Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalam alaykum
I have a question regarding the toys and clothing of a child which they have outgrown, but were gifts. I have limited space to keep them all and they are no longer used.
Can these items, with the child’s permission, be given to charity with them seeking a reward?
If they are too young to make that decision, do I have to keep them?
Answer: Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah,
May Allah Most High reward you for your deep religious concern.
There are essentially two ways we can understand, legally, the relationship between the parent, the child, and the child’s clothes, toys and the like. The first is what can be termed ownership (tamlik), and the second, permission (ibaha).
The basis here is the words of the Messenger of Allah (Allah Most High bless him and give him peace), “There is no harm, nor reciprocating harm.” [Ibn Majah] Therefore, if we assume that the child owns the clothes and other items which are purchased for them, then technically, the parent does not have the right to dispose of such items without permission as this is something which constitutes a loss in wealth and property, and accordingly, is not in the child’s best interests. Yet in the same instance, the parent is responsible for the child, and has a say in matters related to him, his wealth and upbringing.
Thus, given (1) that such items can cause unnecessary clutter around the house, the place where the upbringing (tarbiya) is supposed to primarily be taking place, (2) that they cannot normally be sold for much, if at all, nor is doing so customary, and (3) that the parent is responsible for the child’s upbringing, it would seem that there is some degree of expansiveness in such a ruling. Practically, what this means is that he can rid the house of such items, without permission, as the child is effectively being compensated for that with the purchase of newer clothes and the like.
On the other hand, if we assume that the child was given permission by the parent to use these clothes, and play with the provided toys, for a customarily acceptable period of time or until they grow out of them, then the matter is fairly straightforward. Consequently, the parent retains the full right and disposal over such items, regardless of whether or not the child permits such an action.
However, it is also important to strive not to be come too legalistic in such issues because this is not how people have lived, or should do so. Rather, the basis is that the parent is responsible for the caring upbringing of the child in a manner which develops his humanity and character, in accordance with the Sacred Law. And this responsibility entails some level of generic permission to do what’s best, as long as the child is not wronged in any way.
[As understood from: Kasani, Bada‘i al-Sana‘i fi Tartib al-Shara‘i; Qadri Pasha, al-Ahwal al-Shakhsiyya]
And Allah Most High alone knows best.
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Tabraze Azam was born and raised in Ipswich, England, a quiet town close to the east coast of England. His journey for seeking sacred knowledge began when he privately memorized the entire Qur’an in his hometown at the age of 16. He also had his first experience in leading the tarawih (nightly-Ramadan) prayers at his local mosque. Year after year he would continue this unique return to reciting the entire Quran in one blessed month both in his homeland, the UK, and also in the blessed lands of Shaam, where he now lives, studies and teaches.