When it comes to parenting, it is the mothers who naturally receive compliments and criticism, alike. Fathers on the other hand, often get over-shadowed for the role that they play. In Islam, there is great emphasis on the status of fathers. Said our beloved Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him:
"The father is the middle door of Paradise (i.e. the best way to Paradise), so it is up to you whether you take advantage of it or not."
(Sunan Ibn Majah)
In present times, the nuances relating to gender roles and discrimination have created a hype around the topic of gender equality. The truth is, even though Allah considers men and women both equal in terms of sovereignty/independence, there remain significant differences between the two in the social realm. And, this is evident through many references in the Quran. It is mentioned;
“And the male is not like the female.”
(Surah Al Imran, 3:36)
“By the night as it covers, and by the day as it brightens, and by the spectacle creation of the male and the female; your strivings are immensely diverse.”
(Surah Layl 92:1-4)
At another place, it is mentioned,
"It is not for the sun to catch up with the moon, nor does the night outrun the day. Each is travelling in an orbit of their own."
(Surah Ya-Sin 36:40)
If we were to apply these in context to gender roles, or even parenting, we would be in a better position to understand the wisdom behind Allah's creation and their complementary nature of existence. Just like the moon completes its cycle every month (of waxing and waning), it takes 12 months for the sun to complete one cycle (resulting in the four seasons). Both are unique, yet interdependent on each other. Similarly, just as fathers can never fully offer what a mother has to, a mother can never truly take the place of a father and offer her children what a father can and they both need each other to team up as parents/guardians for their children.
What Makes Fathers Unique? H2 Header
It is imperative to pay heed to the qualities which individually make fathers and mothers special. In this way, we can save ourselves from unnecessary squabbles and arguments when it comes to parenting and let each other enjoy the much deserved attention and recognition. As mentioned earlier, in light of the teachings from the Quran, men and women are different, and so it is not about who can outdo the other, but rather who is capable of fulfilling their ordained duties in the best manner.
When it comes to fathers, here are some qualities that make them unique.
1. Paternal Authority.
As per Islamic teachings and guidance, the ultimate authority belongs to Allah, but for the sake of social order and compliance, Allah entrusted man with the responsibility to look after his family. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
"Beware. every one of you is a shepherd and everyone is answerable with regard to his flock. The Caliph is a shepherd over the people and shall be questioned about his subjects (as to how he conducted their affairs). A man is a guardian over the members of his family and shall be questioned about them (as to how he looked after their physical and moral well-being). A woman is a guardian over the household of her husband and his children and shall be questioned about them (as to how she managed the household and brought up the children). A slave is a guardian over the property of his master and shall be questioned about it (as to how he safeguarded his trust). Beware, every one of you is a guardian and every one of you shall be questioned with regard to his trust."
To reflect: It is very common for women to use the phrase “Wait till your father gets home!” when they intend to discipline their children. Not only is this practice dysfunctional, because it is used as a means to mask the inability of the mother to discipline her children, but it also gravitates the children away from the father and has an adverse impact on setting functional boundaries. In reality, mothers should be mindful of how they are reinforcing paternal authority, and aim to work cohesively to reiterate those values and principles.
2. Paternal Affection.
From the time that a child is born and the adhan or call to prayer is given in his ear by the father, a father's expression of love, affection and joy meets no bounds. Although it may not be similar to a mother's expression of love, a father’s paternal affection does exist! What is more commonly understood is that a father's love is displayed differently toward daughters than toward sons. Wherein, fathers more openly display affection toward their daughters, but when it comes to sons, this may be in the form of encouragement and motivation, or at other times in the form of a pat on the back or a special treat for the children to enjoy.
To reflect: The significance of fatherly love can be better understood by looking at what happens in the absence of it. Children who are void of this tend to be more emotionally vulnerable and stand at an increased risk of having psychiatric issues, consuming drugs, being bullied/abused or committing suicide. Typically among boys, their initiation into adulthood is hindered if they feel worthless around their fathers and as a means to compensate for this, they turn to sports, gangs, and gaming, and seek acknowledgment through external sources. However, in such cases, there is much opportunity to seek help through calling upon Allah and reaching out to those who are your well-wishers, In Shaa Allah. (Can insert link to articles on single parent families)
3. Financial Security.
Owing to the physical care responsibilities entrusted upon man by Allah, fathers are meant to fulfill their duties to provide financial security and some form of stability to their families. It is known that man is the only creation of Allah who is worried about sustenance. Allah has made fathers responsible for this role because they are designed in a fashion to carry out strenuous work, in comparison to mothers. It is for this very reason that fathers deserve to be well-treated with respect and kindness because, when it comes to looking after the family and making ends meet, they tend to go the extra mile to provide that safety and comfort.
To reflect: Statistics indicate that in the absence of fathers, children have a 40% chance of growing up in poverty. And, come to think of it, this is perhaps one of the reasons why men are granted permission to legally have four wives, because they are made responsible for the sustenance of their families and treat them equally in all regards.
Fathers are indeed a precious gift from Allah and one which is irreplaceable. So let us be dutiful to our fathers and earn paradise by devoting our time, attention, and love to them. For those who may be deprived of a father, Allah is the most merciful and has the power to intercede in unimaginable ways to compensate for the loss, as He did with our beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and many other notable figures like Hasan al-Basri, Imam Hanbal, Imam ash-Shafi, lest we forget Prophet Jesus, may Allah be pleased with him, who was miraculously born without a father.
Umm Ahmed is an early childhood educator and mother of three boys. Always on the quest to learn, she is passionate about seeking knowledge and passing it on to others. A writer in the making, she draws inspiration through deep conversations, laws of nature, and her own children. She and her family are currently living in Abu Dhabi, UAE.