Psychology Case Study on Family relationships and dynamics

I observed a Muslim family of four in their family home. I arrived at their house at 10 a.m. and left at 2 p.m. The man of the house was out of the house when I arrived but he came a few minutes after I arrived. His little daughter ran to hug him at the door and he bowed to pick her while his wife took his office files and bags from him. After greeting me, the man took a seat beside his son who was excited to inform his father that he scored highest in a class test. Meanwhile, his wife who had disappeared in the kitchen showed up with a glass of juice for her husband without his command. For a moment, I was caught up in the beauty of this young Muslim family observing their interactions in silence. If one thing was clear, family relationships are of great importance to Muslim communities.

Bilal works as an IT consultant while his wife worked from home as a virtual assistant. Though both were working, Bilal made more money and thus was the sole breadwinner. It was obvious that his wife was the care giver because of the way she handled her children and husband often fetching her husband things like water from the kitchen and placing it in front of him. She didn’t seem to mind doing these small things a for fully capable man. When I enquired about who was the decision maker in the family, Bilal said that he was in charge of the family especially in financial matters. His wife on the other hand was responsible for maintaining the home and care giving. “A man is in charge of a woman because Allah makes men responsible for women,” Bilal explained. “Allah is wise and mighty because He has allowed women equal rights as men, but given men an advantage over them,” Bilal explained further.

Bilal was very kind to his family and treated his wife with utmost respect and her him. He quoted a verse from the Quran that says that, “And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women” (Quran 2:228).  I observed that most of the family beliefs in Bilal’s household were rooted in religion. His Islam beliefs heavily influenced his role as a husband and a father. His wife shared in her husband’s beliefs. I observed Amal’s dedication to serving her husband and children. She told me that she took great pleasure in taking care of her family.

At noon, the family of four conducted a Dhur, the Islam noon prayer. Amal told me that she believed that a family that prayed together stayed together. I noted how Amal took the role of teaching her young daughter how to sit during the prayer. Religion was obviously at the core of their small family unit. Bilal and Amal were not only responsible for their children’s religion growth but they took pride in providing for them. While Bilal was away working, Amal was at home working while keeping an eye on the children. Their son Omar was very inquisitive and both Amal and Bilal too turns to answer him often quoting the Quran and Prophets. Their family was not just a mere means of procreation but it represented an educational environment for intellectual development and spiritual growth.

Lunch was served at One O’clock by Amal and she took turns to serve everyone including myself. During the meal, the family talked intimately with the kids chipping in once in a while. Omar was quite the big brother and was very dotting on his small sister Jamila. At the age of three, Jamila was still to young to play any significant role. At 8, Omar was old enough to understand his role and was very respectful to his parents. While playing with his young sister, Omar was very accommodating always allowing her to have her way. After four hours of observing their family I was ready to leave. I thanked them for their hospitality and more for the learning experience they had allowed me.

Analysis

The Muslim society places great emphasis on the family unit and it considered as the cornerstone of a balanced and healthy society. Before visiting Bilal’s household, I believed that Muslim families were always extended. I was surprised when I found that Bilal did not live with his parents and other extended members of his family. According to, extended families offer stability, psychological support and coherence (Ahmad, n.d.). As a result, many young couple live in the same house with their parents. It appears that living conditions of the Muslim families are shifting from extended families to nuclear families in these contemporary times.

Gender issues in regards to women rights in the Muslim culture generate attention especially in the West. Muslim men are believed to disrespect and deny their women their rights by being in-charge of women. However, after observing the young Muslim family, I noted that Muslim women are not taken advantage or abused by their women. Muslim women take pride in taking care of their husbands and nurturing their children (Shahin, 2007). Bilal did not command Amal to fetch him water from the kitchen, she did it willingly and with love. Having men in-charge of women is often seen as proof of suppression of women by men and the Western media has used this to instigate the stereotype that Muslim women are oppressed (Dhami & Sheikh, 2000).

Muslim women are often perceived illiterate or with little education. This was not the case with Amal who has a degree education. Additionally, Muslim men are said to deny their women the opportunity to participate in formal work. Apart from having attained a degree, Amal was a working mom and her husband Bilal did not seem to mind that his wife was a working mom. In Muslim families, Men are the head of the family. However, these leadership is not meant to oppress women but rather comes with responsibility (Dhami & Sheikh, 2000). The economic responsibility of the family falls on the man, regardless of whether his spouse is earning money.

In the Muslim community, a family is a primary unity of the society, and an important bridge upon which former generations give birth to future generations. Islam is at the heart of every family with region playing a pivotal role in the family unit (Wahlers, 2005). While men are considered the bread winners, their leadership has more to do with responsibility than oppression of women. On the other hand, women play the role of caregiver, looking after their children and tending to domestic duties. This is not imposed on the women, rather they carry out their duties without being commanded. Additionally, being caregivers does not mean that women are not allowed to take jobs. Most importantly, Muslim women have equal rights as men as required by the holy Quran.

 

 

Reference

Ahmad, K. (n.d.). Family life in Islam: structures, principles and rules. Retrieved             http://www.iium.edu.my/deed/articles/family_islam/ch04.html

Dhami, S., Sheikh, A. (2000). The Muslim family. Western Journal of Medicine, 173 (3), 352-       356. Retrieved https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071164/

Shahin, O. (2007). The Muslim family in Western society: A study in Islamic law. South Bend,       IN: Cloverdale Books.

Wahlers, G. (2005). Marriage, family and society- a dialogue with the Islam. Retrieved from             http://www.kas.de/upload/Publikationen/Marriage-Family.pdf