The character and status of women in Islam
By: Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini
• Why are most of your works oriented around the character and status of women?
Reply: Basically, my strategy in choosing the subject for each book I have written is twofold: one is societal necessity, which I understand from appraising the society, and the other is the lack of a good book on the subject that can resolve this necessity. It does not happen much that I see a good book on a subject and desire to write a book on that subject. I go after subjects that are needed and do not have books available or if they do, they are somehow incomplete. Almost all my books are such.
The first book I wrote was Dadgustar-e Jahan (The World’s Executor of Justice), which I wrote in the year AH 1346 (AD 1967). In those years, the issue of the Baha’i and the campaigns against them was prevalent. There were questions regarding the Imam of the Age (‘a) which was an especially important issue for youth. I became aware of this need at the time and gathered and read the existing books on the matter. I realized that even though there were good books on the topic, there was no complete work which could answer the needs of youth and seekers of knowledge. Thus I thought of writing the book.
The books I have written on the subject of women include Ayin-e Hamsardari (The Art of the Marriage Relationship), Ayin-e Tarbiyat (The Art of Training and Edification), Islam va Ta‘lim va Tarbiyat (Islamic Education and Edification), Intikhab-e Hamsar (Choosing a Spouse), and Banu-ye Nimunah-ye Islam (The Model Woman of Islam). These books are specifically about women and issues regarding women.
As for my motives for these works, regarding the book, Ayin-e Hamsardari (The Art of the Marriage Relationship), which was written in AH 1354 (AD 1975), it was that while I was a young theologue [talabah] and because of the close contact I had with people, I was witness to the people’s—and my own family and relatives’—marital issues and problems and some came to me with their difficulties.
This caused me to strive to compile the book and communicate various issues in this regard. First of all, I collected books regarding these issues, which were very few. While studying them, I realized that they could not appease the needs of the society. That is why I decided to write Ayin-e Hamsardari. The book had many readers and was useful. Naturally, after that I was consulted much regarding family problems. I did not brush off my consultees; in fact, I welcomed them and I took pleasure from the fact that I could help resolve family problems.
After three to four years, in which I had first-hand experience with these issues, I realized that most family conflicts result from the lack of correct edification of girls and boys within the family. Hence, I thought about writing a book regarding training of children. Regarding this issue also, I collected and studied relevant books and realized that, incidentally, there were no adequate books on this subject either. Of course, there were some books—some that were not based on Islam and others that were too scientific and not suitable for the masses.
Therefore, using the experience I had gained, I employed myself in preparing Ayin-e Tarbiyat (The Art of Training and Edification). Simultaneously, I asked a friend of mine in Tehran who held conferences for women, and explained issues regarding training and edification, to ask the women about their problems and questions. I received over two hundred letters in this manner, which went far in helping me to identify problems and write the book. Of course, in this regard, I also read various magazines and newspapers.
As for the book Intikhab-e Hamsar (Choosing a Spouse), while reviewing family problems, I became aware that a lot of problems also arise from the fact that many young men and women do not marry judiciously and wisely and thus, they are later afflicted by various difficulties. It seemed that knowing the process of choosing a spouse was a pressing need for youths. After considerable investigation, I did not find any satisfactory books on the matter. There were some books that discussed the problem in a very subsidiary manner; however, they were not helpful to young women and men. This prompted me to write Choosing a Spouse.
In the meantime, because I participated in many seminars, I felt that there was need of a more scientific book regarding Islamic education and edification that could satisfy the needs of the academic community. As a result, while writing Intikhab-e Hamsar, I started with another book named Islam va Ta‘lim va Tarbiyat (Islamic Education and Edification). Though, before these books, I had written Banu-ye Nimunah-ye Islam (The Model Woman of Islam).
In this book, I tried to incorporate moral aspects in a behavioral aspect as opposed to historical. At the time, all these books were needed. Even now, besides the work I do in seminars and on television, one of my jobs is resolving family conflicts, which I perform as much as I am able, and I enjoy it. However, I am sorry that I do not have more time to spend in these issues. Even so, I do not refrain from these activities unless I have no choice.
• How can families be made more knowledgeable regarding conjugal relationships?
Reply: I believe that the mass media such as television, radio, newspapers, and magazines must give more weight to the matter of marriage and safeguarding the institution of family. I feel danger for the future of families in Islamic Iran. Of course, the mass media have some programs and writers write about these issues, but it is not enough. There is need of much more than this. Books are one of the important media of information.
However, many couples do not read them. It would be good if charitable people would make books regarding family education available with lower prices, or charity organizations, such as the Imam Khomeini Charity Committee, which holds marriage ceremonies for several thousand young men and women each year, would make these books freely available. I wish that, in addition to the household appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, and televisions they donate to young couples, they would also give them a book on morals and behavior. This is easily achievable. The price of a two dollar book is nothing compared to the price of the dowry they donate to the bride.
Additionally, I feel that seminars and workshops must be held in order to prevent family troubles and make marriages more successful. Unfortunately, we are deficient in this area. When a company hires someone for teaching or any other job, they do not let them work until the new employees take part in a period of training and instruction. However, marriage, which is the most fundamental issue in the lives of young women and men, is performed without knowledge of how to consort with one’s spouse.
These issues are neither given regard in study books nor are there classes held for this purpose. If our Islamic government would require all couples who wish to marry to take part in a one month training course, in which family issues were correctly examined and taught and then give them permission to marry, I believe that there would be many fewer problems. Theologues and learned people should especially support this matter and implement it into their schedules. Some theologues have started programs in some cities, but it is not enough. In any event, an extensive program must be started by all those who work in social services, advertizing and publication such as the clergy, writers, television and radio personnel, etc.