By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, Morocco, May 6, 2012
Culture has always determined the nature of human relations throughout history, especially among parents towards their children and children towards their parents. We human beings can never escape the effects of our culture in that we are so closely tied to it since birth.
We either consciously or unconsciously cling to it stubbornly. Apart from what Islam decrees with regard to the inestimable importance of children’s obligation of obeying their parents, human nature and universal humanity itself has led nations of all time to hold one’s parents in the highest estimation possible.
Yet, some Muslim cultures, including that of Morocco, have overestimated the act of respecting the father as though he were angelic and immaculate and as though he weren’t to blame for grave mistakes that his children legally have the full right to complain about.
Think, for instance, of the father who sends his children to work at a very young age, thus depriving them of their right to a dignified education and a well-lived childhood. Think, also, of the father who orders his young sons to send him what they earn every month. Think of the father who sends his son to work for a man and pays his son a visit from time to time, not to ask about how his son is doing, but to ask about the money the son has exerted himself hard to earn. This is the bitter reality that I, myself, and many friends of mine have experienced.
One may intervene and attribute this phenomenon to the mass ignorance characterizing such fathers. But, common sense without any academic education would suffice to determine that child labor exploited for the sake of the father’s welfare is against the law and against the precepts of Islam.
Many people who I know very well carry the same stories within them, and only a few dare to recount them. One of these people, a female servant aged nine, was sent by her father to do household work in a rich family’s home where she spent nearly fifteen years. Her greedy father, a taxi driver who I know well enough, visits the rich family each month only to take what his daughter has earned without evincing any mercy to give her a part of her earnings. For the father, the money his daughter earns must be part of her deference for him.
If this father were to be asked why he behaved so, he would surely say that his dutiful daughter had only fulfilled her role properly towards him. And he would add that so long as he is her father, she has no right to object as this is part of children’s obedience towards their parents.
I have not the slightest idea why we always raise the issue of the satisfaction of parents, and not that of children. The latter too need to be equally satisfied. We always threaten children with the price that they will pay if they disobey their parents, but we seldom do the same with parents no matter how wrong and harmful their behavior with their children may be.
The act of the dutiful daughter contributing to her father’s welfare, according to the father, is a clear sign that the girl has done her job properly and is going to be granted the approval of her father. He mistakenly attributes this to her obliged obedience decreed in Islam. Real obedience goes beyond this sort of materialistic obedience.
It is now common practice that, if this girl and others like her happen to complain about this outmoded way of life, which I myself call sheer injustice, the first person to criticize the daughter for so-called “blasphemous” acts is usually her mother on the basis of not showing enough deference for the father.
Then comes the so-called Muslim blameworthy society which, in turn, castigate the girl and others like her for disobedience and lack of manners. Almost no one, however, blames the father when it comes to this kind of treatment in human relations.
For the majority of Moroccan families, and as is made clear in the novel For Bread Alone by Mohamed Choukri, the Moroccan father is sacred, innocent and free of blame. But a true father should be estimated as one who doesn’t exploit his offspring in any demeaning way, that doesn’t think of them as machines that are good only for maintaining his welfare, that doesn’t scorn them in others’ presence, and that doesn’t deprive his children of their rights to education, clothing, food, and most importantly a dignified, respectable livelihood in all respects.
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