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A.A. Mohamad: The Family as the Foundation of Society

Address to Symposium Commemorating the International Day of Families
United Nations, New York, May 18, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen, we all decided some minutes ago to be peaceful, so I’m not going to speak long! I thank the Universal Peace Federation for a job well done and for hosting this very timely and important symposium. The holding of this symposium is undoubtedly a great contribution to the International Day of Families.

You fill me with joy and admiration for your care and attention to the issues surrounding the family. Indeed, the international community can come together to fight the challenges of today, such as climate change, the financial crisis, and the food and energy shortages. But the most fundamental and paramount responsibility, without which life has no meaning, is the preservation of the family. So, the preservation of the family comes first of all among these earthly preoccupations.

The family is the entity that gives real meaning to life and to existence. The family is the cornerstone of the social system. The family is not a casual or spontaneous organization of people but a divinely ordained group. Marriage is noble and sacred, a social contract that confers mutual obligations on the couple and society. The progress and welfare of society, or its breakdown, can be traced to the strengths and unity, or the lack of it, in the family. This also applies to civilization.

All religions attach great importance to the family and matters relating to and surrounding the family. Religions care not only about the nuclear family, consisting of just the parents and their children, but also the extended family, meaning children, parents, grandparents, and also in-laws. The divine importance of the family comes from its allotted function in preserving the human race by procreation. Also, it is responsible for protecting the morals and values of individuals and, indeed, the society at large.

The family has an important role in providing socialization and values for children and in providing social and economic security as well. Being part of a family motivates individuals, motivates us all, to work hard, sacrifice our well-being, and work for the welfare of the family.

In all faiths and religions, the family is the foundation of society. The peace and security offered by a stable family unit is greatly valued and considered central for the spiritual growth of its members, society, and humanity. The harmonious social order is created by the families and extended families in which all children are treasured, valued, and nurtured.