Value of Family in "Islam": Part 2
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
Nashville, Tennessee; May 26, 1991
Preference Of Mate In Marriage
A Muslim in Al-Islam is first of all to look for a believing Muslim. That believer is expected to have respect for the life discipline of the Muslim family. Christianity, Judaism, and our religion of "Islam" have a set and established form of behavior. That is a natural need and most important.
Even primitive man has a set behavior in his family. But when we come into the "enlightened" world of man and man learns psychology and invents a new environment, original nature is shut out. The walls of man's constructions shut out the lights and the pure voices of nature. In a situation like that, we don't have something to provide a security for us to keep us in touch with the best of our human nature. For nature wants to achieve (evolve) and we have to have something as a set discipline to keep us going in the achievement line and direction of nature. If we don't have it and once greed-motivated man closes us in with his commercial environment, we will become lost and shut off from the natural direction that Allah intends for human life.
Our society is not quite in that bad shape, but too many of us already are living just for ourselves individually and have no family sense. We go out to earn money and spend waste-fully on ourselves, on a new car or new wardrobe or on some entertainment. We tend to think that is all okay in the world today. I have heard it said. 'That is just normal now." Some of our women are saying, "I don't need him to survive. I'm educated and can make my own living. I can buy me some pleasure." This is the way the world has been going.
We also lose the appreciation for work. The family is evolved naturally to appreciate work. And I would like to say here are a few things about work itself. Work is not supposed to be a bad word; it is supposed to be a good word. Work is not supposed to be a word that lets down our spirit. Work is supposed to lift our spirit. In natural life play is work in the womb of social development, trying to be born. When you see a child playing, that is work in the womb and wants to be born. When he gets to be twenty-one, thirty-five or forty and is out there behaving like he did when he was in the womb unproductive at play, something is wrong.
Now if he starts finding joy and production from play-promoted skills, then he is working. He will be doing something and constructing something. It may be cutting down a branch or digging a trench in the earth. He is accurate with his strokes. He is flexing his muscles and knows that he has strength. Man was created to love work. In primitive society, man tends to sing as he works. There is a singer, (Harry Belafonte) who sang about the banana boat, about cutting the bananas from the trees and loading them to take them to the market. I have also seen pictures of the documented life of the primitive people who go out to fish. They will go out singing, and trotting with a rhythm. Their life was not all about bumping or shaking their rears to music. That was not what made them happy. Going to work made them happy. Their joy was going out to get fish to help the family, to feed some hungry mouths.
We can see play in nature as work in the womb of man's growth. Play is supposed to mature into social life enjoyment for work. Man loves to work and enjoys work. If you don't enjoy work, something bad has happened. Slavery damaged the social spirit and the inherent aim in our nature. It was damaged greatly by slavery. A lot of our negative relating to work has to do with slavery. A lot of that bad spirit is the ghost of slavery. "Hell, this isn't mine, this is the boss', tear it up. That is his work; I hate it."
This can work sometimes in the other way, where we become overly attached. That too can be explained as effects of slavery. Then you say, "Hell, the white man used to ride around in shiny buggies, and we had to clean and wipe off his horse. He would go out with his lady, and we couldn't do that. Hell, let him look at me now. Here I am in this brand new Lincoln Mark 66. I have a six door Mercedes that's too long for parking spaces. Let me go out there and torture him." This person has nowhere to go, but he drives all around the white people in his long Mercedes. But who is paying? He is paying "whites" to get back at whites.
Now if he would invest that kind of money and that kind of interest in building up a strong family socially and financially, he would really become something and have dignity. All of that buying for spite and show is going to come to an end. He didn't keep up his payments. How can he keep up payments with no more motivation than spite and show? When you have a grudge motivation, you are not going to be able to go too far. You have to work for something natural and excellent in man.
That is what the religion wants us to see. Allah intended that we be natural and that we pursue the natural aim of excellence in nature. We try to respect those things that Allah has established for us to respect. Allah says to the child, "If your parent strives with you to take you away from the worship of Me, don't agree with the parent. However, keep a good relationship with the parent in this life." Now isn't that wonderful. See how important family is. Allah says in another place to us, "Family rights have priority with Allah."
I know sometimes in our financial situations we will have nothing and some people will want an Imam to work 40 hours a week and will not give him 4 hours a week in pay. But we are doing this for Allah and not for them. We have to make sacrifices until Allah blesses us with better.
We are not to tell people come in and give to the mosque before they take care of their family needs. We are to tell people to take care of their families. Parents are to take care of their families. Relatives are to take care of their immediate relatives. That is first. What Imam in good conscience can be happy knowing that someone's rent is not paid but that person is giving money to the mosque. Their children need clothes and cannot go outside because they have no decent clothes to wear, but they are giving us (Imams) money.
We first have to look to the family needs. Now, if we all were to cooperate behind promoting attention to family needs, we will all benefit down the line. The result is going to be stronger families. Stronger families are going to be more productive people. When you have more productive people, you have more coming to the whole society. There will be more to spend with the business man, more to give to charity. This will come as a result of us working to build strong families and seeing family as a priority in the Muslim community life.
Peace be upon Muhammed, the Prophet who established the Muslim family about fourteen hundred years ago. He said, "To marry is my tradition." He said, "Whoever is against marriage is not of us." That means that anyone who starts promoting celibacy in our community is to be cast out of our community and not to be regarded anymore as a Muslim. Prophet Muhammed also said, "To marry is half of faith, half of the religion."
When we accept marriage. We accept a social institution. Marriage is supposed to be a social institution. Everybody should like you now. For if you are true to your family obligations, you are going to help the economy. You are going to be a great help to the moral life of that bigger family that you are in, whether it is your ethnic group or neighborhood or city. You will be an establishment and a contribution.
(To be continued)