The Patriarchal Family
The family in Islam is a patriarchal family and the patriarch, that is to say, the head of the family, carries a tremendous burden of responsibility. Along with this responsibility he carries the burden of leadership. He acts as a fulcrum around which the life of the family revolves and all the talk about the superiority of men over women is nonsense unless it refers to this leadership role and the responsibility role. It is absolutely essential. Even in the case of the universe, of the cosmos, Allah, Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala, has said to us in His Holy Book: "But if there were more than two Lords in the universe, one of these Lords would have contested the power of the other and fought to ride over him." In other words, it is impossible to have a management, to have an organisation, to have a going concern such as the family without somebody assuming the role of leadership and responsibility.
And this is really all that Allah, Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala, has meant us to achieve and to understand when he established for us the leadership, the family as a patriarchal institution because our Shari'ah, without apology does regard the family as a patriarchal institution. The ship without a captain cannot run for long, nor does the ship without a rudder. Allah has blessed us by imposing this leadership, by vesting the patriarch of the family with it and demanding its fulfilment, in fact, making the question of fulfilment a question of law. A father who is not fulfilling his role as a responsible leader is a father that can be sued under the law, under the Shari'ah, and he can be sued by any member of the Islamic Ummah because the Ummah and the Shari'ah regard this role as constitutive, it is a public role.
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