Almighty Allah says (what can be translated as): “O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded.” (Surat At-Tahrim: 6)
O you who have believed in Allah, His angels, books and messengers, obey Allah Almighty and protect yourselves from committing sins. Direct your families and household to remember Allah and fear Him. Teach them the commands of Allah and His prohibitions so that they avoid them. Command them to obey Allah in order to save them and yourselves from the Hellfire whose fuel is people and stones. Over the Hellfire harsh and severe angels are appointed, they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them to do. Those angels obey Allah quickly in whatever He commands them to do.
A believer’s responsibility with regard to himself and his family is heavy and overwhelming. He and his family are liable to punishment in the fire of hell and it is his responsibility to protect himself and his family from such a dreadful fate. It is terrible fire, “…whose fuel is people and stones” (Verse 6). People there are treated in the same way as stones: cheap, abject and thrown away with a total disregard as to what may happen to them. A fire fuelled by stones must blaze fiercely, and a torment that combines its scourge with humiliation compounds the suffering. Everything about it is absolutely terrible: “…over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe..” so that they suit the punishment they are required to administer. Those angels “do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded.” (Verse 6) By nature they always obey every command Allah gives them, and are well able to carry out any such assignment. Possessing such qualities, they are chosen to guard the fire of hell, while every believer is responsible for protecting himself and his family from it. He has to attend to his responsibility now, in this life, before it is too late. When the chance is gone, no excuse is acceptable. The disbelievers will try to preset excuses, but they are confronted with the facts that leave them in utter despair: “…make no excuses that Day. You will only be recompensed for what you used to do.” (Verse 7) The day is not a time for presenting excuses. It is the day when reward and punishment are given. The disbelievers will only take what their own actions incur.
As we said in our commentary on the previous Surah, at-Talaq, Islam is a faith that takes care of the family. Therefore, it sets certain duties and responsibilities a believer must fulfill with regard to his home and family. The home is the nucleus of the Muslim community.
Muslim families are the cells that make up the Muslim society. Every single home is a fortress of faith that must have no flaw in its internal structure. Everyone inside guards their positions so that no external enemy can infiltrate them. Otherwise, the whole society would be penetrated from within, and so would fall apart should any external attack occur. It is the first duty of a believer to attend to his home and family so that it is internally solid and well-guarded. Before he tries to present his message to others, he must close any loophole within.
In this set up, a Muslim mother has an essential role to play; a Muslim father cannot on his own ensure the security of the fortress. Together, the two must cooperate fully in the upbringing of their sons and daughters. A group of men on their own can never succeed in establishing a Muslim society. Indeed, it is women who have a more important role to play in taking care of the new generation and safeguarding the future of the Muslim community.
Hence, the Quran addressed both men and women. It set out a system for the Muslim home, placing on believers a clear responsibility for their families, in the same way as they are responsible for themselves: “…protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones” (Verse 6)
Advocates of Islam must be fully aware of this and ensure that they put it into practice. Their first efforts must be addressed to their homes: to their wives and mothers first, and to their children and the rest of their families. Great importance should be attached to the education of the Muslim woman, so that she can make her family home a Muslim home. Anyone who wants his home to be Islamic must start by choosing a Muslim wife. Otherwise, the formation of a Muslim community will take far too long and its structure will remain weak and flawed.
The situation with the first Muslim community was easier than it is in our present day. A Muslim society was already established in Madinah, where Islam, its vision of a clean, virtuous human life and its laws based on this vision were the driving force. Men and women looked up to Allah and His Messenger for judgment. When judgment was given, it was accepted as final. In such society, it was easy for women to mould themselves as Islam wanted them to be. Likewise, it was easy for husbands to advise their wives and bring up their children in line with the Islamic system.