Should We Beat the Child If He or She Does Not Pray?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

Is it obligatory to beat children who do not pray or to kick them out of the house? Is it obligatory to migrate from a non-Muslim country due to laws against beating children being against above?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

It is not obligatory nor is it permissible to beat your child or to kick them out such that it would put them in worldly or religious harm.

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Command your children to pray when they are seven years old, and discipline (literally: hit them) for not doing so when they are ten years old.” [Abu Dawud]

The word hit (darb) in the above narration is a command to take those means that would result in a behavior change in the child, such a change that would equate to or approximate the result of a hit. [Ibn ‘Alan; Dalil al-Falihin]

Non-Injurious Hit

That said, the hit was described by the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) to be non-injurious (ghayr mubarrih). [Ibid.]

Non-injurious means:

  1. Not so hard that it causes bruising or injury;
  2. Not done on sensitive parts of the body;
  3. Only done to a maximum of three times;
  4. Must be done with the hand, not with a weapon. [al-Mawsu’a al-Fiqhiyya al-Kuwaitiyya]

To the Extent of the Necessity

After explaining the type of hit allowed in the above Prophet narration, if the desired result of behavior change (in this case, for them to be consistent in prayers) can be achieved by lesser means, those other means must be exhausted first.

This is based on an axiom: “Necessities are only dealt with according to the extent of the necessity.” [Ibn Nujaym; al-Ashbah wa al-Nazair]

Other Means of Discipline

Some other means that one may use are as follows:

  1. Taking away privileges;
  2. Demanding distasteful tasks/chores as consequence for the behavior.

The Prophet Example

Despite the permission to hit, after exhausting all other lesser means, being from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace), it is best not to hit anyway. [Nawawi; Sharh Muslim]

Additionally, we find that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) never hit anyone except in battle.

Our Mother ‘Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) said, “The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) did not hit with his hand anything, not a woman, nor a servant, except when fighting in the path of Allah…” [Muslim]

In another narration, she adds, “nor a child, nor an animal.”

Beating and Kicking Children Out of the House

Both beating children (i.e. hitting them in injurious ways) is strictly prohibited (haram); furthermore, kicking a prepubescent child out of the home is also strictly prohibited (haram) as doing so entails harm to the child and a neglect of their rights owed to them by their parents.

The answer to your third question should be clear now. The civil law of most non-Muslim countries is in accordance to the Islamic law. Physically harming/hurting children is strictly prohibited (haram). Islam only allows at maximum a few non-painful hits in a non-sensitive part of the body (like the hand) after all other means have been exhausted, with the intention of discipline, not venting one’s anger.

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Quran and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.

Arabic References

.ما ضَرَبَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ شَيْئًا قَطُّ بِيَدِهِ. وَلَا امْرَأَةً. وَلَا خَادِمًا. إِلَّا أَنْ يُجَاهِدَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ. وَمَا نِيلَ مِنْهُ شَيْءٌ قَطُّ. فَيَنْتَقِمَ مِنْ صَاحِبِهِ. إِلَّا أَنْ يُنْتَهَكَ شَيْءٌ مِنْ مَحَارِمِ اللَّهِ. فينتقم لله عز وجل

ص1814 – كتاب صحيح مسلم ت عبد الباقي – باب مباعدته صلى الله عليه وسلم للآثام واختياره من المباح أسهله وانتقامه لله عند انتهاك حرماته – المكتبة الشاملة