Quranic Reflection No.349 Āyat 66:6 – Family Responsibilities

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ
Yā ayyuhal-ladhīna āmanū qū anfusakum wa-ahlīkum nārā
wa-qūduhan-nāsu wal-hijārah
O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire
whose fuel is mankind and stones

(Sūratut Tahrīm, No.66, Āyat 6)

This verse talks about a basic family responsibility – to guide and protect them from failure in fulfilling the goal of creation. ‘Allāmah Tabātabā’ī in Tafsīr al Mīzān says that the word comes from wiqayah which means to protect from any type of harm. He says that human beings are termed as the fuel for the fire because it is their actions which have resulted in the fire. Without that there would have been no fire. The verse is proof of tajassum of A’māl or the embodiment of deeds that will take on a form in the Hereafter, in this case as fire. Allāmah Tabātabā’ī says the stones in this verse has been interpreted by commentators as the statues that were worshiped by people.

Protecting the family is to shield them from the fire. According to Tafsīr Namūne, the duty of protecting the family includes to:
– help them stay away from sin
– keep them away from giving in to whims and desires
– train them towards that which is noble and virtuous
– provide a pure environment for spiritual growth

This is the system that Allah has created, where a human being pairs up with a spouse to help and support each other in the journey towards Allah. That support is then extended to the children they bring into this world and together they work to become true believers whose aim is pleasing Allah. Life becomes focused and meaningful and can be a harbinger of happiness in the world and the Hereafter.

When Imam Sajjad (a) talks about the rights of the child in Risālatul Huqūq, he says: The right of your child is that you should know that he is from you and will be ascribed to you, through both his good and his evil, in the immediate affairs of this world. You are responsible for what has been entrusted to you, such as educating him in good conduct, pointing him in the direction of his Lord, and helping him to obey Him. So act toward him with the action of one who knows that he will be rewarded for good doing toward him and punished for evildoing.

A program of protection for the family requires thought and planning. This is especially true in an era where external influences can have tremendous effect. Parents need to be aware of the dangers of friends who do not share similar values, of an education that is often geared to make people skeptical of religion, as well as a social media that can be very pervasive. Being alert to these dangers means talking about these issues, limiting exposure to it, creating a strong and positive Islamic environment, and providing halal alternatives for the family to enjoy leisure and recreation.

Recite this verse to remind yourself of an important family responsibility. Human needs go beyond that of food and shelter. The needs of the soul are also important and should be nurtured for healthy growth. As the verse points out, there is a need for protection, otherwise there is bound to be deviation on the path. That is what the verse tells us to prevent.

Sources: Imam Zaynul Ābidīn (a), Risālatul Huqūq; ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed), Tafsīr-e Namūneh