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Imam Khomeini: The role of the Family (Part 1)

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.

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 . . .

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.

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.

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. `

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.

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.

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.

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.

19 February 1979 (30 Bahman 1357 AHS)


SOURCE: THE POSITION OF WOMEN FROM THE VIEWPOINT OF IMAM KHOMEINI (R.A.)

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