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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Muslim Journal

Family Life In Al-Islam: Responsibilities Of The Muslim Male: Part II

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


(Editor's Note: The following is excerpted from a December 15, 1985 lecture Imam W. Deen Muhammad delivered during Talim at Masjid Elijah Muhammad in Chicago. This is Part Two!

When it comes to ta'lim, the man doesn't handle it in the home. The man handles ta'lim in the Mosque. The woman is to handle ta'lim in the home. If she is insufficient and her husband is more sufficient than she is in the knowledge of the religion, then she's supposed to inquire in private and have him assist her with her presentation or whatever she plans to give the children.

When the children see her as a teacher, they are not supposed to see you, they're supposed to see your wife. They're supposed to see their mother. In Al-Islam the mother is the teacher for the children at home. She's their teacher and their boss. The husband is supposed to stand in the background and defend the 'boss lady'. He is not supposed to take her job from her.

DON'T HELP her argue with the children, don't help her direct the children or explain something to them. Be patient, sit back and keep quiet. Let her handle it. Only accept it if she comes to you. Then when she comes, tell her the children are here now, I'll talk to you later or when there is a time for us to be in private.

Talk to her in private about the children and understand that she is the boss in the house. In our religion she is the first teacher of the children and the boss of her domain. You're supposed to be her support and not overrule her in the house. The only way the man should overrule the woman in the house is in private and when he is clear that the Qur'an and Hadith is on his side; clearly on his side. And even then he should be careful, because he is not supposed to impose even those things on his wife.

What I mean by that is that you're not supposed to make your wife pray five times a day for example. You are to remind her that she's neglecting prayer, in a kind and loving way; then keep quiet.

IN FACT, YOUR adhan is enough of a reminder. You don't have to say anything else after that. If she brings something into the house that's not halal (lawful), such as liquor or pork or something else that's not permissible, then naturally you're the man of the house; you have to protect the interest of the house in case the boss of the house
(your wife) should neglect it.

Even in such a case, you're not supposed to make a hasty judgment. Inquire from her in private why this happened. Then when it's clear that she did a wrong, bring it to her attention in a nice, kindly way and insist that she obey the word of God and follow the orders or sunnah of the Prophet. Insist upon that.

But don't say, for example, "I saw you wash up for prayer but I didn't see you wash your right hand three times." Leave her alone. When she knows what she's supposed to do. leave her alone. Be patient with her, because you're not doing everything you're supposed to do either.

EVERYBODY HAS some room for improvement. Allah didn't make us to watch over each other to see that we measure up or do all that is required of us. No! Watch over yourself, and just call your brothers and sisters or members of your family's attention to the requirements of the religion. That's all. Make sure that everybody has the knowledge. That's enough, because you will have a heart attack and pretty soon you won't be able to take care of your wife. You'll wear yourself out. Get old, weak and crazy and you won't even be attractive to her any more.

Now let us look at children who are not from your loins. If you adopt a child, you have the same obligations to that adopted child as you have to the ones from your loins. You have to give that child food, clothing, shelter and education. And you've got to give it to that child the same way you give it to your own children. You cannot favor your children over that child. If you spend time with your children, you have to spend the same time with that child. That's your child now.

IF YOU BUY for your own child, you have to buy equally; you can't buy more and spend more for your children and less for the adopted child. No. You've got to spend on all of them equally, so none of them will feel you are favoring the other.

Many of us don't know that we can't even favor our own children by our loins. I'll use my own family as an example: There's Saadi, there's Warithuddin and Ngina, in the house with us right now. If I spend more time with Saadi, than with Ngina and Warithuddin, giving him more attention, then I'm doing wrong. If I favor him by giving him more money or buying him more things, that's wrong. I've got to treat them all equally.

So there's no way to be buddy-buddy with one of your children, like many Western men do. When they prefer one child, they become buddy-buddy with that child. Sometimes it's a girl and they are more buddy-buddy with that child and don't have much time for the other children. That's wrong. It's not acceptable in our religion. You have to be buddy-buddy with all of them. You can't come into the house and show one more affection that the other; it's different, however, if it's a little baby, who is still very dependent.

Those qualified people in the religion say the only way you can favor one child over the others is if that one child is handicapped; crippled, blind or something like that, and requires that extra help, and extra attention from you.

You are not supposed to give any favoritism to your children.

WE USED TO HEAR the men say, 'Yeah, that's my namesake.' No. We can't do that. They're all your namesakes. Even though you don't like the behavior of some of them, you shouldn't do that. You should treat them all the same.

It doesn't mean that you won't punish, or find some way of letting the bad ones know that they are wrong; sure you do that. But in our religion, it's wrong to punish them by denying them things that you are responsible for giving them. You can't punish a child by saying. 'You don't eat today.'

No. Some of our people in the South were raised up like that. Some white people did that to their children and we learned it from them. "Okay, if you didn't do so-and-so-and-so, you don't eat today." Sending that child home hungry or sending the child to bed hungry is cruel and crazy.

EVEN THOUGH you may be angry with him you don't stop him from eating; you don't take his clothes from him. You don't tell him he can't sleep here tonight. No. If he is still a minor, he sleeps at your home, he eats there and he eats just what you eat too; if you're eating lamb chops, though you're angry at him, he eats lamb chops too. You're not supposed to mistreat him.

If he deserves a whipping, give him a whipping, But don't cut off the provisions that you have to share with him. And don't be so quick to whip, don't be so quick to use physical force. Try to reason with your children. Talk to them. And if you whip them. whip them lightly. Don't tear their flesh, don't bruise them up. Whip them lightly. And whip them before the other members of the family, before the other children, if there are any.

If the wife whips, she should whip in front on the father. Whip them with somebody else watching.

The big thing about whipping is having somebody else see the whipping. It doesn't have to hurt, just make sure you sting the flesh lightly. Don't hit so that you break or bruise the flesh and don't use any hard or heavy objects. Use thin, light objects that you know won't do anything but make a sting.

In fact, the best thing to do is to use your own hand. Don't you know that hurts? And to do it in front of others, it’s embarrassing.

SINCE WE ARE on beating, there is a proper way to beat the wife also. The Holy Qur'an permits me to beat my wife. That's true. Kha'Iee'lah, means lightly or little bit. The Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him), said if you have to strike your wife, do so lightly. And you shouldn't strike her unless she's guilty of a real serious Islamic violation.

You can't strike your wife because she argues with you, or because she doesn't agree with you, or because she didn't iron your shirt, or fix your dinner today. That's no reason to strike her.

If you strike her, it's got to be over some very serious Islamic issue. Maybe she's putting some poison into the family that's against the teachings of the Qur'an or she's doing something very corrupt or she was looking at a man with lust in her eyes and it was very clear that she's guilty of that. She admits that she's doing that, she admits to lewdness. Then you are permitted to strike her, and then strike her lightly. And we have the Prophet as an example. You should understand that even in this, the Prophet is our example. When did he ever beat a wife? When did he use that provision in the Qur'an.

DID HE HAVE trouble with his wives? Yes. So much trouble that the trouble comes into the Scripture. But when did he hit or abuse or whip one? Never.

In fact, do you know the Prophet had slaves? Yes, he had slaves. He freed all his slaves, but he had slaves. But there is no record of him ever -- in fact, his slaves said 'he never spoke harshly to us. he always spoke to us with respect and kindness, and he never hit us, or abused us.' That is on record of what the servants of the Prophet said.

They said, 'when he was angry with us, he wouldn't abuse us out of anger, even when he was displeased, be would speak kindly to us and always with respect.' So we have him as a model, too. We are obligated to follow him as a model. If he never beat a woman, though the provisions are there, what is the better behavior for a man? The better behavior for a man is the behavior of the Prophet. Though God has allowed us to do that, the better behavior. even if she is wrong, is not to strike her or whip her. If she's guilty of a real lewd violation, you can bring her before the court of the land, if it's a Muslim land. Then you could have her punished if she's guilty of fornication or adultery or something like that; she could be punished by the laws of the land or by the law of the Islamic umma. But if she's not guilty of any serious thing like that, it's best for us to follow the example of the Prophet and don't use physical force on her at all.

IN OUR RELIGION, it is prohibited to keep the real parents from being known to the child. If such and such person is the father or the mother of the child that has to be known. It has to be acknowledged, the child has to know that. Also, it's not allowed that you tell that child, that though he or she were born of that person that that's not your parent. You can't do that. You can't keep it secret and you can't deny the parent. You have to accept to make it known and you also have to accept the parent.

"What if he was a criminal?" You still have to let it be known Tell the child such-and-such a person was his father then trust the nature that Allah has created in that child, that that child will be able to live with that. If you keep it a secret, you're risking a worse situation later on when he finds out.

In fact, we are not to even suppose to question the rulings in our religion, that is, rulings from the Qur'an, the word of God or from the Prophet.

IN FACT THE Qur'an says, call your children by their own names, by the names of their parents, do not call them by other names. That is so that the child will be known, it will be known that that child is the child of such and such a person. You can't hide the parentage.

So if any Of us have done that in the past, then understand that whatever you did in ignorance is forgiven. But from now on, don't allow that. If there is any way for you to correct it. have the courage and trust in God that you can correct it and bring truth to that child or children. No father should disown any child of his loins, brother, I don't care what the social consequences are. It is better for you to accept the social consequences, the people saying, *oh he did that, he got that child by that girl and didn't even take care of it. He was married,' whatever the social consequences, do not deny your own children.

SO WE CLOSE on that note, may God bless us to be strong in this religion, and to seek the information from the sources that are established, that is, the Qur'an, and the life of Prophet Muhammad and the learned established men of quality and knowledge, the Ulamah, the Imams that are established for having that knowledge and the scholars established for having that knowledge and also from the consensus of the community of practicing Muslims, from our own opinion, as good, sincere practicing Muslims.

So let us understand those four sources for ruling in our religion or for deciding matters in our religion.

Let us understand our obligation to our families, the responsibilities that are on the man as provider for his family, and the responsibility that is on the woman as first teacher for her children and protector of the interest of her whole household.

The woman is obligated to protect the interest of the man in his absence and in his presence and not to allow anybody in his house that he doesn't want there, this is the Sunnah of the Prophet, Peace be upon him, whether its his apartment or his house, you are supposed to respect it as his. You're the boss, you're the manager of that house, but you're supposed to respect it as his house.

AND YOU KNOW the Prophet said. "Women, do not beat your men." It's explained by the learned ones in the religion that sometimes a woman is stronger and tougher than her mate and that she could brutalize him.

So the women are to accept their husbands in the role of Imam, Khalif, or ruler that God has made them.

And even though you can beat him physically, you are not suppose to sister. So please don't beat the brother.

God might have put him in a frail body and left him without physical courage. You're supposed to have motherly mercy on him and don't beat him up because that will destroy his ego and shame him so bad, he won't be any good in the society anymore.

SO PLEASE don't beat him up. If he gets too far out of line, call the police. Over here, they say. you're supposed to settle our own affairs. No. When he goes crazy, call the police. Don't look up the Imam, I'm not the police. And if she beats you up brother, you call the police too. If it gets too hot and too dangerous, call the police because sometimes we go crazy. We're living in a crazy world, we go crazy. We're liable to beat up a pigeon, or beat up the parakeet; liable to start killing the cat. anything.

So when it gets wild like that, go to the phone, if you can. If you can't then sneak to the phone and dial the police, get some help.