children's rights in Islam covers all the years of childhood and infancy and include all the needs of a child in the process of his/her growth
Having a good name is one of the important children's rights in Islam. This is because a good name affects one's mind. A child hears his name day and night; and consequently, the meaning of that name unconsciously strengthens those features which are implied in it.
Therefore, the first duty of a parent towards his/her child is to give him/her a good name at birth. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) has said: “It is the responsibility of every father to choose a good name for his child ".
According to the researchers, male circumcision reduces many possible diseases in a man's reproductive organ. As one of the children's rights in Islam, it is recommended that the boy be circumcised on the seventh day of his birth. But it is obligatory to circumcise before the boy reaches puberty [i].
Islam strictly recommends breastfeeding, as one of the most significant children's rights in Islam, besides every day more and more scientific evidence confirms the advantages of this act. Breastfeeding is one of the factors affecting the physical, psychological and ethical characteristics of a baby.
According to the Holy Quran: “Mothers shall breastfeed their children for two whole years…” (2:233). Therefore, it is considered a child's right to be breastfed until the approximate age of two.
It is narrated from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP): “For a child, there is no milk better than the milk of the mother” .
This theory has been proved that the human mind at the very beginning is quite blank, and it only gradually that starts using the faculties of sight, hearing, etc.
As it is noted in Holly Quran, “God has brought you from the wombs of your mothers while you did not know anything and He gave you hearing and sight and hearts that you may give thanks” (16:78)
Consequently, the atmosphere of family and society continuously influence the child's mind, although he/she is not aware of this process. Children are reflections of their parents. The best way to inculcate good behavior in children is to treat them with good grace.
It is emphasized in Islamic thought that children should be kept in a nice and respectful environment. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “Respect your children and behave them in a nice manner” .
Although there is no compulsion on children to do religious duties, it is praised to gradually give children religious training. The impressions gained in childhood are very difficult to erase, and if respect and love of religion are infused into his/her mind in childhood, he/she will always remain attached to the religion.
In this stage, the best way of familiarizing the child with religious teachings is performing religious duties in front of him; children are the mirrors of their surroundings.
Imam Baqir (AS) said: “When the child reaches three years, teach him seven times to recite la ilahailla ' llah (there is no God but Allah). Then leave him at that till he is three years seven months and 20 days old; then train him to say Muhammad-un rasul-u 'llah (Muhammad is the messenger of Allah). Then leave him at that till he completes four years. Then teach him seven times to say Salla 'llahu ala Muhammadin wa aali Muhammad (Peace be upon Muhammad and the progeny of Muhammad). Then leave him at that till he reaches the age of 5 years; then ask him which one is his right hand and which one is the left. When he knows it, then make him face Qiblah [i] and tell him to do prostration (Sajdah)” .
This is to continue until he is six years of age. Then he should be told to pray and taught The Bowing (Ruku) and Prostration (Sajdah).
Through mentioned methods, the children learn their religious duties without coercion and feeling any burden upon themselves.
[i] Imam Sadeq (AS) said: "Circumcise your sons when they are seven days old as it is cleaner and the flesh grows faster and because the earth hates the urine of the uncircumcised" .
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“Your Lord has decreed that you shall not worship anyone except Him, and He has enjoined kindness to parents. Should they reach old age at your side one of them or both do not say to them," Fie!" And do not chide them, but speak to them noble words” (17:23). Sitting on the porch of her house, with a deep frown on her face, she seemed absorbed by some unending thoughts. She did not know where she was, neither the boy who was so kindly and attentively taking care of her like a kind nurse, nor the deep unknown feeling that steered within her when he helped her. The only thing she remembered, was that her beloved husband had died and she was left alone.
It had been so many years since the mirror in her room reflected the view of a white-haired, withered, old woman sitting in a wheelchair. But still, she wanted to solve the mystery of the boy’s identity. “Someone must have hired him to take care of me,” she thought. “But who? I’m sure I have no one.”
Instantly, the door of the house opened, and the mysterious young nurse appeared, wearing a big and cheerful smile and a warm, loving look on his face [i][ii] . He had brought her pills. As usual, he put the pills one by one and patiently in her mouth and gave her water to swallow them.
Then kissed her on the forehead and hugged her tightly. She remembered the days when she did not feel good. When she shouted and cursed him violently. She also remembered his patient face at those moments, when he was trying so hard to hold back his tears, taking her hands and kissing them. “What kind of a nurse is he?” she wondered. Respect was an inseparable part of his behavior toward her, always observing not to raise his voice, not to walk ahead of her, and not to act in a way that would make her feel ashamed and humiliated [iii] .
She did not remember if she had ever asked him who he was. So, she gathered her courage to ask and went inside. Entering the house, she saw a man sitting on the couch, arguing on an apparently serious matter with her nurse. “Let’s not bother them,” she thought and turned her wheelchair toward her room, but suddenly something caught her attention.
The man was shouting so she could not help hearing his words: “she does not remember you, not even your name and you are wasting your time here nursing her? What about your job? You are a successful manager for GOD’s sake!” The old woman turned to the boy to see his face. For the first time, she saw the look of rage in him: “She doesn’t, but I do. She is my mother, and I will take care of her to my last breath. “For the record, I became what you say I am, because of her.”
He suddenly felt the weight of the old woman’s look on him. Tears fell on her cheeks irresistibly. After all, the mystery had been solved: her kind and a generous nurse was her loving son, her one and only child.
The next day, when she woke up, the first thing she wanted to see was the face of her nurse, his smile, his kind look. She did not know his name or that why he was there, but she felt sure that her patient, loving and a nice nurse would never ever leave her alone.
[i]. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) said: “Every righteous child who casts a look of mercy and affection upon his parents shall be granted, for every look of his, Rewards equivalent to that of an accepted Hajj.”
[ii]. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) has said: “The look of a child towards his parents out of love for them is an act of worship.”
[iii]. Imam as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) has said (in regards to one’s parents): “Do not cast your gaze upon them except with love and compassion; do not raise your voice above theirs; do not raise your hands above theirs; do not walk ahead of them.”
- 'Allama Majlisi, Bihar al-Anvar, V. 74, p. 73
- ibid, V. 74, P. 79
Imam Sajjad (AS) enumerates the rights of parents in Islam, specifically the mother in ‘Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq)’, based on her efforts, such as how she withstood the difficulties during the pregnancy, the care and protection she provided after giving birth to the baby, the selfless sacrifices she made so that her child could grow up in the most comfortable condition and with the best education.
Then, Imam (AS) invites to show gratitude to the mother, but he adds in the end that one cannot reciprocate what she had done unless God helps him to succeed .
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) admits that one can never (repeats this two times) pay back the rights of the mother; even if he attempts as many times as the number of the raindrops and the desert sands of the world to pay her back for only one of the days that she had carried him in her womb during the pregnancy, he will not succeed .
The rights of the mother among parents in Islam are even known to be superior to those of the father  since it is said that: “If you are performing a recommended (mustahab) prayer (which is a kind of talking with God and being in His presence requires certain reverence) and your father calls you, do not break your prayer but if your mother calls, break the prayer”.
In this regard, it is narrated that a man, who claimed that had committed every possible sin, asked Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) if he could still repent or not. Prophet (PBUH&HP) questioned if either of his parents was alive. He answered, his father was. Then, Prophet (PBUH&HP) advised him to go and treat him well. A while after the man left, Prophet (PBUH&HP) said: “if his mother was alive [he would certainly have the opportunity to repent]” .
These, along with other Quranic verses and narrations (Hadiths) highlight the importance of parents in Islam and especially mothers’ rights; something that can never be returned unless with divine providence.
One of the rights of the father is to recognize him as the root that has given existence to his children. Whenever one is proud of him/herself for a blessing, he/she should remember that he/she has inherited it from his/her father. Hence, one should praise God and thank him for what He has granted him .
Imam Reza (AS) said: “offer your property, honor, and life to your father since you have received them from him. Do good to him and ask for the blessing and forgiveness for him after his death” . It is good to know that the amount of the father’s right in his child’s property is as much as it is sufficient for daily meals, without any dissipation, and only in case of need .
Gaining God’s satisfaction: “whoever his parents are satisfied with, I am satisfied with him/her” .
Long-lasting life: “Whoever honors his parents, will live a long life” .
Receiving good deeds from their own children: “honor your parents, so your children will honor you” .
Easy death: “Whoever honors the parents, God will ease his death” .
Being rewarded the highest levels in Heaven: “one, who gives Infaq to his parents, tolerates them, is beneficent to them and does not upset nor harm them, will be placed in the best levels of Heaven” .
According to Islamic teachings, not only mistreating parents in Islam is insolence to them, but also includes ignoring their rights, disobeying them in what is permissible and disrespecting them . It is known from Islamic teachings that:
Even if one’s parents have done something unfair to him, he is not allowed to look at them with a sharp, angry gaze. Otherwise, even a single prayer (Salat) of him will not be accepted .
Insolence to parents is one of the major sins and is Haram .
Prophet (PBUH) has warned about the consequences of Insolence to the parents by saying that the sweet smell of heaven will be sensed from a thousand years of distance but does not reach those who have been insolent to their parents .
It is essential to know that one may gain the satisfaction of the parents when they are alive, but will be readily insolent to them after their death by ignoring their rights like not paying their debts, not praying for them, etc.; and the other way around .
[i] (2 :83), (17:23), (4:36), (6:151), (31:13-14).
[ii] Doing prayer (Salat) and fasting (Swam) in place of parents, especially after their death, is highly advised in Islamic teachings. This is due to the importance of having respect for parents and these two Islamic practices. This also helps to maintain the emotional links between children and parents, even after their death.
[iii] Praying for parents and asking mercy on them is a duty on children that is emphasized in the Quran and Islamic narrations. If parents have committed some sins or have sometimes been disobedient, praying for them might be beneficial to them.
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