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.
Although we keep hearing and reading criticisms about people who live a routine life with no specific changes, there are still not many people who experience huge changes in their lives. Most people in this world live a conventional life. They go to school, then university, then they find a job and get married and form a family.And all of those critics of such ordinary lifestyle, only suggest minor changes for breaking the routine. For example, they may recommend you to change your diet or listen to a happy song in the morning. But does anyone recommend you to rethink your ideologies, and see if it is not working properly for you, then think about a new set of ideas?! Some people in the world are brave enough to see if the present ideology is not working well for them, then they search and find a better one; people who embrace Islam as their new religion are amongst those.Becoming a Muslim could be a long process in one’s life, and it will definitely have huge consequences for the convertperson. Converts will have to let go of the past routine life and go through different experiences in all aspects of their lives such as friendship, job, family and the whole lifestyle.In this short text, we will only point out one of the major changes that married converts may experience; what happens to their marriage after converting to Islam if one of the spouses converts to Islam.
But before directly going to the main topic, let’s see what the rules of marriage in Islamic jurisprudence are?
The main verse in the holy Quran that discusses the marriage of believers with non-believers says:
“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. A faithful slave is better than an idolater, though he should impress you. Those invite [others] to the Fire, but Allah invites to paradise and pardon, by His will, and He clarifies His signs for the people so that they may take admonition” (2:221)
Therefore in Islam, as described in the other Abrahamic religions, it is prohibited to marry a man or a woman who does not believe in God. In another verse Allah says:
“Today all the good things have been made lawful to you—the food of those who were given the Book is lawful to you, and your food is lawful to them—and the chaste ones from among faithful women, and chaste women of those who were given the Book before you, when you have given them their dowries, in wedlock, not in license, nor taking paramours…” (5:5)
Therefore, from the above verses, besides other verses and narrations, Muslim jurists have concluded the following rules for interfaith marriages:
Rules of Marriage for Muslim Men
A Muslim man is not allowed to marry, neither permanently nor temporarily, a non-Muslim woman who is not among the followers of the books (Ahlul Kitab); Christians and Jews.
A Muslim man is allowed to marry a Christian or Jewish woman. However, based on precaution, it is obligatory to refrain from marrying a non-Muslim woman in permanent marriage. The reason behind it is that Muslims do not deny the preceding Abrahamic religions, but they know Islam as the most complete and the last divine religion.
Rules of Marriage for Muslim women
A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim man at all, neither permanently nor temporarily .
As you see the rules of marriage for Muslim women is much stricter than those for men. The reason behind it goes back to the verse that says “Men are the managers (protectors) of women, because of the advantage Allah has granted some of them over others, and by virtue of their spending out of their wealth…” (4:34)
The Islamic belief is that in married life, men have authority over women, and Islam will not allow a non-Muslim man to have authority over a Muslim woman.
In Islam, the responsibility of providing for the family is on man’s shoulder, and women have no responsibility in this case. Men are also responsible for protecting the religion of their family: “O you who have faith! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel will be people and stones…” (66:6)
Now that we are familiar with the basic rules of marriage in Islam let’s see what happens to a person who has already been married and then decides to embrace Islam. Is his/her marriage to his/her non-Muslim spouse still valid?
When a Man Converts to Islam, What Happens to His marriage?
When a married man converts to Islam:
If his wife is from the followers of the book (Ahlul Kitab), Christian or Jewish, the marriage remains valid, and they do not need to remarry according to Islamic law . This is because of the respect that Islam has for the preceding religions, although it is the final religion sent by God.
If the wife is an atheist, the marriage will be void automatically. However, according to the ruling (fatwa) of Sayed Ali Khamenei, even the atheist woman needs to keep the waiting period (iddah)[i]. If during that period (3 months) she decides to convert to Islam the marriage will continue .
But what happens if the man doubts that his wife has accepted Islam as her religion truly? The Muslim jurists say that if the non-Muslim woman only recites the two testimonies (Shahadatain) for the sake of marriage, the Islamic treatment would be applied to her as long as she does not say or do anything that would contradict her declaration of the faith .
When a Woman Converts to Islam, What Happens to Her Marriage?
“O you who have faith! When faithful women come to you as immigrants, test them. Allah knows best [the state of] their faith. Then, if you ascertain them to be [genuinely] faithful women, do not send them back to the faithless. They are not lawful for them, nor are they lawful for them, but give them what [dowry] they have spent [for them]…” (60:10)
When a married woman converts to Islam:
No matter if the husband is an atheist or a Christian or Jewish, the marriage will automatically be void UNLESS the husband accepts to convert to Islam too. If at the time that the woman is keeping her waiting period (iddah) her husband embraces Islam, their marriage is considered standing, and there is no need to renew the marriage .
If Both of the Married Couple Convert to Islam
In a marital relationship, when both spouses decide to embrace Islam, no matter if they are both followers of the book (Ahlul Kitab) or both are not followers of the book (non-Ahlul Kitab) or one is the follower of the book (Ahlul Kitab) and the other one is not, if the marriage that took place among them is valid according to their custom, such marriage is considered valid and there would be no need to recite the marriage formula anew .
It is understandable that both man and woman will experience such hard circumstances for their new beliefs. Maybe that is why Allah in a chapter called “Divorce” indicates:
“… Whoever is wary of Allah, He shall make for him a way out [of the adversities of the world and the Hereafter], and provide for him from whence he does not count upon. And whoever puts his trust in Allah, He will suffice him. Indeed Allah carries through His commands. Certainly, Allah has ordained a measure [and extent] for everything.”(65: 2, 3)
[i] The period a woman must observe after the death of her spouse or after a divorce, during which she may not marry another man.
- Imam Khomeini, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 4, pg. 103, the book of marriage
- Sayed Ali Khamenei, Istifta
- Imam Khomeini, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 4, pg. 103, the book of marriage
Conversion to Islam and becoming a new Muslim is a journey that begins with many questions and challenges, passes through many doubts and fears, studies and discussions, and one day it arrives the moment that one decides to say the two testimonies (Shahadatain). But this is not the end, rather a new start.
Sometimes conversion not only affects one’s personal life, but also his/her social life, and on top of everything, his/her family ties. However, it is not a big deal; you will always have Allah who helps you throughout ordeals and hardships, and always there exist solutions.
Families rarely accept the religious decisions of a member fully and, at its best, they put up with his/her unfortunate choice while hoping for his/her return to the truth. Sometimes in their eyes, the Muslim member of the family is not an equal, but a misguided soul requiring pity and help.
This is where the Muslim convert faces new difficulties that probably has not been expected. Thus, the question is, how can a New Muslim deal with his/her non-Muslim family?
It seems that the very first thing to do is to tell your family about your conversion; the more you wait, the more courage you will need to make it public. Besides, as long as you have not told your parents about your conversion, you are obliged to live a double life and consequently hide your “Muslim side.”
You feel 100% Muslim, but you should conceal what you really feel and you may not practice Islam as easily as it would be if you had told your family about it. Then, keep your courage, consider the benefits of telling your family about your conversion, and just do it!
Be aware that the Islamic lifestyle is something like others; it does not interrupt your daily routines. Neither the practices you are expected to do as a Muslim nor the personal attitudes that you should follow are bothering or disturbing to others. You are only required to leave or modify those social behaviors that are banned in Islam, like shaking hands with non-Mahrams, kissing or touching them, etc.
Do not panic to talk about your new life, activities, and Islamic practices with your family if you face their disapproval. Start to tell them little by little about the new Halal recipes you had come up with, any of the Islamic books you had read, your trips to the mosque, and your new Muslim friends.
If you feel it difficult to appear with Hijab in your family, for example, just think of all the beautiful things that Islam, your newfound religion, has given you and remember why you have made this decision in the first place.
Hiding things will only make you move further and further away from those you love most and might turn your conversion even harder on you and drive you to go back on your decision. Besides the ordinary daily conversations that you used to have with your parents before, keep talking about Islam and put your trust in Allah. They will eventually give you more and more freedom and respect your decision to be who you really are in front of them, Insha’Allah.
Converting to Islam and becoming a new Muslim is not just saying Shahadatain, but working on yourself and becoming a good Muslim day after day. Since Islam considers high importance for family ties (“Those who sever ties of kinship cannot hope to enter paradise. (Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP)) ” , being a real Muslim requires you to find the right balance between life before conversion to Islam and the Muslim that you’ve decided to become.
The Quran forbids Muslims to cut the relationship with their families, rather orders to foster ties of kinship with family, especially with parents, even if they are unbeliever (kafir) or sinner (fajir) . So, take your visits to your family as an excellent opportunity to expose them to the gentle and positive aspects of Islam ; not only by your words but also with your deeds . The fact that you are a Muslim should enhance your respect for your parents, increase your patience and kindness to them, and make you more humble and merciful towards them (17:23-24).
However, this must never lead you to compromise your commitment to the dictates of your own faith. Although in several verses of the Quran, Sunnah, and many sayings of the Ahlul-Bayt (AS) Muslims are ordered to give their parents dignity and keep their company honorably, you should not obey if your parents urge to polytheism (31:15).
Show your family that you would be honored to join them in their gatherings and at the dinner table, but remind them well that you are not allowed to consume alcohol, pork, or their by-products. This way you will be able to educate them on the Islamic dietary laws and explain the rationale behind them .
Remember! You are the representative of Islam and a new Muslim in your non-Muslim family. Try to be a good one!
You can also share the difficulties you have faced when telling your family about your conversion, send us your experience.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 15, p. 346.
- M. al-Kulayni, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 78.