Hitting Children: When is it allowed? What are the limits?

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by

Answered by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed

Is it permissible for anyone to hit a child other than the parents? Generally, when is hitting allowed? And what are its limits?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

It is not permissible for anyone to hit a child except for the wali [s. guardian] such as the father, the grandfather and like them, the mother, or a wasi [s. authorized agent], and he is someone to whom the guardian entrusts the child for guardianship, or the qayyim [s. caretaker] and that is someone who is charged by a judge to guard the child when the wali is lost and if the wali never charged someone to be the child’s wasi.

It is permissible for these people to hit for reasons of [s. the child’s] learning and bad manners even if these don’t involve disobedience as has come in the Tuhfa and Hashiyat al-Sharwani (179/9). They may also hit him when he reaches ten years of age, for not praying and fasting and so forth, which the wali must tell him to do so that he becomes accustomed to them, likewise, [a. he can be hit] when he does anything haram that the wali has told him to avoid so that he can get accustomed to [s. avoiding] them.

Amjad Rasheed

(Translated by Shazia Ahmad)

Imam Ghazali explained the ways of disciplining children in the attached article.

In it he explained that,

“Whenever a good trait or action manifests itself in the child he should be admired and rewarded with something which gives him joy, and should be praised in front of others; likewise, when once in a while he does something bad it is best to pretend not to notice and not to bring it to the attention of others (but never to reveal to him that it is something which others might be bold enough to do), particularly if the child himself has diligently endeavoured to hide his action, for the exposure of such deeds may cause him to grow emboldened, until he no longer cares when they are made public. Should he repeat the action, he should be privately reproached and made to feel that it was a very serious thing, and be told, ‘Beware of doing anything like this again, or I shall tell others and you will be disgraced in front of them!’. He should not be spoken to at length every time, for this would accustom him to being blamed for his misdeeds, and destroy the effectiveness such words have upon his heart. A father should rather preserve the awe in which the child holds his speech by reproaching him only sometimes: similarly the mother, when reproving him should frighten him by [threatening to mention the matter to] his father.”

The hitting was conditioned by the scholars of the school that it not be physically harmful, and that not lead to other harm such as the child becoming more rebellious or wayward as a result. In non-Muslim countries, among the harm that must be taken into account is trouble from government agencies—the harm of them taking the child is unimaginably great.

السؤال: هل يجوز لغير الوالدين ضربُ الطفل ؟ ومتى يجوز الضربُ عموماً ؟ وما حدودُه ؟ الجواب : لا يجوز لأحد ضربُ الطفل إلا الولي وهو الأب والجد ومثلهما الأم ، أو الوصي وهو من وَكَّلَه الولي بالوصاية على الطفل، أو القَيِّم وهو من وكله القاضي بالوصاية على الطفل عند فقد الولي إذا لم يوصِ الوليُّ بذلك إلى أحد . وهؤلاء يجوز لهم الضربُ لأجل التعلمِ وسوءِ الأدب ولو في غير معصية كما في “التحفة” و”حاشية الشرواني” (9/179) ويضربونه أيضاً إذا بلغ العاشرةَ لترك الصلاة والصوم ونحوهما مما يأمره الولي بفعله ليعتاده وكذلك عند فعله المحرمات التي يأمره الولي باجتنابها ليعتاد ذلك  

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