What is the role of a family? How is family defined?
In the Holy Qur’ān, all human beings are mentioned as members of a single large family unit. Members of this large family have some obligations and rights towards each other as well as to the unit itself.
The smallest family unit starts with husband and wife, and with the birth of a child they become father and mother. In due course, this small unit expands to many other relations and keeps enlarging and energizing through their mutual cooperation and support.
With the expansion of the family, the husband and wife assume different roles. According to the Islāmic law, men are overall guardians of the family affairs, and women are guardians of the house management and training of the children. The wives are supposed to give every possible protection and support to the men. However, their biggest and most important role is their parenthood as they have to prepare future generations. Peace and happiness reigns supreme in the family unit as long as parents remain their guide and pivotal center.
Even though each unit may live separately, this larger family concept is supported and promoted by Islām for many reasons. Firstly, it prevents imbalances from occurring in society, and secondly, if strong love and affection were promoted in the family between brothers and sisters, father and daughters, mother and sons, etc., it would naturally lead to the consolidation and protection of a healthy family unit. Lastly, the institution of family in such cases is less likely to be fragmented. To share a common roof in the name of a family would no longer be as meaningless as we generally find today. The members of the family would continue to gravitate towards the central beacon of family elders. Most family activities would rotate around this axis. There would be no lone individuals forgotten, dejected and relegated to the attic or basement of social order, or, knocked out of families as useless articles.
This is exactly the Islāmic concept of homes and families which is regarded as the most important central unit in society. (Islām’s Response to Contemporary Issues pages 109-110)