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The family unit is an important component of Islam, and all elements of a family are given due significance – from parents to children to spouses to kith and kin.
The Holy Quran repeatedly reminds its readers of the duties children have toward parents, particularly in their old age. God says in the Quran:
And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him, and goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) “Ugh” nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: “My Lord! bestow on them Thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” (Quran, 17:23-24)
Of the two, the mother is given greater importance in Islam. The Quran bears witness to the mother’s travails by stating, “with trouble did his mother bear him and with trouble did she bring him forth; and the bearing of him and the weaning of him was thirty months…” (46:15)
One of the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) strongly supports this as well. A companion once asked the Prophet, “Who deserves my good treatment most?” “Your mother,” said the Prophet. “Who next?” “Your mother,” he replied again. “Who next?” “Your mother,” he answered yet again. “Who after that?” “Your father.”
Obeying one’s parents and treating them with respect and affection are greatly esteemed virtues, even if they are non-Muslim. A female companion of the Prophet once asked him how she should treat her mother who was not a Muslim and followed pagan tribal customs and beliefs. Prophet Muhammad told her to be kind and considerate and to behave towards her as was a mother’s due from a daughter.
Yet, one’s obedience to parents does not overlay one’s obedience to God. He says, “…and if they contend with you that you should associate (others) with Me, of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them, to Me is your return, so I will inform you of what you did.” (29:8)
Islam further advises parents to treat their children with mercy, love, and equality. In addition, parents must provide proper education to their children along with raising them to be morally upright and responsible individuals of society. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has said the best gift a father can give his child is good education. The Prophet (pbuh) also laid great emphasis on proper treatment of daughters and promised the reward of paradise for parents who raise their daughter(s) well. At the same time, God calls for moderation in the Quran: “O you who believe! Let not your wealth, or your children, divert you from the remembrance of Allah; and whoever does that, these are the losers.” (63:9)
The Qur’an repeatedly stresses the significance of safeguarding the ties of the womb. Two examples:
“And give to the kindred his due.” (Al-Isra’: 26)
“Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kins-folk…” (An-Nisa’: 36)
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has similarly instructed, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should maintain good relation with his kindred.”
Even as Muslim couples embark on their lives together, maintaining strong ties with their extended families is an important aspect of their lifestyles. Some couples live in a joint family system; others prefer to live as nuclear families and may reside in close proximity to either set of parents or a great distance away depending on job locations, chosen community, or preference of state. Nonetheless, frequent family reunions, particularly during summer holidays or weddings, are common. Many visit their countries of origin for this purpose.
Conversely, families abroad also regularly visit their American counterparts.