The Role of the Father in Islam
My father was a Giant…OK not literally… He was, however, 6f oot 2 inches tall, broad, muscular with huge hands and feet.
So, as a child, for all intents and purposes, he was a giant. With this enormous frame came a quiet, intelligent, introspective, hardworking and humorous man to name a few of his many qualities.
I was fortunate to have him for 26 years of my life. Much of what I have learnt about being a man, a Muslim and a father have come from him.
Let us start by defining the word, father:
The Cambridge Dictionary gives a brief, succinct definition of the word as:
‘A male parent’ 1
With divorce rates in the UK currently at 33% 2 there must be some impact occurring on parenting and the role of a father, as more and more children are brought up in single parent or step families.
According to the most recent ONS General Lifestyle Survey, of all stepfamilies with dependent children, 78% are from the woman’s previous marriage or cohabitation, 18% are from the man’s, and just 4% of stepfamilies have dependent children from both partners’ previous relationships 3
Being a modern-day father has indeed changed.
On the Voice of Islam show, which this blog is based on, Dr Siobhan McCarthy, Doctor of Psychology, spoke about some of the changes in the role of the father. 4
Dr McCarthy talked about the difficulty in giving a specific definition of fatherhood. She said that “The essence of fatherhood is culturally and generationally defined” Another key point that was made is that if a father is present then he will have an impact on the child but what is expected of the father will be dependent upon what the culture, of the father, family and society, expects.
So, what are the roles of a modern-day father? Here are a few: 5
- Financial contributors
- Supportive partners
- Loving parents
- Stay at home parents
- Healthy co-parents, even after a breakup or divorce
Why is the father’s role so important?
A father figure can significantly influence the life and wellbeing of their child. In families where the father figure is present, the father is the first male role models the children interact with.
These early connections with the father serve as a blueprint for what a relationship with a man may look like and has a significant effect on both the father-son relationship, and the father-daughter relationship.
Consequently, an unhealthy relationship with a father figure can significantly impact the child’s psychological wellbeing and their unconscious relational choices as they become adults.
A healthy father-children relationship can lead to higher self-esteem, more confidence and better relationships with men in general.
Unhealthy relationships can lead to the child experiencing psychological distress and difficulty in forming good relationships with men as they grow into adulthood. 5
It is difficult to give one definition of fatherhood as this is affected by a number of factors including culture.
Fathers are crucial in children forming their initial ideas of what a relationship with a man should be like.
The absence of a father can have a significant detrimental effect on a child’s ability to form healthy relationships with a male.
So what does Islam say about fatherhood?
The first thing to gain clarity on is that, in Islam, men and women have been granted equal rights with an understanding that their roles are different.
In the Muslim holy book, The Quran, it says: 6
Surely, men who submit themselves to God and women who submit themselves to Him, and believing men and believing women, and obedient men and obedient women and truthful men and truthful women, and men steadfast in their faith and steadfast women, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity, and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Him — Allah has prepared for all of them forgiveness and a great reward. (33:36)
With regards of the role of men the Quran says:
Men are guardians over women because Allah has made some of them excel others, and because they (men) spend of their wealth. So virtuous women are those who are obedient, and guard the secrets of their husbands with Allah’s protection. And as for those on whose part you fear disobedience, admonish them and leave them alone in their beds, and chastise them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Surely, Allah is High, Great. (4:35)
In Islam, the husband/father has the duty to provide for the security of the family. A man is not only the breadwinner of the house, but he has to help the wife take care of the internal matters of a house as well. In addition to this, a man is the guardian of a woman and is responsible for protecting her 7
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is an example for all men in every area of his life.
One of the sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is:
“The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives” 8
The role of a man, husband, father has been mentioned at various points in the Quran.
The father should be a good role model, a leader, caregiver, provider of security both financial and emotional, kind, compassionate and understanding of the other members of the household, especially his wife.
It is a crucial role in the development of the next generation. May the Lord grant us men the strength to uphold this blessed task.
- Cambridge Dictionary: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/father
- NimbleFins: https://www.nimblefins.co.uk/divorce-statistics-uk
- The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jun/13/single-fathers-uk-statistics
- VOI Show: https://soundcloud.com/voislam/breakfast-show-podcast-10-06-2021-the-role-of-a-father-in-islam?in=bash-kaifi/sets/voi/s-6J1gh7qqZf1
- Love to Know: Family and relationships https://family.lovetoknow.com/about-family-values/role-father-family-today-past
- The Holy Quran: https://holyquran.site/ch%2033%20v%2036#1:1
- Who has the final word in marriage? Husband or Wife: https://www.alislam.org/book/quest-of-curious-muslim/who-has-final-word-in-marriage-husband-or-wife/
- Com: Chapters on marriage: https://sunnah.com/urn/1262960