Speaking about the importance of family's place in society, an Iranain cleric stated that the equality of men and women must be focused on issues such as morality, kind-dispossession and conduct, and not on the different roles men and women posses in the family, which must be preserved in order to prevent harm to the family unit.
During the opening ceremony of the first distance education course on 'Women and Families' for the Female Seminary, Hujjat al-Islam Muhammad Redha Zibaei-Nejad spoke of the importance of the family unit and its place in society.
By alluding to the pivotal role families play in education and upbringing, he stated: In our current societies the role of families are changing, and some of the responsibilities that were traditionally the task of families are falling on the shoulders of specialised institutions.
Zibaei-Nejad stated that previously the family environment was the sole centre for nurturing and educating a child and providing for all their needs, however currently some of these needs are being provided for by specialised institutions, and it is important that a lot of attention is given in this regard.
Pointing to the importance of compassion within families and the recent trend of family members becoming more distant to one another, he stated that the family unit is responsible for strengthening familial ties and preserving individual qualities such as modesty, temperance and social skills.
By alluding to high divorce rates in the modern world, he confirmed the rapid rate at which family structures and lifestyles are changing.
He stated: "Today's society which is interpreted through such theories as post-modernism, globalisation and late modernity, and as such society is moving at a rapid pace and constantly evolving. This has led to moral, societal and familial values to become less important for some people.
According to Zibaei-Nejad, this has led to confusion amongst people in regards to where to draw their values from - so that some people will uphold some religious rituals such as prayer whilst also committing grave sins, and feel indifferent towards such contradiction.
By mentioning the modernist concept that one should live in the moment and not think about the future, he emphasised that according to religious beliefs, such a concept is completely wrong and that at the time of the re-appearance of Imam al-Mahdi, one of the biggest sources for corruption in society will be the family unit.
He further stated that the equality of men and women must be focused on issues such as morality, kind-dispossession and conduct, and not on the different roles men and women posses in the family, which must be preserved in order to prevent harm to the family unit.
By also alluding to modern films and TV series which aim to show women as dominant and independent whilst painting men as feeble bystanders, Zibaei-Nejad stated: "This (aim of) weakening of the man's leadership and management ability of a household will deface the family unit and lead to more serious issues in the future."
He added: "The existence of a leader in a family is extremely valuable and people should not seek undermine this role".