The topic of Islam and children includes the rights of children in Islam, children's duties towards their parents, and parent's rights over their children, both males and females, Undid and Undid. Also discussed are some of the differences regarding rights with respect to different schools of thought.
Children in the Qur'an Edit
The Qur'an uses various terms for children (e.g. Arabic terms "dhurriyya; ghulām; ibn; walad; walīd; mawlūd; ṣabī; tifl; saghir) but according to Avner Giladi, the context seldom makes it clear whether it is exclusively referring to the unmatures. The Qur'anic statements about children, Giladi states, are mainly concerned with "infanticide, adoption, breast-feeding, and fatherless children."
Against infanticide Edit
- Pre-Islamic Arabia
The pre-Islamic pagan Arab society also practiced Undid as a form of "post-partum birth control". Infanticide was practiced either out of destitution (thus practiced on males and females alike), or as sacrifices to gods, or as "disappointment and fear of social disgrace felt by a father upon the birth of a daughter".
Other passages Edit
Israeli historian and professor Avner Giladi has described Qur'anic passages as predominantly typical of patrilineal societies:
- Children have the right to enjoy love and affection from their parents.</Blockquote>
- Children have the right to education. A saying attributed to Muhammad relates:
"A father gives his child nothing better than a good education."
- Parents are recommended to provide adequately for children in inheritance.
- Undid in a Undid tradition summed up some of the rights of children in the following anecdote:
Rights of parentsEdit
With regard to Islam, some of the prerogatives of parents with respect to children, and countervailing rights of children are:
- The first and foremost right of the parents is to be obeyed and respected by their children.
The Prophet said thrice, "Should I inform you out the greatest of the great sins?" They said, "Yes, O Allah's Apostle!" He said, "To join others in worship with Allah and to be undutiful to one's parents." The Prophet then sat up after he had been reclining (on a pillow) and said, "And I warn you against giving a false witness", and he kept on saying that warning till we thought he would not stop (see Hadith No. 7, Vol. 8).
- The mother has the right to receive the best treatment than accorded to any other person, in addition the mother has the right of custody of the child in general circumstances.
A man came to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?" The Prophet said, "Your mother." The man said. "Who is next?" The Prophet said, "Your mother." The man further said, "Who is next?" The Prophet said, "Your mother." The man asked for the fourth time, "Who is next?" The Prophet said, "Your father."
- Parents have the right to spank those of their children above the age of ten years who neglect in performing Islamic prayers in Sunni Islam.
- Regarding those who would spank children a fatwa of the Mufti Kafaayatullah provides as follows:
- Parents have the right to rebuke their children to protect them from physical or moral harm.
- Parents have the right to be looked after by their children, and to receive physical or financial help as necessary, especially in their old age.
Muhammad and childrenEdit
Muhammad established laws and examples (Undid) in respect of which is obligatory for the Muslim community to follow. His behavior towards children was demonstrably kind. Instances of Muhammad professing affection for children are recorded in Undid(s):
I went along with Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) at a time during the day but he did not talk to me and I did not talk to him until he reached the market of Undid. He came back to the tent of Fatimah and said, "Is the little chap (meaning Al-Hasan) there?" We were under the impression that his mother had detained him in order to bathe him and dress him and garland him with sweet garland. Not much time had passed that he (Al-Hasan) came running until both of them embraced each other, thereupon Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "O Allah, I love him; love him and love one who loves him." (Undid)
Abu Hurairah reported: The Prophet (Muhammad) kissed his grandson Al-Hasan bin `Ali in the presence of Al-Aqra` bin Habis. Thereupon he remarked: "I have ten children and I have never kissed any one of them." Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) looked at him and said, "He who does not show mercy to others will not be shown mercy". (Undid and Sahih Muslim).
Another tradition relates his emphasis on treating children with respect and understanding:
Narrated `A’ishah: The Prophet took a child in his lap … and then the child urinated on him, so he asked for water and poured it over the place of the urine. (Bukhari) .... Embarrassed, the father sprang forward. "What have you done, you silly boy" he shouted. His arm shoved forward to grab the child away from the Muhammad, his red face showing his anger. Fear and confusion showed in the face of the child. Muhammad restrained the man, and gently hugged the child to him. "Don’t worry," he told the over-zealous father. "This is not a big issue. My clothes can be washed. But be careful with how you treat the child" he continued. "What can restore his self-esteem after you have dealt with him in public like this?"".
All Sunni schools of thought agree that forced marriages are strictly forbidden in Islam, as Islamic marriages are contracts between two consenting parties referred to as mithaq. It has been quoted from Muhammad:
"The widow and the divorced woman shall not be married until their order is obtained, and the virgin shall not be married until her consent is obtained."
In addition, Muhammad gave women the power to annul their marriages if it was found that they had been married against their consent.
"When a man gives his daughter in marriage and she dislikes it, the marriage shall be annulled." Once a virgin girl came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said that her father had married her to a man against her wishes. The Prophet gave her the right to repudiate the marriage.
- There must be a clear proposal. According to Imam Malik, children due to their immaturity may choose an unsuitable partner for themselves, hence, the power of Ijbar has been given to the guardian so that he may overrule the child to marry someone he thinks is unsuitable for her. This is the legal right given to the guardian for girls by Maliki school of thought. In addition, Islam requires that parents be followed in almost every circumstances, hence parents may ask their children to divorce a certain person, but this cannot be upheld in an Islamic court of law and is not a legal right of the parent.
Age of marriageEdit
No age limits have been fixed by Islam for marriage according to Levy, and "quite young children may be legally married." The girl may not live with the husband however until she is fit for marital sexual relations.
In Islamic Undid terminology, Undid refers to a person who has reached maturity, Undid or adulthood and has full responsibility under Undid. Legal theorists assign different ages and criteria for reaching this state for both males and females. In marriage baligh is related to the Undid legal expression, hatta tutiqa'l-rijal, which means that the wedding may not take place until the girl is physically fit to engage in Undid. In comparison, baligh or balaghat concerns the reaching of Undid which becomes manifest by the Undid. The age related to these two concepts can, but need not necessarily, coincide. Only after a separate condition called rushd, or intellectual maturity to handle one's own property, is reached can a girl receive her Undid.
Undid and Undid Edit
By a verse in the Qur'an, Muhammad instructed adoptive parents to refer to their adoptive children by the names of their biological parents, if known:
... Nor has He made your adopted sons your (biological) sons. Such is (only) your (manner of) speech by your mouths. But Allah tells (you) the Truth, and He shows the (right) Way. Call them by (the names of) their fathers; that is juster in the sight of Allah. But if you know not their father's (names, call them) your brothers in faith, or your trustees. But there is no blame on you if you make a mistake therein. (What counts is) the intention of your hearts. And Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. (Qur'an )
The guardian/child relationship under Islamic law regarding is slightly different than the guardian/adoptee relationship under the civil law. Islamic adoption is termed Undid, originating from a word meaning "to feed." In essence, it describes more of a foster-parent relationship. Some other Islamic customs surrounding this relationship are:
- An adopted child inherits from his or her biological parents, not automatically from the adoptive parents.
- When the child is grown, members of the adoptive family are not considered blood relatives, and are therefore not muhrim to him or her. "Muhrim" refers to a specific legal relationship that regulates marriage and other aspects of life. Essentially, members of the adoptive family would be permissible as possible marriage partners, and rules of modesty exist between the grown child and adoptive family members of the opposite sex.
- If the child is provided with property/wealth from the biological family, adoptive parents are commanded to take care and not intermingle that property/wealth with their own. They serve merely as trustees.
Islam accepts certain circumstances of child enslavement. The children of a slave-girl also obtain the status of slave under the mother's master; except if the father is the master himself, in which case the child is born free and the mother becomes an umm walad, necessitating her eventual emancipation.