As atoms are the building blocks of matter and cells are the building blocks of life, families are the building blocks of a society and marriage is the building block of a family. Therefore, we may conclude that marriage is the foundation of society. Happy and healthy marriages can ensure a happy and healthy society. However, if the institution of marriage collapses, then the society collapses. Hence, Islam goes to great lengths towards promoting and protecting the institution of marriage.
Undoubtedly, relationships outside marriage greatly undermine the institution of marriage and are one of the main causes of divorce, separation and/or unhappy marriages; extra-marital affairs can tear a family apart, damage the very foundation of a society and leave long-lasting scars on children belonging to such families. The Quran, which is the main source of Islamic teachings, protects the institution of marriage by instructing us to lower our gaze (the instruction also applies to the virtual-internet world), to be modest in our clothing and interaction with the opposite gender, and by obligating exemplary punishment for physical intimacy outside marriage.According to the teachings of Islam, believing men and women are only allowed to check-out and flirt with their own spouse! In the Quran, Allah (SWT) Himself mentions love, mercy, peace and tranquility as the foundations of a marriage and we are taught to aspire to be with our family in the next world for eternity. Indeed, it is a beautiful concept which can ensure a peaceful and happy marriage and hence a peaceful and happy society.
Islam also provides guidelines on the relationship between parents and children for the different phases of life. For example, through the stories of Luqman and Yusuf (peace be upon them) the Quran teaches us that the relationship between a father and son should be like that of close and dear friends. The father needs to be there for the son and provide counsel and guidance.
When the child grows up, he/she needs to be dutiful to the parents, take care of them, serve them and behave with them in the most excellent manner. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught that goodness and kindness towards parents is one of the most beloved deeds in the sight of Allah (SWT). We are reminded in the Quran, specially, about the hardship our mother went through in bringing us to this world and rearing us in the first few years of our lives. We are living in a time when marriages are falling apart, domestic violence is on the rise, and mutual love and respect among family members are dwindling; it is high time that we collectively turn towards the teachings of Islam and implement them to bring the much-needed peace and harmony in our family lives – the building blocks of a society.
The writer is a Lecturer at the School of Business and Economics, North South University.