Introduction By Dr. Mohammed Emarah

 

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    The Islamic Charter on Family

     

    Introduction By Dr. Mohammed Emarah

     

     Why This Charter?

    All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation, and may prayers and peace be upon Muhammad, his family, his companions, and all those who follow him on the path of righteousness until the Day of Judgment.

    Before the ideological invasions that were launched against Islamic society when Bonaparte led the western attacks against Egypt and the East, (1798 C.E. /1213 A.H.), there was no need for charters or philosophies to outline codes of Muslim behavior in life's various arenas; individually, within the family, socially and politically. At that time, the only authoritative frame of reference in Muslim lands was Islam, and thus, it was the Islamic frame of reference that defined the concepts and philosophies related to these arenas.

    In fact, the only difficulties that confronted Islamic life at that time were the implementation of Islam's unique concepts, which even govern the differences in Islamic jurisprudence that result from ijtihaad (personal juristic interpretation) within the framework of this authority, its concepts, and its philosophies; and the extent to which the actual reality and implementation meet the Islamically defined ideal.

    The western ideological invasion, however, brought about a fundamental change. In the eastern, Islamic societies, the seeds of another cultural frame of reference were being planted; one that was man made, secular, and anti-religious. It became a fierce competitor for the authority of Islam, and as a result, it became necessary to distinguish Islamic concepts from those of its manmade, secular, anti-religious opponent, as they relate to various aspects of life.

    §  This was the beginning of the realization of the necessity and importance of instituting Islamic fiqh as a preferable alternative to manmade secular law.

    §  At the same time, the Islamic, faith-based view of creation and life; the beginning of creation, its progress, its destiny, and man's status with respect to the creation, began to crystallize as preferable option to the secular, materialistic view of creation and life.

    §  Likewise, the Islamic view of wealth, money, and social justice began to crystallize, wherein the system of istikhlaaf[1] offers an economic and societal alternative to both liberal capitalism and all-encompassing communism.

     Cloaked in deceit, this attack infiltrated the various spheres of Islamic life gradually. They attempted to hide their true intentions by twisting concepts and definitions, so as not to provoke Islamic sentiments or alert the Muslims to their need to defend themselves.  As the planners of this attack understood status of the family within the system of Islamic values, they were well aware that it is considered a sacred and honored entity. Therefore, the attack on the family was launched at a later stage, after all of the other facets of life had already been affected by their assault, so that the Muslim family would be left to stand alone, surrounded by this western ideological assault from all directions and orientations!

    During the last twenty years of the twentieth century, there has been a rise in the waves of westernization, as is evident in the west's dominance over international establishments, globalization's annihilation of non-western cultures and values, and the western attack on the sanctity of the Muslim family and its Islamic values. As a result, it has become incumbent upon Islamic think-tanks and organizations to provide an Islamic alternative in this field.

    The role of the United Nations organizations in empowering the western ideological invasion:

    Since the 1980's, this invasion has formed a value system based on modernism and postmodernism that has been incorporated within charters and agreements to spread globalization.  These chargers have been effected under the guise of the United Nations and its affiliated organizations in an effort to replace the Islamic value system with this new value system, which clashes with all religious values, particularly in the realm of the family.

    Within the dominion of politics, the modern western hegemonic power chants its slogan of "creative chaos", which seeks to dissolve Islamic societies and scatter the elements of its unity; dividing it on the basis of racial, linguistic, religious, and other sectarian standards. By doing so, it is able to continue plundering the wealth of these communities; preventing them from fighting to liberate their countries and wealth by breaking up their cohesion, solidarity, and Islamic unity.  Now, the western invasion has finally reached the fortress of the Muslim family, in what can be considered the deciding battle of this war. Its goal is to create anarchy; to break up the family and destroy its defenses, thereby demolishing the Muslim community that is made up of families.

    If we take just one of the conventions that has been drafted by the west, we will find that it is based on a modern and postmodern value system that they have attempted to globalize and impose on non-western civilizations, under the guise of the United Nations and its banners. Between the lines, however, their intention to destroy the values and morals of the Muslim family system is evident. The Programme for Action Document that was the result of the International Conference for Population and Growth, which was held in Cairo, September 5-15, 1994, is one of such conventions, which is in essence a declaration of war against the family and its Islamically defined moral and value system.

    Islam, being based on man's sound innate nature, has built a family structure based on legitimate, legal relationships between men and women. In this way, humanity's happiness is achieved through the differentiation and integration of the two partners, and through procreation, the continuity of the human race is assured. Thus, the family is the essential building block in establishing the structure of the Islamic community.  The Population Conference document, however, is a direct assault on this humanitarian definition of the family.  It calls for changing family structures, and considers this a vital area of work for governments, intergovernmental organizations, concerned NGO's, funding agencies, and research organizations. Likewise, all of these institutions are urged to give priority to research related to changing the family structure.[2]  The motive behind this is to prevent the definition of the family from being restricted to being built on a legal relationship between a man and a woman. Rather, as they would have it, "family" includes all forms of relationships - including those between two men or two women.  Thus, all forms of deviant relationships, and those which are rejected by Shari'ah and even by sound human disposition, would be included under the legally acknowledged and protected meaning of "family" that is the basis for the establishment and confirmation of rights. 

    In Islam, sexual pleasure is restricted to that which is a legitimate, Shari'ah ordained means of achieving chastity, protection, and procreation. However, the Population Conference document requires nothing more than the condition that sex be protected i.e., that it doesn't lead to any diseases. By freeing it from the regulations established by Shari'ah, sex becomes like any other bodily right, such as eating and drinking, permissible for all individuals - as opposed to being limited to spouses, and allowed for people of all ages, including teenagers!

    "Reproductive health" and "sexual health" are the most frequently used terms in this document, and they are defined as a "complete state of physical, mental, and social well being, that enables the individual (not just spouses) to enjoy a satisfying and safe sexual life."[3] According to this document,
    sexual pleasure and reproductive health are like nutritional needs, in that they are rights of unmarried and teenage girls! [4] 

    Islam, however, refers to the marriage contract upon which the family is established, describing it as a "solemn contract" that is based on the virtues of love, mercy, comfort, and tranquility, as is said in the Qur'an:

    ]...وقَدْ أَفْضَى بَعْضُكُمْ إلَى بَعْضٍ وأَخَذْنَ مِنكُم مِّيثَاقاً غَلِيظ[ (النساء:21)

    [.While you have gone in unto each other and they have taken from you a solemn covenant?] (4:21)

     

    ]وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً  َرَحْمَةً إنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ[ (الروم:21)

    [And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.] (30:21)

    On the other hand, the Population Conference document defines the relationship of "a family" as being a meeting of free will that is based on licentiousness and promiscuity. For this reason, it removes the stipulation of legitimacy from the family, to the extent that there is no mention of the words "God" or "religion" within the sections and articles of the document.

    While Islam encourages early marriage to protect and maintain the chastity of young men and women who have reached maturity, the Population Conference document forbids early marriage, considering it to be a crime. It seeks to replace marriage with other alternatives including fornication! It calls upon governments to raise the minimum age at marriage where necessary" particularly by providing alternatives to early marriage.[5]  In short, this document encourages restricting that which is permissible and unrestricting that which is prohibited. The document claims it to be a right of the body for sexually active people of all ages, between all individuals, and in all forms of relationships!

    Islam bases the relationship between men and women on the fundamentals of love, mercy, peacefulness and tranquility; particularly within the family, and considers women to be "the sisters of men" as was mentioned in the narration of the holy Prophet. It also confers rights upon women similar to the obligations that are due of them, on the basis of what is fair and customary as is mentioned in the verses of the Holy Qur'an:

    ]ولَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ[ (البقرة:228)

    [And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable] (2: 228)

    ]والْمُؤْمِنُونَ والْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ويَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ المُنكَرِ ويُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاةَ ويُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ ويُطِيعُونَ اللَّهَ ورَسُولَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ سَيَرْحَمُهُمُ اللَّهُ إنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ [ (التوبة:71)

    [The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakaah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.] (9: 71)

    Stemming from the materialistic nature of western society, the Population Conference document aims to reduce these relationships to mere material business relationships wherein values, standards, and morals lose their human value.  Thus, it speaks of "empowering women" rather than "equity and equality for women" with respect to men. Likewise, it calls for her total integration in all socially defined aspects of life and her equal participation with men in raising children and doing housework,[6] which conflicts with the natural division of labor that has ruled human life throughout history.

    It is even stranger that the west, which boasts of its freedom, liberalism, and human rights, denies other nations the right to choose their own value systems! By way of threats and enticements, it strives to impose its ideologies and philosophies universally. to the extent that it even declares that the aid it offers should be given on the basis of the extent go which the values and philosophies that are included in this document are promoted.  Thus, we find the terms "commit" and "obligation" oft repeated throughout the document:

    Governments should commit themselves at the highest political level to achieving the goals and objectives contained in this Programme of Action[7]. In this regard, international safeguards and mechanisms for cooperation should be put in place to ensure that these measures are implemented[8]. The Assembly should organize a regular review of the implementation of this Programme of Action.[9]

    While some nations stipulated that the text of the document read: "The implementation of the recommendations contained in the Programme of Action is the sovereign right of each country, consistent with national laws"[10] at the same time we see that the document rejects this right by stating that the right shall be within the framework of the standards of "conformity with universally recognized international human rights"[11] while in fact, these are the same standards that were drafted by the west to express its own philosophies in this arena!

    As for the enticements and incentives offered by the west in this document, they are "development"  aid that encourages the spread of this moral depravity. The document states "The international community should also consider measures such as transfers of technology to developing countries to enable them to produce and distribute high-quality contraceptives and other commodities, essential to reproductive health services that are necessary to strengthen the self-reliance of those countries."[12]

    Yes! This is the field in which the west helps developing nations to achieve self reliance. The field of producing and distributing high-quality contraceptives and other commodities that are essential to achieve safe sexual pleasure for individuals of all ages!

    The Mission of the Charter on Family

    These few examples from the Population Conference document expose the manner in which these new ideals are imposed upon core Islamic values. This document is only one of many such documents that is evidence of the attack that has been launched against the Islamic family; the last fortress of the Islamic community, and its ruling value system.

    It is this issue has made the drafting of this Charter, the Charter on Family in Islam, crucial; so that in conjunction with its explanatory notes, it may be a guide to light the path for Muslim men and women. It is also a reference for Islamic societies and organizations, as well as for our national governments and regional organizations.  In essence, it is a response to the ideological war that has infiltrated our societies, attempting to demolish the last bastion of Islam and the Muslim community; the fortress of the family in the world of Islam.

    Islam and the west differ in their interpretations of freedom; each deriving its view from its philosophical understanding of man's position with respect to the creation, and man's relationship with the Divine Being.

    According to Islam, Allah appointed man to be His caliph on Earth to carry out the mission that he promised to accomplish; within the limits, and according to the rules set for him. Thus, freedom in Islam is governed by the  terms of this promise and vow of istikhlaaf (vicegerency) that are represented within the divine laws. However, according to the western secular view, man is the master of creation and there is no authority over his mind except his mind alone. Nothing limits his freedom except his personal will and it is not regulated except by the laws that he sets for himself.

    Since the beginning of the western ideological war against the Islamic East, Islamic scholars have recognized this essential difference in the concept of freedom.  The great scholar and freedom fighter Abdullah Al-Nadeem (1261-1313 A.H./ 1845-1896 C.E.) critiqued the western concept of freedom saying:

    If it is said that freedom demands that no one interfere with anyone else in his personal matters, we say: This is a return to animalism and a departure from the bounds of humanity. True freedom is an expression of being required to carry out obligations and stop at limits.

    Even if such is acceptable in Europe, each nation has its own customs and religious or community ties, and this licentiousness is not befitting of Muslims' morals, their religious principles, or their customs."[13]

    We are the children of a religion that has granted religious sacredness to a value system that governs the establishment of the family by building it on a "solemn contract" that includes the values of love, mercy, peacefulness and tranquility. This religion also provides the solution to family problems such as evading, rebellion, and conflict, as it clarifies that the ways and means to solve such problems are found in "arbitration and consultation".

    We are also the children of the civilization that formed these religious values, embodying them in practice and implementing them throughout the long history of Islam.  One such example is the institution of endowments, which is the institution that gave birth to the golden era of the Islamic civilization and was responsible for its renewal.  Large endowments were established for the benefit of the institution of the  family; to facilitate marriage and solve marital problems by:

    1-     Facilitating marriage for men and women who are in financial need.

    2-     Providing jewelry, makeup, and other necessities for the wedding to brides who are in financial need.

    3-     Providing milk for nursing - sweetened with sugar - to help breastfeeding mothers.

    4-     Establishing homes for women who have left their marital homes because they are angry with their husbands for women who have no family, or whose families live in remote areas. Such endowments established homes that were looked after by trained women under the supervision of a woman to keep the peace between these women who left their marital homes.

    5-     Endowments established to look after orphans and foundlings.

    Islam formed a charter of values and morals for the family which has been put into practice by the Islamic civilization to the greatest extent possible. There exists some degree of variation in this implementation wherein throughout the history of Islam, "reality" has continued to be close to the "ideal standard".

    The importance of this Charter, the Islamic Charter on Family, becomes evident in light of the aforementioned points and in the face of the attack of the west on the family.  Its significance is not limited to its role in protecting the family in Muslim communities; rather, it is a far reaching universal Islamic declaration. It is the universality of Islam that is the true source of guidance for the entire world, to be a lifeline for the family - for all families in all continents and civilizations - when people of wisdom and sound disposition from all religions, are called in the name of Islam, to that which is equitable and common to all.

    This Charter is an Islamic alternative to those family issues that are rejected by Islam. By way of its loyal, religious women's organizations, the Muslim family offers this Charter to the international conferences as an international Islamic declaration to rescue the family from the depravation that is being forced upon it by western globalization.

    This is the message of this Charter, its position, and its aim.  We ask Allah the Exalted to grant it success in achieving its aims and accomplishing its purpose; for He is the Best Who is Asked and the Most Generous Answerer.


    [1] This refers to the concept of Allah having designated a Caliph (khalifa) on Earth to look after and care for creation, using the available resources and wealth with wisdom for the benefit of all, rather than exploiting them.

    [2]Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development; Chapter 12, Paragraph 24. 

    [3] Ibid. Chapter 7, Paragraph 2 states, "Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. Implicit in this last condition are the rights of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice for regulation of fertility which are not against the law, and the right of access to appropriate health-care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant. In line with the above definition of reproductive health, reproductive health care is defined as the constellation of methods, techniques and services that contribute to reproductive health and well-being by preventing and solving reproductive health problems. It also includes sexual health, the purpose of which is the enhancement of life and personal relations, and not merely counseling and care related to reproduction and sexually transmitted diseases."

    [4] Ibid. Chapter 4, Paragraph 20.

    [5] Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, Chapter 4, Paragraph 21. The text of the document states, "Governments should strictly enforce laws to ensure that marriage is entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses. In addition, Governments should strictly enforce laws concerning the minimum legal age of consent and the minimum age at marriage and should raise the minimum age at marriage where necessary. Governments and non-governmental organizations should generate social support for the enforcement of laws on the minimum legal age at marriage, in particular by providing educational and employment opportunities."

     

    [6] Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, Chapter 4, Paragraph 26.

    [7] Programme of Action for the International Conference on Population and Development, Chapter 16, Paragraph 7.

    [8] Ibid. Chapter 4, Paragraph 9.

    [9] Ibid. Chapter 16, Paragraph 21.

    [10] Ibid. Chapter 2.

    [11] Programme of Action for the International Conference on Population and Development, Chapter 2.

    [12] Ibid. Chapter Seven, Paragraph 25. 

    [13] Abdullah Al-Nadeem, Al-Ustaadh Magazine, vol. 19, 8 Jamaadi ath-Thaaniyyah, 1310 AH/ 27 December, 1892, p. 439.

     
     

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