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The serious attention accorded all dimensions of family life by Islam

... The laws of the shari‘a embrace a diverse body of laws and regulations, which amounts to a complete social system. In this system of laws, all the needs of man have been met: his dealings with his neighbours, fellow citizens, and clan, as well as children and relatives; the concerns of private and marital life; regulations concerning war and peace and intercourse with other nations; penal and commercial law; and regulations pertaining to trade and agriculture.

Islamic law contains provisions relating to the preliminaries of marriage and the form in which it should be contracted, and others relating to the development of the embryo in the womb and even what food the parents should eat at the time of conception. It further stipulates the duties that are incumbent upon them while the infant is being suckled, and specifies how the child should be reared, and how the husband and the wife should relate to each other and to their children. Islam provides laws and instructions for all of these matters, aiming, as it does, to produce integrated and virtuous human beings.

Islamic Government, pp. 43-44.

One of the things that creates different human behavioural patterns is how the rules for marriage, sexual intercourse and the times it can take place, for the gestation period and when the woman is breastfeeding, for selecting a husband and a woman who will be the one to breastfeed the child, and other instructions are observed.

These rules influence fully the physical and spiritual health of the child in the same manner as his learning environment, his teachers, friends, associates and kind of knowledge imparted to him do, along with other things that are too many to be mentioned here. All these things can have strange effects on a child’s development, some of which are noticeable.

At-Talab wal-Iradah, p. 148

Islam has laid the foundations of man's life from before his birth. It has established the social foundations of the family and has laid down injunctions for man covering the period he lives with his family, the time that he enters into education, the time he enters society, and the time that he has relations with other countries, with other governments, with other nations. All of these have a programme; the holy laws contain provisions for all of these things. (165)

14 November 1965 (23 Aban 1344 AHS)

Islam has moral teachings and it has rules that govern man’s social relations, his relationship with himself, his wife, his children, his neighbours, his friends, his fellow countrymen, his co-religionists, and people of a different religion. Islam has rules for men, which extend from before his birth until after his death. It contains provisions relating to the preliminaries of marriage and the form in which it should be contracted, and others relating to the development of the embryo in the womb until birth. It specifies how the child should be reared, it has rules for him at puberty, in his youth, in old age, when he dies and is laid in his grave and even after that . . . (166)

28 September 1977 (6 Mehr 1356 AHS)

. . . There are rules for other relationships concerning man. There are rules to ensure man's well-being even before he is born, to ensure that a sound, healthy, refined individual comes into the world. Islamic law contains provisions relating to the preliminaries of marriage, the choice of spouse, and the form in which a marriage should be contracted, there are laws for when intimate relations take place between a man and his wife, for when a child is conceived and when being suckled. There are rules for the child for the time he is being reared by his mother and when he is being trained by his first teachers. Islam has rules for all of these things, and laws to train man. (167)

9 November 1978 (18 Aban 1357 AHS)

One facet of Islam deals with government and governmental and political affairs, and another deals with man's spiritual development which concerns man himself alone: What should he be in terms of beliefs, ethics and social behaviour? What must a man be? In this regard, Islam encompasses every aspect of human life, whereas other governments and societies are impassive towards the same. That is, no government will ever approach an individual and reprimand him for whatever (immoral) activities he may engage in at home.

Whatever misdeed takes place in an individual's home is of no concern to other governments. Islam, however, is concerned with the individual even if he is alone at home; that is, it tells him what he is supposed to do, how to behave and what ethics and intellectual perceptions he should adopt. It tells him how a father should treat his children, how a child should behave towards his father, a mother to her child, a child to his mother, a brother to a brother, how families should behave among themselves or a family towards another. All of these have rules to follow in Islam, which takes everything into consideration. (168)

11 November 1978 (20 Aban 1357 AHS)

Islam is a religion that belongs to all. It was revealed to build up a human being in a way that it proposes; to mould him into an equitable man in such a way that one human being cannot commit one grain or pinhead of injustice against another; that a human being cannot be unjust to his own child or to his wife, or a wife to a husband, or two brothers to one another or these to their friends. Islam wants to mould man into a just being in the fullest sense of the word "human being," one whose intellect is humane, whose essence and appearance are human and one who respects human behaviour and conduct. Islam wants to materialise these goals. (169)

11 November 1978 (20 Aban 1357 AHS)

We want such an ideology, one that when it first starts to train the people directs them towards the development of the excellence of the human being. You look around yourselves in the world; can you find an ideology like Islam, which has laws aimed at making man a true human being even before he has been born, before his parents have married?

All of the world's ideologies deal with people who have reached puberty and who are active members of society. Islam, however, aims to perfect man even before he is born, before his parents marry, by stating what kind of spouse a man and a woman should choose. Why does it do this? Because the husband and wife are the origin of an individual or individuals and Islam wants these individuals, who are to be handed over to society, to be righteous individuals.

So before a couple marry, Islam stipulates what kind of a woman the man's prospective wife should be and what kind of a man the woman's prospective husband should be, what kind of personalities they should have, how they should behave and in what kind of family they should have been brought up.

After marriage too, Islam stipulates how the husband and wife should treat each other. Islam has laid down rules that pertain to the period when the woman is with child, and to the delivery of the child. It also specifies how a child should be reared. Islam provides laws and instructions for all of these matters so that this child that is produced from these two people will be a virtuous individual in the society and righteousness will reign throughout the world.

This is Islam. Islam seeks to create true human beings and it sets out to do this even before the child is born, before his parents have even married. It begins there and has laid down laws that cover this period and the period after the child has come into the world: it stipulates the duties that are incumbent upon the parents while the child is being suckled; it specifies how the child should be reared by the parents, how he should be treated later in the elementary and high schools and what the teachers there should be like.

Then when the child reaches the age of independence, the age at which he must make his own decisions, Islam tells him what kind of a person he should be, what he should and shouldn't do. Islam does this because it wants the people in society to be righteous, sound individuals. (170)

31 December 1978 (10 Dey 1357 AHS)

If you examine Islam closely, you will see that it has laws and programmes for all the dimensions man possesses. It has regulations for man for even before he is born, before his parents marry. It has procedures to ensure the embryo develops well. Islam stipulates what kind of woman you should choose for a wife, what kind of man you should choose for a husband, what circumstances should prevail at the time of marriage, what rules exist and what the procedure should be.

It has rules governing the time the child is conceived and the period of gestation, like a farmer who sows a seed taking care to choose fecund soil in which to plant it, irrigating it with pure water, at the proper times, and tending to it so that it grows properly. In order to train true human beings, Islam begins even before the parents have married; it wants the basis to be strong and good, the spouse to be a healthy, sound person of human qualities.

Islam contains further provisions relating to the child’s birth, to the period the infant is being suckled, it specifies how the parents should rear the child and the kind of instruction he should receive from them and others. No other system of laws covers such things; this is something peculiar only to those laws brought by the prophets. (171)

2 February 1979 (14 Bahman 1357 AHS)

Know that Islam covers everything; it contains laws relating to before marriage takes place between a man and woman to the time of interment. All its laws are progressive instructions necessary for man’s happiness whether in this world or the next. (172)

19 February 1979 (30 Bahman 1357 AHS)

Islam is a system, a political system, however, whereas other systems disregard many things, Islam overlooks nothing. It trains man in all the dimensions he possesses, in both his material and spiritual aspects; it concerns itself with both. Islam has rules aimed at creating a true human being even before he is born, before the marriage between his parents takes place, by stipulating, among other things, what kind of spouse a man and woman should choose, what kind of disposition they should have and how pious they should be.

When a farmer wants to plant a seed he must consider the type of soil there is in the area in which he intends to plant it and the things needed for its growth, which are useful and which are not. He must take care of the seed from the time it sprouts to when it bears its fruit. Islam treats humans in the same manner that is in the manner of a farmer who wants to produce a good harvest.

From before the seed is planted Islam has rules stipulating what kind of mother and father the child should have, and prescribes the form in which the marriage should be contracted. This is because Islam is concerned with the child’s future life, for if the father or mother is of corrupt moral nature, [and] their actions that of an inhuman being, their offspring will be affected by these traits, they will inherit them. Therefore, like a very conscientious and compassionate farmer, Islam takes care of mankind.

It has rules for man, which extend from before his birth to the time he marries. It has many rules relating to the time of conception, the gestation period, the time the infant is being suckled; it specifies how the child should be cared for in the mother’s lap and later under the protection of the father. It has rules for him when he enters school, then later when he joins society. From before he is born Islam cares for the child, so that he can achieve the high station man can attain. Islam has rules covering all these things.

Other systems in the world, other forms of government in the world, do not concern themselves with such matters, they are only bothered about making sure this society serves their interests and that the peace is kept so they can plunder the people. Even the best and most equitable of them cares only for rectifying its own society a little.

Otherwise, how a child should be reared, what rules exist covering the period the child is in the womb and is being suckled are of no consequence to other systems. Islam, to the contrary, does care about such things, and when the child grows into a man, it stipulates how he should behave towards his brother, towards his mother and father, how the mother and father should treat their son, how they should treat their neighbours, their fellow citizens, their co-religionists and foreigners. Islam concerns itself with all of these.

One facet of Islam deals with government and governmental and political affairs, and another deals with man’s spiritual development. For man is a two-dimensional being, there are two sides to him: one the physical, for every aspect of which Islam has rules; and the other the spiritual, which no other system even broaches. No other system is concerned about giving man spiritual training or moral refinement so that he can reach the stage that none, save God, knows of. Islam even stretches to that stage, it takes man’s hands and leads him to the highest heaven. No other system does this. (173)

19 February 1979 (30 Bahman 1357 AHS)

Religions concern themselves with all the dimensions man possesses. There are rules to ensure man’s well-being even before he is born, instructions relating to how a marriage should be contracted, what conditions should be met, what kind of woman the man should choose for a wife and what kind of man the woman should choose so that the marriage is a good one. For marriage is like cultivated land used for producing human beings. Before the marriage even takes place, precautions are taken to ensure that a sound, spiritually healthy individual comes into the world.

Thus attention is paid to the preliminaries of marriage, the conditions that should be met, and following the marriage there are rules governing the intimate relations between a man and his wife and for when a child is conceived. The mother is advised what food she should eat when she is carrying the child and what she should avoid, what her life should be like and how she should behave. Instructions are provided stating what kind of woman should suckle the child after he is born - that is if the parents wish to employ a wet nurse - how the child should be suckled, at what times, under what conditions, how the mother should treat the child when he is in her care, and later, when he has left the lap of his mother, how the father should treat him.

There are rules governing how the child should be reared in the family, what his teachers should be like, and when he enters society, how he should act. This is all to make sure that upright, morally correct individuals enter society. (174)

14 May 1979 (24 Urdibihisht 1358 AHS)

Islam is concerned with everything. It plans for the child you will bring into the world even before you marry. It stipulates what kind of woman the man’s prospective wife should be, what kind of man the woman’s prospective husband. For a human being is like a plant that must grow and blossom, and just as a farmer must take care when planting his seeds, selecting the right soil in which to plant them, good fertiliser and the right amount of water to nourish them, so too much the same applies in the case of a human being.

Islam stipulates what conditions must prevail from before man is conceived, in what kind of seedbed the seed must be planted, what kind of person the man should be who will plant the seed. Then later, after marriage, Islam has rules for when the child is conceived. Islam seeks to put right all aspects of man’s life, aiming, as it does, to produce integrated and virtuous human beings. (175)

21 May 1979 (31 Urdibihisht 1358 AHS)

Islamic law contains provisions for the period before marriage takes place, because it is through marriage that human beings are created. When you want to get married, no other system of laws in the world is concerned with how you should go about this. As far as other laws are concerned, you need only register your marriage at the registry office, the rest is up to you. Islam, however, pays attention to the period before marriage, for it is from marriage that a child springs, and he must have sound beginnings.

Like an extremely caring and affectionate farmer who, to ensure that his crop turns out well, selects only seeds of the best kind, planting them in fertile soil and nourishing them with only pure water, Islam seeks to produce true human beings, and it sets out to do this even before the child’s parents have married by telling the woman what kind of man she should choose for a husband and the man what kind of woman he should choose for a wife, it gives them the rules for this. It has rules covering the marriage and afterwards when the woman is with child, then following that for the period of the child’s upbringing.

For Islam seeks to create a true human being, and it begins at the very beginning when the foundations of a child’s life are first laid. So it pays attention to such affairs, whereas all other laws in the world ignore them.

Other laws pay scant regard to how a man acts in the privacy of his own home, they adopt the attitude that as long as the person remains indoors and does not disturb the peace and order in society, he can do what he likes. Islam is not this way. Islam seeks to create upright human beings so that even at home they do nothing illegal or immoral. Islam wants man to behave at home as he would in the street, as he would in public. It seeks to make man a true human being in all circumstances. (176)

10 June 1979 (20 Khurdad 1358 AHS)

No teachings other than those of the prophets are concerned with who you choose as a wife or who the woman chooses as a husband. They consider it none of their concern. Not one of their laws covers this area or what duties are incumbent on the mother when she is with child, when she is breastfeeding and when raising the child, or what the father must do in rearing his child. Corporeal laws, and systems other than those of the prophets, are not concerned with such matters.

They are concerned only with preventing the individual from committing corrupt acts when he enters society, and even then they only make it their business when such acts are likely to cause disorder. Otherwise, they do not consider indulging in corrupt acts of the bacchanalian type as wrong; indeed they encourage such behaviour. They are not concerned with man’s moral refinement or with creating a true human being. In their view, the only difference between humans and animals is that man has progressed more, he can make aeroplanes whereas animals cannot, he can become a physician, an animal cannot. The limits for such laws exist in the physical realm.

Islam, however, is concerned with everything. It concerns itself even with the period before a couple marry so that their offspring will become morally sound, upright human beings. So it has instructions stipulating what kind of person you should choose for your spouse. Why does it do this? Well, we can compare it with a farmer who wants to produce a good crop. First, he must consider the land, making sure it is fertile land, then the seeds he is to plant, they too must be of fine quality, and then what the seeds need to grow. All these things he must take into account to ensure as far as possible that his crop will be a good one and he will profit from it.

Islam does the same, only with regard to human beings. So it stipulates what kind of person you should choose for a spouse so that a virtuous human being is produced. It has instructions covering the marriage and what conditions should be fulfilled, there are also instructions pertaining to the time a child is conceived, to the period when the woman is with child and when the infant is being suckled.

This is because the monotheistic schools of thought, of which Islam is the most comprehensive, have come to produce true human beings. They haven’t come to produce a creature with human intelligence but whose limits and aims are those of an animal. No, they have come to produce human beings in the true sense of the word. (177)

4 July 1979 (13 Tir 1358 AHS)

Let them come and see what Islam says, how it is with an individual from the time he/she wishes to marry to ensure that the child this union produces is a good child. How later it has rules for how the infant should be reared by his mother, how he should be treated at school and for all stages of his life until the end. Islam seeks to guide you along a straight path. (178)

6 July 1980 (15 Tir 1359 AHS)

Adapted from: "The Position of Women from the Viewpoint of Imam Khomeini (r.a.)"