10th March 2015
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
Question: Is it permissible to discipline a child below or after the age of seven through hitting if they refuse to pray Salāh?
الجواب حامداً و مصلياً
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
It must be made clear that Islām is a religion of mercy and compassion and abhors physical abuse towards children. It however allows reasonable disciplining of children for open disobedience and neglecting an obligatory act when they reach to a certain age. The famous Hadeeth in which the Messenger of Allāh sallallahu alayhi wasallam said, “Instruct your children to perform Salāh when they reach seven years of age and discipline them at the age of ten if they refuse,” does not allow hitting the child at the age of seven but apparently suggests hitting at the age of ten and above for refusing to pray Salāh. At this age, children begin maturing in their understanding of what’s right and wrong as opposed to when they are seven years of age. So him refusing to pray Salāh is tantamount to rebelling against Allāh’s Divine command which is a major sin in itself. This often happens when the importance of Salāh is not embedded in them at an early age nor parents themselves punctually pray Salāh themselves. Based on the hadeeth though, hitting children below the age of ten for not praying Salāh is not permitted.
It must be remembered that hitting was prescribed merely as a deterrent due to its effectiveness at the time otherwise any kind of discipline that proves effective without resorting to hitting is permissible. The Hadeeth should therefore not be adopted in its literal sense. Resorting to hitting instantly is not the solution in this day and age and best avoided as much as possible. Caution is necessary when disciplining so not to create deep resentment in the child. Children should be taught with compassion and love the rules and method of Salāh in the primary years so to reduce the chances of such disciplinary measures.
[Allãh Knows Best]
Written by (Mufti) Abdul Waheed
Answer Attested by Shaykh Mufti Saiful Islam
JKN Fatawa Department