Vision for the Family


The institution of the family is the foundation of any society; it is the spring of a person’s way of thinking, culture, social attitude, morals, personality and ultimately, way of life. We know that Islam places great value on cultivating this unit by emphasising respecting elders, honouring the father and especially the mother, building bonds with siblings and forging relationships with the surrounding community. the institution of family in the KSIM has been treated more than simply a family unit consisting of parents and children living their daily lives. For the KSIM, a community without a country, family units have been the source for nurturing social ties, communal bonds and values in youngsters so that all the families contribute to a cohesive community. The closeness felt within a family but also between families has nurtured respect, love, warmth and religious upbringing between community members. This has created a moral fabric that runs throughout the community but wholly dependent on there being spiritual and happy family units.

Today, however, these roots are constantly under pressure from a fast-paced modern society that gives us little time to spend with our loved ones. As a result, it is difficult to focus on the education of our children. At the same time, the onslaught of materialism and openness in television, music and pop culture can negatively influence the child to base his/her life on fleeting principles. Divorces are rising, inside and outside of our community and new conceptions of the family unit are becoming the norm. Our elderly people suffer from loneliness and health problems and crave security within a family and communal surrounding.

We need to introduce a ‘value-based’ approach to the family unit that re-emphasises basic moral codes such as respect, patience, struggle, simplicity, reflection and social ties. Arguably, we live in a society where everything is accessible and quickly obtainable and when do not get what we want, we easily complain. We therefore lose our patience, the ability to struggle through issues and maintain a simple-orientated (not undignified) life. Commodities, values, relationships, and trust are easily replaceable or rejected depending on our preference and what we want. Yet these are the very things that we need to keep and struggle for. Relationships may not be easy but build over time, commodities may be obtainable but are ultimately transitory and trust may be hard to find but once found give security and happiness.

However, these values can only come about when we focus less on the external aspects of Islam and more on its internal moral spirit; the very thing that attracted people to Prophet
Muhammad (s.a.w) and the Imams. In fact, we rarely view the Ahlulbayt (a.s) as living, human personalities capable of being analysed and learnt from. We always seem to hold them at a distance, only praising them. Yet they are our role models and by focusing more on how they lived their normal lives getting through daily struggles will show us how they brought piety to society. This value-based approach can only occur if we focus on issues in our community which are directly affecting the family unit and scholars take a more practical attitude towards the lives of the Ahlulbayt (a.s).

Within the family unit, I humbly propose a ‘relation-centric’ approach. Perhaps we can revolve our lives around a greater interaction between grandparents, parents and children, less focus on television and media, greater emphasis on reading and searching knowledge, more family-based activities and teaching religion within the family (even simply reciting the Qur’an in English\local language or praying congregational prayer at home). All of these may shift the family structure from the periphery to its centre by uniting family members, enhancing communication and developing spirituality.

PRINCIPLES FOR SUCCESS IN FAMILY LIFE – Letter 31 of Imam Ali a.s. 

The institution of the family is the foundation of any society. For the KSIM, a community without a country, family units have been the source for nurturing social ties and values which contribute to a cohesive community. Today, these roots are constantly under pressure from a fast-paced modern society that gives us little time to spend with our loved ones. Divorces are rising and new conceptions of the family unit are on the increase. Our elderly people suffer from loneliness and health problems and crave security within a family and communal surrounding.

We need to reawaken a ‘value-based’ approach to the family unit that re-emphasises basic moral codes such as respect, patience, struggle, simplicity, reflection and social ties. Arguably, we live in a society where everything is accessible and quickly obtainable and when we do not get what we want, we easily complain. We therefore lose our patience, the ability to struggle through issues and maintain a simple-orientated (not undignified) life. Commodities, values, relationships, and trust are easily replaceable or rejected depending on our preference and what we want. Yet these are the very things that we need to keep and struggle for. Relationships may not be easy but build over time, commodities may be obtainable but are ultimately transitory and trust may be hard to find but once found give security and happiness.

The following are SEVEN principles for success in family life derived from the work of Imam Ali a.s.:-

1st Principle: Harmony between this world and the world hereafter

“...enliven your heart with exhortations...observe the misfortunes of this

world, fear the authority of time, the severity of the changing nights and days; place it before the events of the past and recall what happened to those who were before you, the secrets of their dwellings and remains and look at how they acted, where they have moved, gone and stayed...”

 2nd Principle: Reflection and Problem solving

“…so if your soul refuses to accept my advice then know that your search for that should be with  understanding and learning, not with the entanglement of doubts and trapping of quarrels…”

 3rd Principle: Seeking Guidance from Allah swt

“…seek help in your God and desire for Him in your mediation…..”

 4th Principle: Character Building

….habituate yourself to develop patience over adversities. The best disposition is to develop patience in righteousness…”

 5th Principle: Etiquette of Human Behaviour – The Golden Rule

“….make yourself as a measure for that  which is between you and others. So, like for  others what you like for yourself. Do not oppress as you would not like to be oppressed. Do good (to others) as you would like good to be done to you. And what you  consider bad for yourself then consider bad for others….”

 6th Principle: Strive for Practical Knowledge

“….there is no goodness in knowledge which does not benefit…The most humble knowledge is that which remains on the tongue and the most honourable one is that which manifests itself through (the action of) the limbs and the organs of the body…..”

 7th Principle: Remembrance of Death and the Hereafter

“…indeed you have been created for the hereafter, not for this world….”

 All of these ‘relation-centric’ approach to life may shift the family structure from the periphery to its centre by uniting family members, enhancing communication and developing spirituality.

I have done some groundwork to develop these principles. Do view the youtube. It is in Gujarati. You can hear it by clicking on the link:- PRINCIPLES FOR SUCCESS IN OUR LIFE – Letter 31 of Imam Ali a.s. (Use earphones for best listening)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2OccyXRHR0

I would value your comments on the above but also do share this with your colleagues who may be interested to promote constructive dialogue on this issue.  Also, feel free to check out the rest of the project’s new website athttp://awakeningproject.page.tl/

 
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