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The Family Life Of Islam - Joint Family System: Its Advantages and Disadvantages

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The Joint Family System is a very good example of humanism, benevolence, mutual trust and co-operation.

Members of a family or clan are branches of the same root. It is only natural that they should remain united in their domestic management and family life. This `togetherness' is expected to create happiness and peace of mind.

Furthermore, this system ensures that those family members who, for any reason, are unable to earn their livelihood do not face destitution and poverty, and thus are spared disgrace and heartaches. This system acts like an Insurance company which accepts all responsibilities at the time of old age, unemployment and sickness, and the family members are saved from the troubling anxiety of tomorrow.

So much about its advantanges. Ironically, these very advantages give rise to its disadvantages. The ease of mind provided by this system some times can be misused by some unscrupulous people. If a member of the family is lazy, he finds it easy enough to live on the fruits of others' labour; he never realizes the importance of earning his own livelihood. Once he acquires such taste, he will find many excuses to avoid work. After all, why should he exert himself when there are other relatives ready to take his burden on their shoulders?

Unless one is made to realize that one cannot exploit others in this way, one will not make real effort to earn his bread. Neither will he fell ashamed of his useless life.

Furthermore, this system kills the initiative to work harder. If a man exerts himself to the furthest limit and thus earns more, his standard of living, naturally, would be much higher than a person earning less. If a man earns twice as much as his brother, common sense says that their standards of living must be different accordingly. But the Joint Family System does not allow it. And the drive to exert onself more, and to earn more, dies.

The most serious defect of this system is that, instead of creating harmony, love and trust in the family (as it is supposed to do), it becomes the chief cause of domestic strife. When a man works hard to meet the expenses of the Joint Family while his brother spends his time in roaming the streets aimlessly;

or when he exerts himself to earn as much money as possible, while the brother throws away his chances of advancement, the resulting ugliness in the family relations is beyond description. Family members begin hating each other, tempers flare on the slightest pretext; suspicion, anger and hatred fill the place of trust, love and happiness. The atmosphere of the house gradually turns into a living hell and then comes a time when separation remains the only remedy.