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Family Life

Having A Child

Adopted from the book : "Principles of Marriage" by : "Sheikh Ibrahim Amini"

One of the possible sore points for a couple is having a child. That is a woman may want to have a child but her husband disagrees or vice versa. This problem sometimes becomes very serious as a result of which a couple may resort to divorce.

"Mrs... made a complaint to the court and said: 'I married at the age of twenty-seven years when my husband had just graduated from the university. He was a lecturer in one of the universities and I felt that I was a lucky woman. However, my husband disagrees with having a child. I do not understand him because we are both healthy and have enough money to at least bring up two children. He does not dislike children and treats his nieces and nephews well. I am thirty years old and naturally I wish I were a mother. He understands my feelings but says that a child would be a cause of inconvenience in our lives, and so on'. This woman, while stopping herself from crying, is confronted with a problem which is so serious that the couple has decided for a divorce, so that she would remarry while he would have enough time for his scientific research." 247

Love for children and reproduction is a natural desire of human beings and even of animals. Children are the fruit of life and the best legacy of mankind. The life of one who has children would not be ended by his death but rather would be continued as if with an extended life. A person without a child or children would feel lonely and forlorn and would feel even worse in old age. A house without children is a place of boredom, and would lack warmth and love. A marriage would always be in danger of breaking down if there were no children. Thus children are the source of family warmth and survival.

"Imam Sadiq (AS) stated: 'One's happiness is in having children'." 248 "The Prophet (SA) of Islam stated: 'Give birth to many children because on the Day of Judgment I will take pride in your numbers over the other Ummahs (nations)'." 249

Love for a child is a natural desire, but some people are deviated from their natural 'self' and are affected by an illness where they bring up different excuses, such as the lack of money, for not having children. However, Allah guarantees that He would give sustenance to all His creatures. "Bakr ibn Saleh said: 'I wrote a letter to Hadrat Abu al- Hasan (AS) saying that I had been taking preventive measures against having a child for five years, because my wife had been reluctant to have one, and that she was saying, lack of money would make it difficult for us to bring up a child.' I asked Hadrat Abu al-Hasan his opinion on this matter. He replied: 'Do not prevent having a child, because the Almighty Allah would provide him sustenance'." 250

Allah would even increase a family's sustenance due to the blessings of children. There are many people who were in difficulty before having their children, but found a comfortable life afterwards. Some people regard children as inconvenient. This is not true and as a matter of fact children are the best source of enjoyment and amusement for the parents.

Of course taking care of children is not without difficulty and trouble, but since it conforms with the law of nature, one can cope with all the difficulties and as such it is worth taking the trouble involved.

How narrow-minded are those men and women who for the sake of not having children resort to divorce! Is it not really surprising that a man, and that too an educated one for that matter, should disagree with the laws of nature so persistently that he would even be prepared to divorce his wife?

Some couples do not disagree on having a child but argue over the time of having one. A woman or a man of this kind would say: "One must be free at a young age as a child would deprive one from being at liberty to enjoy oneself. It is better to wait until later to have one or two children". If both husband and wife are not of the same opinion, then arguments would start which may end in a divorce.

Let us remember that if one wants children, then this should be achieved at the earliest possible age. This is because children born from young parents are in some respects better off than those born from older parents. Firstly, these children are healthier and stronger. Secondly, since they are from younger parents, they can live for more time with their parents. They can be better educated and brought up. But children from older parents might become deprived of their parents' guidance and teachings due to their death or disability. Thirdly, children of younger parents would reach an age of forming their own family and taking up jobs, while their parents are still alive. Thus they can be a great deal of help to their parents when they are old.

In brief, having children at a young age is better than at an older age. But this is not so important that it should cause rows or divorce. It is better for the husband or wife to agree mutually and not let it create a rift in their marriage. Some couples disagree on the number of children they would like.

"A woman, while holding a baby in her arms, said: , After four years of marriage I had two daughters with my husband, but since he wanted a son I became pregnant once more and again gave birth to a girl. I now have three daughters. My husband works in a bank and his salary does not suffice our family. He has recently been insisting that I should become pregnant many times until I give birth to a son. But I am not prepared for this because his earnings are not enough for us to educate our children the way we want. I have told him many time's that boys and girls are both good. I fear that if I become pregnant again I shall give birth to another girl. I am sure that he would again insist on having another child. We cannot agree on this matter and thus have taken our case to the court'." 251

It is right that providing for education and training of many children is difficult and this is especially true in the case of those whose earnings are not high.

Therefore, it is better that couples decide on the number of children according to their moral and financial abilities. They must have understanding and be able to solve their problems through wisdom and kindness. It is not correct for either of them to insist on something illogical. This problem is not so serious and should not lead a couple to have quarrels or resort to a divorce. There are many families who either have many children or are satisfied with only one or two.

Some couples have differences about the sex of their proposed children. Some couples, men and women prefer having a son and do not take too kindly to having girls. The birth of a daughter would make a woman feel guilty and therefore she would keep silence because she was the one who has given birth. But the man might express his dissatisfaction. Men are different. Some do not express their dissatisfaction openly and just show a grim face. They do not particularly attend to their wives during the post-natal days. They look sad. Some men, however, react severely to the news of having a daughter. They become angry with their wives and pick up fault with them. They protest and create a row. Some men go further and might even beat them up or even divorce them.

"A woman said in the court: 'I got married fifteen months ago and became pregnant six months later. Recently, when the time for delivery was near, my husband said to me that I had to give birth to a son. But I felt that I might have twins or even triplets. A few days ago I gave birth to twin girls. I was very happy about it. When my husband came to know about the birth, he was upset and left the room. Later, when I asked him to take the girls home he shouted at me and blamed me for delivering twin girls. He asked me to leave him. so I went to my parents and now I am applying for divorce." 252

"Mrs... said to a reporter in the court: 'After twenty-one years of marriage and having five children. I have to leave a life to which I have contributed so much to for another woman a woman who is able to give birth to a boy. I have five beautiful and talented daughters who are no problem to their father at all. What is my guilt if I cannot give birth to a boy. My husband is blaming me for it and wants me to allow him to remarry with another woman'. 253

Unfortunately. this quality has remained with some people from the time of Jahiliyyah (age of ignorance) that they doubt the human nature of the female sex. They arc ashamed of having daughters and feel belittled. In the age of ignorance. people used to bury their baby daughters alive. The Holy Qur'an mentions their deeds and states:

"And when a daughter is announced to one of them, his face becomes black and he is full of wrath." ( 16:58).

"He hides himself from the people because of the evil of that which is announced to him. Shall he keep it with disgrace or bury it (alive) in the dust? Now surely evil is what they judge" (16:59).

But Islam denounces this wrong idea and regards men and women as equal.

"The Prophet (SA) of Islam stated: 'The best of your children are your daughters'." 254 "The Prophet (SA) of Islam also stated: 'The sign of a lucky woman is that her first child is a girl'." 255 "In addition. the Holy Prophet (SA) stated: 'Whoever looks after three daughters or three sisters, Paradise would become incumbent upon him'." 256 If a girl was inferior, Allah would not have made his (Prophet's (SA)) descendents line continue through Hadrat Zahra (AS).

Dear Sir: you are claiming to be a civilized and modern human being, so abstain from having such evil thoughts. What difference does it make if you have a girl or a boy? They are both your offspring and both can advance towards perfection. A girl also can become a prominent personality through your correct care and education.

A girl is in some respects better than a boy :

Firstly, a girl is more sympathetic to their parents. Boys usually do not benefit their parents when they grow up and become independent. Girls, if parents do not place any preference on their sons, would be more loving towards them.

Secondly, a girl requires less expense as compared to a boy, because she generally spends less time in her parents' house since she gets married at an earlier age and leaves her parents with only a few items for her new life. But boys become young men who may stay with their parents for a long time. The parents would have to pay for his education, find him a job, may have to pay his expenses during his two years of military service, wherever necessary, and then marry him off to a young woman, after which he would need to be provided with a house, carpets, furniture, and so on. He would even seek financial help from his parents after his marriage.

Thirdly, if parents do not discriminate between their son and daughter, and if they treat their son-in-law kindly, the son-in-law would often be more helpful to them at times of difficulties and is usually more faithful to them in comparison to their own son.

Anyway, is it a woman's fault if she gives birth to a girl? The man and wife are both involved in the action of procreation and a man has no right to blame his wife for this matter. Otherwise it is just as reasonable for a woman to blame her husband in this regard. However, neither are to be blamed, as it is only the will of Allah to determine the sex of a baby.

There are some experts who believe that the sex of a child can be determined from the fact as to how the mother is fed during the first two months of pregnancy. So if there are people who prefer a particular sex of a baby, they should get in contact with the experts and thus prevent a situation of blaming their wives.

An intellectual man, not only should not upset at having a baby daughter, but must be very happy too. He should show his happiness, should express his affection towards his wife and should even give her a present. He could celebrate the new birth and even take logical steps in convincing his wife that a baby daughter is just as good as a baby boy, should she be upset with having a daughter.

A wise father would not discriminate between his son and daughter, would not condemn any body for having a daughter, and thus would fight the ignorant concepts of the 'Age of Ignorance'. "A man heard the news of having a newly born baby daughter, while he was in the presence of the Holy Prophet (SA) of Islam. He became upset. The Prophet (SA) stated:

'Why are you upset?' He said: 'When I was coming out of my house, my wife was having labour pain, and now they have brought the news to me that I have had a daughter'. The Prophet (SA) stated: 'The earth has enough room for her, and the sky provides her with shelter, and Allah will provide her with sustenance. She is a sweet smelling flower from which you will get much enjoyment'." 257