Having A Child

Having A Child

One of the possible sore points for a couple is having a child. That is a woman may want to have a child but her husband disagrees or vice versa. This problem sometimes becomes very serious as a result of which a couple may resort to divorce.

"Mrs... made a complaint to the court and said: 'I married at the age of twenty-seven years when my husband had just graduated from the university. He was a lecturer in one of the universities and I felt that I was a lucky woman. However, my husband disagrees with having a child. I do not understand him because we are both healthy and have enough money to at least bring up two children. He does not dislike children and treats his nieces and nephews well. I am thirty years old and naturally I wish I were a mother. He understands my feelings but says that a child would be a cause of inconvenience in our lives, and so on'. This woman, while stopping herself from crying, is confronted with a problem which is so serious that the couple has decided for a divorce, so that she would remarry while he would have enough time for his scientific research." [244]

Love for children and reproduction is a natural desire of human beings and even of animals. Children are the fruit of life and the best legacy of mankind.

The life of one who has children would not be ended by his death but rather would be continued as if with an extended life. A person without a child or children would feel lonely and forlorn and would feel even worse in old age.

A house without children is a place of boredom, and would lack warmth and love. A marriage would always be in danger of breaking down if there were no children. Thus children are the source of family warmth and survival.

"Imam Sadiq (AS) stated: 'One's happiness is in having children'."[245]


"The Prophet (SA) of Islam stated: 'Give birth to many children because on the Day of Judgment I will take pride in your numbers over the other Ummahs (nations)'."[246]

Love for a child is a natural desire, but some people are deviated from their natural 'self' and are affected by an illness where they bring up different excuses, such as the lack of money, for not having children. However, Allah guarantees that He would give sustenance to all His creatures.

"Bakr ibn Saleh said: 'I wrote a letter to Hadrat Abu al- Hasan (AS) saying that I had been taking preventive measures against having a child for five years, because my wife had been reluctant to have one, and that she was saying, lack of money would make it difficult for us to bring up a child.' I asked Hadrat Abu al-Hasan his opinion on this matter. He replied: 'Do not prevent having a child, because the Almighty Allah would provide him sustenance'."[247]

Allah would even increase a family's sustenance due to the blessings of children. There are many people who were in difficulty before having their children, but found a comfortable life afterwards.

Some people regard children as inconvenient. This is not true and as a matter of fact children are the best source of  enjoyment and amusement for the parents.

Of course taking care of children is not without difficulty and trouble, but since it conforms with the law of nature, one can cope with all the difficulties and as such it is worth taking the trouble involved.

How narrow-minded are those men and women who for the sake of not having children resort to divorce!

Is it not really surprising that a man, and that too an educated one for that matter, should disagree with the laws of nature so persistently that he would even be prepared to divorce his wife?

Some couples do not disagree on having a child but argue over the time of having one. A woman or a man of this kind would say: "One must be free at a young age as a child would deprive one from being at liberty to enjoy oneself. It is better to wait until later to have one or two children". If both husband and wife are not of the same opinion, then arguments would start which may end in a divorce.

Let us remember that if one wants children, then this should be achieved at the earliest possible age. This is because children born from young parents are in some respects better off than those born from older parents. Firstly, these children are healthier and stronger. Secondly, since they are from younger parents, they can live for more time with their parents. They can be better educated and brought up. But children from older parents might become deprived of their parents' guidance and teachings due to their death or disability. Thirdly, children of younger parents would reach an age of forming their own family and taking up jobs, while their parents are still alive. Thus they can be a great deal of help to their parents when they are old.

In brief, having children at a young age is better than at an older age. But this is not so important that it should cause rows or divorce. It is better for the husband or wife to agree mutually and not let it create a rift in their marriage. Some couples disagree on the number of children they would like.

"A woman, while holding a baby in her arms, said: , After four years of marriage I had two daughters with my husband, but since he wanted a son I became pregnant once more and again gave birth to a girl. I now have three daughters. My husband works in a bank and his salary does not suffice our family. He has recently been insisting that I should become pregnant many times until I give birth to a son. But I am not prepared for this because his earnings are not enough for us to educate our children the way we want. I have told him many time's that boys and girls are both good. I fear that if I become pregnant again I shall give birth to another girl. I am sure that he would again insist on having another child. We cannot agree on this matter and thus have taken our case to the court'."[248]

It is right that providing for education and training of many children is difficult and this is especially true in the case of those whose earnings are not high.

Therefore, it is better that couples decide on the number of children according to their moral and financial abilities. They must have understanding and be able to solve their problems through wisdom and kindness. It is not correct for either of them to insist on something illogical.

This problem is not so serious and should not lead a couple to have quarrels or resort to a divorce. There are many families who either have many children or are satisfied with only one or two.

Some couples have differences about the sex of their proposed children. Some couples, men and women prefer having a son and do not take too kindly to having girls. The birth of a daughter would make a woman feel guilty and therefore she would keep silence because she was the one who has given birth. But the man might express his dissatisfaction. Men are different. Some do not express their dissatisfaction openly and just show a grim face. They do not particularly attend to their wives during the post-natal days. They look sad. Some men, however, react severely to the news of having a daughter. They become angry with their wives and pick up fault with them. They protest and create a row. Some men go further and might even beat them up or even divorce them.

"A woman said in the court: 'I got married fifteen months ago and became pregnant six months later. Recently, when the time for delivery was near, my husband said to me that I had to give birth to a son. But I felt that I might have twins or even triplets. A few days ago I gave birth to twin girls. I was very happy about it. When my husband came to know about the birth, he was upset and left the room. Later, when I asked him to take the girls home he shouted at me and blamed me for delivering twin girls. He asked me to leave him. so I went to my parents and now I am applying for divorce." [249]

"Mrs... said to a reporter in the court: 'After twenty-one years of marriage and having five children. I have to leave a life to which I have contributed so much to for another woman a woman who is able to give birth to a boy. I have five beautiful and talented daughters who are no problem to their father at all. What is my guilt if I cannot give birth to a boy. My husband is blaming me for it and wants me to allow him to remarry with another woman'. [250]

Unfortunately. this quality has remained with some people from the time of Jahiliyyah (age of ignorance) that they doubt the human nature of the female sex. They arc ashamed of having daughters and feel belittled. In the age of ignorance. people used to bury their baby daughters alive. The Holy Qur'an mentions their deeds and states:

"And when a  daughter is announced to one of them, his face becomes black and he is full of wrath." ( 16:58).

"He hides himself  from the people because of the evil of that which is announced to him. Shall he keep it with disgrace or bury it (alive) in the dust? Now surely evil is what they judge" (16:59).

But Islam denounces this wrong idea and regards men and women as equal.

"The Prophet (SA) of Islam stated: 'The best of your children are your daughters'."[251]

"The Prophet (SA) of Islam also stated: 'The sign of a lucky woman is that her first child is a girl'."[252]

"In addition. the Holy Prophet (SA) stated: 'Whoever looks after three daughters or three sisters, Paradise would become incumbent upon him'."[253]

If a girl was inferior, Allah would not have made his (Prophet's (SA)) descendents line continue through Hadrat Zahra (AS).Dear Sir: you are claiming to be a civilized and modern human being, so abstain from having such evil thoughts. What difference does it make if you have a girl or a boy? They are both your offspring and both can advance towards perfection. A girl also can become a prominent personality through your correct care and education.

A girl is in some respects better than a boy.

Firstly, a girl is more sympathetic to their parents. Boys usually do not benefit their parents when they grow up and become independent. Girls, if parents do not place any preference on their sons, would be more loving towards them.

Secondly, a girl requires less expense as compared to a boy, because she generally spends less time in her parents' house since she gets married at an earlier age and leaves her parents with only a few items for her new life. But boys become young men who may stay with their parents for a long time. The parents would have to pay for his education, find him a job, may have to pay his expenses during his two years of military service, wherever necessary, and then marry him off to a young woman, after which he would need to be provided with a house, carpets, furniture, and so on. He would even seek financial help from his parents after his marriage.

Thirdly, if parents do not discriminate between their son and daughter, and if they treat their son-in-law kindly, the son-in-law would often be more helpful to them at times of difficulties and is usually more faithful to them in comparison to their own son.

Anyway, is it a woman's fault if she gives birth to a girl? The man and wife are both involved in the action of procreation and a man has no right to blame his wife for this matter. Otherwise it is just as reasonable for a woman to blame her husband in this regard. However, neither are to be blamed, as it is only the will of Allah to determine the sex of a baby.There are some experts who believe that the sex of a child can be determined from the fact as to how the mother is fed during the first two months of pregnancy. So if there are people who prefer a particular sex of a baby, they should get in contact with the experts and thus prevent a situation of blaming their wives.

An intellectual man, not only should not upset at having a baby daughter, but must be very happy too. He should show his happiness, should express his affection towards his wife and should even give her a present.

He could celebrate the new birth and even take logical steps in convincing his wife that a baby daughter is just as good as a baby boy, should she be upset with having a daughter.

A wise father would not discriminate between his son and daughter, would not condemn any body for having a daughter, and thus would fight the ignorant concepts of the 'Age of Ignorance'.

"A man heard the news of having a newly born baby daughter, while he was in the presence of the Holy Prophet (SA) of Islam. He became upset. The Prophet (SA) stated:

'Why are you upset?' He said: 'When I was coming out of my house, my wife was having labour pain, and now they have brought the news to me that I have had a daughter'. The Prophet (SA) stated: 'The earth has enough room for her, and the sky provides her with shelter, and Allah will provide her with sustenance. She is a sweet smelling flower from which you will get much enjoyment'."[254]
Pregnancy and Childbirth

The duration of pregnancy is a very sensitive and fateful period in a baby's life. The mother's nutritional habits together with her physical movements and psychological behavior are vital both to herself and the life of the baby in her womb.

The baby's health or illness, strength or weakness, ugliness and beauty, and its good or bad behavior and a part of intellect and prudence, are established in the mother's womb. One of the experts writes: "The baby's parents are able to either grow in a fortress of health or in the ruins of sickness. It is obvious that the latter is not a suitable place in which the eternal soul or a human being should live. This is the reason that-parents are believed to shoulder the greatest responsibility compared to the whole of creation."[255]

Therefore, the period of pregnancy cannot be regarded or be treated as an ordinary one. Once the pregnancy starts, the parents are given a great responsibility.

Parents may unwittingly create a variety of difficulties, many of which may be extremely difficult to remedy, because of slight carelessness when performing their duties.

Below are a few points that should be noted:

(a) Food: A foetus in its mother's womb, feeds and grows on the nourishment in her blood. Therefore, the mother's food should be nutritive enough to provide the elements needed by the baby as well as for the welfare of the mother. Therefore any lack of vitamins, proteins, fat, sugar or carbohydrates in the mother's intake of food would inflict harm on the baby's health.

"Imam Sadiq (AS) stated: 'The food of a foetus, is provided by the nourishment that the mother receives'."[256]

A major problem which confronts most of the pregnant women is that during either the whole or the majority of the pregnancy period, they lack a well-balanced appetite for food, as they develop craving for certain foods while being repulsed by others. Because they generally eat less, during this period, they should make sure that their food is not stodgy and at the same time nutritious enough to provide the essentials for the baby.

Following up a food program in this phase of  pregnancy is extremely difficult, particularly for those of low income and those who are unaware of the nutritional values of different foods.

A great responsibility rests with the father who should do his utmost to provide essential foods for his wife. Carelessness on the part of the father would be harmful to the growing baby, for which he would be held responsible in both this world and in the world Hereafter.

(b) Mental State: A mother, in her pregnancy, needs serenity and should experience a sense of love towards life. This is beneficial to both the mother and her baby. The father, being responsible for providing his wife with a peaceful and lively atmosphere, should try even harder during the period of her pregnancy. The husband, through kindness and love, should behave in such a manner that his wife can feel proud and happy about being pregnant; she should feel proud that another life depends on her and that she is responsible for its welfare.

(c) Refrain from Jerky Movements: A pregnant woman should avoid strenuous activities and should rest a great deal. The lifting of heavy objects or fast body movements could result in irreparable harm to her, the baby or both. Pregnant women should refrain from doing any heavy work, and their husbands should volunteer to carry out such activities.

(d) The Fear of Labour: Delivering a baby is not always an easy event. Labour pains can sometimes be severe. Pregnant women often worry about the pain involved and the possible risks associated with child birth, followed by the period of convalescence after giving birth. Although women should be able to cope with pregnancy, labour and feeding their babies, men should also share in the responsibility of bringing up their children.

Although an embryo is conceived in women's womb, there is also the father of the baby who has played an important role in its conception. So men should make certain for their wives' comfort during child birth and be handy if anything should be urgently required.

It is both an Islamic and a human duty of husbands to do their utmost for their pregnant wives to provide medical care and facilities for an easy delivery. A man should try to be with his wife after the birth of their child; but if unable to do so, he should phone her or send a relative to stay with her. He should try to bring her back home himself and help her with the housework so that she can get sufficient rest to regain her lost energy. A man, who treats his wife well, will be rewarded by Allah.

"The Prophet (SA) of Allah stated: 'The best of men is one who treats his wife well and I, amongst you, am the best man with regard to the good treatment of my wife'."[257]

"Imam Sadiq (AS) stated: 'May Allah bless a man who creates a good relationship with his wife, because Allah has appointed man to be the guardian of his wife'."[258]

A man, who treats his wife well, will make the atmosphere of his family life warmer and will strengthen its foundations.

His wife, in turn, would never forget her husband's love and affection. As a result the bonds of matrimony become stronger.

[244] Ittela'at, 28th Bahman, 1350 Solar Hijri.
[245] Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol 15, p 97.
[246] Ibid, p 96.
[247] Ibid, p 99.
[248] Ittela'at, 2nd Murdad, 1351 Solar Hijri.
[249] Ibid, 14th Tir, 1349 Solar Hijri.
[250] Ibid, 16th Esfand, 1350 Solar Hijri.
[251] Mustadrak, vol 2, p 615.
[252] Ibid, p 614.
[253] Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol 15, p l00
[254] Ibid, p 101.
[255] Raz-e-Afrinish, p 108.
[256] Bihar al-Anwar, vol 60, p 342.
[257] Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vo114, p 122.
[258] Ibid.