Islamic Human Rights (50)
Welcome to this week’s episode of the series Islamic Human Rights. Different schools of thought and ideologies have focused on children’s rights.
Meanwhile, the question which springs to mind is that among these schools of thought, which legal system is superior and more comprehensive, and which one of them, in addition to presentation of significant theories, has also rendered practical solutions and approaches? In general, which one of these legal systems and schools of thought should be accepted and practiced in the present day community?
Currently, discussions about families are of paramount importance. One of the discussions in this realm is related to the rights and duties of the members of family. Given that children are the weakest and possibly most important members of families, children’s rights are among the most important human rights. In fact, if children would not maintain especial rights, they would not be able to maintain their physical and mental health, and would fail to establish a beneficial and effective presence in the community. Hence, children’s rights are of significance. Meanwhile, it is important to become familiar with the viewpoints of the divine religion of Islam, which is the last and most comprehensive divine religion.
In Islamic teachings, all children maintain a number of rights, and adults have been banned from mistreating children. Within the Islamic narrations which have been cited from the Infallible Imams of the Prophet of Islam’s Household, sons and daughters have been referred to as divine blessings. This is while in the pre-Islamic era, children suffered from inappropriate conditions among Arabs and other ethnicities, and were denied even minimal rights. In the meantime, the conditions were appalling for female minors. Leading Arab figures were ashamed of having daughters, and buried them alive.
God in the 58th and 59th ayahs of Surat al-Nahl in Holy Quran notes: “When one of them is brought the news of a female newborn, his face becomes darkened and he chokes with suppressed agony. He hides from the people out of distress at the news he has been brought: shall he retain it in humiliation, or bury it in the ground! Look! Evil is the judgment that they make.”
The divine religion of Islam prevented the ugly habits of people; treasured children, and urged parents not to kill their children under baseless pretexts.
The 31st ayah of Surat al-Isra notes: “Do not kill your children for the fear of penury: We will provide for them and for you. Killing them is indeed a great iniquity.”
The interesting point is that support for children’s rights was voiced when there was no international organization or convention for defending children’s rights. The divine religion of Islam, via considering all primary physical and mental needs of children, paved the ground for children’s growth and progress in all aspects.
Children are divine blessings which are granted to their parents. This divine blessing should be endeared and respected. Children, like any other human beings, want to be respected. Thus, the Prophet of Islam, Mohammad (Blessings of God upon him and his progeny), notes: respect your children and be kind toward them. Also, deliver on the pledges you make to your children.
In fact, via fully respecting their children, parents can value their offspring and meet their psychological needs.
According to the 18th Article of the Children Rights Convention, parents are the main individuals responsible for fulfilling their children’s rights. This is also the case in Islamic teachings, because children are divine blessings that God has bestowed on their parents.
The 233rd ayah of Surat al-Baqarah in Holy Quran notes: “Mothers shall suckle their children for two full years, and on the father shall be their maintenance and clothing, in accordance with honorable norms. No soul is to be tasked; except according to its capacity: neither the mother shall be made to suffer harm on her child’s account, nor the father on account of his child, and on the father’s heir devolve duties and rights similar to that. And if the couple desire to wean, with mutual consent and consultation, there will be no sin upon them. And if you want to have your children wet-nursed, there will be no sin upon you as long as you pay what you give in accordance with honorable norms, and be wary of Allah, and know that Allah sees best what you do.”
The Prophet of Islam repeatedly put emphasis on the inalienable rights of children via reference to ayahs of Holy Quran.
Access to healthy and appropriate food is one of the unquestionable rights of children, which fulfills their physical needs.
According to 24th Article of Children Rights Convention, countries which are party to this convention are duty-bound to campaign against diseases and malnutrition via provision of nutritious food and healthy drinking water.
In accordance to Prophet Mohammad, no deed is better than feeding a hungry individual. Prophet of Islam has also been cited as saying that one of father’s duties is to provide appropriate food for his child.
Meanwhile, if parents would not be able to provide appropriate food; the members of the community are religiously duty-bound to provide their food.
Furthermore, in Islam, one of the first measures via which father shows his kindness toward his child is provision of an appropriate name for his child. This is because via this measure, part of child’s psychological needs is met; child is credited; and also fends off any possible insult and humiliation by others. In the view of Islam, selection of a good name can also provide mental security and comfort for children.