I can’t help but reflect on how we’d all wish to have the perfect family: every member of the family being God-conscious, parents fulfilling the rights of their children and vice-versa, harmony between siblings, a marriage with very few conflicts and loads of happy moments, and delightfully obedient children. Indeed, I doubt that such a family exists on this planet, yet it cannot be denied that there are some families whose happiness radiates wherever they may be; they have strong connections of love and affection. May Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala – exalted is He) preserve such families. The truth is, however, that most of us have conflict and strife within our families; with our parents, siblings, cousins, spouses, children, in-laws, etc. Some of this conflict is minor, while some of it has left stains of trauma and wreaked havoc in the lives of so many. Where I find stability and contentment, however, is in the realization of three important things:
- Every family has their issues.
- Pure happiness and contentment with one another is reserved for Paradise, and not the life of this world.
- Even within our own Islamic tradition, we find countless examples of great people who dealt with tons of stuff.
Consider the following examples:
- Ibrahim (Abraham) (`alayhi assalam – peace be upon him), the great man that he was, was threatened by his own father when he preached to him the message of Islam. Not only did his community deny him, but his own father did too. Imagine the pain.
- Qabil (Cain) grew jealous of his brother Habil (Abel) and eventually slew him. These were the first sons of our common ancestor, Adam (as). Imagine the turmoil of murder within a family, and the loss of a child for Adam and Hawa (Eve).
- The brothers of Yusuf (Joseph) (as) conspired to get rid of him completely. For years, his father Ya’qoob (Jacob) grieved the loss of his son, and upon his eventual return, Yusuf’s brothers were filled with regret for what they had done. Imagine a grief that causes you blindness, as it did to Ya’qoob (as). Not only that, but Yusuf (as) was from a line of prophets (Yusuf son of Ya’qoob son of Ishaaq son of Ibrahim (as)) and was still not immune to such a trial.
- Musa (Moses) (as) was furious at his brother Haroon (Aaron) (as) when he returned to find the Children of Israel worshiping a calf. He even dragged him by his head as mentioned in Surat Al-A`raf!
- In Surat Al Kahf, we learn from the story of Musa (as) with Al-Khidr, who was divinely inspired to take the life of a child because that child may have been a fitnah (trial) to the righteous parents. Clearly, their righteousness didn’t lead them to a simple perfect family life; they suffered the hardest trial they could experience as parents and as a couple— the loss of their child.
- Both Ibrahim (as) and his wife Sara, along with Zakariyya (as) and his wife had trouble conceiving a child. As well, Aasiya the wife of the greatest tyrant Fir’awn (Pharaoh) brought Musa (as) into her home after not being able to have her own child.
- Maryam (Mary) (as) brought Isa (Jesus) (as) into this world alone and with no communal and spousal support. Imagine how we treat such mothers today.
- Both Lut (Lot) (as) and Nuh (Noah) (as) were betrayed and left unsupported by their wives. They were prophets and still, they had issues in their marriages.
- Aasiya was severely abused and persecuted by her own husband for merely proclaiming her belief in God (as).
Our Greatest Example
- The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) lost his beloved uncle Abu Taalib before he accepted Islam.
- He lost many of his children as infants, children and adults.
- He lost his dearly beloved wife, Khadijah, and mourned her death deeply.
These are just a tiny fraction of the examples of family stuff that we can draw from our own Islamic tradition. Indeed, what is even more incredible is that those mentioned above were far more pious and sincere to Allah (swt) than we could ever be, despite their hardships.
Notice that their piety did not mean a life of ease and perfection – no! Instead they were tried with things that today, might bring you and me to our knees. Because Allah (swt) tells us that He does not burden a soul with more than they can bear. By testing them with such trials, the Almighty knew that they were capable of coming out purified and forgiven for their sins, inshaAllah (God-Willing).
Now, what about you and me?
I say, family issues are inevitable. Don’t look to the lives of others to escape your own problems – realize that Allah (swt) has placed you in the circumstance you are in because He (swt), in His supreme knowledge, knows you can handle it.
For me, I’ve come to see family strife as bound to occur. Although not easy in the least, my main concern has been managing it as gracefully as I can when it does happen. Our spiritual growth and purification is tied to the moments we want to talk back but don’t, or have been betrayed by a family member and don’t seek revenge. It’s certainly not easy, especially when we have depictions of the perfect family life crossing our sights at every moment. From television, advertisements, social media and other forms of media, we are inundated with false realities of perfect, happy families.
The truth is, we all deal with stuff. The greatest individuals who came before us did
and we certainly are not immune. The key then is, how do you deal with your stuff? With grace, or harshness? With acceptance or bitterness? With resolve or chaos? Consider the following verse:
“Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe,” and they will not be tried?” (Qur’an, 29:2)
The choice is ours – let’s figure this stuff out.
And Allah (swt) knows best.
Author’s Note: Please share your experiences/thoughts below, and any further examples we can derive inspiration from.