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 divided into ethnic groups and gradually the family and tribe began to be formed. Around the seventh century BC, the nucleus of the family group was the house and the father was the head of it; at that time the family consisted of the father, the mother, the children, the nephews, the brothers, the sisters, the daughters-in-law, the genders, the children of the paternal uncle and paternal aunt, those of the maternal uncle, those of the maternal aunt and other relatives who all gathered around the head. Gradually the father of the family became the substitute for 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 Sassanid empire, marriage had a religious significance. 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 era of the Sassanids regarding the presentation of the marriage proposal and 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.
Given that Islam made its appearance in Iran at the time of the Sassanids, the extent of the influence of Islamic learning on the condition of the Iranian family of the Sassanid period is worth analyzing. The Sassanids in that period for various reasons, including the war with the Eastern Roman Empire, were weak and in the year 51 AD they suffered 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 as those 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 towards values such as the sanctity of marriage, maintaining the position of respect towards the elderly in choosing a wife, marriage at a young age, the refusal of divorce and so on. . From the time of the Qajar onwards, 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 advancement of well-being, which is one of the main foundations of modern thought, the criteria for choosing a spouse are also based on the attention to ensure complete well-being at the beginning of life and to provide all the more or less necessary opportunities; therefore the possession of an independent house and high economic possibilities is part of the list of requests of the girl and her family and on the other hand the desire of women to study and to have a job in a certain sense has led to raise the age of marriage which naturally causes a reduction in the birth rate of the population; statistics show that in the course of nearly forty years, the number of Iranian households, after a period of increase, has started 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 aspect of the family, that is 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 coexistence of individuals with children, and also all 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.