By: Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra)
Translated by: Manal Samhat
In our contemporary times, we are facing new trends that are fighting the family system and the institution of marriage, under the pretext that the family strangles the individual's freedom, whether that individual was a man or woman, and traps him/her in a narrow zone through which he cannot exercise his freedom in living a life full of entertainment and messing around, and in going wherever he wants. Some might even feel like connecting this issue to the rights of women and their need to confirm their humanity, claiming that the woman's job in the family system is restricted to nursing, including getting pregnant, delivering babies, breastfeeding, which might waste all her academic and practical potentials.
Some might consider the environment in the family system to be limited and rather strangling. It traps children within the limited mentality of the parents, consequently afflicting children. In fact, this might directly affect the nation and confuse it to think negatively of the family system.
The opponents of this family system suggest an alternative to it, which is based on the big nurseries that turn children into one big family supervised by specialized babysitters and equipped with the most modern means of education and care. This would provide for the children a wide group life and a unified education, whereas the parents would gain the complete freedom to exercise their lives the way they like to and make use of their diverse potentials the way they wish, away from the pressures of responsibilities that the family system imposes on them.
Some might even add that it is not necessary to legitimize the sexual relations under the title of marriage, because marriage aims at preserving mankind, and satisfying the instinctual desires. They tend to believe that there is no need to the rules that make a marriage legal. Others might propose the issue of the new methods of childbirth, such as in-vitro fertilization and the like; which could lead, in the future, to producing humans in farms, just as the chicken farms.; a process that relieves women from the difficulties of pregnancy and delivery.
However, this way of thinking does not provide the man-woman relation with any spiritual dimension, but rather deems it as a mere materialistic relation. In this case, the issue of children would not be more than an issue of existence and evolution similar to that of an animal, or plant, or an object.
Even though adopting this line might achieve certain positive points, it would create many negative ones that might challenge man's normal development in his childhood, youth, and his entire life.
Therefore, we ought to highlight manís bitter experience as a result of the family's disintegration and its dissolution in the modern man's life in the western countries, since he has based his life the concept that freedom is irresponsibility. Actually, this reality shows how the sons and daughters, as well as the parents, drift away gradually from the family ambience, since they feel that the institution of family has turned into a big prison, and the home that brings them together has turned into a motel that holds individuals who do not feel a sense of intimacy with each other. In other words, each of them lives independently while compassion and kindness have no room in their lives.
Therefore, this generation is experiencing a lack of humanitarian feeling and sense of belonging, as well as the sense of absurdity in life, just as what happened at the beginning of the new crazes that invaded Europe, America, and elsewhere; feeling spiritually and emotionally empty and cold, which lured man to escape his reality, and to rebel against his way of living
As for the talk about narrow horizons and human rights, it adds nothing but a few marginal negativities; however, they are negativities that do not stand strong before the multitude of the positive aspects and criticism, because life is responsible for widening the narrow horizons that the child might live through his parents. Moreover, the unified advanced education might provide the nation's children with a unified way of thinking by means of unified academic curricula. On the other hand, the difference and diversity of the parents' mentalities is a fertile ground for diversifying the mentalities and activate them so as they would not freeze at a single pattern of thought. In this way, each of these methods would add a new meaning to life once the potentials start to blossom and open up.
As for the talk about the woman's and the parents' rights, we consider it to be unworthy of being discussed or even contemplated, since this system does not freeze the freedoms, but rather places them within the framework of responsibility, and does not waste the rights, but rather organizes their course and movement in man's life.
Whatever the negativities of the old system were, we find that the negativities produced by the alternate system threaten the vitality of life in man and destroy his spirituality and dry out mercy and kindness from his emotions.
Therefore, we ought to insist on and maintain the family as a system, and marriage as an institution, because humanity has not found a better alternative it can adopt; however, we do not mind examining thoroughly the negativities of this system and trying to decrease and alleviate them by working hard on applying it in the right manner.
An Excerpt of the Book "A'la Tareek Al-Usra Al-Muslima" (Down the Path of the Muslim Family)