Islam about hitting children

Islam makes a clear distinction between discipline and torture. There are parents who do not treat their children correctly, unfortunately. This is mainly because they do not hit their children for the purpose of disciplining them, but rather to express their anger.

Lightly hitting is only appropriate in raising a child if all other measures were taken to correct behavior. So the religion does not allow physical abuse of children, but to correct them slightly as a last resort.

In this article you read all about hitting children, orphans, students and more. You will discover in which situations hitting is allowed according to Islam and which of the strict rules apply to prevent physical abuse.

In which cases hitting is allowed

It is not allowed to immediately begin hitting children in every situation. Islam encourages parents to raise children with love, not by intimidating them.

Parents are commanded to educate their children attentively without being neglectful about it. The child should get used to Islamic rituals and duties at a young age. It should be the aim of parents to help the child in this so that they may continue this later in life.

1. As a discipline for not praying the prayer

Muslims are commanded to teach their children to pray at an early age. Children are encouraged to pray at age seven and disciplined at age ten if they fail to do so.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "Command your children to pray when they turn seven years old, and beat them (slightly) for it (prayer) when they turn ten years old." [Sunan Abi Dawud 495, Sunan Tirmidhi 407]

The hitting is done according to the strict guidelines of Islam, so that one avoids physically abusing the child.

2. As a discipline for Islamic education

It is permissible in Islam to correct children when necessary. The Companions of Islam taught their children Islam and corrected them when necessary.

In education, the aim is to encourage and motivate children. Islam does not allow beating children when this could be prevented by, for example, advice or warnings.

The Islamic schools of the past taught children and corrected their behavior when necessary. It was done according to the strict rules of discipline.

Ibn 'Umar used to hit his son over grammatical errors in Arabic. [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 880 of Bukhari, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah 25061]

Ibrahim an-Nakha'ee said: "We were beaten for swearing and testifying when we were too young to do so." [Sahih al-Bukhari 3651]

قال الأثرم: سُئل أحمد عن ضرب المعلم الصبيان؟ قال: على قدر ذنوبهم، ويتوقى بجهده الضرب، وإذا كان صغيرًا لا يعقل فلا يضربه.

Al-Athram narrated what Imam Ahmed said about the teacher and the beating of students: "The students are beaten according to their misbehavior, and the teacher should avoid hitting them hard. And if the student is young and does not understand, then the teacher should not hit him." [Al-Mughni 8/116, Al-Adab al-Shar'iyyah 1/477]

3. As a discipline for good manners and behavior

Islam places great emphasis on good manners and behavior. It is also seen as one of the qualities that every Muslim should have.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "The best among you are those with the best manners and character." [Sahih al-Bukhari 3559]

Be aware that hitting should not be the first measure towards correcting behavior. Islam also emphasizes on forgiving and being merciful with children.

The child is disciplined to properly interact with his or her friends, family, teachers, and more. The measures of bad behavior in a child are diverse, and Islam encourages the parent to be sympathetic towards the child. Children make mistakes because they do not yet fully understand what is right and wrong.

قال الشالنجي: سألت أحمد عما يجوز فيه ضرب الولد؟ قال: الولد يضرب على الأدب.

Imam Ahmad said: "The child is (lightly) beaten for upbringing." [Adab al-Shar'iyyah 1/451]

علي بن أبي طالب رضي الله عنه في قوله: * (قوا أنفسكم وأهليكم نارا) * قال: علموهم وأدبوهم.

Ali ibn Abi Talib said regarding the verse ('Save yourself and your families from the Hellfire'): "Educate and discipline them." [Musnad Ibn Mubarak 190]

The rules of hitting

According to Islam, under certain conditions, it is permissible to discipline the child by lightly hitting them. The hitting is intended to correct behavior, not to abuse.

So children are corrected when necessary. It is important to know that the child should not be hit hard. Whoever beats his child hard falls into major sin, and Allah will punish him for this.

The child is slightly beaten on the hands, legs, feet or other less sensitive areas of the body.

قال الشالنجي: سألت أحمد عما يجوز فيه ضرب الولد؟ قال: الولد يضرب على الأدب.

Imam Ahmad said: "The child is (lightly) beaten for upbringing." [Adab al-Shar'iyyah 1/451]

What is not allowed:
  • With sticks, sandals, belts or other hard objects
  • On the face, head or other sensitive areas
  • Leaving bruises
  • Letting the child bleed
  • Insulting or calling them names while hitting

Anyone who harshly beats a child is an oppressor and will be held accountable for it. Such an abusive parent or person will be punished by Allah, and the child has the right to be removed for protection.

Negative consequences of harshness

Islam forbids parents to discipline their children with harshness. Moreover, it only brings negative consequences. Children do not learn by hitting them hard, but rather when they are encouraged and treated with respect.

Children test situations to see where the boundaries are. It is then up to the parent to deal with this properly and to discipline them. This should not happen by hitting as a first resort, but rather by patiently explaining it to them first.

Consequence 1: Resentment and hatred

Children who are severely beaten no longer trust their parents. They go out alone and make friends where they feel safe. The child will grow up and will slowly move away from the abusive parent until he cuts the family bond.

١٥٢ - حَدَّثَنَا الْحُسَيْنُ بْنُ الْحَسَنِ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ بَكْرٍ السَّهْمِيُّ، حَدَّثَنِي صَاحِبٌ لَنَا يُكَنَّى أَبَا وَاثِلَةَ , أَنَّ مُعَاوِيَةَ دَخَلَتْهُ مَوْجِدَةٌ عَلَى ابْنِهِ يَزِيدَ فَأَرِقَ لِذَلِكَ لَيْلَتَهُ فَلَمَّا أَصْبَحَ بَعَثَ إِلَى الْأَحْنَفِ بْنِ قَيْسٍ فَأَتَاهُ فَلَمَّا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهِ قَالَ لَهُ: يَا أَبَا بَحْرٍ، كَيْفَ رِضَاكَ عَلَى وَلَدِكَ؟ وَمَا تَقُولُ فِي الْوَلَدِ؟ قَالَ: فَقُلْتُ فِي نَفْسِي: مَا سَأَلَنِي أَمِيرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَنْ هَذِهِ إِلَّا لِمَوْجِدَةٍ دَخَلَتْهُ عَلَى يَزِيدَ فَحَضَرَنِي كَلَامٌ لَوْ كُنْتُ زَوَّقْتُ فِيهِ سَنَةً لَكُنْتُ قَدْ أَجَدْتُ فَقُلْتُ: «يَا أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ هُمْ ثِمَارُ قُلُوبِنَا وَعِمَادُ ظُهُورِنَا وَنَحْنُ لَهُمْ أَرْضٌ ذَلِيلَةٌ وَسَمَاءٌ ظَلِيلَةٌ وَبِهِمْ نَصُولُ إِلَى كُلِّ جَلِيلَةٍ فَإِنْ غَضِبُوا يَا أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ فَأَرْضِهِمْ وَإِنْ طَلَبُوكَ فَأَعْطِهِمْ يُمْحِضُوكَ وُدَّهُمْ وَيَلْطُفُونَ ⦗٣٠٩⦘ جُهْدَهُمْ وَلَا تَكُنْ عَلَيْهِمْ ثَقِلًا لَا تُعْطِيهِمْ إِلَّا نَزْرًا فَيَمَلُّوا حَيَاتَكَ وَيَكْرَهُوا قُرْبَكَ»

Mu'awiyyah was angry with his son Yazid, so Ahnaf ibn Qays told him: "O leader of the believers, they (children) are the fruits of our hearts and the pillars of our presence, and we are an easy land and a cool air for them, and through them we attain every greatness. When they are angry, forgive them, and if they ask for something from you, give them, for it makes them grateful and gentle towards you. Do not be heavy on them, nor give them just a little, so that they do not resent your life and your nearness." [Al-'Iyal 1/308 from Ibn Abi Dunyah]

Consequence 2: Oppression and suppression

As a parent, you are not supposed to be bossy over your children and want complete control over them. When you do this, you will notice that the child will keep things secret from you.

Do not try to suppress your children by taking over their lives. They also have their dreams and wishes that they want to fulfill. As a parent, you should encourage them to do so when this is halal.

It is oppression and abuse to beat children harshly. Do not go beyond the limits prescribed by Allah, otherwise this will be oppression and transgression.

حدثنا هارون بن عمر الدمشقي قال، حدثنا عبد الله بن كريم قال، حدثنا أبو الفتح، عن حبيب بن أبي مرزوق قال: دخل عثمان بن عفان رضي الله عنه على غلام له يعلف ناقة، فرأى في علفها ما كره، فأخذ بأذن غلامه فعركها، ثم ندم فقال لغلامه: اقتص. فأبى الغلام، فلم يدعه حتى أخذ بأذنه فجعل يعركها، فقال له عثمان: شد حتى ظن أنه قد بلغ منه مثل ما بلغ منه، ثم قال عثمان رضي الله عنه: واها لقصاص قبل قصاص الآخرة.

Habib ibn Abi Marzouq reported: "Uthman ibn Affan, may Allah be pleased with him, entered his house and saw his servant playing in a camel's food bowl. Uthman took his ear and twisted it, but later he regretted what he did. Uthman ibn Affan said to his servant, "Take my ear and twist it." Uthman forced him to do it and told him to pull harder and harder, until he thought that what was done to himself was the same as what he did to his servant. Uthman then said: 'How easy is retribution in the world instead of retribution in the Hereafter!'" [Tarikh al-Madinah 1018 from 'Umar ibn Shabbah, al-Ahwal #255 from Ibn Abi Dunyah]

Sa'eed ibn Jubayr said: "As for the person who oppresses his son or brother, surely Allah will not let the one who does evil go unnoticed." [Musnad Ibn Mubarak 178]

Consequence 3: Mental illnesses and trust issues

A child who gets beaten harshly will develop mental health and trust issues. This is a big consequence of hitting harshly, as it damages the child's self-worth and self-esteem.

The child will grow up not trusting anyone, which will lead him to miss out on many opportunities. He will either become violent himself or completely isolate himself from the outer world.

When those mental health issues grow heavier and worse, the person can become very depressed and eventually suicidal or display criminal activities.

Advice on how to treat children

Islam encourages parents to treat their children with mercy. Children learn kindness, respect and grace when you give it to them.

Make your children your companions by giving them their rights, sharing wise advice, staying kind with them and forgiving their mistakes.

قال ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما لرجل: (يا هذا، أحسِن أدبَ ابنك، فإنّك مسؤول عنه، وهو مسؤول عن برِّك انظر: العيال لابن أبي الدنيا (ص231).

Ibn 'Umar said: "O parent, be good to your son, for that is your responsibility. And the child is responsible for treating you kindly." [Al-'Iyal 1/231 from Ibn Abi Dunyah]

مُحَمَّدٍ قَالَ : كَانُوا يَقُولُونَ : أَكْرِمْ وَلَدَكَ وَأَحْسِنْ أَكْرِمْ وَلَدَكَ وَأَحْسِنْ أَددَُ .

Muhammad ibn Sireen: "Honor your son and teach him good behavior." [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah 25064]

جابر بن عبد الله قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: " من كن له ثلاث بنات يؤدبهن ويرحمهن ويكفلهن فقد وجبت له الجنة البتة " قالوا: يا رسول الله وان كانا اثنتين قال: " وإن كانا اثنتين " قال: فرأى بعض القوم أن لو قيل واحدة لقال واحدة.

Jabir ibn Abdullah narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: "Whoever has three daughters and brings them up well, shows mercy to them and takes care of them, Paradise will be guaranteed for him." The people then asked: "O Messenger of Allah, and also two daughters?" The Prophet (ﷺ) then said: "Two also." Some people thought that if asked about one, he would say 'one too'." [Musnad Ibn Mubarak 191, Musnad Ahmad 14247]

Abu Athari writes about basic principles within Islam. He uses his critical and well-researched way to spread knowledge of the first three Muslim generations.

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