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Am I Responsible for Childhood and Adolescent Errors?

Shaykh Abdurrahim Reasat provides advice on how to rectify errors and mistakes in childhood when the property and rights of others have been infringed upon.

 

Question:

As-Salaamu A’laykum,

1. As a child, I remember that when I was in primary school, I would play with the glue sticks and I would remove some of the glue with it to mold it etc, this would be removing the glue from the actual glue stick and in a way damaging the glue stick, how would i go about to fulfill any rights I have gone against, I believe Asia is the brand
of glue stick  yet they can only be ordered in bulk and I am 19, and will have to spend a lot of money just for one glue stick as you cannot buy a single one of the brand, however there are other brands whereby you can buy single sticks which is manageable yet are not the same brand, would it be allowed for me to buy these?

2. Also for some reason, I fear that I may stole or likely to have stolen a pencil from the school, I then bought similar pencils of the same brand yet they have rubbers on them and I have some fear that it is not exactly similar, should I buy some more pencils to return them without rubbers or is this sufficient to give,

3. Another incident that occurred when younger was that being immature I wrecked and destroyed plants of a neighbor, however this neighbor knew it was me and subsequently came to my grandma’s house to inform
them of what happened, am I required to pay back anything or does the fact that she came to my house indicate that the matter has been dealt with. And further on from this I used to climb into gardens when I was young and fear that by this I could have caused damage to neighbor’s plants- do I need to approach them for forgiveness and to fulfill any
debts?

4. And if I may ask, once my uncle uploaded some pictures onto my laptop to which he indicated that the folder was not not be opened, unfortunately, I acted immaturely and opened them, but there is nothing that may indicate that I did open them, I did not confess anything about this, am I supposed to or can I simply repent to Allah without mentioning what I have done?

5. Another point is, that about 2 years ago, I was in a youth area of part of a local institute whereby I unfortunate got slightly hyper and ended up jumping on top of a table tennis table when only 2 of my friends were there, now I don’t know the effect of this, but the institute did not use that table and now currently have a different one – I don’t know 100% know what happened top that old table and whether I caused any damage to it but I feel that just by jumping on it would not break it yet they don’t use it anymore- what should I do now, is there something for me to fulfill a right here?

6. Just to end with this, I was given a task, about 2018 to give out some leaflets that was promoting an Islamic studies program, I myself am actually part of that institute and so it was voluntarily for me to
hand them out which I did, now my area is quite big and I am sure that there are places that I went to and posted the leaflets to houses that were non muslim, now I didn’t have a direct instruction to post them in muslim houses yet I feel that indirectly this was the aim as the organizer said post them in such and such area as they are mostly
muslim, now I had a feeling that I didn’t want to be someone to judge people and to not give them a leaflet despite whether they were or were not muslim, did I do wrong by this act, am I in need to fulfill any wrongs or debts here, or pay back the value of certain letters?

Jazak’Allahu Khairan for your time and I ask for your duas that I can fulfill all what I am in need to.

 

Answer:

Wa ‘alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

I pray you are well.

Returning Financial Rights

In general, if a child damages the property of another he is not sinful for that act, but the owner must be compensated for the damage, loss, theft, or whatever it may be from the wealth of the child – if he has any. This is only for things known to have happened for certain. (Maydani, al Lubab)

Usually, people are not too bothered by some minor loss they incurred years ago, but it is best to contact them, mention the scenario, and ask if they would like to be reimbursed for their loss. Most of the time people, past employers, friends, etc will overlook the matter. However, should someone demand payment it should be made.

One may contact them directly, or anonymously through an intermediary. If the person is a non-Muslim you can intend to invite them to Islam at the same time. Many people are touched by such actions and my be drawn closer to Islam by them.

You can do this for all the scenarios in your question. I don’t think giving the leaflets to non-Muslims is something you should worry about.

A Back-Up Plan For Unrestored Rights

The great saint and scholar, Shaykh Abd al Wahhab al Sha’rani, recommend that we should regularly perform and act of worship and donate its reward to all of the people we have wronged in some way. This will be a countermeasure for the harm we do to ourselves by wronging them, and a means of appeasing them on the Day of Judgement. (Sha’rani, al Kawkab al Shahiq).

I hope that helps.

Abdul-Rahim

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


 

 

How to Apply the Rules Regarding Backbiting and Slander in Historical Sources?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

1. How should one view the material rights of others that were taken by one during childhood?

2. As a student of history, I often find myself confused about how to apply the rules regarding backbiting and slander in historical sources, especially after reading Sheikh Gibril Haddad’s ruling in this matter(https://islamqa.org/hanafi/qibla-hanafi/34884). Could you please clarify what is permissible and impermissible to read/write in an academic context in light of the writings of great scholars such as Ibn Battuta and Ibn Khaldun?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. Thank you for your questions.

May Allah reward you for seeking to make amends for past mistakes. Allah is the One who guided you to this point, so rejoice in the fact that He desires good for you and that you settle your misdeeds in this life, and not in the next life.

1. Taking others rights before and after puberty

If an item was wrongfully taken or destroyed by a pre-pubescent child, then if the child’s guardian is aware of it, then the responsibility falls on the guardian to return / repay the item, as well as teach the child correct behaviour. The cost of the item may be taken from the child’s own money if they have money.

If the item has been returned / repaid, or the owner waived the issue and forgave, then the incident is settled and no further action needs to take place.

If the item was not returned or repaid by the guardian, due to neglect or not knowing, then the onus falls on the child when they reach puberty.

We should also note that the original ruling of paying other’s rights is that of non-fulfilment. For example, if one doubts whether they paid back a debt or not, the default ruling is that they did not and the debt still stands.

In your situation then, in those situations which you are certain that the item was returned or repaid, or the owner forgave you, then you can consider them finalised.

As for those cases where you are unsure if the matter was resolved properly, or there is a chance that you have forgotten some incidents, then the obligation to return items or repay the value remains upon you.

If you can remember what you took and from who, you could either a) try to find out if you did return the item or not, or b) consider that you did not and find a way to either return the exact item or pay the value of it. You do not have to tell them the reason why you are paying them, or giving them the item.

In those case where it is impossible for you to remember what you took and from who, or if it is not possible to locate the persons, then the most you can do for now is give charity on their behalf for the value of the amount taken. If you are unsure of the exact value, then estimate and give extra. You should not seek reward from giving the money in charity, and also know that if the person turned up one day to claim their right, then you must give them it, even if you have paid the amount in charity.

In all situations, you should pray two cycles of the prayer of repentance (tawba), asking Allah to forgive you for your past mistakes. It would also be advised to give some additional charity on your own behalf as a way of atonement.

[Tuhfa al Muhtaj, ‘Iyanat al Talibin]

2. Mentioning negative traits of historical figures

We asked this question to our teacher and mufti of Tarim, Habib Ali Mashur. His answer was that if there is some benefit for the listener / reader in knowing about these historical figures and their negative traits or bad actions, then it would not be considered ghiba (backbiting).

Benefit means that one is able to learn a moral lesson from the discussion and that it helps one more fully understand the context of the topic.

It would be very difficult for a person to read any history or biography without coming across some form of personal description or discussion on the motives of an event without referring to a leading figure’s character traits. At the same, when discussing any person, historical or not, the descriptions given should only be to the extent which it is necessary to make the point being made clear, and not unnecessary or exaggerated.

The intention of the author/speaker may or may not be totally pure, but as a reader we can make our intention pure for reading the text or listening, such as making the intention to learn about history so one can understand what had taken place among people and nations, and thereby strengthen our ability to assess current situations, to learn from the mistakes of others and thereby avoid similar pitfalls, as well as relate and compare worldly events to religious teachings, thereby clearly distinguishing good from evil.

I believe it is in this context that Shaykh Gibril gave his answer.

And Allah knows best.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.