Considering the individual differences between family members

When Allah the Almighty created all things and gave them of His bounties, they came to be different from each other. Allah the Almighty mentions that difference in the Quran (what means): {And [We] have raised some of them above others in degrees [of rank]} [Quran 43:32]

This excelling may be related to physical skill, depth of knowledge, intellectual efficiency, livelihood resources and means and so on. Allah the Almighty Says about Taloot (Saul - the king of Israel people) in the Quran (what means): {And their prophet said to them, “Indeed, Allah has sent to you Saul as a king.” They said, “How can he have kingship over us while we are more worthy of kingship than him, and he has not been given any measure of wealth?” He said, “Indeed, Allah has chosen him over you and has increased him abundantly in knowledge and stature. And Allah gives His sovereignty to whom He wills. And Allah is All-Encompassing [in favor] and Knowing”} [Quran 2:247]

For this reason, Islam addresses people according to their minds and the extent to which they understand. It is narrated on the authority of Ibn Mas‘ood  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him that he said, “Never do you address a people with anything that is beyond the reach of their minds but that it would be a cause of Fitnah [tribulation] for some of them.” [Imam Muslim]

It is further narrated on the authority of ‘Ali  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him that he said, “Address the people with that which is within their power to grasp: do you wish that Allah the Almighty and His Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) should be belied?” [Imam Muslim]

The point here is that Islam recognizes individual differences between people, or in other words, recognizes the principle of difference of people’s concerns. What concerns the husband is not necessarily the same as what concerns the wife, and what concerns the children differs from what concerns the head of the family, putting into consideration a basic rule that adjusts those concerns and differences.

Since this applies to the entire Muslim community, it also applies to the Muslim family. The interests of the husband differ from those of the wife. For this reason, it is binding upon the guardian of a family to take heed of those differences and not turn them to a point of dispute that causes harm to his life and the lives of those surrounding him.

The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) who is the supreme role model, cared about those individual differences, which he clarified and dealt with positively and turned from being a point of dispute into a point of education and enlightenment. In this respect, it is narrated on the authority of Anas  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him that once, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) was in the house of one of the Mothers of Believers (this is how the wives of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) are addressed), when another one of the Mothers of Believers  sent him a bowl full of food. The first wife (the wife in the house where the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) was present), struck the servant's hand who brought the food bowl, thereby making the bowl fall down and break. (According to the majority of Hadeeth reporters except for Imam Al-Bukhari, the first and second wives were 'A'ishah and Umm Salama  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them). The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) collected the pieces of the bowl together, and went on gathering the food which was in it, while saying: “Your mother became jealous.” Then, he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) made the servant stay until he brought a bowl from the one in whose house he was, and gave the intact bowl to the one whose bowl was broken, and kept the broken bowl in its place. [Imam Al-Bukhari]

The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) in dealing with that situation, guided us to the best way to deal with one of the women’s individual differences, that is jealousy, which should be dealt with wisely and without giving it much importance.

In this way too, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) paid attention to individual differences when dealing with children. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) for instance, sometimes carried Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them during his prayer; Abu Hurayrah  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him said, “We offered the ‘Ishaa’ prayer with the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) and whenever he fell in prostration, both Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them jumped on his back; and whenever he raised his head [from prostration], he took them gently with his hand from behind his back, and placed them on the ground; and whenever he fell in prostration once again, they returned [to jump on his back] until when he finished the prayer, he made them sit on his thighs.” [Imam Ahmad] How happy children are when they do this with their fathers during their prayer!

The mistake made by many husbands is that they want the wife and children to cancel these individual differences from their lives and force everyone to share his private desires, inclinations and wishes, harvesting thereby in the household nothing other than distress, and in the community nothing other than estrangement.

“Marital life can hardly be established on the basis of likeness.”

Marital life is established on affection. Whoever wants to make his children a copy of him does not harvest anything but bitterness and distress. A heedful father who follows the guidance of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and the righteous predecessors does not turn those individual differences into points of dispute in so much as he wisely turns them into educational and instructive means.

Among the examples of individual differences which should be addressed and used as an educational means is that for a lot of women, a pleasant and good word from the husband is better in their sight than many other things. However, unfortunately, the husband might consider saying such words to be awkward, nonsensical, and uncalled for at that stage of their life. Carelessness about this need might leave the wife feeling estranged.

Similarly, some children wait for their fathers to surprise them with sweets or toys upon their return home from work. Unfortunately, a lot of fathers forget that, and which causes the children to feel silent disappointment when the father returns home. Also, many children are fond of playing, but their fathers do not appreciate that, which has a negative effect on the way children are brought up.

It is pressingly important to give importance to those individual differences, which are necessary to enrich the community with a variety that keeps up with the nature of life.

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