The rights of children in Islam

Children in Islam are the joy of life and sight of the sore eyes. Islam paid special attention to children and the Islamic Sharia stated that children have rights and duties toward the parents. Children and the impact of the environment on raising them!

A child got the first images of life enshrined in its mind from the environment of the parents. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “No child is born but has the Islamic Faith, but its parents turn it into a Jew or a Christian”[1]. The parents have the greatest influence on children’s religion and morals. Therefore, children’s interests and the future of the nation depend on children’s righteousness. Accordingly, children’s rights begin as early as before their birth; choosing a good mother and good father, as we have illustrated.

·        Children’s pre-birth rights

·        Protection from the Satan

·       If both parties succeeded in choosing each other, the child has a right: to be protected from the Satan and this happens when putting the father’s sperm into the mother’s womb. The Prophet (PBUH) told Muslims about a prayer they should perform during sexual intercourse, which protects the fetus from the Satan. Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet said: “If anyone of you intends to go to his wife, says: in the name of Allah, O Allah protect us against Stan and keep away the Stan from that you have bestowed upon us, and if it is destined that they should have a child, then Satan will never be able to harm him.”[2]

·        Child’s Right to Life

– The time it develops into a fetus inside its mother’s womb, the child gets the right to life stated by Islam. Islam prohibits abortion. It is haram (forbidden by Islam) for a woman to drop her fetus before its delivery because it is a trust given to her by Allah. The fetus has a right to life and it is haram to harm or hurt it. The Islamic sharia sees the fetus as a human being that must not be killed as soon as it becomes four months old and when the soul is breathed into it. There is diyah (an obligatory blood money) that must be paid by anyone who kills a fetus. Almughira Ibn Shuba said: Allah’s Apostle gave his verdict about two ladies of the Hudhail tribe who had fought each other and one of them had hit the other with a stone. The stone hit her abdomen and as she was pregnant, the blow killed the child in her womb. They both filed their case with the Prophet (PBUH) and he judged that the blood money for what was in her womb. The guardian of the lady who was fined said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Shall I be fined for a creature that has neither drunk nor eaten, neither spoke nor cried? A case like that should be nullified.” On that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “This is one of the brothers of soothsayers.[3]”[4]. So, the Prophet (PBUH) judged the blood money for what was in her womb[5]. The relatives of the killer must pay the blood money.

·       Additionally, the Islamic sharia permits pregnant women not to fast in the Muslims’ holy fasting month of Ramadan for the sake of the fetus’ health. Also, if a woman committed adultery and she became pregnant, the Islamic sharia permits those authorized to execute the punishment of adultery to put off the punishment execution until she delivers what is there in her womb and completes the newborn’s suckling.

·        Children’s Post-Birth Rights

·        Portending Good When They Are Born

·       After delivery, Islam put provisions related to their delivery, such as portending good for their birth, like the case mentioned in the Quran about the delivery of Allah’s Apostle Yahya Ibn Zakariya, may Allah be pleased with the two of them, Allah exalted He is says: {While he was standing in prayer in the chamber, the angels called unto him: “(Allah) doth give thee glad tidings of Yahya, witnessing the truth of a Word from Allah, and (be besides) noble, chaste, and a prophet,- of the (goodly) company of the righteous} [The Family Of ‘Imran: 39] and people shall portend good and show happiness for the delivery of both male and female children, without any discrimination.

·        Calling Azan and Iqama in Its Ears

·       Among children’s post-delivery rights is calling the azan (Islamic call to prayer) in a newborn’s right ear and the iqama (a second call to inform people that prayer starts) in its left ear. Calling azan in the right ear of a newborn is desirable for the hadith of Abu Rafie, who said: “I saw the Prophet (PBUH) calling azan in the ear of al-Hassan ibn Ali (may Allah forgive him) when Fatima (may Allah forgive her) gave birth to him.”[6]

·        Tahneek (Putting Chewed Date in a Newborn’s Mouth)

·       Another post-delivery right of children is putting well-chewed date in the mouth of a newborn[7], a practice was done by the Prophet. Abu Musa[8], may Allah forgive him, said: “I had a son and I brought him to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he named him Ibrahim. He chewed up a date and gave it to him and made supplication for him to be blessed and then gave him back to me.”[9]

·        Shaving Newborn’s Head Hair and Its Weight in Silver is Given as a Charity

·       One of a newborn’s rights is shaving his hair and giving the weight of that shaved hair as a charity in silver. This implies healthy and social benefits. Among the healthy benefits: Opening the pores of the newborn’s head and protecting him from anything unhealthy. Perhaps this helps remove the weak hair in order for stronger one to grow. The social benefit comes from giving the weight of the shaved hair as a charity. This is a practical application of the concept of social solidarity among members of the society and this makes the poor happy. Mohamed Ibn Ali Ibn al Hussein reported: “Fatimah, the daughter of Allah’s Apostle, peace be upon him, weighed the shaved hairs of al Hassan and Hussein and paid silver equal to the weight of the hairs as charity”[10]

·        Good Naming

·       It is from the teachings of the Messenger of Allah, that each member of the family be given a good name. This is one of the top rights of children. It is an obligation upon the parents that their children be given good names. Giving a child a beautiful and honorable name is very important. Allah’s Apostle disliked the word harb (war) and hated hearing it. The Prophet says: “The names dearest to Allah are Abdulla and Abdur Rahman, the truest are Harith (ploughman) and Hammam (energetic) and the worst are Harb (war) and Murrah (bitter)”[11]

·       Ali, may Allah forgive him, said: “When al Hassan was born, I have named him Harb. Allah’s Apostle, peace be upon him, came and said: “Let me see my son. What is the name you have given to him? He (Ali) said: Harb. He (the Prophet) replied: “No, he is Hassan”. And when al Hussein was born, I have named him Harb. The Prophet came and said: “Let me see my son. What is the name you have given to him?”. Ali answered: Harb. The Prophet said: “No, he is Hussein”. When the third child was born, I have named him Harb. The Prophet came and said: “Let me see my son. What is the name you have given to him?” I said: Harb. The Prophet said: “No, he is Muhassin”, and then he added: “You have named them after the sons of Harun: Shabbar, Shabbir and Mushabir”.[12]

·        Aqiqah

·       One of children’s rights after they are born is the aqiqah (sacrifice on occasion of birth). It means the sacrifice of an animal (these were also characteristic features of Millat-u-Ibrahim, the religion of the Prophet Ibrahim) on the seventh day of the child’s delivery. It is a confirmed Sunnah (prophetic tradition). It is a kind of showing happiness for that newborn. The Prophet, when asked about the aqiqah, said: “I do not like disobedience and to whomsoever a child is born and he wants to perform a sacrifice of aqiqah on behalf of it, he should sacrifice two goats for a boy and one goat for a girl”[13]

·        Suckling (breastfeeding)

·       Suckling is a basic children’s right after birth. Breastfeeding has a long-term effect on the physical, emotional and social structure in one’s life. This was realized by the Islamic sharia, so every mother in Islam should breastfeed her child for two whole years. This was classified as one of the essential basic rights of each newborn child. Allah exalted He is says: {The mothers shall give such to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term. But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms} [The Cow: 233].

·       Recent health and psychological researches proved that the two-year breastfeeding is essential for the child’s good development from the health and psychological perspectives[14]. But Allah’s blessing for the Islamic ummah (nation) did not wait for researches and experiments to prove the benefits of two-year breastfeeding. It preceded all of them. And we notice to what extent the Islamic sharia is concerned with breastfeeding by making it one of each newborn’s basic rights. Such a right, however, is not confined to the mother alone, but the father shares it, too. The father’s responsibility is that he must provide the mother with food and clothes in order for her to be able to take care of the kid. Therefore, it is a shared responsibility, with each party doing the duty they have to do within the framework designed by this noble sharia. This protects the child’s right to protection and caretaking and this is to be done according to the parents’ capabilities. Allah exalted He is says: {No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear} [The Cow: 233].

·        Custody and Spending

·       One of children’s basic rights to be fulfilled by the parents are custody and spending money on them. The Islamic sharia made it obligatory on the parents to take care of their children and protect their lives and health and to spend money to feed and father them. Allah’s Apostle says: “Every one of you is a caretaker, and is responsible for his consignment. The ruler is a caretaker of people, and is responsible for his subjects. A man is a caretaker of his family, and is responsible for them. A woman is a caretaker of her husband’s house and children, and is responsible for them. A slave is a caretaker of his master’s property, and is responsible for it.”[15]

·        Good Education

·       Additionally, one of children’s rights is the good education and teaching them the fundamental issues of the religion. As a practical method of educating children, the Prophet says: “Command your children to pray when they become seven years old, and beat them for it (prayer) when they become ten years old; and arrange their beds (to sleep) separately”[16] and Allah commanded us to protect ourselves and our children from the Hell on the Day of Judgment. Allah exalted He is says: {O ye who believe! save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones} [Banning: 6].

·        Taking Care of Children Sentimentally and Emotionally

·       In addition to this, children should be taken care of sentimentally, by doing well to them, having mercy upon them, jesting and bantering with them. It was reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, kissed al Hassan Ibn Ali in the presence of al Aqra Ibn Habis. Al Aqra said: I have ten children and I have never kissed any of them. Allah’s Apostle cast a look at him and said, “Whoever is not merciful to others will not be treated mercifully.”[17]

·       Shadad Ibn al Had (may Allah be pleased with him) quoted his father as saying: Allah’s Apostle came out in al-Isha’a prayer (evening prayer) carrying either Hassan or Hussein. The Prophet advanced and put him, then started praying. The Prophet prostrated and it was a long prostration. My father said: I have raised my head during the prayer only to find that the little child is climbing over the Prophet’s back while he was prostrating. I returned to my prostration. And when Allah’s Apostle finished the prayer, some people said: Oh! Allah’s Apostle, you have made a long prostration during your prayer until we thought that something happened or that you receive a revelation. The Prophet said: “None of this happened, but my son climbed over me and I hated to prevent him before he finishes what he was doing.”[18]

·       Anas Ibn Malik, may Allah forgive him, narrated that the Prophet said: “Whenever I stand for prayer, I want to prolong it but on hearing the cries of a child, I would shorten it as I dislike to put its mother in trouble.”[19]

·        Upbringing the Girls

Upbringing and educating the girls and taking care of them have a special importance. The Prophet, peace be upon him, exalted the reward of anyone who take a good care of and educate the girls properly. The Prophet says: “He, who brought up two girls properly till they grew up, he and I would come (together) (very closely) on the Day of Resurrection, and he interlaced his fingers (for explaining the point of nearness between him and that person)” and he interlaced his fingers.[20]

Therefore, there are highly important rights for children upon the parents. These rights were secured by Islam. The comprehensiveness and stages of these rights outdid all manmade systems and laws, either old or modern ones. Islam paid attention to children in all their life stages: Fetuses, suckling babies, children, adults and until they became mature men and women. Moreover, Islam was interested in them even before they become fetuses in their mothers’ wombs, by calling for the good selection of mothers and fathers…all that targets the production of righteous men and women for a society dominated by noble ethics and values.

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