Large family and poverty

Q320 :No human being can be certain about his future or his fortune. Why, then, do we go on producing many children, mainly females, who are the worst sufferers in this life as they are subjugated and dominated by men. Would you also explain to me why 90 percent of people live in abject poverty and misery?


A320 : I do not think that you should address some question about the number of children a family may have to a person like myself. You should address it to every married couple and let them tell you why they have eight or ten or even more children. It is for a married couple who can take measures to determine the number of children they may have. If they have proper information, a married couple may realize that too frequent pregnancies and childbirths may have adverse effects on the health of the mother and child as well as the upbringing of the children. It certainly has its advantages, because the children can grow up with a keen sense of cooperation and mutual care and love. On the other hand, the means of the family may not be sufficient to give them a sound education. The parents may, as a result, be too keen to get their sons to start work before they have completed their education and to get their daughters married at an early age, in order to reduce the family burden. The disadvantages are numerous indeed. But this is an individual choice, particularly in this day and age when safe methods of birth control are available to all and sundry. I am intrigued by the emphasis you place on producing daughters, rather than sons. If all families stop producing daughters, [as though they can choose the sex they want] human life will some day come to a halt. The balance between girls and boys in society is controlled by God at a particular level which ensures the continuity of human life and a proper balance between males and females. However, your emphasis seems to have a rather social slant. You speak of the domination and subjugation of women by their men folk. While this is sadly true in many societies, it is not always the case. Islam provides for the equal treatment of boys and girls, men and women. It is true that in practice this may not be properly maintained, but this is the fault of people, rather than the fault of the system God has devised for human life. We often assume that men are superior to women, but Islam says otherwise. The fact that Islam has placed the same duties regarding beliefs, acts of worship, the propagation of Islamic faith, and family responsibilities, is a clear indication that in God's view, men and women are equal. God tells all His servants: "I shall not let the actions of anyone of you, male or female, come to waste." (3;195) The Prophet says: "Women are the sisters of men". This statement indicates complete equality if it is translated in this form. However, the term the Prophet uses in Arabic to indicate "sisters" has some special connotations. So it would probably be more accurate to translate the Hadith as: "Women are the counterfoils of men." As you are probably aware, counterfoils are meant to perfectly match each other. The Hadith makes this equality between men and women at the most perfect level. You do not want a reply on the lines that God provides for all His creatures. But the fact is that He does. He says in the Qur'an: "There is no living creature which walks on the face of the earth (or inside it) without having its provisions apportioned by God" (11;6). But human beings have to work in order to get what God has provided for them. They cannot just sit idle and expect that their provisions will come to them without work. We have to remember that God set in operation certain laws of nature which influence the lives of human beings on earth. For example, He has made the availability of water in any land area essential for the growth of vegetation. A piece of land without very little rainfall and no other source of water will remain barren. We can see in this how the law of cause and effect operates. In human life, if you do not work, you cannot earn your living. When the Prophet was told of a man spending more of his time in voluntary worship, he asked who fed him. Upon learning that the man's brother provided him with food and drink, the Prophet commented that his brother was a better Muslim than him. When we work, we rely on God to make our efforts successful. This is the proper type of reliance. If we were to sit idle and claim that we rely on God for our maintenance, we are guilty of a negative attitude which will only bring adverse results. It may be suggested that a person is willing to work, but he cannot find a job. Some readers may also point out that there are those who have enormous wealth and they care little for those who are deprived. All this is true. There is much social injustice in the great majority of human societies. But this is all of man's own making. God has provided for us a system which ensures that no one should go hungry and no one reaches the point of starvation. But even in Muslim countries, little attention is paid to this system. Instead, we import alien ideas which may seek to achieve social justice, but all they can do is to replace one form of social injustice with another. We find mal-distribution of wealth everywhere. I can tell you plainly that wherever you find a small minority controlling wealth and the great majority living in poverty, then you know that the system God has laid down is not [being] implemented. God tells us in the Qur'an that He has created the earth and made it able to support all living creatures for whom it is a dwelling place. Yet, you often find that resources are not properly tapped, and if they are, the outcome is unfairly distributed. Both are failings of human beings. If we want to achieve a decent living for all human beings, the only way is to implement Islam properly, vigorously and fairly. We must not implement one aspect of Islam and forget another. We have to implement it all and to seek to please God in our efforts. If we do, we are certain to experience the sort of achievement that early Muslim generations enjoyed, when zakah funds were carried on large trays in the market place, and people were invited to take what they wanted, but none felt the need to do so, because they were all enjoying a decent standard of living. God has promised this repeatedly in the Qur'an, quoting one prophet after another who told their nations: "Seek God's forgiveness and repent of your sins and He will send you rain in torrent and give you strength in addition to what power you already have." God's promise never fails.


Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )