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Family Life

Influence of Mutual Respect on Children

Man is a social and philanthropic being and his potential blossoms and flourishes with love and affection. Human beings who are builders of society are like individual bricks of a building that are bound together with the cement of love and can thus construct a stable social structure. The more these mutual bonds are warm, deep, powerful and systematic, the more is that society strong and progressive.

Thus, loving inter-relations are a vital element for a strong society, the importance of which cannot be overstated. From this perspective, we see that a human being who cannot experience and express love for others and who cannot nurture deep friendships has suppressed his human attributes and is in fact not worthy of being called human.

A point that we can never undermine or overlook is that if we expect love and affection from others and wish to attract their friendships or affinity, it is most necessary for us to first express our affection towards them. If we expect others to shower us with their friendship and support, without responding mutually, it is asking for the impossibility - a false expectation. So, we find that generally, we respect those who respect us in return and who safeguard our rights.

It is very important to be aware and careful about respecting mutual rights and thus mutual respect in inter -social relations is a fundamental principle which ensures strong bonds in relations.

In the Divine Ordinance too, there is nothing like one-sided rights. In fact, even the Almighty who has conferred some duties upon human beings has with His grace made some responsibilities incumbent upon Him. Now let us briefly glance at the various mutual rights between Allah and man, parents and children, husband and wife.

As we stated earlier, as Allah has ordained certain duties upon His servants, in turn He has also made some promises to them.

He says regarding to this matter in some verses:

And there is no animal in the earth but on Allah is the sustenance of it, and He knows its resting place and its depository; all (things) are in a manifest book. “ (Holy Qur’an 11:6)

O you who believe! If you help (the cause of) Allah, He will help you and make firm feet”. (Holy Qur’an 57:7)

Similarly, we find that while the Almighty has conferred on children certain duties towards their parents, the duties of parents towards their children are to provide them with healthy education, attention, nurturing of their bodies, souls and fulfillment of their material and emotional needs.

To expect love and respect from a child who has been abandoned by society, without respecting or fulfilling any of his needs and has been unloved and neglected by his parents or has been mistreated by them, is a rather unfair expectation.

Statistics indicate that a large percentage of criminals and violators of social rights are children from such families. In relation between the husband and wife too, mutual respect is the vital element for a happy and successful life of togetherness. If Allah has made it incumbent on the wife to respect the husband, He has also made it incumbent for the husband to do likewise.

Our noble Imams (AS) are the best exemplars in these matters. They respected the rights of their spouses to the fullest. Let us consider the following verse of the Glorious Qur’an:

He has made the two seas to flow freely (so that) they meet together. Between them is a barrier which they cannot pass. “(Holy Qur’an 55:19-20)

Many exegetes have explained this verse as the two seas as meaning Imam Ali (AS) and Hazrat Fatimah (AS), who in spite of having merged together in many ways, never took mutual rights for granted and never violated them.

Similarly, we must respect the mutual rights between all members of the society, clans, neighbors, friends, etc. The guidance given by our Imams in this regard is to always put ourselves in the place of others.

Or as they say, “Do unto to others as you would wish to be done unto you.” In fact, it can be one of the best ways to understand and make this whole philosophy practical.

As we know, in the order of creation, man and woman are from a common element and that is humanness. And their emotions and feelings are common in nature although the degrees and expressions may vary.

Thus it is a very important principle in inter-personal relationship that should never be taken for granted.

Imam Sadiq (AS) has said thus about interpersonal relations between Muslims:

Choose for others what you like for yourselves and vice-versa.”

If this pure attitude gets established in a Muslim society, the condition of the members of that society would be as Imam Sadiq (AS) has thus expressed:

Believers are like brothers in faith to each other and are like one single body and even if one of them is hurt, all others experience the pain and their souls are from one single soul.”

So in such a society, no individual’s right would be violated and there would be no place for exploitation and suppression. Human bonds and emotions would reach perfection and human society would be like one body in spite of having different functional organs and in spite of being geographically far apart, the believers would be deeply bound emotionally!

Adapted from: "Family Life" by: "Aisha Mutuku"