RAMADAN is the time of year in which we engage in a month-long process of introspection, repentance, and self-renewal. It is not only a time when we are to increase our commitment to performing various acts of worship such as fasting and prayer, but it should also be a time for reevaluating all aspects of our lives. As Muslims men, this process should include room for assessing our performance as both husbands and fathers.
For most people around the world, these are indeed strange and trying times. For Muslims, not much else needs to be said along these lines. Perhaps it is only knowing that this world is the realm of testing and that in one way or another in our lifetimes we will all be tested, that allows us to get up every day and face the outside world. For many family men, however, rigor and severity are not a reality only on the outside, but inside the home as well. For such individuals and their families, the abode of peace that the home is supposed to be is anything but that and many such families are living quiet lives of sadness, desperation, and rancor due to family relationships that are simply not working. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a very well-known Hadith was recorded as saying that marriage was equal to half of the deen [of Islam]. This profound statement by our master has spurred volumes of scholarly commentary over the centuries and from a layman s perspective, the Hadith is monumental in its meaning and importance for those who have embraced the way of marriage and family. Only through deep reflection on our lives as husbands and fathers can we begin to understand the essence of the Messenger s (peace be upon him) words and why marriage is awarded the weight of half of our faith as Muslims.
The life partnership and commitment that marriage entail should be approached as a spiritual undertaking that can be an important facilitator of individual spiritual development. Just as we are essentially spiritual beings in a human existence, marriage is a journey that if approached as such can be a rich source of learning and personal development for both spouses. As Muslim men, much of what we are taught about family life pertains to our roles and responsibilities as husbands, i.e. the X s and O s of marriage and family life.However, too often the spirit of marriage is ignored or missed. Too often, in the course of trying to manage our families, we completely overlook the nuances that make marriage and family so important a human experience. Often we overlook the patience, sacrifice, compromise, love, understanding, humility, strength, and so many other inputs that are needed to be a good husband and father.
These are the fruits of the dedication and hard work that go into family life that help us to develop into better and more universal human beings. Though certainly there is no magic formula for achieving a successful marriage and family life, selflessness, love, and service are a few key principles from the teachings of our tradition that, when applied, can have remarkable transformational qualities on our roles as husbands and fathers and subsequently, our families in general.