This is an obligation which the head of the household must undertake, in obedience to the command of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning): “O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones…” [al-Tahreem 66:6]. This aayah is the basic principle regarding the teaching and upbringing of one's family, and enjoining them to do what is good and forbidding them to do what is evil. There follow some of the comments of the mufassireen on this aayah, in so far as it pertains to the duties of the head of the household.
Qutaadah said: “He should command them to obey Allaah, and forbid them to disobey Him, and direct them in accordance with the commands of Allaah, and help them to do that.”
Dahhaak and Muqaatil said: “It is the Muslim’s duty to teach his family, including relatives and female slaves, what Allaah has enjoined upon them and what He has forbidden.”
‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “Teach them and discipline them.”
Al-Tabari (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “We must teach our children and wives the religion and goodness, and whatever they need of good manners. If the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to urge the teaching of female servants, who were slaves, what do you think about your children and wives, who are free?”
Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his Saheeh: “Chapter: a man’s teaching his female slaves and wife.” Then he quoted the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “There are three who will have two rewards: … a man who has a female slave whom he teaches good manners and teaches her well, and teaches her knowledge, and teaches her well, then he frees her and marries her: he will have two rewards.”
Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, commenting on this hadeeth: “The chapter heading refers specifically to female slaves, and to wives by analogy, i.e., teaching one’s free wife about her duties towards Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger is more clearly essential than teaching one's female slaves.”
In the midst of all a man’s activities, work and other commitments, he may forget to allow himself time for teaching his wife. One solution to this is to allocate some time for the family, and even for others such as relatives, to hold a study-circle at home. He can let everyone know the time and encourage them to come regularly, so that it will be an ongoing commitment for him and for them. Something similar happened at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Chapter: can the women be given a day exclusively for them to seek knowledge”? and quoted the hadeeth of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him): “The women said to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): ‘The men always crowd us out and we cannot reach you, so set aside a day for us when we can come to you.’ So he set aside a day when he would meet them and teach them.”
Ibn Hajar said: “A similar report was narrated by Sahl ibn Abi Saalih from Abu Hurayrah, according to which [the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)] said: ‘Your appointment is in the house of so and so,’ and he came to them and spoke to them.’”
What we learn from this is that women should be taught in their houses, and we see how keen the women of the Sahaabah were to learn. Directing teaching efforts to men alone, and not to women, is a serious shortcoming on the part of dai’yahs and heads of households.
Some readers may ask, suppose we set aside a day, and tell our families about it – what should we study in these gatherings? Where do we begin?
I suggest that you begin with a simple program to teach your family in general, and the women in particular, using the following books:
The tafseer of al-‘Allaamah Ibn Sa’di, entitled Tayseer al-Kareem al-Rahmaan fi Tafseer Kalaam al-Mannaan, which is published in seven volumes and is written in an easy style; you can read it or teach somes soorahs and passages from it.
Riyaadh al-Saaliheen – you coul discuss the ahaadeeth quoted, along with the footnotes and the lessons learned from them. You could also refer to the book Nuzhat al-Muttaqeen.
Hasan al-Uswah bimaa thubita ‘an Allaahi wa Rasoolihi fi’l-Nuswah, by al-‘Allaamah Siddeeq Hasan Khaan.
It is also important to teach women some of the ahkaam of fiqh, such as the rulings on tahaarah (purity) and menstrual and post-partum bleeding, salaah, zakaah, siyaam (fasting) and hajj, if she is able to go; some of the rulings on food and drink, clothing and adornment, the sunan al-fitrah, rulings on mahaarim (who is a mahram relative and who is not), rulings on singing and photography, and so on. Among the important sources of such information are the fatwas (rulings or edicts) of the scholars, such as the collections of fatwas by Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz and Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen, and other scholars, whether they are written fatwas or fatwas recorded on tapes.
Another matter that may be included in a syllabus for teaching women and family members is reminding them of lessons or public lectures given by trustworthy scholars and seekers of knowledge which they can attend, so they can have a variety of excellent sources for learning. We should not forget either the radio programs of Idhaa’at al-Qur’aan al-Kareem; another means of teaching is reminding family members of the particular days when women can attend Islamic bookstores, and taking them there, within the guidelines of sharee’ah [i.e., proper hijaab, etc.]