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Monday 29th of November 2021
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HOW DOES ISLAM BUILD THE FAMILY (2)

HOW DOES ISLAM BUILD THE FAMILY

The Imam, Ali bin Al-Husain (a.s.) wrote back to him: "I received your

letter reproaching me for marrying my bondmaid, claiming that there

were in Quraish women who would have brought glory to me if I married

them and have their children. But no one is superior than the

Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) in glory and generosity. She had been of my

belongings, I emancipated her from my possessions for a reward I

expect from Allah, then I took her back (married) according to His

law. Whoever is steadfast in the religion of Allah, nothing will harm

him. Allah has, with Islam, raised those who were despised, perfected

by it the defects, and removed worthlessness. So a Muslim cannot be

worthless, and worthlessness belongs to the Era of Ignorance."27

When Abdul Malik read the letter, he was dumbfounded and threw it to

his son Sulaiman, acknowledging his failure in insulting the Imam

(a.s.).

Sulaiman, having read the letter, told his father: "O Commander of

the Believers, how boastful, Ali bin Al-Husain is to you!

Abdul-Malik replied, "O Son, do not say so, He is the most elegant of

all Bani Hashim who `split the rock and drank out of an ocean' (of

Knowledge)., Ali bin Al-Husain, dear son, gets higher where other

people get lower."

In this way Islam has removed the gravest and most hindering of

obstacles which contradicted the human spirit and nature.

Having managed to overcome this social handicap, and to change this

backward and ignorant way of thinking, Islam tackled another

materialistic problem, whose bad effect was hindering marriages and

the establishment of families, that is the problem of high

marriage-portions.

Having defined the concept of marriage as a universal and natural

system through which man performs the legal ties and connections,

Islam looked upon marriage-portion as a secondary thing and placed

marriage high above all materialistic benefits and interests. It

abolished all concepts which regarded marriage-portion as the woman's

price, or as wedding expenses.

Islam regards the mutual consent of both parties, the husband and

wife, as two corners of matrimonial relations, the best reason for

concluding a marriage,* while the marriage-portion is but a gift on

which the legal contract is based. It is fixed before concluding the

legal contract. Although Islam does not fix any limits, however, it

encourages the lowest possible sum acceptable to the bride, even a

Dirham or less than it. It also allows marriage-portion to be in the

form of a service, such as teaching the wife to read and write, or to

memorize a chapter (Sura) of the Glorious Qur'an, or even to teach her a foreign

language or a certain profession, etc.

All these are devised to make marriage easy, and to do away with

whatever obstacles which stand in the way, like high marriage-portions

which in our contemporary society force people to remain single and

are a serious hindrance to a marriage.

These obstacles are all due to the resurgence of the backward

pre-Islamic concepts about marriage-portion, wedding expenses and

gifts for the bride, especially after the high cost of living and low

individual incomes.

So, in order to solve these social problems and help the individual

build family life easily and orderly, Islam strongly detests and

resists the high cost of weddings and extravagance, and urges people

to reduce the demands of marriage-portion to the lowest possible

level.

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) has said:

"The best women of my people are the most beautiful, but ask the

lowest possible `mehr' (marriage-portion)".

It has also been said:

"The blessing of a woman is her modest mehr"

Also, it is narrated: "...as to woman, her misfortune is in her high

`mehr' and (troublesome) delivery..."

The marriage of Fatimah (a.s.), daughter of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.),

was unique regarding her portion. She married the Imam, Ali (a.s.) for a

modest sum of money ever recorded in history with pride and

endearment, despite the fact that she was the daughter of the

Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), the noblest of the women of the world, and

that her father could afford her with a wealth matching that of the

women of Ceasars and Chosroes. Yet his goal was much more superior and

Fatima's personality and her marriage were much higher above wealth,

furniture and the trivialities of this world.

History has preserved this wonderful picture with respect and

splendor;

When the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) wanted to marry his daughter to the

Imam `Ali (a.s.), he asked him: "Have you anything to marry with?"

The Imam replied that except for a sword, an armor and a camel, which

the Imam sold for 480 Dirhams and handed the sum to the Prophet

(S.A.). The Prophet accepted this modest sum, and asked men and women

to purchase garments for the bride, some furniture and other household

necessities.

These were as follows:

1. An Egyptian woollen mat.

2. A leather pillow filled with palm fiber.

3. A cloak from Khaiber.

4. A water-skin.

5. Earthenware mugs.

6. Earthenware water jars.

7. A water basin.

8. Thin woolen curtains.

9. A bed with ribbons.

10. A mat from Hajar.

11. A vessel for dyeing.

12. A milk bowl.

13. A shirt.

14. A small water-skin.

15. A sieve.

16. A towel.

17. A stone hand-mill.

18. A copper pot.

This modest picture of the new home for the said cost was meant by

the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) to be an example of the highest level,

personifying the principles practically to be followed in life by

Muslims.

!- How the Building of the Family Begins?

The family, that important edifice based on legal foundations and

humane relations, as well as on natural and instinctive ones, is a

serious human building. Islam paved the way to its establishment,

through the following basic preparatory and constructive steps:

1. Encouraging and simplifying marriage, as has already been

explained.

2. Choosing the spouse. Since this is quite an important matter, and

on it are based the lives of the married couple, and the future of

their family and children, Islam takes special care recommends good

morals and physical attributes and righteous conduct as a code to be

observed by both parties on selecting a spouse. It also draws

attention to the unagreeable and detestable characteristics which are

to be avoided when choosing a partner.

Thus, Islam asks a man to choose a chaste, affectionate, and pious

woman of good character and manners, of a family known for its honor

and good conduct, endowed with a respectable personality among her

family and relations. Furthermore Islam does not neglect the aesthetic

elements such as beauty and good-looks, as well as the masculine

physical characteristics desired by women. But it does not give these

elements priority over morality and good behavior. Islam considers

these to be of secondary importance and below the attributes necessary

to be a good husband and wife.

The Traditions of the Prophet glitter with numerous sayings that

throw light on this important aspect of man and woman. Following are

some of his sayings dealing with this crucial subject:

"Beware of the green manure! Asked what a green manure meant, he

replied" A beautiful woman growing up in a bad environment"

"Choose for your seed, as the uncle [wife's brother] is [represented

by] one of the two bedfellows".

"Look for goodness in the beautiful faces, as their deeds are apt to

be good."

"Marry a pious woman, [or] your hands may be dirtied."

"Marry the virgin the prolific, not the beautiful but barren."

"Let me tell you about the worst of your women: The humiliated among

her folk, the haughty with her husband, the spiteful barren, the one

not refraining from evil, adorning herself during her husband's

absence, showing chastity only in his presence, heedless to his words,

disobeying his orders, recoiling from him when alone together like an

uncontrolable horse in riding, accepting no excuse from hem, and

forgiving none of his."

"The best of your woman is the prolific, the affectionate, the

chaste, the endeared of her family, humble with her husband, adorns

herself in his presence, fortifies herself against other than him,

listens to his words, and his orders, offers herself to him when

alone, but not so unabashed like him."

Imam Ali bin Al-Husain (a.s.) said:

"If one of you wants to marry, inquire about the woman's hair, as you

inquire about her face, as hair is one of the two beauties."

Likewise there are guidelines for the woman about the basic

characteristics to be sought for in a husband.

Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (a.s.), has related from the Prophet:

"The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said: If a person of good character

sends a proposal to your daughter, then marry her to him. If you do

not, there will be mischief on earth and wide corruption."

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) further said:

"Do not marry a drunkard even if he proposes."

once Hussayn bin Bashshar Al-Wasati wrote to the Imam Ali bin Musa

Al-Ridha (a.s.), saying:

"A relative of mine has proposed for my daughter but he is rather

ill-tempered."

The Imam advised him:

"Do not marry to him if he is ill-tempered."

The second step towards establishing a family is the constructive one

which begins with the conclusion of the marriage contract between a

man had a woman. The marriage legally pronounces them husband and wife

and is an agreement for lawfully enjoying each other's company.

This contract cannot be concluded without the consent of both the

parties, since they are the two props that bring it in existence and

give it its value.

It is noteworthy to say that it is the woman, or her agent, who

conclude the contract, and not the man. It is she who offers to marry

the man, consents, agrees, fixes the `mehr' that is the amount of

money to be paid to the bride and to be mentioned while making the

agreement. She may also impose special conditions other than the

matrimonial rights granted by the Islamic personal law. This is true

of the husband too, provided that these conditions do not contradict

any established religious principles.

The marriage agreement is concluded orally, as follows: The woman

says to the man: "I marry you against a portion of (the amount is to

be stated.) The man immediately replies: "I accept".

So, when the woman or her agent, pronounce this text of the agreement

and the man or his agent accepts it, the agreement or the man or his

agent accepts it, the agreement or the contract is concluded between

the couple, and the matrimonial relations start and what had been

forbidden for them before the conclusion of the agreement, becomes

lawful for them to do. They are now free to start a family and enjoy

married life as the agreement authorizes both parties to build a

family. So, marriage is a process of consent and agreement between

the wills of man and woman. No marriage and no legal

relations can be established between them per force or without their

free will and consent, because marriage, in its creative meaning,

cannot be accomplished except through psychological and voluntary

harmony the man and the woman.

2. The Guardian and the Marriage Contract:

The Sacred legislation permits the father or the

grandfather-representing the father to marry his minor son or daughter

(below the age of puberty) and this agreement is regarded valid,

unless it is harmful and disadvantageous to either the boy or the

girl, in which case when they come of age they are free either to

accept the marriage conducted by their guardians or reject it.

Concerning a grown up woman who has legally come of age, if she is

divorced or widowed, her father and grandfather have no authority upon

her. She is the one to choose her spouse according to her free will.

But, as regards the virgin, the religious learned scholars have different opinions about the role of the father or the grandfather, in conducting her

marriage. They back their opinions with suitable Traditions and Saying

of the Prophet (S.A). On studying these opinions we find them fall

into three categories:

1. Some say that the father (or the grandfather or their agents)- has

the right to use his authority over his virgin daughter in respect to

her marriage, Accordingly, the guardian of the grown up virgin has the

right to marry her to a suitable man even without her consent. They

say that such a marriage is legal and valid and she cannot reject it.

But if he selects and inefficient man, or he cares only for his own

selfish interests resulting from such a marriage, it is considered

illegal and she has the right to reject it.

2. Another group of religious learned scholars suggest that the consent of both

the father or the grandfather or their agents and the daughter is

necessary. They maintain that the father cannot marry his daughter

without her consent and similarly she cannot accept a marriage

proposal without her father's consent. Neither of them has the right

to act unilaterally; as the lawfulness of this procedure depends on

their unanimous consent, provided the guardian would not choose an

unsuitable husband; but if he did and insisted on his choice, his

consent will no longer be considered necessary, and she is free to

marry herself, disregarding her guardian's consent.

3. A third group of religious learned scholars say that a grown up virgin who has

come of age cannot be subjected to the authority of her father,

grandfather or their agents, and they have no right to marry her

forcibly according to their choice, and, at the same time, she is not

obliged to ask for their consent to marry. It is only she herself who

can select her spouse. This group regards marriage to be a contract

just as any other contract. They maintain that since the grown up

woman has the right to conclude contracts or transactions like buying,

selling, possessing, donating, etc., and nobody can prevent her from

doing so, or even take part in the making of her decisions, similarly

she can act the same in respect to marriage. They back their opinion

with a number of Traditions and Sayings of the Prophet (s.a.w.) which are

stated in their arguments.

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