Issues concerning freedom may arouse a special sense of curiosity; they always look appealing and interesting to people. Perhaps it is because freedom has been human beings’ ideal throughout history. Everyone is so interested in the freedom that they have tried to achieve it through any available means. However, freedom is a broad concept with many aspects that are related to all areas of our lives. This essay will refer to one of its effective and fruitful aspects, which is freedom in marriage.
The first step in forming a family is choosing a spouse. Now let’s see Islam's point of view toward freedom of choice in marriage:
"A marriage is not correct and valid unless through freedom of choice."
Such a condition for marriage at the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was very strange and caused fright and anger among people since it was in complete contrast with their core beliefs; at that time women were given a very low rank compared with men, and they were considered inferior to them.
To clarify the Islamic model of a free marriage, here are two stories from that time:
A frightened girl came to the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) and while she could hardly breathe, said to him: “…oh, why is my father like this?”
“What has he done?” said the Prophet (PBUH&HP).
“He wants me to marry his nephew without asking my idea about him. I do not love him and how can I marry a person whom I do not love?” said the girl.
“If you do not love him forget about him and marry the one whom you love.” said the Prophet (PBUH&HP) calmly.
The girl was pleased after hearing the Prophet’s (PBUH&HP) words. She said then, “actually, I love him very much and I would not choose anyone else as my future husband instead of him. But since my father did not ask my opinion, I intentionally came here to know your idea. Now that I know what you think, I will tell all the girls that their fathers do not have the right to choose their husbands.”
This woman is one of the thousands who made our history, those poor people who lived in the darkness of ignorance. The story mentioned above is a sample of the situation of women in the era of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) had one child named "Fatimah Zahra" (AS). She was so dear to the Prophet (PBUH), and everyone knew that. There were some great men who wished to marry her. One of them was Imam Ali (AS), the first successor of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and the leader (Imam) of Muslims.
When he went to the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and asked for his beloved daughter’s hand, the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) said that some others came to him for this reason too, and he shared their requests with his daughter, but she respectfully rejected their marriage proposals. “Now, I will deliver your proposal to her,” said our dear Prophet (PBUH&HP). Then, the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) informed his beloved daughter about Ali’s (AS) proposal, but this time and unlike her reply to previous proposals, she remained silent as a sign of satisfaction. So the Prophet (PBUH&HP) went to Ali happily and congratulated him on the good news.
The last-mentioned story is a very good example of portraying Islam's approach towards marriage and the importance of freedom in it, regarding the lifestyle of our holy leaders.
“He is only a child!”, “Be quiet, this is a grown-up issue”, “Go to your room and don’t disturb us while we are talking” … What do these sentences remind you of? Your own childhood? Your little son or daughter? you have probably heard these statements at least once or twice in your lifetime. Remember this, “ You are responsible for your flower ”. Now let’s read the following extract in this regard:
“It was the time of prayer (Salat). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) who was with his grandchild, Hassan Ibn Ali (AS), invited people to perform this holy task. While standing for Salat, Prophet put the child beside himself and started his prayer. People who were behind him wondered why he had lingered in prostration for a long time, but there was no way for them to find out the cause in the middle of Salat. After they had finished, they inquired the reason of the Prophet (PBUH&HP): ‘we had never seen such a prostration from you. We thought that you were receiving revelations from Allah that made you linger in your prostration for such a long time’. He answered: ‘No it was not a revelation. My child, Hassan (AS), was climbing over me when I was in prostration and I did not want to rush and put him down. So I waited for him long enough to come down himself’” .
“Once prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and other Muslims stand to perform Midday prayer (Salat al-Zuhr) in a congregational manner. However, after performing the second Rak’ah, Prophet (PBUH&HP) suddenly made haste in finishing the two remaining Rak’ahs. After the prayer was finished, the people around him asked: ‘Has something unpleasant happened that you made haste in completing your prayer?’ Prophet answered: ‘Haven’t you heard the voice of that baby who was moaning?’” 
These and many other examples from our kind Prophet shows the deep regard of our religion for the dignity and self-worth of children in Islam.
Through his speech and manner, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) constantly invited his followers to treat children in Islam with respect and to devote great attention to their behavior toward them; when his grandchildren entered a room, Prophet (PBUH&HP) would stand up and welcome them warmlyi, he was always the first one who greeted children and never refused children’s request for playing with them and participated in their games .
As a result of this kind of behavior, children in Islam will feel worthy of respect and will show more confidence in their actions. Consequently, when they grow up, they will be able to take risks and use their full capacity not being afraid of failure and humiliation.
On the contrary, the child whose dignity has been neglected by his/her parents will end up being shaky and not confident, not able to decide for his/her life and find his/her way to success. A beautiful analogy by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) will clarify this fact more: “my cloth will be cleaned by water, but what will cleanse my child’s heart from the dust of discomfiture and the pain of humiliation?” 
So, in raising our children in Islam, it is our responsibility to be highly observant not to say something or act in a way that would deny their self-worth and dignity and belittle them in any way. Children are sensitive creatures, like flowers, an action or a remark which may seem to us unimportant and natural, can wither their beautiful and innocent souls easily, and mark a permanent injury on their heart. Remember, “You are responsible for your flower”.
[i]. This behavior of Prophet (PBUH&HP) was probably because of the great personality and value of Imam Hassan (AS) and Imam Hossein (AS), however, when we consider it along with other Hadiths, we can easily distinguish the affectionate and compassionate manner of him toward children.
- Ibn Shahr Ashub, Muhammad. Manaqib Al Abi Talib. V.4, P.24.
- Ali Ibn Hassan Tabarsi. Meshat al-Anvar. P. 243.
- Abbas Qomi. Safinah al Bahar. V.2, P.676.
- Falsafi, Muhammad Taqi. Child in Hereditary and Upbringing View (Kudak Az Nazare Verasat va Tarbiat). P.259.
When a child is born, he sees only two people by his side who are with him at all stages of life, are willing to help him until death takes them apart, want his success in everything, and are open to any harm for the sake of his success. They give him the basic teachings of life and try to prepare him in the best way to enter society. Their names are the first words a baby utters: mom and dad. In this topic, we are going to talk about the place has given to the father in Islam.
When we talk about an issue from an Islamic perspective, the best document we can come up with is the Holy Quran. Before going to the topic of parents’ status in Islam, we should mention that Allah also commanded the followers of previous divine religions to respect their parents and that this commandment of Allah was along with several other commandments, including monotheism; Because loving and caring about parents is a natural human trait and is restricted neither to time nor people or religion. We now turn to a number of Quranic guidelines on the status of parents in Islam:
"…Do not worship except Allah, and to parents do good…" (The Holy Quran 2:83)
"Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good …" (The Holy Quran 4:36)
"Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination" (The Holy Quran 31:14)
When you think carefully about these verses, you can see an epic image; Allah places parents in the Muslim’s life right after His high position and goodness to parents beside monotheism. Now that we know about Quran’s perspective, let us read more about this matter in the Islamic narrations. Another important matter before reading the narrations, however, is that Allah never singles out a parent but mentions both of them meaning that the mother’s placement is as high as the father’s in Islam.
-Undoubtedly, the dignity of the father is unique before Allah; To the extent that Prophet Mohammad (PBUH&HP) said: The father is in the middle of paradise, it is up to you to either keep it or waste it. (1) This means that achieving divine grace depends on the consent of the father. His position and respect are highly recommended in such a way that it cannot be easily overlooked, as far as the Islamic lifestyle is concerned. Of course, in today's world, parents are not valued as they should be, but in the school of Islam and in various verses that we read above, their placement is high. This position is so great that the Prophet (PBUH&HP) has introduced himself and Imam Ali (PBUH) to the people as the fathers of this nation (2) which means that everything the two do is only for the success and progress of this blessed religion, and they wish nothing in return; just like a father sacrifices his life for the betterment of his children.
-If a parent curses his child, he will not have a way to heaven. Not only will he not have a way, but he will be deprived of the smell of heaven from afar. As the Holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP) said: The smell will reach the nostrils, but not the nostrils of such parents. (3)
- In this regard, Imam Reza (as) also says: "It is obligatory to do good to one's parents, even though they are polytheists, but in disobeying God, one should not be commanded by them." (4)
- A man named Ibrahim, one of the companions of Imam Sadigh (AS), said to him: “My father is very old and incapacitated so that when he wants to do the basics of his life, we take him on our shoulders and take him away”. Imam said: "If you can do such a thing yourself and make food for him with your own hands; because such a service is the shield of fire for the day after your resurrection". (5)
- One of the moral precepts of Islam is to keep the name and memory of parents alive. In a part of the prayer of Imam Sajjad (as) it is stated: “O my God! "I do not remember my parents at the end of the prayers, and I do not remember them at all moments of the evening and at all hours of the day." (6)
This was the indication on remembrance, in any form and in any way, of doing good to fathers and a kind of appreciation for their efforts and promoting the tradition of respect for elders. Also, Hafez, one of the famous Persian poets said on this topic: How to nurture the sweetness of your heart // When you do not remember your father, you stone-hearted. (7)
As we look at Islam and its Prophet through narrations, we see that the value and importance they place on human parents is very high and only a step lower than Allah, a place that if people seek redemption and heaven, they are given based on their goodness to parents. We hope that in this way we can be benevolent children for our parents and models for other Muslims.
- Gharar al-Hikam (21th volume – page 174)
- Bihar al-Anwar (16th volume – page 95)
- Tafsir Nemooneh (12th volume – page 97)
- Bihar al-Anwar (16th volume – page 100)
- Bihar al-Anwar (16th volume – page 101)
- Al-Sahifa Al-Sajjadiyya (24th Supplication)
- The Divan of Hafez – 298th sonnet