Family Values – Navigating Fast-Changing Landscapes

Hasnain-Walji The writer, Hasnain Gulamali Walji (Texas, USA) is an entrepreneur, investor, technologist, and community volunteer. Born in Moshi, Tanzania, he is a researcher, speaker, and writer involved in developing professional training and e-learning applications in nutrition and integrative healthcare. He is President of Integrative Quest, Inc which specializes in formulating and marketing probiotics. He has authored 26 books, all written from a naturopathic perspective, endorsed by the Natural Medicine Society of England, and translated into several languages including Spanish, French, German, Turkish, Hungarian, Portuguese, and Chinese. A contributor to several journals on environmental and Third World consumer issues, he was the founder and editor of The Vitamin Connection – an International Journal of Nutrition, Health and Fitness, and Healthy Eating. He has written a script for a six-part television series, The World of Vitamins. His institutional work for the Muslim community spans over 30 years, Since 1976 he has served the World Federation of KSI Muslim Communities, as Secretary-General, Vice-President, and then as President of this august body. He is also a founding director and the Current President of the Mulla Asgher Memorial Library and Resource Center (MARC) in Toronto. He has served as editor of Shia International and Living Islam Magazines and is a regular contributor to a number of Islamic Journals. He has traveled worldwide, lecturing and reciting Majlises in English, Urdu, and Gujarati. He has a special interest in the History of the Khojas and currently working on a Documentary called The Khojas – A journey of faith. He is also a founding director of a Social Justice Institute called Penmanship For Peace focusing on the plight of persecuted minorities including the Shia in Pakistan and part of a team compiling a volume on Shia Genocide in Pakistan. His passion is in increasing interfaith understanding to make this world a better place for his five grandchildren. Dr Walji established MARC. He served as the Secretary-General of WF. Dr Hasnian Walji served as the vice president of WF during Mullah’s leadership in the capacity of the president of the World Federation.

Family values:


slam appears to be more resilient in the ability to confront new tendencies which threaten traditional family values. The question is for how long?

Islam, in common with all major faith traditions, demonstrates a special dimension towards family. As a basic building block of society, a family creates an environment in which moral and spiritual values are transferred from generation to generation.  The family begins with the union of two individuals and that is why the Blessed Prophet (SAW) has said

 “There is no foundation that has been built in Islam more loved by Allah, (The Greatest and Noblest) than marriage.”

Indeed, Muslims consider a family to be an institution ordained by the Almighty as one of His signs. 

And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect” (Q. 30: 21).

The relationship within the family, between all its members, but most important of all, between a husband and wife, is a spiritual relationship which sustains and generates love, kindness, mercy, and compassion. The cultivation of this relationship is a lofty expression of the best in being human: helping each other to reach our God-given potential.

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) has said, “Of my tradition is to marry. So then whoever turns away from my tradition (Sunnah) is not from me (my nation).”

Within the environs of the family, the spiritual potential of men and women becomes actualized, enabling the blossoming of goodness and virtue in society.  It is the family that provides the most congenial of ecosystems for the development and fulfilment of the human personality. That is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said that home is the best place in the world.

Elsewhere spouses have been described:

“They are like a garment to you, and you are (like) a garment to them (Q.2:187).

This verse describes mutuality as each other’s covering, not just one as the garment and the other as the body. It also defines the closeness of the relationship between spouses – as protectors and guardians of each other. The garment beautifies the wearer hence one feels incomplete without it.

On marriage Mevlana Rumi says:

May this marriage have a fair face and a good name,
an omen as welcomes the moon in a clear blue sky.

With that said, globalization has affected all aspects of family life for all faith traditions. Needless to state, the concept of family in Islam is not immune from the rapidly changing perspectives of a family in the wider society.

All religions in general offer protective mechanisms against the erosion of family values. As things stand today, Islam appears to be more resilient in the ability to confront new tendencies which threaten traditional family values. The question is for how long?

In almost all Western societies the structure and dynamics of families and households have been modified substantially over the past two centuries. Many of these family trends are intricately interwoven spawning fundamental transformations of Western societies including many moral values espoused by all faith traditions. The religious values that had a significant effect on family life in societies of the past are being challenged by modernity.

These changes in family life have had considerable effects on the foundational religious doctrines, drastically modifying the influence of religion in the lives of individuals and their families.  Attitudinal trends of greater willingness to allow others to choose their own behaviour and family relationships without imposing personal preferences, religious standards or judgments, are now seriously impacting Muslims too. 

The upcoming generations of Muslims especially in the western world, are trying to seek the ever-eluding equilibrium within their own families.  

Increasingly, today, beliefs relating to family are being interpreted on an individualistic basis and less so in terms of religious injunctions.  Many now look to religion more for its personal meaning and less for its societal rules.

By default Muslims along with their fellow citizens in this globalized world have to navigate through these redefined standards of conduct, which more often than not, are incompatible with faith traditions as regards the structure, of an ideal family. 

The rationale for this review is a call to action for our traditional scholars, social scientists and moral philosophers to go beyond the basics of jurisprudence and begin to proactively offer solutions for families to navigate the new realities. 

Such discussions are of great societal significance because after all, families are basic building blocks of society. The well-being of a society is always dependent on the emotional and physical state of the family members within that society.

As Allama Iqbal has said

Fard qaim rabt-e-millat se hai, tanha kuch nahi,

Mauj hai darya mai, beron-e-darya kuch nahi” ,

Iqbal has brilliantly captured the spirit of the mutual interdependence of individuals and society saying that ‘as individuals, we are anchored in a society, otherwise we are nothing’ using the metaphor of a river he says the ‘drops come together to make waves, outside it a drop is nothing!.

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