Written by R.J Dreamer
The dynamics of the modern Muslin family have really changed in the last few years and definitely for the better. More and more mothers are working outside the home with supportive husbands that are taking on an equal share of the domestic and family duties. The whole family structure has changed with dads much more involved in their children’s lives. It’s a real shift from dads working all day and then coming home late when the children have gone to bed. Dads actually want to be closer and are thriving by having a stronger relationship with their children.
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
“..And one of His signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them and He put between you love and compassion; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.” (30:21)
A recent study by Lancaster University Management School found that fathers want to spend more time with their children and are beginning to give more direct care. They also found that society as a whole is changing their attitude toward the father-child dynamic. The belief that it is a mother’s job to look after the children is very much in the past. The changes are also happening in many of our own Asian and Muslim communities too. It wasn’t that long ago that it was frowned upon for men to help their wives and helping domestically was unheard of.
For instance, parents evening was something only mums attended and most teachers never met the child’s dad. Now you see just as many fathers as mothers attending. Even the local children’s playground is filled with fathers playing with their kids. Furthermore, fathers are taking on more of their fair share of chores at home which really should have always been the case. Ok yes, they ‘may not’ do things as well as mum can but does that really matter? Mum is not superwoman and any help is welcomed. Plus, if both husband and wife work then really that’s the fairest way.
The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) stated:
عن النبیّ (ص)، قال: «أکمل المؤمنین إیماناً، احسنهم خلقاً، و خیارکم خیارکم لنسائه.»
The most complete persons in faith are those who have the best manners and the good among you are those who are good with their wives. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 71, p. 389
When it comes to finding a reason for, what is seen as a modern change, then you don’t really need to look far. It all goes back to the parents of those men and how they brought up that child. A boy’s environment when he is growing up is a fundamental influence on how he will treat his future wife and children. Coming from a warm, caring and loving environment is something that he will take with him into adulthood. If he has grown up with a father respecting, valuing and supporting his mother, then he will see that as a norm.
For Asian and Muslim communities this is a massive shift. It was not that long ago that mothers and mothers in-laws would really take offence if they heard that their son was helping his wife by washing the dishes. Even if they heard he was babysitting his own kids, the reaction would be, was it really necessary for her to go out? Consequently, it was mothers and their cultural values, who were pushing this trend on to their sons. That’s why this shift in attitude is very much welcomed.
Also, as I mentioned previously, financial pressures have a big role to play here. More women are working in high profile jobs and providing a very comfortable living standard for their husbands. Therefore, if a wife has a full-time job, then it is physically impossible to do everything and things have to be shared.
While we may think this trend is very progressive, that’s actually not the case. Islam has always taught us about the respect, love and care that women are entitled to. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the Imams (A.S.) all treated their wives with up most respect and honour.
One day the Messenger of Allah (S) paid a visit to the house of Ali (A.S.) and Fatemah (S.A.). He saw that Ali (A.S.) was sieving the pulses and Fatemah (S.A.) was busy cooking. On observing this the Prophet (S) remarked, “O Ali, I do not speak except what is revealed to me. Anyone who helps his wife in her domestic affairs obtains a reward of one year of worship equal to the amount of hair on his body. This year of worship will be as if he has fasted during its days and prayed during its nights. Allah will reward him equal to the reward of all the patient ones, Hazrat Dawood (A.S.) and Hazrat Isa (A.S.).”Jamius Sa’daat, vol. 2, p. 142
Finally, always remember that the most important lesson you and your husband can give to your children is how you treat each other. Your son will learn how to treat his wife and your daughter will learn what to expect from her husband. These are the lessons that Allah will eternally bless you for so make sure you give them a good example to follow.