Both Islam and Christianity value family very highly, but for different reasons. Each side approaches the topic of family with different intentions and beliefs.
Family in Islam
There is a popular Hadith in Islam that quotes Muhammad saying, "He who wishes that his sustenance be increased for him and his death day be delayed, then he should pay attention to his kinsfolk," (Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 74, p. 89). Straight from the founder of Islam, it is clear that Muhammad’s new religion would have the same familial values that the Jews and Christians of his day had. This was another way Muhammad could try to convince the Jews and Christians of his prophethood.
However, one thing that is different is the fact that having a family is a requirement for every Muslim. There is a very explicit expectation that every Muslim should be married to make more Muslims. This is called expanding the “Ummah” of Islam, which is essentially the nation of Islam that includes every Muslim across the world.
The BIG difference
While Islam requires that every Muslim should be married in order to expand Islam, our God, the God of the Bible, wants us to honor Him and grow in our relationship with Him first and foremost! Whether we are married, single, childless, or have kids, God wants you to do it in a way that honors Him. There is no requirement of having children in order to “make more Christians,” especially since the choice of following Jesus is ultimately up to the child!
Islam teaches that every child is born a Muslim, and Muslim parents whisper the Islamic confession of faith into their child’s ear after they are born to ensure that they are under Allah’s favor. This is why having a family and kids is mandated; there is no free-will in choosing to be a Muslim when born under Islam, so having families and babies means more followers and more followers means more power for Islam. Learn more about how Muslims “inherit Islam” in our blog: Inheriting Islam: How fear keeps Muslims from leaving the religion.
Is adoption used to spread Islam?
You might be wondering, “If Islam is all about expanding their population, why don’t I hear about adoption within Islam?” The answer goes all the way back to Muhammad, who actually did adopt a male slave as a son since he had no male children. However, later in Muhammad’s life, he abolished adoption, calling it a heresy, so that he could marry his adopted son’s wife. Today, Muslims still follow Muhammad’s order to abstain from adopting, and if there is an orphaned child under someone’s care, they are not given any legal standing– no last name and no inheritance. (Quran 33:4-5)
What does God call Christians to do concerning family?
It is no secret that family is very important in Christian culture today. There is a big focus on getting married and having a God-centered relationship with your spouse and children. However, there is nothing in the Bible that says that this is the goal for Christians. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul says that it is better for us to stay single if possible so that we can focus solely on our relationship with God.
But this does not mean that there is no Scripture about what a healthy marriage and family looks like. We’ve explored a lot of the differences between the Islamic and Christian beliefs about marriage before, so let’s look at what the Bible says about family.
“You shall teach them [God’s commandments] diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 6:7
“Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.” Colossians 3:20-21
God wants our families to mirror Christ-like love to each other, parents to children and children to parents. He calls us to teach our children how to walk according to God’s commands in the Bible, but ultimately it is the child’s choice whether they want to pursue a relationship with God or not.
What about adoption in Christianity?
Adoption is a metaphor in the New Testament used to describe our relationship with God. The Bible explains that earthly adoption is a reflection of how we are adopted by our Heavenly Father. Christians follow the biblical principles of adoption when adopting an orphan into their family; the new child becomes a member of the family and is treated just like any other child or family member.
“He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will…” Ephesians 1:5
While Muslims are forbidden from adopting, Christians are encouraged to take care of the orphans and widows. There is no requirement to adopt, but there is a very clear calling on all of us to take care of those in need. Every Christian should carefully consider what this means for them, whether it is through financial support of a ministry, volunteering in family support services, or adopting!
Talking about the topic of family with your Muslim friends
Since family is so important for Muslims, it is a great topic to talk about with your Muslim friends. Expressing an interest in their opinions and desires will show your friend that you care about them as people. What you ask your Muslim friend will largely depend on what season of life they are in. Are they parents? Are they single? Are they still under their parents’ household? Whatever situation they are in, ask questions along the lines of these:
- Do you/did you feel pressure to get married and have children?
- How important is having a family of your own to you?
- Do you worry about having kids one day?
Approach your Muslim friend with love and let them know that they have a safe space to talk about these things! Pray before talking to them, and ask God to open the door for you to share His unconditional, fatherly love with your Muslim friend!
Dear Lord, thank you for allowing everyone to have a unique relationship with You. I want to honor You no matter what season of life I am in; help me reflect this to my Muslim friend. Let us have a fruitful conversation that might free them from the lies of Islam and allow them to see the truth about who You are. Amen.