In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

We thank and praise Allah SWT, the Compassionate, the Wise. We bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah -- Who has provided mankind with clear guidelines how to live a pure and healthy life.

We bear witness that our Nabi Muhammad SAWS is the true Messenger of Allah, who taught by personal example the need for us to be pure and clean on our bodies, in our minds and soul and express this in the environment. O Allah, shower Thy choicest blessings on him, his friends and relatives -- all those, who, through love for Allah SWT, approached Him in a state of cleanliness and spiritual purity. Allah SWT reminds us in the Holy Qur'an:

"And those who pray, "Our Lord ! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us the grace to lead the righteous." (Q. XXV, 74)

My dear Brothers and Sisters

This little du'aah from the Holy Qur'an we recite so often. It expresses our love for our wives or our husbands and our children; our concern for their wellbeing and our desire to have a peaceful and blessed home. In other words, we are asking Allah SWT to give us a good family and let the very presence of each member, father, mother or child be a "comfort" to the other, not a source of suffering or disharmony. In this Khutbah, we shall, Insha-Allah, look at this basic form of 'Ibaadah: building a Muslim family.

A family, like a little plant grows, and grows well in the surroundings which suit its needs, but at times when it rains too much or the wind blows too fiercely, it can adapt. Soon there will be a clump of trees each providing protection to the other against the elements. The family starts off as the young husband and wife who had entered into a marriage that would be based on mutual co-operation, love and compassion, as Allah advises in the Holy Qur'an:

"And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and he has put love and mercy between your hearts: verily in that are Signs for those who reflect." (Q. XXX: 21)

Those ingredients for a pious and peaceful life we have within ourselves and together with the physical conditions they help to provide the proper environment for the family to grow. But, unlike the little plant, a family does not merely grow, aided by the environment, a family makes a determined effort to become strong and to live together with respect and dignity. Yes, Brothers and Sisters, we need to work hard, and very hard at it.

Firstly, we must choose and commit ourselves to a particular way of life and within this framework we set ourselves realistic goals that would benefit the whole family. We are Muslim ! And surely there is only one way for us -- the way prescribed by the Shariah. and, as we saw in last week's khutbah, it's a path that lends itself well to all people, even the so-called progressive "go-getting" Muslim. The word, "progressive", does not refer to the degenerate, purely materialistic and selfish practices of western society, but to those who are determined to progress materially and spiritually within the values of Islam. Does this mean that we cannot strive for our own home or a car or that our children should not qualify with a good profession? We can, as long as these achievements form part of our total 'ibaadah and do not detract us from our ultimate goal -- to please Allah SWT.

Secondly, we must set up proper relationships among ourselves: between husband and wife, between parents and children and among the children. The Qur'an informs husbands and wives:

"....they are your garments and ye are their garments. Allah knoweth what ye used to do secretly among yourselves..." (Q. II: 187)

The commentator comments that "they are for mutual support, mutual comfort, and mutual protection." Support goes much further than material or physical support and protection. It is the love for each other expressed in words of encouragement, caring, understanding, feeling responsible for and having a deep respect for each other's person, ideas and beliefs. Consider the support S. 'Ali gave his wife, Fatima, in this incident:

One day Hasan and Hussain, the Prophet's grandchildren fell seriously ill. The parents, S. 'Ali and Fatima, were very much upset. At last they took a vow that, if, by the grace of Allah, their little ones recovered, they would fast for three consecutive days. Allah listened to their prayer and shortly afterwards the boys got well. The grateful parents began to fast. At sunset 'Ali and Fatima broke their fast by drinking a cup of water. They were about to stretch out to eat the few cakes of barley when they heard a voice at the door: "For the love of Allah, please relieve my hunger and save my family from starvation." Fatima looked at her husband for support and said: "How can we eat to our satisfaction when this man and his family will be starving ?" 'Ali felt proud of his wife and nodded his approval. Fatima gave their evening meal to the old man.

On the next night, before they could break their fast, Fatima found two orphan children at the door appealing for food. Once again Fatima looked to her husband for support and once again he was struck by his wife's concern for the plight of the orphan that he agreed to go without food for the second night. When the Nabi Muhammad SAWS heard this he exclaimed that all generations will call him blessed for being the father of such a noble lady.

Support is a mutual expression of love, and has no pre-conditions other than that it should subscribe to the Shariah. Sad to say, sometimes we support or withhold our support as a means of rewarding or punishing our family. Can you imagine a man suddenly falling out of love with his wife because the tomato breedie was too sweet ? Can you imagine a man wanting to divorce his wife because his shirt was not ironed properly ? His shirt is his garment....not his wife as Allah has commanded him to be! Support must have the effect of helping our partner gain fulfilment in the special gifts or interests which Allah has given her or him. Behind every great man is a woman. Add to this "behind every great woman there is a man.

What about our relationship with our children ? In the following verse from the Holy Qur'an, we are given an indication:

"Ye know not whether your parents or children are nearest to you in benefit."
(Q. IV: 11)

When the child is little he is so tender and fully dependent on us until he reaches adulthood and can fend for himself. In the same way, in old age a man becomes like a small child, weak in body and mind. As parents we are their custodians, and their teachers. They follow our example and it is therefore necessary that we set a proper lead and give them the right advice. Remember they are not going to remember what we once told them but what they always saw us DO. They learn values by watching and imitating us.

Take the example of the teacher... (let us call him Teacher X) who conducted a madrassah in his home. Among the children was his own little son, Fareed. While the children were busy reading he caught a glimpse of Fareed tickling the ear of the little girl in front of him. The girl turned around and stared angrily at Fareed. This was punishment enough for Fareed, but no, not for his father. The father beat Fareed, swore at him and humiliated him in front of his friends, until the girl had to remind him that her father did not talk like that. Teacher X gained his composure and informed his children: "Today we are going to talk about mercy and compassion according to the Qur'an." As the teachera began to lecture some of the children laughed unabatedly. Can we blame them for laughing? This teacher and father punished his child unnecessarily; virtually destroyed his self-ego; used threats; lost his temper; became rude and conveyed false values. His lecture was a sheer sham. Mercy can only be taught mercifully and so can love and compassion. This our Nabi Muhammad SAWS demonstrated this in various Aghadeeth.

"Abu Huraira related that Allah's Apostle (SAWS) kissed his Al-Hasan bin 'Ali while Al-Aqra said, " I have ten children and I have never kissed anyone of them, " Allah's Apostle (SAWS) cast a look at him and said, "Whoever is not merciful to others, will not be treated mercifully."
( Bukhari: 18, 26 Vol.8, p.18)

It is wise to remember that the purpose of discipline is not merely to prevent wrong-doing, but to mould the child's behaviour and character and help to determine his future. True, we must be compassionate and merciful, but at the same time let us not be so soft-hearted or permissive in our actions and turn a blind eye towards a child's transgressions. Nor must we, as mother and father differ in our behaviour towards the child. Do you recognise this scene: Father says: "Go and water the garden" and mother makes excuses: "Shame, he still has a slight cold, and in any case the plants aren't too dry." In this way the child learns to play the one parent off against the other, and thus no firm discipline can be established.

Today we have become so sensitive to the question of RIGHTS and this is cause for concern in our ummah. If we live according to Shariah then there would be no need to demand rights. Qur'an guaranteed human rights relating to all people, wives and husbands, mothers, fathers and children. Coupled with rights and inter-related with them are duties. The rights of the wife become the duty of the husband. Similarly the rights of the child become the duty of the parents. If a wife has to demand that right to be supported, then the husband is not performing his duty -- he is transgressing the Shariah. Why should a child have to demand to be loved ?

But let us also remember, and here I am speaking to the younger people in the Jamaa'ah, that parents, too have rights and children duties. Your mother's or your father's heart is the fountain-head of the love for you; and this love becomes their life-blood. In their lonely hours who do they think of most ? you. When you have gone out, who do they worry about most? you. Your parents live for you and is it not fair that they should be given some form of appreciation and consideration particularly when they are not well or when they get on in years ? They won't ask this of you. They give without expecting anything in return, but Allah expects us to do so. Allah says in the Holy Quran:

"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 honour.

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."

(Q. XVII: 23 - 24)

To build a good family life all of us, mother, father and children have a role to play. We need to know each other well, respect each other and even our right to differ in our opinions, care for how each one feels, if one of us is unwell, show compassion, and feel responsible for each other. Let us, as a family strive to keep ugly, destructive things out of our homes and make our homes not only comfortable, but , more important, let it be peaceful and cheerful and have the right atmosphere for serving Allah sincerely.

May Allah SWT strengthen our families, increase the love among us, make us worthy and respected parents, show us the way to guide our children to the Right Path, open the hearts and minds of our children to knowledge and belief.

O Allah, make our homes abodes of cheerfulness and peace, let us experience Your Presence for every moment of our lives, and let there be enough for all who come within those walls. Bless our parents and if they are old and infirm, relieve their pain and suffering, and if one or both of them have passed on, forgive their sins and grant them a place in Thy Jannah.

Aqeemus salaah!

Rashaard Jedaar
Cape Town