran 17:26]
“And worship Allah and associate nothing with Him. And be kind to parents and relatives … ”[Holy Quran 4:36]
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ also instructed,
“WHOEVER BELIEVES IN GOD AND ON THE LAST DAY MUST MAINTAIN A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR RELATIVES.”