Friday, November 17, 2006
Children are the fruits of material relations. They are the adornment of the house, the beauty of the family, and the seeds guaranteeing the continuation of life. That is why Allah has made maternal affection the strongest of all other living instincts. Childbirth is linked to the desire to survive and be eternal and children represent the continuation of the parents' survival in life.
Islam expresses and interprets these innate human feelings through its laws and legislations, regulating marriage, parental relations and responsibilities, defining the parents' relations with their children and designing the rights and duties of each member in proportion to his role in the family.
a. The father is responsible for providing sustenance for his children as well as meeting their other needs as long as they are below adulthood and even after it, should they be unable to earn their own livelihood due to reasons accepted by Islamic law, such as illness, disability, and the like.
In this way this relationship and the principle of reciprocal undertakings continue. These relations have material and moral dimensions effective in the construction of the family and the society and in strengthening the ties among the members of the family. So the father is the one, who is responsible for arrangements to bring up, nurse, suck and attend his children during their childhood. The mother is exempted from this task. Islam gives the mother the right to be paid for giving suck to her children and for nursing and bringing them up, as the mother is not responsible for that. But she is responsible for proper care and guidance for her children and to bring them up as best as she can, since her role at home is that of a teacher, educator and guide.
But if she volunteers to take care of her children, give them the suck, nurse them, etc., it will be a deed Allah likes to see, and rewards her for it. Actually, Islam encourages her to do so but without any compulsion or obligation.
b. The second right of the children upon their father is the latter's duty in bringing them up with proper guidance, and treating them with the spirit of love and affection.
Naturally a child needs paternal care, love and affection, much as it needs milk, medicine, clothes, etc. The following Traditions urge love and affection towards children:
"Love children and have mercy on them. When you promise them, keep it, as they think it is you who support them."
"Whoever kisses his child, Allah the Exalted writes for him a reward; whoever pleases his child, Allah will please him on the Resurrection Day; and whoever teaches his child (how to read) the Qur'an, he and the mother (of the child) will be dressed in the hereafter in suits whose illumination will light the faces of the dwellers of paradise."
"Allah will have mercy on the man who passionately loves his child."
It has scientifically been confirmed that children who live in an environment of love, affection and parental care, grow up free from any complexities, psychopathic and symptoms of weak personality. Science has also proved that harmonious parental relations have positive effects on the behavior of the children and on their relations with the others, in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. On the contrary, the child who lacks affectionate treatment and grows up in an atmosphere of hatred, spite and negligence, acquires a loose and weak personality, irresponsible and aggressive behavior and suffers from inferiority complex.
Consequently, Islam lays stress on the responsibility of fathers in bringing up the children with proper guidance. It says:
"O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones, over which are set angels strong and severe, who do not disobey Allah in what He commands them, but do as they are commanded." Holy Qur'an (68:6)
A man came to the Messenger of Allah and asked him: "What right has this son of mine upon me?" The Prophet replied: "Give him a good name and a good education and place him in a good position."
Thus, it is the responsibility of the father to guide his children and educate them so that they can lead a righteous life. Islam entrusts the father or the consanguineous grandfather, authority and control over the children. At the same time, it holds him responsible for his children's behavior to the rights of others in society.