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Family Roles


Muslims regard men and women as having the same rights, but different though equally important roles. Within the Arab culture, functional roles are determined along gender and age lines.  


In general, men are responsible for all matters outside the home and for supporting families. The father / husband is the head and ultimate decision maker. The role is to provide the basic needs and manage financial affairs. He is the main protector for the family and has specific responsibility as protector and guardian (called the mahram) for his mother, wife, and daughters.


Beside the husband, the maharam is a male whom a woman cannot marry at any time in her life. It is the only male person who is allowed to see the woman uncovered (without a veil/head covering). 

The mother /wife’s primary role is to nurture the family and to ensure the social aspects of the family in relation to the extended family and society obligations.  The mother / wife’s role is to be the caregiver within the home, caring for the husband, children, extended family and older relatives. The mother is responsible for raising children according to culture and tradition, and guiding children through the developmental milestones.


Grandparents are highly respected, in their role to “Bless this house”. The grandparents ‘hold the wisdom’ for the family, providing guidance on all matters. The grandfather is considered the head of the family. The grandmother also holds the same respected position in the family, although will come ‘after’ the grandfather in decision making. Older women yield to older men in decision making; but maintain a higher status than men of younger age. No major decisions will be taken without consulting elder member(s) of the family or extended family.  

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