Here is the English abstract of Dr. Majid Dehqan (Assistant Professor, Department of Jurisprudence and Law, Research Institute of Woman and Family, Qom, Iran)'s presentation at the 2nd lecture of the pre-con lectures of the international conference on “Imam Reza (PBUH) and Interreligious Dialogue" which was held online on December 4, 2023.
From “Balāʾ” to 'Ḥaraj': Cultural Changes and the Network of Religious Concepts in the Family
The realm of cultural changes in the contemporary era has encompassed multiple dimensions in the areas of gender and family. Among these changes is the heightened awareness and new social conditions of women. This altered situation necessitated new concepts; concepts that were embedded in a larger network of other concepts, all created, repaired, or replaced to describe this new reality. When the realities of family life are narrated with these altered concepts, it appears that new issues emerge for the religious thinker; issues that are not in fact new, but rather are new narrations of altered realities. The mediation of concepts in this encounter is a subject worthy of contemplation. The tribulations of a woman in marital life can be an apt subject for this analysis. In a time when the family was an institution where the spouses had no agency and the role of religious concepts in defining everyday matters was prominent, a wife's dissatisfaction in the family was understood through the concept of “Balāʾ (divine test)”; a religious concept interlinked with other religious notions. However, following the changes, it was comprehended through the concept of “H̱araj (unbearable hardship)”. These concepts, when proposed to jurisprudence, organize different encounters. The encounter with one is ethical and advises patience, while the encounter with the other is reefing to the secondary principle of '‛Usr and Ḥaraj'. Analyzing this issue is the main subject of this article.
Translator: Mahdi Qasemi