A significant part of children's rights in Islam address the needs and demands of children during their years of adolescence.
Middle childhood is the most decisive period of life, considering children's rights in Islam. It is a time when children develop fundamental skills for building healthy social relationships and learn roles that will make them ready to be confronted with adolescence and adulthood.
According to Islam, in this period a child should first be given necessary religious education so that he/she may not be misinformed and misled by anyone in belief or action.
In this stage, children should start to learn writing and reading. Also, moral characteristics and attributes should be institutionalized in their mind, and their acts step by step.
Imam Baqir (AS) has asserted: “When the child completes seven years, he should be asked to wash his face and hands, and then told to pray. This will continue till he reaches the age of 9 years, when he should be taught proper Wudu (Ablution), and should be guided by parents if he is not careful and proper Salat (prayer) - and he should be reminded if he is not regular” .
It is worth mentioning that puberty in most girls will begin at around 8-14 years. If a girl has reached puberty in this period, she must do all acts of worship that an adult is required to do. Parents should have particular attention to the girls in this age. So she must fast in Ramadan, and she must also cover her head when she prays and thus must be in full Islamic prayer clothing.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) emphasized the teachings of two things to male children, as a part of children's rights in Islam. He said: “It is the right of the male child on his father to teach him the Book of God (Holy Quran), riding, and swimming.”. It is also narrated that the prophet believed the duty of a father to be teaching his son to write .
The character of children is supple; they may easily be bent in any direction. If they are not given proper moral and religious education at this stage, changes of manner and thought would be difficult.
This period is between childhood and adult age. After the age of 14, the human mind becomes stronger and new horizons are opened in front of one’s eyes. Therefore, puberty, marriage, domestic life and its complex problems come to the fore.
Nowadays, the young adults soon realize that he needs to look after himself in future; he knows that with every day passing, he becomes closer to the responsibilities and accountability of a family.
It is the right of adolescent to be involved in every decision making in family and parents should consider their opinions. As Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) mentioned the child is the master for seven years and a slave for seven years and a vizier for seven years .
One of the children's rights in Islam that parents should observe is to be provided with marriage when they are old enough, without delaying it. Indeed, the Holy Quran and the Prophet (PBUH&HP) advise that young people be married when they are old enough .
The prophet (PBUH&HP) said: “Among the rights of the child over the parents are three: To give him a good name, to teach him to write and to help him marry when he comes of pubescence .
The aim of Islam regarding family can only be accomplished with the help of a good marriage. Accordingly, marriage is an important part, and significant matter of domestic discipline and children should be educated by parents in this matter.
Parents are responsible for providing the requirements of marriage. Actually, ideal primary education should be given to children by their parents and their duties are fulfilled by providing them with a job and helping them to marry.
- Ibn-e Fazl-e Tabarsi, Makarim Al Akhlaq, p. 115.
- Muhammad ibn Ya‘qūb al-Kulaynī, Furū al-Kāfī, vol 6, p. 187.
- Abul Qasem Payandeh, Nahj-al feṣāḥa , p. 447.
- Muhammad ibn Ya‘qūb al-Kulaynī, Rawda al-Kafi , vol 6, p. 47.
- childrens rights in Islam
- Fattal Neyshaburi , Rawdat al-wa'izin , p. 369.
A newborn baby who opens his/her eyes to this world is tiny and weak at first; like a rosebud that appears in spring. It is then a burden upon the parents in Islam to take care of this fragile gift, like a compassionate gardener, until the baby grows up and flourishes.
Knowing that our parents as a team have provided for all our needs till we grow up, we naturally respect them. But this becomes of paramount importance when we come to know that how strongly Islam emphasizes parents’ rights and respecting them.
Islam has placed such a strong emphasis on the parents’ rights and worth that showing gratitude and being grateful to them are commanded to, right after Monotheism (Tawhid) in several verses of the Quran [i].
In the nineteenth chapter of the Quran, Surah Maryam, where some moral virtues of Prophet Yahya (PBUH) are mentioned, it is said that he was “good to his parents” (19:14). We also read that Prophet Jesus (PBUH) introduces himself as the servant of Allah who: “[made me] be good to my mother” (19:32).
In a narration, Imam Sadiq (AS) is asked about the best deeds; Imam (AS) answers: “Prayer (Salat) in its stipulated hour, goodness towards parents and Jihad in the way of Allah” . Bringing respect for parents, after prayer (Salat) and before Jihad indicates the high-value Islam places on caring for parents.
In another narration from Imam Sadiq (AS), doing good to parents, whether they are among believers (Mu'min) or disbelievers (Kafir), is known as a duty that no one can be exempted from . He also said that: “Whoever satisfies the parents has satisfied God; and whoever annoys them, has annoyed God” .
Respecting the rights of parents in Islam, whether alive or dead, is highly advised. These rights include:
Obedience to parents as far as it is not against God’s orders or unjust; a situation that one is forbidden to obey his/her parents is: “if they urge you to ascribe to Me as a partner that of which you have no knowledge, then do not obey them”(31:15). But even in this case, one should treat them kindly: “Keep their company honorably in this world” (31:15). Another case where parents’ disobedience is allowed, is when they invite to something unfair: “Be maintainers of justice and witnesses for the sake of Allah, even if it should be against yourselves or [your] parents and near relatives” (4:135).
Respecting them deeply, looking at them with affection, being humble and talking to them with a gentle voice and kind words: “Keep their company honorably in this world” (31:15); “[He has enjoined] kindness to parents. Should any of them or both reach old age at your side, do not say to them, ‘Fie!’ And do not chide them, but speak to them noble words” (17:23); “And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy” (17:24). In a narration from Imam Reza (AS), saying “Fie” to parents is believed to be the last thing that bothers them; hence, anything greater than that must be definitely avoided. Of other narrations in this regard are: “If your parents upset you, do not react badly; if they hit you, do not react the same but tell them ‘May God forgive you’”; “… do not look at your parents except with a kind look, do not raise your voice on them, nor your hands over their hands, nor walk further than them ” ; “whoever looks at his parents with hatred, even if they oppress him, Allah will not accept a single prayer from him” ; “Insolence includes a man’s looking at his parents with a sharp gaze” .
Being humble regarding parents: “Lower the wing of humility to them, mercifully” (17:24). This humility must arise from deep in your heart and originate from your real affections.
Treat them well: "When We took a pledge from the Children of Israel: ‘Worship no one but Allah, do good to your parents” (2:83). This verse of the Quran reveals that everybody, whether Muslim or not, must treat the parents well.
Imam Hussain (AS) was asked about the meaning of treating well in this verse. The answer was briefly that it means to treat them with ultimate compassion, to show them great respect during their companionship, not to oblige them to ask for what they need but provide them before they mention it . One of the best deeds in Eid al-Adha is said to be doing good to parents .
Being beneficent to parents is a duty upon children when they are alive as well as after they pass away. Imam Sadiq (AS) said: “What prevents you from doing good to your parents? Pray [ii], donate, perform the holy pilgrimage (Hajj) and fast (Sawm) in their place because God awards you a lot in return for your good deeds” . It is also said that: "Whoever visits his parents' grave on Fridays, will be forgiven and will be among the virtuous" .
And be thankful to them: “Give thanks to Me and to your parents” (31:14).
Praying and asking mercy for them [iii]: “and say, ‘My Lord! Have mercy on them, just as they reared me when I was [a] small [child]’ ” (17:24).
Continue Reading: "What are the Rights of Parents in Islam? Part 2"
One of the motivations of those who convert to Islam may be marrying someone who is a Muslim. In Islam, marriage is a sacred and dear institution to Allah, and it plays a very crucial role in the formation of an ideal society. It is in fact, considered one of the greatest Divine blessings for responding to the natural instincts of human beings. However, according to the Islamic teachings, faith is the first quality to be considered in choosing a spouse.
A faithful and harmonious partner plays a crucial role in having a prosperous life. It is on this basis that the Quran, the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) and his Ahl al-Bayt (AS) have laid great emphasis on religion and well mannerism as necessary criteria for marriage.
Meanwhile, an important question that comes to mind is that, “can we convert to Islam for the sake of marriage or not?”
Marriage is a natural necessity for every human being and several good outcomes such as procreation, sexual satisfaction, peace of mind, etc. are considered as the purposes of marriage. However, these could not be the ultimate goal of marriage in Islam as the non-Muslims can also achieve these, perhaps in better ways.
Humankind is not created solely to eat, drink, sleep, seek pleasure or act lustfully. Thus, the aim of marriage for a religious person should be a means of gaining proximity to Allah and avoiding sins. In this regards, a good and faithful partner assumes a vital role as he/she invites his/her partner to goodness, in the same way as a corrupt person would tempt his/her partner towards corruption. Islam has enjoined its adherents to consider religion and good manners as necessary criteria for the selection of their future partners on different occasions.
The Prophet (PBUH&HP) said: “If I were to bestow all the good of both worlds upon a Muslim, I would endow him with a humble heart; a tongue which continuously utters the praises of Allah; a body patient enough to withstand all calamities; and I would give him a pious spouse, who when he sees her becomes happy and protects his property as well as her own honour in his absence”.
In the Quran, it is said:
“Do not marry idolatresses until they embrace faith. A faithful slave girl is better than an idolatress, though she should impress you. And do not marry [your daughters] to idolaters until they embrace faith…” (2: 221)
From the above verse, it is clear that faith and religion is an uncompromised condition for marriage in Islam. It has explicitly prohibited marriage with the infidels except that they embrace Islam, as the statement “until they embrace faith” indicates. Thus, neither is the man allowed to marry an idolatress nor a Muslim woman is allowed to marry an idolater. However, there is a separate ruling [i] to the marriage with the people of the Book (i.e., Jews and Christians).
Meanwhile, following the Islamic jurisprudence, it is considered permissible for someone to convert to Islam for marriage, as there is not any religion hindrance on that, as far as it is based on the sincerity of intention and a strong determination to act by the Islamic teachings. Although such a conversion might not be the best idea, it might be a perfect chance to think more about converting to the real and true religion.
In Islam, faith and religion are crucial requirements to be considered in the choice of a future spouse. This is because the ultimate goal of a marriage is the everlasting salvation in this world and the Hereafter. And this cannot be achieved by marrying an idolatress or idolater. However, based on the verdicts of the Islamic jurists, it is acceptable to convert to Islam for the sake of marriage, so far as it is based on the sincerity of intention and a resolution to work in line with the teachings of the religion.
[i] Books on the Islamic jurisprudence or the official sites of the religious authorities should be consulted for details of the ruling.
- Hur Amuli; Wasa’il as-Shiah, Vol. 14, P. 3.