The Family As A Cradle For Human Society
If the family is to be a wholesome cradle for human society, it means that the children as continuations of the human race, must find there warmth, patience and every possible advancement in their all-round education. For this purpose, they must have a mother who considers the care for her children not as a part-time job but as one of her foremost duties. And they must have a father who "according to the patriarchal nature of Islam, is an Imam for the family on whose shoulders rests the religious responsibility of the family. He must, as Syed Abbul A'la Mawdudi puts it so beautifully,
“uphold the tenets of faith and his authority symbolises that of Allah in the world. The man is in fact respected in the family precisely because of the sacred total function he fulfils. The rebellion of Muslim women in certain quarters of Islamic society came when men themselves ceased to fulfil their religious function and lost their virile and patriarchal character".
This is the noteworthy opinion of a world-wide renowned Islamic scholar. With a home where mother and father are aware of their important role and realise that the world of tomorrow will be what they make of their children, the foundation of society will remain intact.
As to the education of the children, I think it should consist of the following four phases the basis covering the period from birth up to the twentieth year, that is the time when the child leaves home, must be the Islamic Milieu created in the family. As modern psychology teaches us, this Milieu exercises its most important influence on the child already during the first years of life. It is many small and great things that make up this Islamic Milieu. Foremost condition is that the parents love and respect each other, that they are according to Islamic patterns patient and extend cherishing care to the children. But it is also important that the children can listen to beautiful recitations from the Quran there are excellent records nowadays that they realise when there is Ramadan, the month of fasting, when the great festive days are celebrated, and also that Muslim friends and relatives come on visits or are visited. And they must hear words like Allah and Muhammad uttered in a loving voice. This is what in fact many of us are doing anyway. But for an Islamic Milieu it is also significant that the home where Muslims live is furnished with some Islamic items at least. I don't mean the usual cheap sentimentalities but true, undiluted culture. The children should see some really beautiful calligraphies on the walls, perhaps a good carpet here and their and other things which cannot be found in a Western household. And Muslims should at least at home wear traditional dress as used in their homelands and take their shoes off, even if only upon entering the living room. Thus they will distinctly feel that they are Muslims which will fill them with confidence and natural pride for their community.
The Education Process
The second phase I would call the phase of telling. We know from our scientists how the consciousness of children is formed by listening at an early age to horror stories and thrillers and how it may, on the other hand, he given wings by enchanting tales. Here lies ahead a wide field for parents endowed with fantasy and much goodwill. They will study again the stories of the former prophet as told in the Quran, read the many beautiful traditions of the last Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and the heroes of Islamic history. By gathering all their love, intelligence and good humour, they can make up the most interesting and inspiring tales of all this and according to may experience it is particularly the period from the second to the fifth year when children are most eager to listen to such stories. The mother may tell them to the child while going about her duties in the home and in most cases very nice discussions will follow his own views. In this way the child's character can definitely be formed and standards may be established which maintain their validity throughout his lifetime.
The third phase established on the first and second, is that of the Islamic duties. It is only natural that a child wants to imitate his praying parents. He is given a small prayer rug and though at first he will be patient for few minutes at most, in due course he will learn how to pray and get used to a daily rhythm and routine as envisaged by Islam. It will be similar with keeping fast. At first, the child will not stand this for more than a few hours. But slowly he will manage half day, and even a whole day. Here, it is very important that Sahur and Iftar, the meals before beginning fast and after breaking fast, are really celebrated a bit. How proud the child will be if he is allowed to rise early in the morning for the first time in order to have breakfast with his parents, what a satisfaction it will be for him if he really managed to keep fast for a whole day. I think many parents will have the experience that the child himself will plead to be allowed to keep fast again instead of having to be persuaded to join the grown-ups. Also, there will always be opportunities for giving alms. The child should get the nice bright coin so that he himself can spend it, thus learning that some money should go to the needy or into the collection box of mosque instead of being used for buying toys or sweets. With regard to the pilgrimage, the child be told how Muslims from all over the world gather at the Holy Places for the important purpose of being closely knit together into one brotherhood worshipping their Creator as the servants of the Almighty have done in an uninterrupted chain since the time of Abraham.
The child will now be a conscious Muslim and therefore a broad basis has been established on which the fourth phase can rest firmly.
Training for Life
This is the phase of Jihad. The child, about 15 years old, has learned that life on this earth means trial and that only those can successfully emerge from this trial who submit to the Will of Allah in profound reverence and humility. It is, however, inherent in the nature of man and particularly in that of young and energetic people that they are looking for a real aim in life, something for which they can strive. There is, of course, a variety of elementary aims in everyday life like not neglecting the religious duties, passing school exams, getting over an illness, taking up a useful job, finding a loving husband or wife and bringing up good children. All these are however, individual achievements necessary for a stable basis. Healthy ambition will, nevertheless, be directed towards some higher aim. If it is not guided into the right channels, it will easily fall prey to demagogic persuasion and aspire for dangerous idols like all the prevailing "isms" from Nationalism to Communism. Jihad, the struggle for the cause of Islam, offers so many opportunities that every Muslim will find the field of action suited to his mentality and talents. This struggle may be conducted ¾ in the hour of need with the sword as well as with the pen, with the shovel as with the scalpel, or even with a sewing machine or a pot-ladle. Jihad is a struggle against all forces attacking Islam from within and without. Whether these attacks are being waged in order to ridicule Islam, to weaken its traditions and customs or to undermine its political power they have to be taken most seriously because they are out to destroy the very roots of our heritage.
A family, where this spirit is constantly kept alert, will be the best guarantee for a sound Islamic society because it enables all family members to assume their vicegerent consciously. And this one of the most important purposes of family life.
It was necessary to devote special care to the explanation of this first and foremost pillar of family life containing the aspect of education since it is concerned with the future of human society at large.