Urban contexts led to the fragmentation and dispersal of families between far-off neighborhoods
Working times overshadowed righteousness and compassion after the tyranny of capitalism over the appreciation of the value of time
Media contexts contradict the meaning of chastity on which the family and Islamic society are based
We often look at social crises as resulting only from the individual will, so we attribute the problems to bad morals, a change of character, or the whims of Satan. Nonetheless, a reading of social theory from Ibn Khaldun until today indicates that law regulates but does not deal with, and that understanding reality and events should focus on what is outside the law, before, later and now.
This article will discuss three important contexts that govern the reality of the family, not only in our Islamic world, but also in all societies. Anyone who considers the family as a central unit and marriage as a foundational relationship in any society faces its challenges. These contexts are: spatial/customary, temporal, and informational.
1- 1- Spatial/customary contexts:
Anyone who pays attention to family matters recognizes the decline of traditions that guaranteed a successful marriage. People were more involved with negotiations over the house and furniture as materialism took hold. The movables lists that the spouse is required to sign have devolved into a source of evil and, for example, now line the hallways of Egyptian courts. Court cases have a direct correlation to corruption. The traditions of family arbitration have diminished since conflicts are now arbitrated outside of the institutions of society and instead go straight to the police and the courts.
In this reality, city politics play a significant role. The separation of homes and the preoccupation of people with constant work to achieve a reasonable limit of the quality of life and the rise of materialism and individualism led to the absence of the wise guarantor and the relative guarantor. This is one of the consequences of modernization in Islamic societies, as the values of modern cities were celebrated and the values of the countryside and the desert were mocked for decades as a restriction on the individual and the small family. The extended family was portrayed as an obstacle against "progress", and the associated talk about patriarchal society, patriarchal values, and the need for individual liberation in general and women in particular from them.
However, the city is not only values and ways of living; it is also a framework for housing and movement, so the urban and architectural contexts should be seen as a reason for the fragmentation of families and the dispersal of families between distant neighborhoods that make it difficult to provide aid and relief.
Some have noticed this since the seventies of the twentieth century in some Arab societies when a movement began to buy land and construct family buildings that could include the family and married children together to form a small community that some called the “new extended or modified family.” This has created a different spirit in the new neighborhoods, different from the densely populated heart of the city. However, we will find that urban legislation and real estate developers, nearly 10 years ago, began to occupy the construction market, and legislation began to comply with those interests. Some countries decided to prevent individual ownership in new cities and limit construction to real estate developers.
This yielded 3 outcomes. First: monopolizing the pricing of housing units and the tendency for units to be luxurious at the expense of social units. Second: Separating the classes from one another in the new urban neighborhoods and the neighborhoods that have been developed in the city to attract investments and expel the poor from them. Finally, blocking the chances of establishing cohabiting families in the future in new neighborhoods and cities, as happened in the past, and making it almost impossible for families and children to live in the same building when they grow up.
This draws us to the nature of architecture as well. Small apartments that do not see the sky, and narrow space for one child, which means that families are increasingly satisfied with one child, in addition to the pattern of the relationship between the workspace and the home space in favor of the first, which we will mention in the temporal context.
There is no doubt that this has dismantled societal norms in general and those related to marriage in particular. In many societies, we will find a change in the customs of betrothal and marriage, the resolution of conflict, the disappearance of tolerance when making the decision to divorce due to the absence of social control, the expansion or even the encroachment of the area of litigation in social life, and the disappearance of reconciliation mediators. There is no doubt that the weakness of the role of the mosque in this urban space contributed to the weakness of the family, and for this, there is a lengthy discussion.
2- Time contexts:
This transformation of the city and urban policies was not separate from a broader context that began in the colonial moment with the modernization of cities and was linked to a change in the structure of work, which is in fact a temporal structure.
The surplus productive time used to be directed to community spaces, social sessions, visits to relatives, and the company of friends. This commonly created a moral fabric that protects family values, chastity, solidarity, responsibility and concern for a good reputation.
Moreover, when capitalism dominated the appreciation of the value of time and its translation into material and monetary terms, work times dominated times of righteousness, compassion, care and upbringing.
This imbalance in the map of time is greater than marriage affairs, and it requires a broader change than urging people “Either keep in an acceptable manner or release with good treatment.” The structure of working time and competition within the production environment diminished the family's time, then changed the nature of relations to become competitive in the market and in society, which reflected negatively on the family.
3- Media/advertising/technical contexts:
The family brings together the lifestyles, the relationships of its members, and the cohesion of its society. Today's media contexts contribute to dividing this grouping. There are worlds of betrayal and scandal, television dramas, films and channels on the Internet that preach immorality and normalize evil, and this contradicts the meaning of chastity on which the family is based and upon which the Islamic society is based.
Consumer images that feed the lust for possession and link it to social status fill the space. Families enter into a cycle of debt in order to maintain social prestige to show off. Statistics show the impact of this on the stability of life and the relationship between spouses and the meanings of tolerance, patience and contentment.
If we relate this to the electronic space that takes time and isolates family members, to the extent that they communicate under one roof with "WhatsApp" messages, we will realize the importance of studies that indicate the erosion of linguistic, communicative and negotiation skills using language within the family. This alerts us to an important factor, which, if continued, could lead to family silence and loss of compassion.
In conclusion, the laws will not succeed in repairing what was corrupted by these broader contexts. This is a task of social reform that should be undertaken by people, bringing them together so that we can talk about a human future, at the minimum level... That is the challenge.