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Marriage And Family From A Religious Viewpoint

One of the most important moral principles, from the Islamic viewpoint, is marriage and the formation of the family. The Prophet of Islam, (peace be with him and his progeny), considers the family as an unsurpassed structure in the community.

He himself sets a superb example in this regard, encouraging his followers to marry and abide with this golden tradition. Many words have been said in regards to the importance of marriage. Here we state a few. The role of marriage prepares a couple to move towards moral and mental perfection, the well-being of mind and body. This in turn results in the well-being of society.

As mentioned earlier, man by himself is incomplete; it is only through marriage (legally) that he is able to reach completion. An investigation of human instincts and the quality and conditions of man's capabilities shows us that every quality blossoms under certain specific conditions. For the speedy and healthy growth of a capability, certain conditions must exist.

For example, man's love of his fellow man, generosity and self-sacrifice are among these qualities whose potentials are given to everyone at birth. If a man lives apart from others in such a way that he has no contact with them from birth, we cannot expect these qualities to develop. But as soon as he is given a chance to grow within a community, through daily contact with his fellow man, these qualities will develop naturally.

If the conditions for achieving knowledge and education are provided for a child, we might expect him to become a scientist or philosopher. In the absence of such conditions, the possibility of achieving such aims is non-existent. The institution of the family and the act of marriage are of those conditions and provisions that prepare the means for growth and birth of a great many human capabilities.

For example, in Islam when a man and woman become acquainted through marriage and form a small and pure segment of the community called the family, they undergo some new developments and are faced with some religious duties that are new to them.

The improving of relations, strengthening the sense of affection, increasing the sense of responsibility and management, patience, placidity, spiritual health, reproduction, sacrifice, etc. are all among the characteristics of a successful marriage.

Of course, these qualities take shape only upon reaching ultimate spiritual growth which will have an effective role in its stability and strength. These qualities come to light only if marriage is done in compliance with religious law and abides by God's commandments.

On this basis, the impeccable Imams, peace be with them, the religious leaders and most important, the Holy Qur'an, recommends marriage. The Holy Qur'an's invitation in this regard includes:

"Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among your slaves, male or female: If they are in poverty, God will give them means out of His grace; for God encompasseth all, and He knoweth all things." (24:32)

In this verse, in addition to a direct empahsis on marriage as essential for individuals, society and religion, the abandonment of marriage due to poverty and inability is refuted. It promises goodness and blessings in life. In another verse, marriage and partners are known to be the cause for ease and tranquility. Naturally not abiding with this Qur'anic recommendation will lead to discomfort and disturbance of the body and spirit.

"And among His Signs is this, that He createdfor you mates from among yourselves that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.”(30:21)

In regards to its importance, the Holy Prophet of Islam, peace be with him and his progeny, has said,
"Whoever is acting on the tradition of Muhammad and is the lover of his path, must act in accordance with his traditions, one of which is marriage."

It is certain that the prophets' fitra (nature) is the same divine nature on which all men have been created, so when marriage is a genuine need felt by the prophets, definitely, it is an essential for others.

In another sermon by the Holy Messenger peace be with him and his progeny, in regards to the effects of marriage and family on the quality of men's worship, he has stated,

"Whoever acts on a correct marriage has achieved half of his religion and the other half should be gained through divine piety."

Thus marriage is an effective factor in the quantative and qualitive degree of worship and the well-being of morality and belief.

Why Marriage? Why Form A Family?

Until now it has been proven that marriage is one of the basic needs of man. What need looking into now, is the quality of marriage and the makeup of the couple's relations and their social lifeafter marriage. We have reviewed some of the tension that exists in families in Western and Eastern societies.

Islam places great importance on the formation of this small unit. It insists that the well-being of the family unit assures the welfare of the society. This is the reason for its repeated encouragement for the formation of the family and the continuation of a lasting and happy life shared by the couple and their children.

The couple, after marriage, lay the foundations for a new structure, an mstitution superior to other institutions and structures. A holy community that is the place for the correct training of today's children, who become the great men of the future, certainly the healthier this system, which is influenced by the culture of the parents and somewhat from the society, the higher the quality the children's growth shall be.

One of the so-called important gifts of the West to its people and colonies was the injection of the idea of the equality of men and women's rights and the participation of women in factories and industrial centers. In fact, as mentioned, they consider this to be of benefit to them and something to be proud of.

Apparently the image that Europe has of Islam and its treatment of women is an ignorant one. The West constantly criticizes Islam under the pretext that it prevents women's participation in socio-economic activities. Secondly, the result of the Western way of thinking about women has offered them nothing other than a false personality to women and the deception of men.

The West has been successful in using women to promote commercial products, increasing the income of the comfort-loving capitalists. How could they dare to introduce themselves as supporters of women's rights? Is the employment of women to pose behind shop displays and for advertising commercial goods like clothes, cars and candies helping the cause of women or harming it?

Does the employment of women in industrialized centers and full-time jobs, which weakens the nerves, saps the physical strength and exhausts morality, help women's personal status or lower it to a mere industrial tool? Does the separation of women from their families, engaging them in workshops and harmful hobbies and distractions lead to the health of the family or its destruction?

Is the increase and development of boarding schools, nurseries, etc., which indicate children's separation from the warm and loving environment of home, helping or improving family morality or disintegrating the basic potential elements of the society and driving them to the valley of death and moral demise?

Islamic Views Concerning Womens' Work

Islam, with its fair and thorough ideology, paints a constructive picture of women. It refers to them as the builders and trainers of man and humanity. Islam values women greatly, but the basis of its value system is a far cry from that of the West or the East.

If women of the West today, due to cultural alienation, are suffering from moral and intellectual distu rbances and are grieving for their dispersed families, Islam, with emphasis on the formation of the family and establishing healthy relations among people and the family in a higher level in society, will guid the caravan of humanity towards peace of mind.

The most important occupation of women is to train healthy children in compliance with scientific and religious teachings. This does not prevent her from undertaking social occupations outside the home.

Those who believe that religion is against women working should be informed that Islam does not set any limits on the type of occupation chosen by a woman. In Islam, women are not responsible for the family income; they even may request payment for work done in the home or refuse to work if not paid.

Investigating the Holy Qur'anic verses reveals that women and men are both spoken to simultaneously by God and women are held as much responsible as men for abiding with religious laws.

Of course there are a few commandments specifically for men and some specifically for women. This is due to the nature and inner characteristics of women and men. I n the majority of verses where fear and hope, punishment and reward is promised, both sexes are spoken to equally.

This is one of the reasons for the evaluation of religion of women, making her responsible too. It is not only men that God has sent His commandments for, but also women should feel obliged to act according to these commandments and should be able to answer for all their actions and shortcomings.

If Islam inter-relates the qualitative growth of the children with the qualitative growth and moral status of the family and the parents, and if it warns parents first and foremost, it is because children are trained by their parents and therefore are influenced by them. Having clarified and emphasized the important role that a woman should play in child training, it must also be clearly stated that Islam does not exclude women from communal work.

While leaving her free in the social scene, it reminds her to obey the related laws and regulations in order to prevent her children from any harm. Although Islam has determined the family breadwinner to be the man, it still looks upon the working of women positively.

There are no doubts or questions about women working but what religion involves itself with is the type and method of work she becomes involved in. Some occupations are strictly for women.

Women and men each, because of their physical strength and mental qualities, are qualified to do a particular work, and each desire an occupation suitable to their own conditions. A woman who has a pure and affectionate heart does not deserve to wear out these feelings by the drudgery of factory workshops.

These pure feelings should be spent in the way of warming up the family atmosphere and reassuring the whole family that although they face difficulties and hardships in their outside life, they will always have a shoulder to cry on. There is nothing more enjoyable and refreshing for a man and his children than to spend their time together within the family environment.

The existence of factors such as trust, assurance, affection, kindness and faithfulness between the couple and the family are among the factors which increase the rate of comfort in individuals and prepare the background for a healthy life. If families enjoy a healthy relationship; the society which is made up of these families will naturally be healthy.

"And in no wise covet those things in which God hath bestowed His gifts more freely on some of you than on others; to men is allotted what they earn, and to women what they earn; but ask God of His bounty. For God hath full knowledge of all things." (4:32)

With the analysis of Qur'anic verses and narrations it could be concluded that women have the right to ownership and work as men do. This right is among the privileges that women have achieved through religion.

According to religion, everyone has the right to work and earn profits. Basically Islam advises against the wastage of time and advises to divide our time into hours of work, worship and rest.

If woman's job does not conflict with the well-being of her children and the family and does not drive them to corruption nor damage their health, they are allowed to work outside in accordance with their physical strength and available time.

Of course there three occupations which Islam has forbidden for women:
1) judge;
2) frontline combatant of Jihad (Holy War);
3) jurisprudence.

Why?

Before anything else it must be said that judgement is a religious duty, not a job as it is known. Whoever is duty bound to judge has the right to do so. Women have been prevented from this. Maybe the reason for this could be found in the tender-heartedness, sympathy and affection of women. Sometimes her emotional internal feelings may interfere and prevent her from doing what is religiously right.

Of course women can be witnesses to a judgement and their testimony will be accepted, and two women as witnesses are equal to the witnessing of one man. All in all, a woman's nature itself prevents her from this role.

Frontline Jihad is a jihad that Muslims do according to the order of the Imams (‘a), and the just leaders of the time, its aim being to defend, guard and protect the tundamentals of the religion. This is a struggle against the infidels and idol-worshippers who seek to confine, distort and oppress the religion of lslam.

In the minor jihad, only men are allowed to participate in the battlefields. In defensive wars, known as defensive or major jihad, i.e., the active participation of Muslims against the attacks of the infidels, polytheists and atheists upon Islamic governments, both men and women have the right to participate in the defense.

Any time an enemy invades their country, women too are needed to defend by all the means in their power and in this Jihad, there is no need for the permission of the leader of the society as it is only common sense to defend one's honor, dignity and religion and prevent the enemy from ruling. Even for the salvation of one's religion and own belief, one should fight until the last drop of blood is shed.

Among other matters that women are not responsible for is religious jurisprudence. On this basis the responsibility to be a religious leader or jurisprudent or central leadership is lifted from her shoulders.

Therefore, according to Islam, women can have a healthy participation in all occupations other than the ones discussed which is in fact a removal of some very heavy responsibilities and not merely the forbiddance of this type of work.

Islam, having upheld human nobility, offers a kind of work to women that suit them both mentally and physically; a work that does not harm her due to its severity or other conditions. Therefore work is provided for all, but keeping within Islamic principles.

Europe, as we have seen, acts contrary to this. The working of women in factories and offices as secretaries, operators, cleaners, in advertising and labouring in restaurants, etc., not only has not motivated the Western world towards working harder, but it has merely increased the rate of corruption there.

Islamic Working Conditions For Women

As mentioned, women have as much right as men to play an active role in the economic activities of their society. Here are some main factors concerning jobs for women:

l) Society's Welfare. Precautions should be taken by women as to what consequences a particular job would have for the society. Would it have negative or positive effects? Would it be a healthy improvement to society or will it bring about its moral demise?

2) Family Welfare. As the family is considered to be the foundation of social life, it must always remain healthy and prosperous. If the work of a woman or a mother damages the health and stability of the family and weakens the loving relations among its members, then the woman should not pre-occupy herself with that work.

3) Individual Welfare. The amount of work should be considered according to how much is advisable for her. Does it promote her status and lead to her mental growth? Would her working relations create a gap in her relations with other family members? Does the work suit her circumstances or not?

4) Possibilities and Power. In offering jobs to others, care must be taken as to who is more suitable for a particular job. Who will provide a higher output and who has a higher possibility? Who will have the ability to do this work?

Generally, if the above points are kept in mind, almost any job could be given to a woman. These points are not an obstacle for her work but an aid and a benefit to society. If the meaning of equality is the division of responsibilities and women are expected to do heavy jobs like men that is not equality. A woman's position is much higher, undertaking unrealistic jobs results in the destruction of the innate delicate nature of women.

It is essential to remember that the participation of women in political activities is very important. After all, women constitute nearly half of every country's population and can change the destiny of a society for the better or worse depending on the extent of their political awareness and participation.

An example of this is seen in the heat of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. With their babies in their arms, and young children by their sides, women protested against the tyrranical regime and were shot by the Shah's police. Several mothers and their children were martyred during these incidents. Today, women are considered to be the cornerstone of this revolution, helping its growth in every way possible.

The bravery of Muslim women is not limited to our time. The pages of history contain scenes of heroic Muslim women who possessed exalted personalities. Their active participation in the religio-political movements of their time is a lesson to women all over the world urging them to regain their lost identity. One example from the early history of Islam is Nusaibah (Nasibah) who lived in the city of Medina.

She was an Ansar, and was known as Nusaibah (Nasibah) Jarahe. She was married and had two sons named Amareh and Abdollah. Her name first appears in the history of Aghabeh Bei'at. Here new converts to Islam shook the Messenger's, peace be with him and his progeny, hand in an oath of allegiance. During this ceremony sixty men and two women from Ansar converted to Islam.

The Prophet of Islam, peace be with him and his progeny, who highly respected women, placed his hand in a dish of water and passed it to the women who in turn did the same. The government of the Prophet (S) was aided by these people.

Nusaibah (Nasibah)’s husband was martyred in the Battle of Badr. One of her sons was also martyred at this time. This family, from the beginning of Islam in Medina, fought alongside the Prophet (S) against the infidels.

History tells us that Nusaibah (Nasibah) took part in battles alongside Prophet Muhammad, (S), as a surgeon. She participated in many battles, carrying a waterskin upon her shoulders, treating the sick and injured in the burning deserts of Arabia.

Nusaibah (Nasibah), accompanied by her son, Amareh, participated in the Battle of Uhud. When the Muslims suffered a setback, she carried her waterskin and gave water to the thirsty and aided the injured using her primitive surgical supplies.

It is narrated from this great lady that, "Amidst the fight I saw my son running away. Stopping him I said, 'My child why are you running away? Who are you escaping from? From God or His Messenger?' "

She then sent her son back, while she herself watched from a distance. It was then that she suddenly noticed the Prophet being surrounded by the enemy. In a quick witted move she and her son rushed to the Messenger and joined in the fight with the enemy. At this time one of the infidels martyred her son. It was here that Nusaibah (Nasibah); the mother grabbed her son's sword and with the help of Divine Power, killed his assailant. The dear Messenger, (S), said to her,

"Well done. May God's blessings be upon you Nusaibah (Nasibah)."

This heroic woman received thirteen wounds during this battle, one of which was a sword wound on her neck. She lost a hand during the Yamamah War. It has been narrated that this dear self-sacrificing lady of Islam will return with the last Imam, God speed his appearance, as a surgeon.

By the story of Nusaibah (Nasibah) we can have no doubt that women, although they cannot take part in the Lesser Jihad, can play a major role behind the frontlines. Nusaibah (Nasibah) and her family set a great example for the women and families of our era.

A woman who gave service to her religion and remained faithful to the Prophet peace be with him and his progeny, until her death. Those women who actively participate in all religio-political factions take their lessons from this great lady and from the many other sacrificing ladies of Islam like Hadrats Fatimah and Zainab, peace be with them.

The Islamic country of Iran today is full of such heroic women who, wearing hijab and carrying their children, raise their clenched fists and shout, "Death to Imperialism and Oppression!"

How great is the number of those mothers who, by raising pious children and sending them to the battlefields of truth against falsehood, prove their generosity. May the greetings of God and his angels be upon these mothers and their martyred sons. May they enjoy the reward of heaven.

Choosing A Marriage Partner

After emphasising marriage and the formation of the family, Islam places great emphasis on the choosing of the correct partner. The choosing of a husband or wife is itself more important than accepting marriage. Among the prosperities of a couple is their moral and mental agreement.

It is under the shadow of such an agreement that continued understanding and unified think ing throughout life is observed. Shared religious viewpoints and compatibility in the degree of self-purification and knowledge is also important.

As the family is the first discipline within the framework of which the foundations for training children is laid, a great many commandments have been mentioned in regard to the quality of the couple's personalities. Thus both men and women should take utmost care in choosing the right partner, a partner qualified with the conditions that Islam requires of him or her.

A man must be sure that the woman he chooses to marry has attained sufficient Islamic morals, for she will bear the responsibility of rearing his children. He should be aware that his wife's morality will affect the quality and growth of these children.

In choosing the right partner, one should first question each other pertaining to beliefs and determine the degree of self-purification and personal characteristics as well as physical characteristics, for all of these have a direct effect on their offspring.

The majority of parents who have a quiet moral countenance transmit this characteristic to their children. Bad and undesciplined mannerisms, along with slothfulness in parents, also directly affect their children.

It should be mentioned here that the effect and transmission of morals from parents to child is not only for the period after birth but begins in the pre-natal stage when the child is still in its mother's womb. The quality of obedience and compassion in a woman towards a man is among the factors that help men in the management of the family.

Monogamy - It rarely happens that those who have a polygamous relationship are able to act fairly to more than one family. Therefore, Islam recommends monogamy. This has an evident effect on the well-being of the family structure and society in turn. Stating the words that people cannot divide their love equally among their wives, Islam refutes polygamy saying:

"And you have it not in your power to do justice between wives, even though you may wish (it), he not disinclined (from one) altogether so that you leave her as it were in suspense; and if you effect a reconciliation and guard (against evil), then surely Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (3:129)

This verse explains the, command of fairness between wives that God has mentioned in the Qur'an. "If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly ... 'Equity andjustice are somewhere between excess and emptiness.

The distinction of this point is very difficult particularly in regards to love and emotional feelings towards women. As emotions cannot always be controlled, God states in this verse that fairness among wives, in the true meaning of the word, is something that however much one strives to achieve total fairness it is forever out of reach.

The only solution available to man is a complete balance of love so that all involved will feel the warmth of being loved and If a decree of "...say not to them a word of comtempt ..."refers particularly to old age it is because

Thus, it is essential for men who attempt polygamous relationships, to act with practical fairness and equity amongst 'their wives. The easiest way to be fair in marriage is to practice monogamy. The majority of Islamic marriages are based on this fact. Polygamy is Islam's way of fighting corruption in the society.

On the contrary, the West outwardly opposes all polygamy but has undermined monogamy and has subjected women to unfair treatment by men who leave their wives and seek the temporary pleasures of short-lived relationships. This type of interrelationship has no restriction and has gotten completely out of hand in most Western countries.

The Rights Of Family Members

With the formation of a family, new rights are placed upon the couple. The more loving the relations between husband and wife who lay the foundation of the family, the more stable their family structure.

All parental behaviour is conveyed to the children. Therefore Islam has placed great importance on the well-being of the couple's relationship and manner towards each other and with their children and also the childrens' interrelationship with their parents.

The Relation Between Husband And Wife

The most important mutual effect of any couple is giving comfort to each other. The wife is a comfort to her husband and the husband a comfort to his wife. The Holy Qur'an says in this regard:

"And one of His Signs is that He created/or you mates from among yourselves that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He put between you love and compassion; most surely there are signs for those who reflect.” (30:21)

So every couple in their shared life must be kind and loving towards each other and fulfill each other's needs with compassion and kindness.

Consideration and loving guidance in the relationship of the couple, according to Islamic teachings, are two main elements of a happy family. In other words, every couple should wish the best for each other and live compatably with each other for the rest of their lives in order to overcome problems and difficulties and learn from each other.

It is essential for both parties to have respect for the other's wishes. A firm and stable relationship flourishes when couples encourage one another to do good deeds and tactfully counsel one another against that which is forbidden.

Sharing life's goodness is one of God's blessings bestowed on man; a husband and wife must treat each other with respect at all times and protect that trust and respect when one of them is absent.

"...therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what God would have them guard."(3:34)

Mercy And Forgiveness

Overlooking each other's errors and remission of the opposite party's mistakes are amongst Islamic teachi ngs to families.

It seems very natural for two human individuals to disagree with each other on some matters. When one party acts without consulting the other conflict may arise. It is advisable for both husband and wife to overlook the other's errors and be congenial, avoiding conflict and argument.

Usually after some time passes, the worries resulting from this conflict either pass or the guilty one becomes ashamed. The well-being of the family atmosphere which is a useful and essential element for the qualitative growth of the children in the family should be carefully controlled.

A couple which act on belief that whoever ignores and forgives the other's errors will increase his or her heavenly reward and position can play an effective role in creating a healthy family descipline and strengthen the relations between its members. The Holy Qur'an, on this matter, says

"...and if you pardon and forgive, verily God is Oft­ Forgiving, Most Merciful. "(64:14)

Whenever a spouse particularly the husband, is quick to forgive, generous and merciful and compromising, God would also be merciful and generous towards him and would overlook his past errors.
Another verse insists upon improving the relations with each other and making efforts for the betterment of the couple's actions saying,

"...And practice self-restraint, God is well acquainted with all that you do." (3:128)

Peace and piety in daily life is a factor in strengthening the family and marriage ties. The greater the presence of these factors the more successful and happy the family will be.

"...If ye come to a friendly understanding and practice self-restraint, God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”(3: 129)

If the couple at the break out of a conflict be it ideological or a family dispute whoever forgives first will be blessed by Him and will enjoy a bright future with God's forgiveness.

Fairness In Life

One of the fundamental and basic Islamic teachings is that all matters are based upon justice and fairness. On this basis, man, who has a pure Fitra also loves justice.

If in speaking, eating, drinking, walking, buying or selling, family matters and even matters concerning worship and knowledge, a balanced foundation exists such that everything one does is done in proportion, neither excessively nor too little, one's life will be a well-balanced and healthy one under this condition.

"God commands justice, the doing of good and liberality to kith and kin..." (16:90)

In the above verse the Holy Qur'an commands married couples to be just, benevolent and good to each other and also to their relatives, and encourages them to be generous and giving. Among the important responsibilities of a man towards his wife is providing for her daily needs. This is a religious duty which a man cannot deny.

Woman, because of her important responsibilities in the family such as giving birth, training and caring for her children and other work that she does due to her kindness and generosity such as cooking, cleaning etc, deserves extra honour and glorification. Women have no responsibility to earn the family's living. She is not even asked to provide for her own personal needs.

Her value and status is higher than being required to earn money in addition to what she contributes to the family circle out of love. It is the husband's duty to provide for the whole family to the best of his means. Because of accepting the sole responsibility of earning a livlihood and the difficulties that accompany such work man naturally has a greater responsibility in the family.

As he is the head of the family, so the right of guardianship is with him and because of his depth and practical insight in matters and endurance and patience in tolerating life's difficulties, he has the responsibility of running the family. As the Holy Qur'a n says:

"Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has gfren the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women and devoutly obedient guard in (their husbands') absence what God would have them guard." (3:34)

Deceased Spouse

The benevolence of a husband towards his wife and vice versa does not end with their death. Even after death, goodness will flourish in his or her family and the living party, by praying for his or her deceased partner and doing good deeds, which can make their spirit rest in peace. In the case of both of them dying, their children are able to increase the reward of their parents by doing good deeds in their names or for their sakes.

The Holy Qur'an speaks of the necessity of determining a will for the wife and children after the husband's death. This is partly due to the fact that the wife is forbidden to remarry until the iddah (waiting period) of four months and ten days is finished. Even during this period a wife must be provided for by her deceased husband from the remainder of his wealth.

Iddah is a divine law a period of time in which the wife after separation from her husband may not remarry. Depending on the kind of separation, the length of this period varies each period has specific commandment concerning it.

Generally after a separation, every woman must keep an iddah during which she may not marry anyone. One reason for keeping this period is in case of a pregnancy, the father would be distinguished, thus clarifying inheritance and legal responsibilities.

For example, after a divorce, the woman should keep a 90 day lddah. If a pregnancy is recognised during this period, it belongs to the ex-husband. In such circumstances, if the woman had ignored this religious law and married someone else immediately after her separation, the baby might mistakenly be recognised as being related to her present husband. This act is totally forbidden.

This matter reveals the intricacies of Islamic law which distinguishes the true relations and belongings of every individual. This matter has been totally ignored by both Western and Eastern schools of thought. This itself is one main reason for the spread of anarchism in those countries.

I. Iddah for Divorce. If, after the contract of marriage and before intercourse, divorce occurs, a woman is not obliged to keep iddah and naturally this law does not apply.

In the case of a divorce occurrs after intercourse, the woman must observe lddah and act according to the rules and regulations of this period. The duration of lddah for divorce is three months.

During this period of lddah, the couple, upon reconciliation, may reunite, in which case the divorce is considered to be cancelled. On the other hand, the divorce is irrevocable if the period of iddah is completed and no reconciliation occurs.

II. Iddah of Death. If a husband dies, his wife should hold an lddah of four months and 10 days which is required of her according to the laws of religion. After the end of his period she may remarry.1

The Relations Between Children And Their Parents

Among the other important responsibilities to be shouldered by the members of a family is the good relation of children with their parents, i. e., the rights of the parents in regards to their children. The father, from an Islamic viewpoint, has a great number of duties towards his children and the society.

In the words of His messengers, particularly Prophet Mohammad, peace be with him and his progeny, God has repeatedly stressed the importance and the high value of respecting parents. In fact, children are commanded to respect their parents at all times.

In many places in the Holy Qur'an, after inviting Muslims to worship God, they are recommended to do good deeds towards their parents. Where Islam rejects polytheism and recom mends worshipping the One and Only God, it immediately insists on respect towards parents.

"And serve Allah and do not associate anything with Him, and be good to the parents and to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the neighbour of (your) kin and the neighbours who are strangers and the companion in a journey and the wayfarer and those whom your right hands possess. Surely Allah does not love him who is proud, boastful." (4:36)

He who wishes to enter Paradise must please his father and mother. The teachings of Islam specify its enthusiasm to strengthen family ties and increase the warmness of its atmosphere. In this regard, it has been said:

"And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him and goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) 'Ugh', nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word. And make yourself submissively gentle to them with compassion and say: 'O my Lord! Have compassion on them, as they brought me up (when I was) little.' "(17:23-24)

The problem of recommending sincerity in worship is the greatest of religious decrees and the most obligatory: just as attributing a partner to Allah is the greatest of sins. All sins originate from Shirk (polytheism). If man did not worship any other than God, he would not place himself in the claws of Satan and would not devote himself to desires of the self.

He would never commit sin and would not violate God's orders in doing what is recommended and abstaining from what is prohibited. The committment of every sin stems from obedience to other tha n God and obedience to others is a kind of worship. As He has said:

"Did I not enjoin onyou, O ye children of Adam, that ye should not worship Satan; for that he was to you an enemy avowed?" (36:60)

Even an infidel who denies the Creator and Maker of this world is also a polytheist because, despite the intuition of the favorable side of his soul which acknowledges a Creator, he believes that the management of nature is run by nature itself.

Next to Tawheed, belief in the oneness and worship of Him, respect to one's parents is of utmost importance. Affection between a father and mother towards their children is of great social value, and the continuity and richness of human societies depends on it.

Therefore, according to the traditions and the ruling of human nature, man must respect his parents. If this decree is not practised by the society and children treat their parents as strangers, then surely love and affection will disappear and the basis of social life will be shaken and fall apart.

The word Kibre used in Chapter 17, Verse 23 of the Holy Qur'an, "...if either or both of them reach old age..."(17:23) refers to the aged, the word Ugh implies reluctance and hatred and the word nahara , chide means to reproach, repulse or break the heart of someone by shouting or swearing at them.

If the decree of '...say not to them a word of contempt..." refers particularly to old age it is because during that period, parents undergo the most difficult stage of their lives and feel a greater need for the help of their children as they are unable to take care of themselves.

Once it was the other way around, parents took care and nursed their helpless children with love and compassion when they were unable to provide for themselves. It therefore only stands to reason that in turn when their parents grow old and feeble, the children should care for them lovingly.

Lowering The Wings Of Humility

"...lower to them the wings of humility and say: 'My Lord! Bestow on them Thy mercy even as they cherished me in childhood."(17:24)

The expression 'lowering the wings' refers to an exaggerated case of verbal and practical humility. The child is obliged to be humble towards his parents in talking and acting.

This verse implies that in association and speaking to one's father and mother, one should speak without insolence so that the parents would feel the humility, modesty and love of their children towards them. The prayer of a child for his parents consoles the spirit of the parents after death and is affected by the prayers during their lifetime. This is representative of the high values Islam offers to each and every family.

Honour Thy Mother

Islam's recommendations regarding respecting parents has a special reference to mothers. This stems from the fact that in addition to verses stressing respect for parents, there are others specifically mentioning mothers and their high status. This is evidence of Islam's opinion that the highest role for a woman is to be a good mother.

A mother, because of the pain and hardships she bears during delivery, and the care she gives during infancy and childhood, deserves to be respected and thanked by the children she bears. Although they may not remember what she has done for them, they are duty bound to be grateful to her throughout their lives.

When a child, as a result of the specialized care which parents provide, particularly the mother, grows up leaving his or her childhood behind and steps into adolescence, it is right for him to thank the Almighty God for being blessed with living parents and ask remission from God and a bright future for them.

"We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (aperiod of) thirty months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says. 'O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favour which Thou hast bestowed upon me and on my parents, and that I may do good which pleases Thee and do good to me in respect of my offspring; and be gracious to me. Surely I turn to Thee, and surely I am of those who submit.' “(46: 15)

"And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), 'Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is the eventual coming." (31:14)

According to the Qur'an, dutiful children are loved and granted, by Allah, a high position because they act according to these laws. God will look upon them with kindness and mercy, overlooking their mistakes. It is now clear that one of the ways to attain God's satisfaction is to do good deeds for our parents. Truly competent children have elevated positions; to them has the promise of heaven been given.

"Suchare theyfrom whom We shall accept the best of their deeds and pass by their ill deeds: (they shall be) among the Companions of the Garden: a promise of truth, which was made to them (in this life)." (16:46)

Parents' Relationship With Their Children

Parental affection and empathy towards their children is special. Even when a child turns his back on his parents or insults them, they patiently pray for his remission and guidance from God and hope he realizes his mistakes. Parents teach their children right from wrong. This is a remarkable relationship that can be found between no other livingthing, only within the family circle.

In our daily lives many times we are met with confrontations that may lead to aggressive behaviour. Within a family, particularly one with a religious background, even if the parents become subject to some ignorant or angry remarks or actions from their children they do not relinquish their affectionate attitude towards them and gently try to guide them and pray for their success in life.

"But (there is one) who says to his parents, 'Fie onyou! Do ye hold out thepromise to me that I shall be raised up, even though generations have passed before me (without raising again)?' and they two seek God's aid, (and rebuke the son): 'Woe to thee! Havefaith! For thepromise of God is true.' But he says, 'This is nothing but tales of the ancients. ‘“(46: 17)

Vasia, to enjoin, command, in these verses, is a recommendation accompanied by admonition and charity. Thus, God's recommendation to parents is to teach their children to be respectful and charitable towards them. This is a general religious teaching ordered by God to the followers of all religions. It is for this reason that God has said,

"And We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents ..." (46: 15)

Not only Muslims, but all individuals in society are dutybound to be good to their parents. Of course respect for the elderly, be they strangers or relatives, is of the teachings of religion. This is rarely given any value in other schools of thought.

Following this recommendation, the verse points to the hardshi ps of a mother during pregnancy, delivery and care for the growing infant in order to arouse feelings of affection and mercy from the child.

This in itself is the best criterion in the creation and continuation of benevolence and charity among them. In fact, children, after the death of their parents, carry on the memories of them and through prayers and worship not only asks forgiveness and remission for themselves, but also for their parents.

Just as children are obliged to fulfill some duties in relation to their parents, parents are compelled to perform some duties towards their children. Of course moderation in all things is recommended in Islam, and in this respect there are limits to every law.2

Children, no matter what age, should always be subject to affection and attention from their parents. Providing health care, food and clothing for their children until they reach an independent age is one of the essential responsibilities of every parent. Ever after independence, these responsibilities are not terminated, but take a different form.

Providing for their satisfaction and the training of children under any circumstances until the ages of 7 and 14 is recommended by Islam. On this basis, parents are not allowed to abandon their children. This is a religious duty that they are compelled to perform.

If parents and children determine to abide with religious laws and regulations, certainly the health and welfare of the family is guaranteed. As other schools of thought are manmade, their ideas about family lack consistency and therefore are less likely to be successful in real life.

Choosing a desirable name for the child, care in his training and providing the means for his growth and protection can never be underestimated. In addition to practicing religious laws and in performing family matters, the factor of affection and kindness that exists among parents and children is a great help in strengthening their relationship.

If Islam orders a couple to forget and forgive and be charitable towards one another, if it forbids children to be disrespectful towards their parents, it also order the parents in tum to take responsibility in regards to their children's needs.

Attention to every detail in child training is considered very important. Parents are committed to some duties even before the birth of the child and during pregnancy which is evident by the importance and value that religion places on children.

Family Interrelations

Within the family circle, freedom in behaviour should clearly be felt. As soon as we come out of the family environment some other duties are expected. These duties become more intricate when it comes to women.

Hijab (modest dress) is one of the limits that, in its general form, is particular to both men and women and in its particular form is special for women who are compelled to keep within these limitations.

We know very well that the majority of social corruption that has spread to the family environment has originated from immodest dress. The problems in the West and Europe with corruption in the society have their origins in immodesty.

So Islam, before contamination of the family and society, particularly the young, through setting moral laws regarding hijab, is out to prevent the formation and growth of such corruption. The basic meaning of hijab is the covering of the body to prevent the spread of negative and forbidden relationships.

Its true meaning and limitations can be investigated by studying the verses of the Holy Qur'an on this subject. Hijab is not only limited to covering the parts of the body which attracts, but all parts of the body are affected by hijab. The eyes, lips, hands, body, voice, all should have a particular form of hijab which is utilized outside of the family environment.

"Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them. And God is well acquainted with all that they do." (24:30)

It is made absolutely clear .here that men should not look upon women who are forbidden to them and women should not look upon men.

"And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw the veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, the husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike theirfeet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! Turn ye all together towards God, thatye may attain bliss." (24:31)

Controlling one's gaze to keep from looking at that which is forbidden has been commanded to both men and women. In this verse, the limits of hijab are extended and include the covering of the head and neck and natural or artificial ornaments. On this basis, women must not expose themselves to the view of others.

Of course, this restriction is lifted in the presence of the relatives mentioned in the above verse. Therefore hijab is particular to the environment outside the family. Wearing an ornament itself, like earrings, bracelets, etc., is not forbidden, therefore what is forbidden is the display of these ornaments.

Of course, even those parts of the body which do not need to be covered must not display ornaments such as attractive cosmetics, earrings, bracelets, etc. When attention is attracted by the use of such ornaments it is a violation of modest dress (hijab).

Therefore, as long as the face, hands and feet of a woman do not provoke the spread of corruption and lust, they need not be covered. The other conditions of hijab consist of wearing a maghnaie, a type of hair covering which extends down to the shoulders and over the breasts. This style is derived from the verse

"They should draw their veils over their bosoms"(24:31).

On this basis, women are not allowed to expose their ornaments to unbelieving women (infidels, polythiests, etc.). Islam, with a benevolent view towards women, encourages them to keep hijab and says:

"O Prophet! Tell they wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad); that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (33:59)

The meaning of covering in this verse refers to wearing a cloth which covers the body or a maghnaie that is long and covers the breasts and neck.

We know well that the starting point of sexual corruption is visual stimulation which, in Europe, is the main reason for the carelessness of individuals in the type of clothing they wear. Islam, with the insistence on covering the body from the view of unlawful gaze, proves that hijab is a means for protecting the personality and value of women such that they are protected from being hurt by pleasure-seeking men.

During the pre-Islamic era, women without hijab were subject to the unlawful gazes of strangers. Islam rescued women from this impudence and paved the way for the growth of her personality and independence, such that no one dares to insult women in an Islamic society. Today the women's carelessness in dressing and rejection of hijab originates mainly from the spread of corruption.

Those who consider hijab an obstacle in the way of the growth and independence of women and refer to it as a sign of stagnation and underdevelopment must consider their beliefs and determine right from wrong by investigating more deeply into this subject. They should distinguish progress from stagnation and ultimate knowledge from ignorance.

The active participation of the Iranian Muslim women who wear hijab in the days of the formation and victory and continuation of the Islamic Revolution and their martyrdom in the way of defending this revolution is evidence to the greatness of their personalities.

In the days of braving the bullets of the enemies of Islam, these Muslim women painted the streets of Tehran red with their pure blood, and with the motto, "Freedom, Independence, Islamic Republic", faced their martyrdom. The Westernized women, who did not wear hijab, escaped to the darkness of their houses and pre­occupied themselves with life's pleasures, while criticizing those heroic women.

Today these same women play into the hands of Western culture. Every hour and every day they are painted into a different color dictated by the fashion makers, like senseless dolls. These are the very people that, due to extreme carelessness, have unstable families and have distanced themselves from any positive movement.

Therefore Islam, from its early days, has paid particular attention to family welfare and its active role in constructive training in moral, social and cultural movements. With the introduction of hijab, particularly for women and generally for men, Islam has protected their dignity from being endangered by satanic insinuations.

Equal Rights Within The Family Circle

What has been achieved by investigation concerning family discipline and the rights of women and men in the capitalist systems is the equality of women and men in participation in economic affairs, motivated by the expansion of economic profits and products, indirect satisfaction of individuals, the underdevelopment of women from their genuine growth, the unawakened talents of women, consumerization of women and most importantly, deviating the young and distancing them from the political scene, resulting in their oppression.

The trick the West has played upon the uninformed is to show them the outer dimension of equality, an irrelevant equality. They are perhaps unaware that the equality of men and women cannot be mentioned only in economic terms equality has other dimensions as well.

The way the West has dealt with this subject has been shortsighted and weak. They still do not know the true nature of men and women, yet they claim to possess the key to their prosperity.

Husbands And Wives Complement Each Other

The highest status that a woman can achieve is her role in complementing and relieving man's moral and mental stress and satisfying his sexual desires. In return man plays the same role and this is an act relating to their creation, planned and managed by God.

A woman without a man and a man without a woman is an incom plete entity. Each is in need of the other. This void in both sexes is removed by the legal marriage and religious union of the two. The fact that the existence of a woman brings comfort and tranquility to a man and that a man does the same for a woman is the basis of Islamic thinking about marriage and the formation of a family.

Islam does not look upon a woman as a useless creature. It does not consider her as a means to satisfy public sexual tendencies, but it values her personality and considers her as the source of the appearance and blossoming of talents in her spouse and half of the strength of man's personality depends on her and as stated before, the Holy Qur'an says,

"And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations inyour languages and your color: Verily in that are Signs for those who know." (30:21)

Equality Of The Couple In Their Mutual Rights

Just as men have religious rights in regards to women, so do women have legal and religious rights in regards to men. If the management and finance of the family is one of the man's duties, providing for the peace and tranquility of the family is the responsibility of the woman. If Islam orders man to be merciful and forgiving towards his wife, it also encourages women to do the same. A verse from the Qur'an reveals that:

"...And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them. And God is Exalted in Power, Wise." (2:228)

In this verse, after men tioning the problem of divorce and the rights of the couple in this regard it says that as men have the right to divorce, women, too, have this right, but they must act in an acceptable manner.

In view of the fact that Islamic law is based on human instinct, inevitably, if people act according to their innate demands, they will reach ma'ruf, an act acceptable in the eyes of society. This is the realization of Islamic law and one of the accepted principles of the society that individuals should enjoy equal rights in compliance with the law. Each should have authority according to his responsibilities.

This equality would not materialize unless the people's dignity was protected by law. In Islam, laws concerning women are based on this principle. They possess rights in relation to their position and responsibility. These rights are protected within the family and the society.

It is only right that a woman should furnish herself with the good qualities of piousness and dignity and well­ mannered behaviour toward her husband. This piousness should affect her behaviour when her husband is present and would help to protect his rights when he is absent.

If men are expected to perform jihad and be killed in the battlefields, this momentous task is lifted from women's shoulders. Women, too, with planning family matters and efforts in child training, can gain such values and positions that are equal to mujahids (fighters in the way of Allah).

Islam considers a well-mannered woman, who acts on her religious responsibilities, equal to a mujahid and her act is considered equal to jihad. This means that martyrdom in the battlefields, with all of its worth, has no superiority over housekeeping, child training and the act of marriage. A judge who issues a verdict or a governor who governs people has no superiority over a pious housewife.

Islam says that women are human creatures just like men. The nature and makeup of every humanbeing be it male or female, plays a part in society and none has superiority over the other, unless it is by the degree of piousness which is the extent of one's fear of God's punishment, and worship and submission before Him. Also, it is the care with which major and minor religious matters are acted upon. Therefore, the Holy Qur'an says:

"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in thesight of God is (He who is) the most righteous. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)."(49: 13)

Equality Of Women And Men In Divine Rewards And Punishments

As mentioned earlier, men and women each possess a value and a responsibility. Neither has any superiority over the other, except for the degree of righteousness.

Now here, by way of some verses from the Holy Qur'an, we shall prove another important fact. The real dimensions of equality between men and women are in direct relation to the meting out of reward and punishment.

"...never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: ye are members, one of another..."(3:195)

In this verse it has been made clear that no act will be forgotten by God and the value of every person is based on his own actions. The act of every person is his own; no one else will be accountable in his stead.

On this basis a woman who possesses a high degree of faith and knowledge and high moral values is superior to men who have not reached such stages of development. Greatness and superiority are not relevant to sex, race, position, wealth or power, but only to piousness, virtue and knowledge.

Women and men both according to their actions deserve praise or reprimand and what is important before the Creator is good deeds and sincerity of intention in acting on matters. Now whether the action was done by a man or a woman makes no difference. God observes even the smallest good and evil deeds and rewards or punishes accordingly.

"Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and hasfaith, verily to him will Wegive a new life, a life that is good and pure and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.” (16:97)

We see that a pure and enriched life is offered as reward to the pious. Of course, the condition for a competent action to be accepted is faith in the fact that it complies with the principles of religion and abides with religious law. Another verse emphasising this is,

"He that works evil will not be requitted but by the like thereof: and he that works a righteous deed whether man or woman, and is a believer-such will enter the Garden (of Bliss): therein will they have abundance without measure." (40:40)

Another verse tells us,

"If any do deeds of righteousness, be they male or female, and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them." (3: 124)

The point is that in investigating the actions of men and women, not even a minute matter will be missed. No one will be oppressed and the rights of everyone will be given in accordance with their acts and intentions.

Both men and women have independence concerning ownership. Therefore, women and men are equal in financial matters, but women have been given priority in achieving their rights and doing social activities because of their delicate feelings. Although the consequences of bad deeds for both men and women are the same, their way of punishment in each case may be different.

Seed and it were (hidden) under a rock, or (anywhere) in the heavens or on the earth, God will bring it forth: for God understands the finest mysteries, (and) is well acquainted (with them). "(31:16)

Luqman taught his son the lessons of Tawhid, sincerity and daily salutations to the Almighty God, and also that one must act on what is recommended by God, distancing himself from that which is forbidden and patience in life. Truly these few points could be considered the most concise and complete teachings for all.

A model father, who teaches patience and prayer, which are acts of piety, to his child, is himself a fine example to all fathers who should know that the only preventative factor from life's discrepancies is guidance towards truth and perfection. Prayer and patience are like strong roots which protect the tree of life from being uprooted and blown away.

"O my son establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: and bear with patient constancy whatever betide thee; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs.”(31:17)

Truly how nice it could be if all fathers taught the lessons of patience and endurance in matters to their children and who would be the entrusted gardeners which fill the land of children's beings with scented flowers protected from physical and mental calamity.

The great Luqman then strengthened the belief of his child and taught him good mannerisms, telling him:

"And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for God loveth not any arrogant boaster.' "(31: 18)

Luqman's son was advised on distancing himself from pride and self-centeredness. Also humility and sincerity in behaviour was taught to him. The child now knew how to live well, for he was given a good example:

"And be moderate in the pace, and lower they voice, for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the asses.' "(31:19)

In this way Luqman set a good guideline for the teaching and training of children for parents to follow. He also made parents realize their own elevated position and their important role in raising their children.

  • 1. There are several types of iddah not covered here. The reader is encouraged to look into the matter further in Imam Khomieni’s Tahim al vasala.
  • 2. Modesty in behaviour is an Islamic recommendation. On this basis all customs and moralities must not be excessive. In the obedience to parents, a limit has been set, meaning that, as long as one's parents do not goout of the boundaries set by Islam, the children are compelled to obey and respect them. But as soon as they convert or give up the religion or take religious matters lightly, or invite their children to polytheism, this recommendation no longer applies and children are not obliged to obey them; for obedience to God is first and foremost.