Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
A man’s responsibility for taking care of his family is a comprehensive one. Hence, the husband is responsible for his wife’s and children’s negligence of their religious duties towards Almighty Allah. The Muslim man must be staunch in making his family stick to Allah’s teachings in every aspect of their lives.
Responding to your question, Dr. Husam al-Din Ibn Musa `Afana, Professor of the Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence at the University of Jerusalem, states:
The Muslim man’s responsibility for his wife and children is a huge one. In fact, a man’s responsibility in that regard starts before marriage. When it comes to marriage, a Muslim man should be keen on choosing a religious and moral woman to marry.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said: “A woman can be married for four things, i.e., her wealth, her beauty, her family status, and her religion. You should marry the religious ones; otherwise, you will be losers.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Unfortunately, on taking the decision of marriage, many youths pay no attention to the religious aspect of their would-be wives. Instead, they place great importance on the wife’s beauty, family status, career and the like. Only a small number of Muslims care about choosing religious wives and this, in fact, is a great blessing Allah bestows on them.
Hence, Muslim men should be keen on choosing religious wives. This does not mean they are to disregard the other aspects such as beauty and social status. These other aspects are also to be taken into account, but not at the expense of the religious one.
By choosing their wives on a religious basis, men will guarantee that their children will be brought up to be good and religious persons.
This proves that the responsibility of men towards their wives and children is a great one. Allah Almighty says: “O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire whereof the fuel is men and stones, over which are set angels strong, severe, who resist not Allah in that which He commands them, but do that which they are commanded.” (At-Tahrim 66:6)
According to this verse, men are ordered to protect themselves and their families from the Hellfire. They are to do so by ordering them to abide by the teachings of Islam in all respects of their lives. Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Obey Allah and ward yourselves by not committing the sins He has forbidden. Order your children to stick to the orders of Islam and avoid its prohibitions; this will ward them from the Hellfire.”
Based on this, husbands are to enjoin their wives to dress according to the teachings of Islam. If husbands did not do so, they would be sinful; and if they did, but their wives did not observe this, it would be the wives who would be sinful. The wives then would be regarded as disobedient to Allah’s orders and disobedient to their husbands, for women’s wearing lawful clothes (on going outside their homes) is a religious obligation like prayer and fasting.
Allah Almighty says:
“O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad)…” (Al-Ahzab 33:59)
Men are equally responsible for guiding their children. Muslim fathers are to bring up their children to be true Muslims. They should inculcate in them how to abide by the teachings of Islam, especially regarding prayer, fasting, and good morals.
Allah Almighty says:
“And enjoin upon thy people worship, and be constant therein.” (Ta-Ha 20:132)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said: “Order your children to perform prayer when they are seven years old, and beat them if they have not adhered to observing it when they become ten.” (Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi)
Hence, fathers have to teach their children, males and females, the rulings of prayer. To encourage their children further in this respect, fathers can take their sons with them to Mosques when they reach seven, so that they get used to observing the congregational prayer. Likewise, fathers should train their children to perform fasting. This will make it easy for children to observe the acts of worship and obedience when they become legally responsible for them.
If fathers neglect inculcating such teachings in their children from the beginning, it will be difficult for them to reform this when their children grow up.
Therefore, fathers should realize how responsible they are towards their families. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in that regard: “A man is the guardian of his family and is responsible for them, and a woman is the guardian of her husband’s house and is responsible for it…” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Based on the above, if fathers neglected their duties towards their families in that respect, it would be as if they were throwing their families in the Fire, for they were not keen on protecting them from that end as Allah Almighty ordered them.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.