Growth of the Population between Islamic and Western Thought Imam Al-Kathim (Peace upon him) as a Model

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Growth of the Population between Islamic and Western Thought Imam Al-Kathim (Peace upon him) as a Model([1])

 

The Preference of Increasing Offspring:

 

There are several highlights in Imam Al-Kathim’s life which are worthy of much attention. One of them is the great number of children he sired. Their number is so great, in fact, that some sources counted as many as 37 male and female children([2]) of his born from several wives of his which were originally concubines (meaning that they were slaves which the Imam would buy and then free before marrying them). This great number of offspring is in spite of the relatively short life lived by the Imam, as he died at the age of 55 after spending as many as ten years in the prisons of the Abbasids.

 

It suffices to understand this phenomenon of increased offspring through the aspect of its preference in the Shari’ah. There are many Traditions attesting to this. One is the narration of Imam As-Sadiq (Peace upon him) when he said: The Messenger of Allah (Prayers of Allah and His Peace upon him and his household) said: “Marry, I will boast of your great numbers before the nations tomorrow on the Day of the Resurrection. Even the miscarried child would come to the door of Paradise, he would be told: Enter into Paradise. He would say: No, not before my parents enter it before me” ([3]).

 

And it is also narrated from Imam As-Sadiq (Peace upon him) that he said: “Allah’s inheritance of His faithful servant is a good child which would ask for forgiveness for him”([4]).

 

One of the Imam Al-Kathim’s companions said: “I write to Abu Al-Hassan (Peace upon him) and said: I have sought a child for more than five years, but my wife disliked this and said: I would find raising them difficult due to the lack of means. What is your advice? He wrote back to me: Do seek to produce children, for Allah provides sustenance to them”([5]).

 

Another Tradition of Imam As-Sadiq (Peace upon him) states: “The children of the Muslims are marked by Allah as one who intercedes, and one who is given intercession. Once they turn  twelve, their good deeds would begin to be written for them. Once they reach adolescence then their bad deeds would begin to be written against them” ([6]).

 

Another Tradition of Ar-Rida (Peace upon him) states: “Have you not that the children are under the Divine throne, asking for forgiveness for their parents, hugged by Abraham and raised by Sarah in a mountain of Musk, amber and saffrom” ([7]).

 

Explanation for the Many Wives Taken by the Infallible Ones (Peace upon them)

 

Perhaps what we mentioned earlier is one aspect which explains why the Infallible Ones (Peace upon them) took many wives. The Prophet (Prayers of Allah and His Peace upon him and his household) married nine, the Prince of the Faithful (Peace upon him) marries eight. Az-Zahra (Peace upon her) was called “Al-Kawthar” (The one with plentitude) because Allah (Exalted is He) multiplied the Messenger of Allah’s offspring through her. Even though she was martyred when she was only eighteen years old, she already had given birth to Al-Hassan, Al-Hussein, and Zaynab (Prayers of Allah upon all of them) and she aborted Al-Muhsin. So Al-Imam Al-Kathim (Peace upon him) merely followed the example of his blessed forefathers, and he is the worthiest of people of doing so.

 

Further to this general aspect, there is another particular aspect. Meaning the presence of several indicators to the notion that the Infallible Imams (Peace upon them) have devised a strategic plan which they’ve closely followed aiming to increase the number of the offspring of the household of Abu Taleb after the battle of Karbala. This was in response to the policy of eradication and uprooting followed by their enemies under the banner: “Do not leave any remnant of the people of this household”. Entire household were completely void of men such as the houses of the offspring of Aqil Ibn Abi Taleb and Al-Abbas the son of the Prince of the Faithful and his brothers who were all martyred in Karbala.

 

Imam As-Sajjad (Peace upon him) was asked about the reason of his increased compassion for the household of Aqil, he replied: “I remember their day with Abu Abdullah (Peace upon him), so I feel compassion for them” ([8]). When Al-Mukhtar gave him a large amount of money he used it to rebuild the houses of Aqil which were demolished by the Umayyads([9]).

 

Imam Al-Kathim’s Systematic Approach in Increasing the Number of Offspring:

 

Imam As-Sajjad (Peace upon him) had fifteen male and female children, he also raised the only child left by Al-Abbas, the son of the Prince of the Faithful (Peace upon him). The child’s name was Ubaidullah, Imam Al-Kathim (Peace upon him) gave him his daughter Khadijah’s hand in marriage in addition to three other ladies of noble descent for the purpose of increasing the offspring of his uncle Al-Abbas([10]).

 

Imam Al-Kathim (Peace upon him) used to accept gifts from Haroun Al-Abbasi and say: “If it wasn’t for the using this money to aid the bachelors of the household of Abu Taleb to marry I would not have accepted these gifts ever” ([11]).

 

All this testifies to the systematic policy or strategy planned by Imam Al-Kathim (Peace upon him) to abort the enemies’ plans to end this pure household. This plan bore fruit in the great number of noble Sayyids, and the many authorities of religion, scholars, leaders, intellectuals, pious people and notables of the nation among them.

 

The Justification for the Increase of Offspring between the Shia of the Prophetic Household:

 

The Shia of the Prophetic Household are called upon to make their utmost effort to increase their offspring for several justifications, some of which are the following:

 

1- The application of the Sunnah of the Allah’s Messenger and the Infallible Imam (Prayers upon all of them), and in response to their desire delivered to us through the above mentioned Noble Traditions.

 

2- The response to Allah’s saying: “O ye who believe! give your response to Allah and His Messenger, when He calleth you to that which will give you life” [Surah of the Booty of War: 40].

 

An offspring means the human being’s continued life. Sheikh As-Saduq said in “al-Faqih”: “It was narrated that he who dies without an offspring is like one who never existed among the people. As for the one who dies and leaves and offspring, it is as if he never died”([12]).

 

3- An offspring is a source of many acts of obedience which remain for the parents even after their death. An example is the Tradition of the miscarried child which we’ve narrated earlier. It was also narrated from the Prince of the Faithful (Peace upon him) that he said about the illness which afflicts a child: “It is an atonement for his parents” ([13]). The Prophet (Prayers of Allah and His Peace upon him and his household) said: “If the child of one of you dies then you have a reward in him, and if he remains after you death then he would ask Allah for forgiveness for you” ([14]). There is also the famous Prophetic Tradition: “If the son of Adam dies then all of his actions would cease except for three things”, one of which is a decent son who would supplicate for him([15]).

 

The Tradition about Imam As-Sadiq (Peace upon him) narrates that he said: “Allah may have mercy on a man due to his extreme love for his son” ([16]).

 

It was narrated that Imam As-Sadiq (Peace upon him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (Prayers of Allah and His Peace upon him and his household) said: Jesus the son of Mary (Peace upon him) passed by a grave. The man buried in it was being tormented. Then a year later he passed by the same grave only to find that the man in it is not being tormented. He said: O Lord, I have passed by this grave in the same year, the man in it was being tormented, and I passed by it this year and he is not being tormented. Allah revealed to him that the man had a good son, he fixed a road and lodged an orphan, so the man was forgiven by the actions of his son” ([17]).

 

4- The followers of the Members of the Prophetic Household (Peace upon them) are the good and decent group selected by Allah (Exalted is He) for allegiance to the members of the Prophetic Household (Peace upon them). They are the ones who maintain original Islam, so having plenty of them would honor religion and this allegiance, and affirm the values of goodness and humanity in this world. Goodness is hoped for from them, and evil would not issue from them. They are like a good tree worthy of being multiplied.

 

5- The increase of the number of Shia is a support for the promised Imam (Peace upon him) and strengthening his faction. It is a preparation for his blessed appearance, applying Allah’s saying: “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power” [Surah of the Booty of War: 60]. The greatest power we may prepare for supporting the Imam (Peace upon him) is this blessed offspring as human resources are the greatest of resources any nation would strive to obtain, so increase this resource as much as you can.

 

6- The Shia in this region are targeted with a genocide and eradication as all events testify, especially here in Iraq. Over the last four decades we lost more than a million and the half men in absurd wars, executions, and mass graves at the time of the perished regime, then in the booby traps and devices of murder and destruction.

 

What is the number of children which would achieve the increase of the offspring?

 

In light of the given evidence and circumstances, the followers of the members of the Prophetic Household (Peace upon them) both men and women can only make their utmost effort to achieve this noble end and fulfill the desire of the Infallible Ones (Peace upon them). No matter what justification is given for only having one or two children, they do not stand before all of these parameters unless there is a cause beyond one’s choice, when the Divine ordainment dictates this, for Allah (Exalted is He) says: “and He leaves barren whom He will” [Surah of the Council: 50], or if there are mitigating health obstacles and so forth.

 

The question remains: what is the least number of children one must beget in order for the meaning of the increase in offspring would be realized? The answer is that there must at lease beget four children. If the spouses only beget two children (regardless of their sex) then they did not really add anything, for there are two of them and they left behind two others. Then they need on child to make up for the shortage in the community as many children die young either of natural causes or by explosions or wars or traffic accidents and so on, and even if they grow up and get married, then maybe they will be barren or give birth to a number of children below the desired number. All this leads to shortage and it would be made up for through the third child. As for the fourth child, this is the one which achieves increase. The more the one begets, the more pleasing this would be to the Messenger of Allah (Prayers of Allah and His Peace upon him and his household).

 

The West and Birth Control:

 

The governments of the west tried to convince communities to practice birth control, but this backfired into a disaster when the population began to fall down while the number of the number of the elderly increased in society. There is a continuous debate there about how to handle this problem.

 

About two decades ago or more they used policies of sterilization in revealed by a number of secret documents which was leaked. They’ve even set deadlines for the reaping the results of their demonic project. Some Muslim countries –such as the Islamic Republic of Iran- went along with this plan. At the end of the 1980s the Iranian government adopted([18])  a plan to reduce the rate of the growth of the populations due to fears of overpopulation. Overpopulation at the time was blamed for many problems such as the high level of unemployment, the decline of the levels of education and quality of life, especially that the rate of the increase of population had reached 3.2% after the late Imam Al-Khomeini encouraged getting as many children as possible to build a Muslim army of twenty million men.

 

Twenty years after following this policy, statistics showed that the number of children born to each woman had been reduced to 1.6, which is less than the rate of 2.1 (which is the minimum requirement for industrial nations), this was an unacceptable decline in the population. Therefore, the Iranian leadership made certain steps as of last year to encourage the growth of the birth rate again.

 

Blessings which Arrive with the Increase of Offspring:

 

We believe that the increase of offspring cannot be the reason for such problems. This process is by definition is a blessed one which would only bring prosperity to individuals and communities. The most powerful asset any state has is its human resources. We only have to look at China, a country with a population of over one billion two hundred million and yet its economy witnesses a constant growth which caused worry to the industrial superpowers.

 

The strange thing is that the spouses spend all they can to attain a child. They may even travel far and wide to see doctors which would aid them in this. After Allah (Exalted is He) bestows upon them this one child they would not want to have any more children under the pretext of several circumstances such as living conditions and finances. But we have already seen that there is a narration from Imam Al-Kathim (Peace upon him) about how we should not listen to these excuses, Allah (Exalted is He) says: “if they are in poverty, Allah will give them means out of His grace” [Surah of the Light: 32]. What the narrations say is the exact opposite of this: If a man is married and begets children. It is narrated that Imam As-Sadiq (Peace upon him) said: “Sustenance is with wives and children”. So increasing the offspring is one of the causes of sustenance for the individual and prosperity for the state, while birth control to reduce the economic burdens and such things is not proper thinking, neither from individual nor from the state.

 

Prevention of Birth is Like Murdering a Human Being:

 

Birth control, whether through natural or medical means without any acceptable and reasonable cause, is in fact equivalent to murdering an actually existing human being. Both acts deprive the nation of this being whom Allah (Exalted is He) made His vicegerent on earth as He says: “Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you” [Surah of The Night Journey: 32] “kill not your children on a plea of want;- We provide sustenance for you and for them” [Surah of the Livestock: 151].

 

Ignoring the Education of Children is Murdering their Souls:

 

Here, we must not ignore another form of inward murder: that which takes place through ignoring to education the children. This would cause them to become evil and deviant members of the society, and perhaps into criminals bringing evil to society. Another example of this crime is the immigration to western country, or any of the lands of infidelity for that matter. This would place the children under a lot of pressure, temptations, and lusts. They would end up being far from religion, and would be assimilated into misguided societies. All this would constitute inward murder of a human being, something which stands at the exact opposite of what Allah and His Messenger wanted for man.

 

Instructions from the Imams (Peace upon them) to Increase One’s Offspring:

 

The Imams (Peace upon them) have taught their Shia how actions that would increase sustenance for them and for their children. These measures provide the one who does not have any children to have many of them:

 

1- Raising one’s voice with the call to prayer inside his house. It is narrated by Hisham Ibn Ibrahim, the Companion of Imam Ar-Rida (Peace upon him) said that he complained to Abu Al-Hassan (Peace upon him) from his sickness and that he would not get a child. The Imam commanded him to raise his voice with the prayer call in his house. Hisham narrates: So I did, Allah then removed the sickness from me and increased my offspring” ([19]).

 

2- Asking for Forgiveness. It was narrated in Al-Kafi that Al-Abrash Al-Killini complained to Abu Ja’far Al-Baqir (Peace upon him) that he did not get any offspring, then asked him: Teach me something. The Imam said to him: Ask Allah for forgiveness a hundred times per day (or) per night, for Allah (Exalted is He) says: “"Saying, 'Ask forgiveness from your Lord; for He is Oft-Forgiving; He will send rain to you in abundance;  Give you increase in wealth and sons; and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers (of flowing water)” [Surah of Noah : 10-12]. The Imam then added in another narration of the Tradition: “If you forget doing so, make up for it” ([20]).

 

3- Supplication, this is based on the Texts mentioned in the Holy Quran, of the books of supplication for seeking a child. One such text is Allah’s saying: “O my Lord! Grant unto me from Thee a progeny that is pure” [Surah of the Household of Imran: 38], and Allah’s saying: “Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes” [Surah of the Criterion: 74], and His saying: “O my Lord! leave me not without offspring, though thou art the best of inheritors” [Surah of the Prophets: 89], or you may supplicate through the manner which best expresses your heart.

 

4- Beseeching to Allah through the Infallible Ones (Allah’s Peace upon them) there are many documented stories about believers who beseeched Allah (Exalted is He) through the Zahra’ (Peace upon her) or Al-Hussein (Peace upon him) or Al-Imam Ar-Rida (Peace upon him), so their desire was immediately fulfilled.

 

This is the lesson learned through the life of Imam Al-Kathim (Peace upon him), we wished to reveal it to please the Prophet and the pure members of his household (Allah’s prayers upon all of them), and because it directs us to a very important obligation. So take heed, ye who have insight!

 

 

([1]) A statement delivered in An-Naim Channel on the occasion of the memory of Imam Al-Kathim’s martyrdom on Rajab 1434, June 2013.

 

([2]) See: Al-Irshad, p. 302.

 

([3]) Wasa’il Ash-Shia, Bab An-Nikah, Abwab Ahkam Al-Awlad, Chapter 1, Tradition 14

 

([4]) Ibid, Chapter 2, Tradition 6.

 

([5]) Ibid. Chapter 3, Tradition 1.

 

([6]) Ibid. Chapter 1, Tradition 1.

 

([7]) Abwab Muqaddimat An-Nikah. Chapter 16, Tradition 1.

 

([8]) Kamil Az-Ziyarat: 107

 

([9]) Seerat Al Al-Bayt, Sheikh Al-Qurashi, Vol. 5, p. 201.

 

([10]) Batal Al-Alqami by Al-Muthaffar, Vol. 3, p. 369.

 

([11]) Al-Wasa’il, Kitab At-Tijarah, Abwab Ma Yuktassab bih, Chapter 51, Tradition 11.

 

([12]) Al-Wasa’il, Kitab An-Nikah, Abwab Ahkam Al-Awlad, Chapter 1, Tradition 10.

 

([13]) Ibid. Chapter 1, Tradition 12.

 

([14]) Ibid. Chapter 1, Tradition 13.

 

([15]) See Mustadrak Al-Wasa’il”, Vol. 12, p. 230.

 

([16]) Al-Wasa’il, Kitab An-Nikah, Abwab Ahkam Al-Awlad, Chapter 2, Tradition 7.

 

([17]) Ibid. Chapter 2, Tradition 5.

 

([18])  Information based on a report published on the internet on 22/4/2013>

 

([19]) Wasa’il Ash-Shiah, Kitab An-Nikah, Abwab Ahkam Al-Awlad, Chapter 11, Tradition 1.

 

([20]) Ibid, Chapter 10, Tradition 1.