Maliki Fiqh QA

Islamic Questions & Answers according to the Maliki School

Nursing and child discipline – Shaykh Abdullah Bin Hamid Ali

As for the length of time for breast-feeding, the Qur’an states:

“And mothers shall nurse their children for two complete [lunar] years, for whomever desires to complete the nursing. And the father of the child shall have the duty of their provision and for clothing them according to reasonable standards” (2:233).

So the term for nursing is two lunar years as long as the child has not been weaned before then.

As far as educating children, I mention the famous statement attributed to ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab – may Allah be pleased with him, “Play with them for seven [years], teach them manners for seven [years], and let them enjoy your companionship for seven [years].”

Arabic text missing

I really cannot advise you about when to teach children what. But I do believe that you should begin teaching children Islam as soon as it appears that they have an interest in it. When children are young they like to mimic, memorize, sing, and play. So you should teach them the verses of the Qur’an and words of the Hadiths without focusing on the meanings of the texts as early as possible. That is, as earliest as memorization appears to be something of interest to them. As for Arabic grammar and more technical matters like fiqh, usul-fiqh, ‘Ulum al-Qur’an and ‘Ulum al-Hadith, usually kids might start learning those things when they reach their mid-teens.

As for the hadith of the Prophet – may Allah bless and grant him peace – about hitting your child for not praying, “Order them to make Salat at seven and hit them for it at 10″, this order does not indicate that it is an obligation to hit them for not praying starting at the age of ten. This command indicates the ‘permissibility’ of ‘hitting’ them for not doing so.

Then if we were to take it as being obligatory to the extent that a parent would be considered sinful for not hitting his/her child for not praying, it would merely mean that one is to hit the child ‘one time’, since that’s all it would take to fulfill the Prophet’s command and to remove guilt from a person. And this is why some scholars say that if a parent chooses to hit, they have no right to hit more than 3 times. A parent has to use wisdom in the discipline of one’s child.

A child at the age of ten who is closer to being a teenager than not is usually one who can be reasoned with, since their brains are more developed. Always resorting to physical discipline confuses a child, since the child many times may not understand what or the severity of what he/she did wrong. Explaining always helps. And patience after the explanation helps even more sometimes. But if all else fails, it is permitted for a parent to physically discipline (not abuse) his/her child for abandoning Salat. Any time excruciating pain is caused, the parent has abused his/her child.

A parent might want to include in the explanation, the punishment for abandoning salat, not just in this world but in the hereafter. And one should stress the fact that Allah loves those who pray, and will reward them immensely for doing so.

What also points to the fact that this order is not understood to indicate obligation is that a 10 year old child is not obliged to pray, and even if they were to refuse there would be no sin on him/her unless they have become pubescent.

So a parent should keep all of these things in mind when choosing to physically discipline his/her child.

I hope this helps.

Was Salaam

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