In this age for reasons to be pointed out later, it has been commonly supposed that the basic questions in this area are the liberation of Women and the equality of their rights with men. All other problems are off-shoots of these two matters.
However, in our opinion the most fundamental problem concerning the system of family rights, or at least one which is on the same level as the basic problems is to decide whether the family system is independent of other social systems, and whether it employs a special logic and special criteria different from the logic and criteria of any other social institutions; or whether no kind of disparity exists between this social unit and other social units. Do the very same logic, the very same philosophy, and the very same criteria govern this unit as govern other units and institutions?
The root cause of this doubt is, on the one hand, that the two main parties of this unit are the two different sexes, and, on the other hand, there is the succession of sons and daughters.
The creative process has established the members of this unit with dissimilar and unequal dispositions, and with differing and with differing qualities and temperaments. The social structure of the family is one which is semi- innate and semi-conventional, that is to say it occupies an intermediary position between an instinctive social structure, like that of bees and ants, all of those whose behavioral limits, rights and laws are determined by nature, and a social structure based on convention, like that of human civic society which has a smaller ‘natural’ or instinctive component.
The ancient philosophers, as we know, counted the philosophy of family life as an independent branch of “practical philosophy”, and believed that this department of human life had a separate logic anti criteria. Plato in his Republic, Aristotle in his Politics, and Ibne Sina (Avicenna) in his ash-Shifa’, have all dealt with this subject from this perspective and from this angle.
As regards the rights or women in society, a doubt and questioning also arises, of course, as to whether the natural and human right of men and women are identical, or not identical. In other words, whether creation and nature, which has granted one series of rights to mankind, has arranged these rights bisexually or unisexually; whether being male or female is relevant to social rights and responsibilities or whether these rights are the same for both sexes in the eyes of nature and in the logic of Creation.
In the western world, subsequent to the seventeenth century, there was a movement in the area of social affairs, which took place in the wake of scientific and philosophical developments, and which wail under the name of ‘Human Rights’. The writers and thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth century propagated their own ideas regarding ‘natural, intrinsic and undeniable human rights with admirable tenacity. Rousseau, Voltaire and Montesquieu were among this group of authors and thinkers. Human society in general is deeply indebted to them. It may even be claimed that human society is no less indebted to them than to the great discoverers and inventors.
The basic point to which this group gave their attention was that a human being by his nature and by reason of his birth and disposition, possesses a series of rights and liberties. No person or group can, by any means or under any pretext, deny these rights and liberties to any individual or people. The owner of these rights himself cannot, by his free will and inclination, transfer them to anybody else and strip himself or deprive himself of them. Everybody, whether he is a ruler or ruled, white or black, rich or poor, is equal and alike with regard to...