The Basis of Society
Islam sees life is an organic whole and the same principles should guide and govern it in all its ramifications. It stands for life-affirmation and life-fulfillment and refuses to divide life into watertight compartments of the sacred and the secular, of the holy and profane. It gives an integrated view of life and reality. The teaching of Islam cover all fields of human activity, spiritual and material, individual and social, educational and cultural, economic and political, national and international. They cater for the aspirations of the soul as well as for the demands of the law and social institutions.
Islamís uniqueness lies in spiritualizing the whole matrix of life. Every activity, whether related to things like prayer and fasting, or to economic transactions, sexual relationships, diplomatic dealings or scientific experimentationís, is religious if it is undertaken with God consciousness and accords with the values and principles revealed by Him; and it is irreligious if it is in violation of them.
The Islamic outlook on life is revolutionary as it gives a new dynamism to what has been traditionally regarded as religious. What makes an activity religious is the attitude with which it is undertaken and its conformity or otherwise with the values enunciated by God and His Prophet.
Islam makes faith and religion the basis of the entire human society and the mainspring for the network of its relationships. Commitment to Islam integrates man not only with God but also with the community of believers. Islamic community is a fraternity of faith - anyone who believes in the Islamic religion and ideology is an inalienable part of this nation - whatever his race, color, language or place of birth.
This principle of human organization is rational and ideological in nature and is capable of embracing the entire human race. This concept of an ideological community is not a mere moral precept; it has its social, political and legal dimensions. It produces a new infrastructure for human relations. Faith is the decisive force in this system. It gives birth to social institutions, from the family to the state.
The family is a divinely inspired and ordained institution. It was not evolved through human experimentation involving a process of trial and error spread over time. It was in institution that came into existence with the creation of man. The human race is a product of this institution and not the other way round.
Although marriage is a divinely ordained institution, each marriage as such is in the nature of a contract. The word nikah used for marriage in the Qurían and the Sunnah, means Ďaqd, or contract.
Marriage ultimately leads to a number of relationships and engenders a set of mutual rights and obligations. Each contract, however, is not a sacrament; it is not irrevocable. Divorce is permitted in cases where marriage has failed. Remarriage is allowed, even encouraged. There is no stigma attached to remarriage or to marrying a divorced woman or a widower.
Faith constitutes the bedrock for the institution of the family. Marriage should be among partners who share common outlook on life and morality, and who participate in this co-venture to fulfill their destiny as Godís vicegerents.
The Muslim family is an extended family, different relations occupying different positions. It is not a nuclear, atomistic family consisting of the parents and children only; it normally has three or four generations under its umbrella. A careful look at the Islamic law of inheritance shows that all these relations are an integral part of the basic family structure and not just peripheral to it.
The family is the basis of the entire socio-cultural structure and a self-sustaining mechanism to ensure social, ideological and cultural stability over entire span of society on the one hand and in the time past, present and future on the other.