During the first panel discussion at the International Conference on Family and Societal Harmony, panelists stressed the importance of the family and its members in the achievement of societal harmony and the significance of family relations that are based on love and respect being the shield against extremism and the key to building a strong and integrated society.
The conference kicked off with its first session titled “Family in Religions” presided by the former Minster of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Dr. Hayel Al-Dawoud and the participation of Dr. Abdul Salam Al-Abbadi Head of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA); Head of the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Centre (JICRC) Head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Bishop Munib Yunan; and Dean of the Faculty of Sharia Dr. Mohammad Rawashdeh.
In his paper presented at the first session titled “The Family in Islam: Towards a calm, happy and violence-free family”, Al-Abbadi outlined the basic principles and provisions of Islamic Sharia that are relevant to this matter including the practical directives and provisions that were translated into laws taking into consideration the reality on the ground and the required measures to handle such issues.
Al-Abbadi said that “the IIFA, which is a highly regarded Islamic authority that emerged from the 19th session of the Organization of the Islamic Conference held in Sharjah (UAE) in 2009, has affirmed the unlawfulness of family violence which may be in the form of violent or cruel words or actions directed towards any member of the family resulting in physical or mental harm. It is considered an unacceptable behavior in Islam as it stands against the objectives of Islamic sharia in the preservation of the soul and mind and is in direct contradiction to God’s will that encourages family intimacy and due fairness”.
Al-Abbadi added that the conference also stressed the importance of focusing on spiritual nurturing as part of the social upbringing and emphasized the significance of the family structure in Islamic Sharia in terms of cooperation, kindness, intimacy, mercifulness, peacefulness, beneficence, due fairness and dialogue between the husband and wife as methods for handling domestic family affairs.
“The Fiqh Academy has rejected all items contained in the International conventions which are in contradiction to the laws of Sharia and natural disposition (Fitra) such as same-sex marriages, premarital or extramarital sexual relations and other items that are in contradiction to the provisions of Islamic Sharia”, continued Abbadi calling the legislative authorities to enact laws that criminalize all forms of violence among family members taking into account that Sharia laws have also forbidden such violence.
On his part, Bishop Munib Yunan said in his paper titled “The family in Christianity” that “the concept of marriage in the Bible is not made on paper but on holy matrimony demonstrated in a relationship of honest love and altruistic compassion”.
With regard to the challenges facing the family, Yunan emphasized the effect of technological developments on the integration of the family, calling parents to make use of such development by providing constructive advice for their children.
He also discussed some of the religion-related challenges, namely how to understand religion as a family and employ it properly to bring up the children spiritually and religiously by acting as role models for their children through their words and actions.
Yunan pointed out that extremism is one of the challenges facing the family today, calling families to practice constructive religion which respects religious differences and considers people with a different faith as brothers in humanity. He also stressed the need to qualify families to be able to develop healthy concepts, positive values and high morals as family is the basis for either openness or extremism.
“Family relations and provisions and legislation: Women as a Model” was the title of a paper presented during the session by Dr. Mohammad Rawashdeh in which he said that: “the injustices inflicted on women are due to an accumulated system of human knowledge (deep-rooted traditions and alien teachings) which are far from the true and pure religion and which have acquired a sense of sacredness despite their human origins”.
“Muslim women nowadays are between a rock and a hard place; on the one hand there are norms and traditions in the name of religion which undermine their political and social activities and deprive them of playing their role and duty to their community, and on the other there is secularism which utilizes them and deprives them of intellectual and social security”, continued Al-Rawashdeh.
He also called for erasing the inherited image of women in the old jurisprudence which was distorted by certain religious opinions (fatwa) undermining her position and dignity and usurping her rights based on norms rather than divine teachings, particularly with regard to her social rights. Rawashdeh also called for the establishment of a chair for women studies from an Islamic civilized perspective.
In his concluding remarks, Rawashdeh called on women to contribute to the renewal of the outlook of Islamic thought towards women as they are seen as weak in expressing themselves and their intellectual and cultural views.
It is to be noted that the three-day conference was inaugurated by the Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Dr. Abdul Nasser Abu Al-Bassal and discussed a range of family issues and challenges and ways of addressing them.