Value of Family in 'Islam": Part 3
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Imam W. Deen Mohammed made this public address in Nashville, Tennessee on May 26, 1991. From it he has now prepared this article for Muslim Journal's readers.)
Family: Cornerstone of Society
Everything promising starts right with the family, "The family is the cornerstone of society," as noted by Imam Shua'ibe of Los Angeles. We know what the individual symbolizes; the individual is a symbol of not just one man but the social man. That is the cornerstone of society. We believe that if we work for the good establishment of your family, you are going to get great benefits in every direction. We are also going to be politically alert and politically aware. We will not be happy with just anyone becoming the precinct captain in the area. We will not be happy with just anybody becoming the congressman or the mayor or the councilman or the president of the school board or the principal.
If we have that family concern at heart, we are going to be a factor for insisting upon good life and excellent performance everywhere that touches upon our family. We are not going to be non-productive materially and financially. If we really have that family concern at heart, we are going to be a people with a "work ethic", who appreciate work and value work. Family value is a value that every other value can be set upon and concern for family will hold it up.
If we are a religious family, then we are going to look out for the good of religion. We are not going to be satisfied with religion losing its traditional and true vision or losing its direction or losing its virtues. We have seen many religious groups lose their virtues just in the last twenty years or more. They have start putting importance on politics and on making money. They are desperate because of the confusion of immoral culture and the mix up and the mess up of city life in our neighborhoods.
The Economic Interest of Marriage
Marriage in "Islam" begins with an economic interest. Before we marry a woman, we men have to have a dowry. This ring is a symbol and may be offered as dowry or part of the dowry.
Women in America expect that we will get them a good ring. If we are making $30,000 a year, then they do not want us to buy them a $95 ring. We have to invest more in the ring. The more money we make, the more the woman expects us to invest in the ring. In some Muslim societies we may not have more than two chickens and a goat, but we are to bring her something.
Marriage begins with a respect for money and a desire to finance our family's future. A woman does not want to form that relationship with a man who indicates a will to talk about anything except finance. Some of us think that finance is not a part of love. We think, "That messes up a love relationship, if we have to talk about money." Now that is not a woman talking, that is a man talking. He says, "You are messing up our relationship. You are messing up my mind now." But money should also be an expression of love. You love flesh, don't you? It is part of the romance, isn't it? So, look, that flesh has to eat to stay there. It does not eat air and spirit and romance and ideas. It eats food, and that requires money. She needs financing to keep her flesh on her. Bring some money to show good faith.
If a man is interested in a woman, he should come with something. Don't talk about the money first, but let the money talk for itself. You can later talk purely romance. But don't come up to her with holes all in your pants and you are not wearing designer jeans. That is not the way to go for a mate. You are not ready to marry. You have to go to work and earn something so you will be ready to marry. This is practical. If every woman were to tell you the truth, she would say, "I feel much sexier when you have some money." And I can understand that and respect that.
The dowry is very important and should reflect the wealth or material standing of that person. The more money we have, the more we are supposed to put into dowry. The dowry in "Islam" is a security for the wife. It shows good faith and there is a dignity in doing that. You are saying, "I don't want my wife to have to go back and cry on daddy and momma or on her brothers and relatives in case something happens to me."
You can become sick and cannot go to work again. But you will know that she has something there that she can utilize until you can find a way. Or if you suddenly die, she will have a weeping period of so many months and you don't want her weeping period to be disturbed by begging.
"What about the poor jobless youth who cannot make any money?" We have to do something about that. We as a community have to focus on the value of family and how the strength or the weakness of families impact on the total society. Morality and also material support are affected. We have to look at that and then devote our attention to it and do all we can in the interest of family, not in the interest of race.
Race creates poisonous emotions sometimes. We don't want to do it in the interest of race. Let us do it in the interest of the social life of man that Allah created. Work in this interest. Let us work for strong families and take care of those needs that are connected to that family life.
We cannot have healthy families. If there are no employment opportunities for our boys who are growing up. We have to address that. And it is from the focus of family that we address it. We have children coming, but there is no employment. Then let us deal with the problem of employment in the interest of preserving the family and making better families for ourselves in the future. That is the way any civilized decent society would look at it. We have to protect the family first.
This concern is not coming from our mouths only. I am hearing it from Christians, Jews, and many others. If we read some of the Jewish publications, we will see that they are having problems too. Everybody is having problems with family in this modern immoral and high tech congested society.
Inheritance in 'Islam'
The last concern I want to mention is inheritance. It has to do with money. When we read the Qur'an we find that there are obligations on the male to provide from his wealth for those who may outlive him. His wife gets a share. The sons get shares. The daughters get shares. The shares are not the same. Now sisters may flinch a little, but don't forget the dowry. If he is rich you are supposed to get a heavy dowry. The children don't get the dowry. That is only for the wife. The wife will get a smaller share than her sons when she inherits from her husband's wealth.
What is the justice? Part of the justice for it is that she gets a dowry. If he has more, then he is to give her more in the dowry when he marries her. That dowry can never be taken back except she volunteers, or commits a crime. If he divorces her, he cannot take back her dowry. That is a justification. Also, when a man dies, who is best to look to the needs of his wife? It is his son who will care for his mother. The male is inheriting more, but the responsibility is on him to look out for his mother, his sisters, all dependant members. He inherits more than his sisters for the same reasons. When the bread winner, the father, dies the burdens fall naturally on the males of the family. Now if the father leaves $5,000 or $50,000 or $500,000 to the male, the son can look at that money and say, "When I finish college, I can take that money and not have to borrow from a bank or beg." He will invest that money to continue the works of his father.
(To be continued)