O Ameer! Lead Your Family!


“Men are the protectors and maintainers (Qawwam) of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah and to their husbands), and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband’s property, etc.)…” (An Nisa 4:34)


Allah (swt) says that men are the Qawwam of women. The word Qawwam is derived from the Arabic verb Qama/Uqeemu, which means ‘to stand’. Qawwam is an exaggerated/excessive form, which indicates constant standing. Just as a bodyguard continuously stands guarding a VIP, the man of the family is supposed to watch over and protect the women of the household. The verse above explains that he is given this function because he is required to spend his wealth on them for their maintenance. When one spends on someone continuously, it is natural that he will protect them from all dangers. He will empathize with them and will be inclined to manage their affairs with their best interest in mind.

The applied meaning of Qawwam thus encompasses a range of responsibilities of the man, which include financially providing for his family, protecting them, empathizing with them, understanding them, managing their affairs, making decisions that affect them after proper consultation with them, providing the space and opportunities for the constant learning and growth as well as catering to their every physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, educational, and financial need. In short, his role is that of an enabler of success of all members of the household. In order for him to carry out all these responsibilities successfully, he has been granted the leadership role of an Ameer of the family.

Abdullah bin Umar (rtam) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of the people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects; a man is the guardian of his family and is responsible for his subjects; a woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and of his children and is responsible for them; and the slave of a man is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it. Surely, every one of you is a shepherd and responsible for his flock.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

It is apparent from the above Hadeeth that every group of people should have a leader for its proper function. It is not possible for a group to have two leaders or else chaos will ensue. Thus, for a family unit, Allah (swt) in His infinite wisdom has chosen the men to lead. It does not matter how weak the man is or whether he earns less than his wife; he is supposed to be ultimately responsible for all family members.

This does not mean that the man of the house is a dictator, who does not consider in his decisions the Shoora (consultation) of all his family members. It does not mean that he is to be feared by those under him, or that he can enforce decadent cultural restrictions, which have little to do with Islam. Rather, the husband should study the Prophet’s (sa) Seerah deeply for improving his leadership skills. For supporting the husband, the wife is required to be obedient to the husband, as stated in the above verse. However, it is worth noting here that the wife’s obedience is first to Allah (swt), then to the Prophet (sa), and only then to the husband. Thus, if the husband makes demands against the commands of Allah (swt) and His Prophet (sa), she should decline to be obedient.

Part of the responsibility of the Ameer is to engender leadership skills in those under him. The primary manner to do so is to be good role models themselves. Children may be trained to accept more responsibilities at a young age, for example, they can be asked to take care of their pets, be the captain of their school cricket team, be the imam at home leading their siblings and cousins in Salah, or babysit their siblings while the parents are away. Leadership skills can formally be learned in a Boy Scouts / Girl Guides troop. The key element in making the next generation future Ameers of their families and societies is to make them feel empathic towards others. This can be done by engaging them in charitable services for those less fortunate than them. Lastly, by providing them with comprehensive Islamic knowledge, parents would help them understand their roles as young adults. The guidance from the examples of the Prophet (sa) and his companions are invaluable in this respect.

Men are made responsible for a gamut of their family’s needs and, hence, are given leadership roles by Islam. Like everyone under a leader, the wife is required to help the leader by being obedient to him, provided nothing is being demanded against Islamic principles. The man of the family should consult with his family members and do everything that is in their best interest. He should use his position responsibly to help all the family members develop themselves. He should not misuse the privilege of leadership he is given. He is responsible to pass on good leadership skills to their offspring, so that they become exemplary future Ameers.


When the Better Half Returns Home (Part 2)

better halfOur last issue offered tips to the lady of the house in working smarter and resolving domestic conflicts. This time, we will take a paradigm shift and throw light on how the men of the house can contribute to strengthening marital relationships and avoid trivial conflicts by demonstrating more of generosity and loving kindness towards their better halves.

Tips for Man of the House

  1. On returning from work, before you step into your home turf, take a deep breath and relax your body. Thank Allah (swt) for another incredibly exhausting but successful day to get over. Count the many blessings sitting on your platter, such as your health, home, family, job, and life itself that we generally take for granted.
  2. Switch off your working man mode. Never let office troubles to tag along home, because they will neither let your mind relax nor enable you to enjoy your family life. Initially the task may seem insurmountable, however, with practice and effort you will learn to control your thoughts. Most certainly you would never want your wife to keep calling you at work for leaking taps and blocked drains, since that is not the place or time to discuss it. Similarly, it is unfair to steal family’s quality time for work worries.
  3. Greet your wife and family with a genuine smile. You do not have to drag your feet and carry a frowning face or a gruff gesture to validate, how you had to rough it up at work. As someone wisely said that the most beautiful attire you can wear is a smile, and it is not even expensive!
  4. Sit down, take a glass of cool water and remove your shoes. If you have kids, ask them to get your slippers or put away your shoes or briefcase for you.
  5. Take a minute to look at each and every family member to notice some positive difference either in their appearance or mannerisms. It may give you an opportunity to make their day by uttering a compliment. Bovee states – the small courtesies sweeten life, the greater ennoble it. At times a good sense of humour also unwinds stress and lifts low moods.
  6. If you have old parents living with you, give exclusive fifteen minutes to half an hour to them, depending upon your arrival time. You may request for a snack or tea with them, while they chat with you or even share their concerns. They will love the priority and significance you give them and shower their blessings on you.
  7. Spend quality time with your kids to enhance bonding. You may offer Isha prayers together. If time permits, play a game, listen to their stories at school or simply ask them questions about their day. If they are ready to hit the bed, help them change or brush their teeth. You may read a book to them or simply share an interesting incident with them. This is also a suitable time to narrate a Prophet’s story, revise Duas and Surahs or simply teach your kids to thank Allah (swt) for His blessings He bestowed upon the family during the day.
  8. You may take some time to relax yourself by simply doing what you like. Take a shower, change clothes, take dinner, watch television, read the newspaper, chat on the phone or simply lie down peacefully.
  9. But wait! Before you go out like a light, make time for a heart to heart with your sweetheart! Who? Your wife, of course! Ask her, how her day was, and what stormy seas she had to sail through to keep the peace and quiet of your life intact. A man once shared with Richard Carlson (Psychologist) that for every 5% he improved his listening skills, his marriage improved by a whopping 50%.
  10. Motivation and acknowledgment are the key words for the crossword puzzle of most marriages. While you may have attended workshops and seminars teaching you to reward and recognize your team and peers on the job, make no mistake that everybody operates on the same pattern. It is sad that we are quick to recognize and compliment complete strangers, but unconsciously and at times deliberately choose to ignore our loved ones, who deserve our appreciation the most. Dishing out genuine praise is one of the intangibles of life. There is no way to quantify exactly how much good it does. But it can improve any relationship enormously.

The fact is that you live only once. Is it really worth making yourself miserable all your life? Never! Don’t let miseries get in your way of living to the fullest, because it won’t happen again. You will live only once! So be wise and embrace life with gratitude. All the best and happy living!