Family and its transformation in Iran
Like any place in the world, even the structure of the Iranian family from ancient times until today has undergone social, cultural, political and religious changes and beliefs, values, behaviors, the kind of predominant relationships in it, along with customs and family traditions have produced change.
In ancient Iran, society initially split into ethnic groups and gradually began to form the family and the tribe. Around the seventh century BC, the nucleus of the family group was the home and the father was the head of it; at that time the family was composed of the father, the mother, the children, the nephews, the brothers, the sisters, the daughters, the genera, the sons of the paternal uncle and the paternal aunt, those of the maternal uncle, the of the maternal aunt and other relatives who gathered around the head. Slowly the father of the family became the substitute of the father of the tribe.
On the condition of marriage, the purposes, the criteria for choosing the bride and the age of marriage in the Iranian family before Islam, we do not have much information and some information is obtained in a scattered way from some book. Most of the arguments in this regard, deal with the life and marriage of the princes and the rank of rulers and there are fewer references to the life of ordinary people. Among the people, marriage had a sacred position and was considered the most important and cult-related family event.
In the Sassanidian empire, marriage had a religious value. Marriage and family formation in ancient Iran, beyond the social dimension, was also important for the individual aspect. The customs of ancient Iran and the Sassanid era regarding the presentation of the marriage proposal and the engagement were very similar to today, or the customs and traditions of today in this context are a derivation of those existing in the past.
Considering that Islam appeared in Iran at the time of the Sassanids, the measure of the influence of Islamic learning in the condition of the Iranian family of the Sassanid period, is worthy of being analyzed. The Sassanids at that time for various reasons, including the war with the Eastern Roman Empire, were weak and in the year 51 after Christ they suffered the decline. It can be deduced that the Islamic contributions did not have much influence on the condition of the Iranian family during the reign of the Sassanids and that the customs and traditions of the Iranian families and the laws that governed them, were the same of the ancient Iranians and of the Zoroastrian faith.
Islam, which on all aspects of life has rules and principles, also on the family and marriage has established laws including the necessity of the couple to be Muslim, not accepting any companion for the woman, the duty of man to keep the woman, the official acceptance that the woman has an economic independence through that of her inheritance and her property and so on. The observance of these principles has meant that the life of the Muslim Iranians was shaped on the basis of Islamic regulations and that great changes gradually took place in the family condition of the Iranians.
The Iranian family today
Based on historical sources, the Iranian family in the past was more observant of values such as the sanctity of marriage, maintaining respect for the elderly in the choice of wife, marriage at a young age, refusal of divorce, and so on . Since the Qajar era, due to the spread of modernity in Iran and the acceptance of the influence of Western culture and thought, changes took place.
Today the influence of individualism is visible in making decisions about engagement and marriage. In conjunction with industrialization, urbanism and progress, children have gained greater independence in deciding the age of marriage and also in the choice of the bride. Their marriages have also taken on a new aspect; the choice of the wife that in the past was proposed by the parents and the elderly or was done by someone else's intermediation, today in some cases, takes place through mutual knowledge at the workplace, study and sometimes in the virtual environment.
With the progress of well-being, which is one of the main foundations of modern thought, the criteria for choosing a spouse are also based on attention to ensuring complete well-being at the beginning of life and providing all the opportunities that are more or less necessary; therefore the possession of an independent house and of elevated economic possibilities is included in the list of requests of the girl and her family and on the other side the desire of the women to study and to have an occupation in a certain sense has led to age of marriage that naturally causes the birth rate of the population to decrease; statistics show that over the course of almost forty years, the number of Iranian families, after a period of increase, has begun to decline. It can be said that the family in Iran and in the West from a structural point of view presents some differences: in Iran we focus on the complete appearance of the family, ie the father, mother and children and policies go in this direction, while in Western countries this point of view does not exist and by family we mean every aspect of the cohabitation of individuals with their children, and also all the models of life have been accepted.
In several articles of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the article 10 it is asserted that: since the family is the founding pillar of Islamic society, all the laws, norms and projects related to it, must facilitate its formation, vigilance on its sacredness and on the stability of family relationships on the basis of Islamic rights and ethics. So also in the paragraph one of the article 43, the assurance of primary needs such as home, food, clothing, health, care, education, education and the possibilities for all to form a family, all this was indicated among the duties and responsibilities of the Islamic government.
In Iran, the 25 day of the month Dhil-Hijah (lunar calendar) that coincides with the day "of the family and pensioner's honors", has become part of the calendar of the country as an official anniversary. The reason for choosing this day is the respect for the revelation expressed in the verse "Hal-ati" in the Sura Al-Insān which deals with the family and the stability of its foundations.