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 The Fiqh of Children at the Mosque

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PostSubject: The Fiqh of Children at the Mosque   Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:15 am

Question:

What is the ruling for taking young children to the Masjid for Salaat. We have certain brothers in our community who bring their children to the Masjid (Ages begin from 2 years on). These children play, run around, and make noise during Salaat.

We have 2 opinions in our community in this matter:

a) The Prophet (SAW) brought his grandchildren to the Masjid, and they climbed on him, etc; so it is permissible to bring them to the Masjid. That the Prophet SAW was merciful and kind towards the children.

b) That young children are not allowed in the Masjid, because they distract others and make noise.

Since Group A has proofs from the Ahadeeth, the latter have been made to shut up.

Can you please let us know your opinion on this matter.

Answer:

1. The mosque is a place of worship. The general manners for those attending are serenity, dignity, calm, and respect for others� worship by not annoying them by sounds or actions.


Allah Most High said,

�(This lamp is found) in houses which Allah hath allowed to be exalted and that His name shall be remembered therein�� [Qur�an, 24.36]

2. It is very important to raise our children with a strong attachment and love for their religion, and community, and thus it is important for them to have a strong and positive attachment to the mosque from a young age, especially in non-Muslim environments.

3. However, it is anything that causes general distraction is disliked in the mosque. Thus, it would be disliked to have the children in the prayer hall at the time of prayer if they will cause a distraction. It would be haram to bring them if they are not toilet trained if there is reason to fear that they may soil the mosque.

4. If the children have been trained properly by their parents, such that they will not be a nuisance or distraction for other worshippers, and it is not feared that they will soil the mosque, then it would not be disliked to bring them.

5. If the children are young, it is best that they pray next to their parents, as this is likely to ensure that they behave.

6. If there is a small number of children, it is best that they pray between the adults (and not in a separate line).

7. If it is feared that a line of children may lead them to spur each other to rowdy behavior, as often occurs, then it would be best that they pray between the adults.

Thus, we find in authentic hadiths that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to pray while carrying children, including Umama the daughter of Zaynab (Allah be pleased with her) [Bukhari and Muslim], Hasan and Hussain, and others. At the same time, he commanded that children be kept away from the mosque [Ibn Maja]. The latter is understood to mean when it is feared that they will soil the mosque, or it is feared that they will cause a nuisance, or if they are generally unattended.

Finally, if a child misbehaves in the mosque it is important to remember that children are innocent and sinless. Thus, we cannot reprimand them harshly: this may make them dislike mosques, the religions and maybe even their religion. Rather, we should treat them with gentleness and mercy, though being firm where needed. The parents, however, should be reminded of their duty to take care of their children while at the mosque.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, �Those who do not have mercy for our young and respect for our elders is not of us.� [Tirmidhi]

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam,

Faraz Rabbani


Categories of Children

There are three categories of children:

(1) The first type are those who are innocent and young. They neither understand the etiquette of the masjid nor do they know anything about prayer. They do not have the understanding that the masjid is a place for worshipping All�h. There is also the danger that they urinate in the masjid [f: this happens more often than one may initially imagine!] or play therein and violate its sanctity. Children of five to six years [f: usually] fall in this category. [f: The legal consideration is not the age itself, but being able to uphold the proper etiquette, such as causing an undue nuisance to those praying. This is what the Hanafi scholars mention, and similar details are mentioned in texts of the Malikis, Hanbalis, & Shafi`is. If the parents are reasonably sure that their child will behave, and are not expected to soil the masjid, then there is great benefit, the scholars tell us, in taking them to the masjid.]

The ruling for such children [f: who are not reasonably expected to behave and will be an undue nuisance to those praying] is that it is not permissible to bring them to the masjid.

It is the responsibility of the parents to see that they do not bring such children to the masjid. If they do so and the children violate the sanctity of All�h's house, the parents will be sinful because the children themselves are innocent. The masjid trustees can also prohibit such children from entering the masjid.

There is a limit for every act in Shari'ah. These limits are what we call D�n and we all have to abide by these limits.

[This is the category of children the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) referred to when he said, �Keep the insane and [small] children away from your masjids.� [Ibn Maja, and others] ]

(2) The second category is those children who are slightly older. They are between seven to eleven years old.

Such children understand the status of a masjid and respect it to a certain degree. However, due to lack of a complete understanding, they do not respect it fully. It is permissible to bring such children to the masjid but it is better not to do so [f: if there is still some fear that they may cause an undue nuisance. This goes back to the parents� upbringing of the child and the child�s nature. The scholars mention that there is very strong benefit in bringing children to the masjid especially in non-Muslim countries, where they do not see a lot of Muslims around them, as this is a strong part of developing their Muslim identity.]

(3) The third category of children is those who are close to maturity. Their ages range from twelve to fourteen. However, a fifteen-year-old child is considered mature even if he does not have any signs of puberty.

The ruling for this category is that they should be brought to the masjid in order to inculcate the habit of prayer with congregation because prayer becomes obligatory on them the moment they reach the age of puberty. It is obligatory on them to attend the masjid for prayer with congregation. If this habit is not inculcated before puberty, it will take time after puberty as a result of which they will forgo their prayers with congregation. Thus it is imperative to bring the youngsters to the masjid while guiding them at home to respect the masjid. They should be taught not to make a noise in the masjid as it is a sanctified place where the name of All�h is taken.


The Position of the Children's Prayer Lines

The children's prayer lines should be made after the men's prayer lines has been completed. [al-Bahr al-Ra�iq, Radd al-Muhtar, f: If there is only a small number of children, or it is feared that they may start misbehaving, they are dispersed among the adult lines.] This is the sunnah way. After the prayer has begun, those who arrive later should join the children's prayer lines on the right and left side.


http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=1&ID=2143&CATE=30
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