May 16, 2011

Children's Rights: To Live, Have Their Expenses Paid, and Be Treated Justly

In pre-Islamic times, the birth of a child wasn't always welcomed news. Often, children were killed by their parents because they feared falling into poverty. But when the Qur'an was revealed, Allah, the Most High, prohibited this practice.

Allah says in Surah Al-Isra', Ayah 31, "And kill not your children for fear of poverty. We shall provide for them as well as for you. Surely, the killing of them is a great sin."

Commenting on this verse in his tafsir, Ibn Kathir said, "This ayah indicates that Allah is more compassionate to his servants than a father to his child because He forbids killing children just as He enjoins parents to take care of their children in matters of inheritance."

Islam not only affords children the right to live, but also the right to be financially supported, and to be treated with justice.

In his work, Essential Rights, Shaykh Muhammad Al-Uthaymeen says, "One of the due rights of children upon parents is to spend for their welfare and wee-being moderately. Over spending or negligence is not condoned, accepted or even tolerated in Islam. Such ways [have a] negative effect on the child regardless of the social status. Men are urged not to be miserly to his children and household, who are their natural heirs in every religion and society...They [the children] are even permitted to take moderately from their parents wealth to sustain themselves if the parents declined to give them proper funds for their living."

In the Sunan of Abu Dawood, it's reported that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said, "It is sufficient sin for a man that he neglects those whom he supports."

In the Sahih of Bukhari and Muslim, it's reported that a woman named Hind bint 'Utbah once came to the Prophet and said, "O, Messenger of Allah. Abu Sufyan is a very miserly man and he doesn't give me what suffices myself and my child, except what I take from him without him knowing!" Upon hearing this, the Prophet, sallallahu alyahi wa sallam, said "Take what suffices you and your child in goodness."

Expanding upon on the rights of children, Shaykh Uthaymeen said, "Children also have the right to be treated equally in terms of financial gifts. None should be preferred over the others. All must be treated fairly and equally. None should be deprived his gift from the parents. Depriving, or banning the right of the inheritance, or, other financial gifts during the lifetime of the parents or preference of parents for a child over the other will be considered in accordance to Islam an act of injustice. Injustice will definitely lead to an atmosphere of hatred, anger and dismay amongst the children in one household. In fact, such an act of injustice may, most likely, lead to animosity amongst the children, and consequently this effect [the] entire family environment."

In Bukhari, it's narrated that a man once came to the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, and told him that he had given a gift to one of his children. The Prophet asked, "Did you give the rest of your children a similar gift?" The man said, "No." So the Prophet responded, "Then fear Allah and be fair towards all of your children."

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