The respectability of human rights begins with the way that society treats its children. Children's rights in Islam are not separated from human rights because children are the future generation. Our children are trust and assets for us from God. Furthermore, it is mentioned in the Eighteenth Chapter of the Quran (Surah Al-Kahf), verse 46 that children are an adornment of the worldly life.
The religion of Islam pays special attention to the rights of children and to the worthy manner to raise them. As the Prophet (PBUH) of Islam has asserted: "There are as many rights of children necessary upon parents as there are rights of parents necessary upon children."
It is worth mentioning that in this article, by children's rights in Islam we mean their rights over their parents. Admittedly, rights and duties are inter-related between parents and children, and children's rights in Islam are the duty of parents.
Accordingly, to fulfill children's rights in Islam, some parental obligations through specific guidelines are specified. Following guidelines are parental duties towards children (as the Child's Rights) in some specific ages:
1. Upbringing and Hygiene of Fetus (Before conception and during pregnancy)
Children's rights in Islam begin before conception and will continue during pregnancy. In this period, thoughts, actions, and nutrition of the parents (especially the mother) have an impact on the spirit, essence, character, and health of the unborn child; the child is like an organ of the mother and obtains all the necessary factors of development from her.
Emotional and respectful relations between parents and also mental relaxation of the mother are significant in this stage. Peace of mind has been affected by feeling assured in life.
Moreover, a healthy relationship between parents and a strong physical attraction is beneficial to conceive a pure and good child, while fear and worry will have negative consequences on the child.
One of the effective ways, to attain peace and confidence, is the remembrance of God [i].
Therefore, the mother should try her best to keep herself occupied with religious acts such as reading Quran, praying, and staying away from fruitless activities that will not benefit her or the child growing inside her.
On the other hand, the food individual eats not only has a high impact on the physical aspect of a person but on the nonphysical part as well. Some foods have also been recommended explicitly by Islamic teachings for a healthy, beautiful, and virtuous child. For instance, it is narrated from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP): “Eating pomegranate is a cause of increased sperm production for men and makes the child beautiful and healthy as well” .
Another Hadith from Imam Sadeq (AS) narrates that “Anyone who eats quince on an empty stomach, the source of his seed production (sperm) becomes pure and healthy, and his child will be beautiful and decent” .
It is important to note that many acts are not recommended during conception:
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “Speaking during the actual act, leads to confusion in the child” . And: “Making love when the man is muhtalim (i.e., become in the state of Janabat [ii] during his sleep) and before doing ablution (Wudu or Ghusl), as this results in the child becoming insane” .
The above narrations and recommendations are just some of these factors that may affect the conceived child. It is notable that many factors contribute to the physical and psychological make-up of the child, such as inherited characteristics, geographical terms, and social status, etc. Giving charity, reciting the Quran, and praying are strictly effective to avert possible negative consequences.
2.The recitation of The Call to Prayer (Adhan and Iqama) in the ear of a newborn (At birth)
In the earliest time possible, a newborn child should hear the remembrance (Zikr) of Allah upon his/her arrival into this world. Adhan should be said in the right ear, and Iqama should be said in the left one by a competent person such as the father [iii] .
[i] “Those who have faith and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah.’ Behold! The hearts find rest in Allah’s remembrance!” (13:28)
[ii] "Janabat" is a ritual impurity caused by the discharge of semen or by sexual intercourse, and the person on whom ghusl janabat becomes wajib is known as "junub" .
[iii] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “Whenever you had a newborn boy or girl, say Adhan to his or her right ear and also say Iqamah in the left ear. So the Satan will not harm the baby".
- Wasāil ash-Shī~a, vol. 25, p. 104, no. 31499
- Biĥār al-Anwār, vol. 81, p.101.
- Al-Khisal, p.520.
- lal al-sharayi, p.514.
- Tuhaf al-'uqul. p. 13.
- Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi, Marriage and Morals in Islam, p. 64.
A wealthy man went to Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) home to visit him. While they were speaking, the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) sat his grandchild, Hussain (AS) on his lap and started kissing him. The man was looking at the Prophet’s behavior toward the child in wonder. He said sadly “I have some children, but I have never kissed them.”
The Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) became upset and said, “What should I do when Allah has removed mercy from your heart”.
This short story explicitly reveals Islam’s emphasis on respectful and kind behavior toward children as the builders of society’s future. This short piece of writing is going to talk about kindness to children.
We are the ones who draw the picture of our children’s lives; it is our choice to draw a beautiful or an ugly one. A child, who lives in an integrated, peaceful, and kind family, undoubtedly enjoys a more lively spirit than his other peers who do not have the opportunity to live in such families.
Psychoanalytically speaking, you might have heard a lot about the role of kindness in upbringing children, as well as its impact on their future. Now let's take a look at what Islamic leaders have said about this issue.
If you have a child or know a child around you, you might find this saying of Imam Sadiq (AS) with regard to children interesting: “Love your children and be kind to them, and if you promise them, keep your promise, for they know nobody but you as their providers”. Imam Sadiq (AS), besides emphasizing kindness toward children, draws our attention to the importance of keeping our promise to children. As children, with their pure nature, are not yet aware of the concept of breaking promises, if the older ones commit this act, they will learn from them and copy their behavior. As a result, imitating this wrong deed will have damaging effects on the child’s spirit.
In another quote from Imam Sadiq (AS), he said: “The one who kisses his child, Allah will give him a reward in the hereafter, and the one who makes his child happy, Allah will make him happy in the resurrection day”. He also said: “Kiss your children a lot because each kiss will raise your statues in front of God”.
There are a lot of narrations and traditions about kind behavior toward children in reliable Islamic sources. In the end, it is noteworthy that the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) has emphasized a lot on playing with children in a very childish way as if you are a child yourself; this point of view is a modern psychological approach which our Prophet (PBUH&HP) mentioned 1400 years ago.
The holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “be close and friendly to your children and hug them”.
Today, one of the Islamic regulations that is the cause of many prejudgments about Islam in western countries is the law of polygamy in Islam. This practice refers to a form of marriage that allows a man to have two, three, or four wives at the same time, but, on the contrary, never ever allows a woman to have more than one husband simultaneously.
In this article, you will read the philosophy behind this law from different perspectives and finally see Islam’s recommendation on that.
Polygamy was practiced long before Islam among different nations and was considered as an acceptable common deed in the history of some other faiths including Christianity and Judaism, although it is frowned upon and forbidden in their cultures now.
According to the Jewish encyclopedia: “While there is no evidence of a polyandrous state in primitive Jewish society, polygamy seems to have been a well-established institution, dating from the most ancient times and extending to comparatively modern days” .
In Christianity also, polygamy does not contradict their Scripture: “Nowhere in the New Testament is there any explicit commandment that marriage should be monogamous or any explicit commandment forbidding polygamy” .
Islam did not invent the system of polygamy, neither did it ban this tradition which was practiced unlimitedly by Arabs. Instead, it restricted it to four wives and gave it specific conditions and terms.
It is explicitly stated in the Holy Quran that:
“If you fear that you may not deal justly with the orphans, then marry [other] women that you like, two, three, or four. But if you fear that you may not treat them fairly, then [marry only] one, or [marry from among] your slave-women. That makes it likelier that you will not be unfair” (4:3).
This verse was revealed in regard to the Arabs in the period of ignorance, who were seldom free from wars and fighting, and among whom death by killing was a common occurrence. So, there was always a great number of orphans and widows among them.
Usually, the leaders of tribes and people of power and influence took the orphan girls (with their properties) as wives and behaved with them unjustly. They would often turn them out after swallowing their property; the helpless girls would become poor; neither they had any money to live on, nor was there anyone willing to marry and maintain them. The Quran, then, has reproached those Arabs very severely for this evil habit and prohibited very strongly doing any injustice to orphans or devouring their property. Allah says in the previous verse:
“Give the orphans their property, and do not replace the good with the bad, and do not eat up their property [by mingling it] with your own property, for that is indeed a great sin” (4:2) [i].
On the whole, Allah urges them to be careful regarding the orphans, so much so that if they are afraid that they would not be able to treat the orphan girls equitably and therefore do not like to take them, wives, then they had better not marry them; instead they should marry other women- two, three or four .
Both the Quran and Sunnah (the Prophet’s (PBUH&HP) and infallible Imams’(AS) tradition) clearly indicate the legitimacy of polygamy in Islam and most of Islamic Jurists and Scholars agree with that. It is noteworthy, however, that Quran’s recommendation to marry two, three, or four does not in any way imply an obligation; neither has it been seen as a necessity in any of the Islamic sects. Now we will shed light on the reasons why Islam did not absolutely abolish this tradition.
There are two different stances among Muslim scholars about polygamy in Islam; some have denied it as a general Islamic law by saying that it was suited to that specific time -i.e., the time and occasion in which the verse (4:3) was revealed- in history. The others, on the other hand, make any attempt to defend this law by reasoning it and saying its benefits; some of their arguments are:
Men’s sexual desire is stronger and lasts longer than women’s.
Women are not capable of fulfilling men’s sexual desire fully because of the restrictions they have, viz. menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, etc.
There are usually more marriageable women than men due to women’s longer lifespan and men’s more frequent fatal casualties because of the dangerous incidents that happen to them, etc.
Among these reasons, the third one -if we suppose that it existed in the past or continues to be common in the present day- is of great importance in justifying polygamy in Islam. Not only that, but it creates a right in favor of women and duty and responsibility for men and society.
Clearly speaking, if, in any case, the number of women fit to be married exceeds the number of marriageable men, then a group of women would be left without husbands and would remain deprived of the right to family life, so the law restricting marriage to monogamy will be inconsistent with this natural right. Accordingly, it is only by the provision of the law of polygamy (of course with special conditions) that this natural right is revived.
What’s more, Islam disagrees with the belief that man is a born polygamist and that his nature is at variance with monogamy. Islam, also, is against the idea that loyalty is impossible for men, and that one woman is created for one man, and one man for all women.
Polygamy, in the Islamic perspective, rises from a social difficulty and is not due to the innate nature of men. If there did not exist in society the problem of an excess of the number of women in need of marriage over the number of marriageable men, the custom of polygamy would have ceased to exist or would have rarely existed .
Now read the second part of this article to see the Islamic restrictions on the law of polygamy in Islam.