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 Does Islam Permit Killing One's Children?

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PostSubject: Does Islam Permit Killing One's Children?   Fri Jun 17, 2011 11:08 am

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Question

Assalamu Alaikum,

I hope you can kindly give me the context and background of the following issue.

I was asked by a Christian friend about whether Islam permits the killing of children. When I mentioned to him the Qur'anic ayat that explicitly forbid the killing of children (6: 151, 17: 282, 16: 267, 81: 8-9), he referred me to a section in 'Umdat as-Salik wa 'Uddat an-Nasik (Reliance of the Traveller and Tools of the Worshipper) the classic Shafi'i manual of law, which he read in translation.

Supposedly, in the context of talking about certain cases of retaliation under the subtitle 'Who is subject to retaliation for injurious crimes?' the book lists as the fourth case of those not subject to retaliation, a "father or mother (or their fathers and mothers) for killing their offspring, or their offspring's offspring." In other words, if a father or grandfather kills his child, he should not be subject to retaliation.

Of course, I do not have access to whole book to understand the background or the context of this issue.

Thank you.

------------

Egyptian Fatwa House Response:

Scholars' Opinions on Premeditated Murder of a Child by His Father

Regarding the punishment of a father who kills his son intentionally, the following is the opinion of Imām Mālik, University of Al-Azhar, and a large body of contemporary scholars:

"If a father intentionally kills his offspring, he should be punished; no one is excused in the case of intentional killing."

It should be noted that there were those who held the opinion that a father should not be punished in such case. They based their opinion on the following hadith ascribed to the Prophet [pbuh]:

"A father should not be killed for the killing of his son." (Related by al-Tirmidhī)

The Status of this Hadith

Imām Mālik and those who countered this contention noted that this tradition (A father should not be killed for the killing of his son) is weak -- some holding its chain to be broken; others holding that its meaning is shaky.

Imām al-Tirmidhī himself wrote, "This hadith is shaky. Because of this weakness, scholars stopped acting according to it. In its chain is al-Hajāj bin Arṫāh, and he is considered fraudulent."

Imām al-Shafı̔̔ī said about this hadith, "Every chain of this hadith is broken."

Abdul al-Haq, a scholar of hadith wrote, "Every single one of these hadiths [related to a father not being punished for the killing of his offspring] is weak and not acceptable for proof."

Finally, Imām ibn al-Mundhir stated about the hadith above, "This hadith is false", and "we know of no authentic hadith that excused a father for the premeditated murder of his son." (Himāyah al-Nafs, p. 62).

In the following Qur'anic verses and Prophetic traditions, none is excused --which supports the necessity of punishing a killing father

Verses from the Qur’an:

"O you who have believe, prescribed for you is legal retribution for those murdered." (2:178)

"A life [in exchange] for a life" (5/45

The Prophetic Statement:

"The believers are equal [in their rights to demand] blood [of the one found guilty of premeditated murder."

(Related by Ahmed in his Muṡnad 1/119, Ibn Majah (p. 2685), and al-Nasaī 2751. The hadith is authentic.

The Generality of Sound Texts is not Overridden by a Weak One

Thus, according to Mālik and other Azhar scholars, this weak tradition cannot be used to restrict the generality of the previous Qur'anic and Prophetic injunctions. For that reason, a father who is found guilty of premeditated murder is punished.

Summary: The Ruling

The opinion of Al-Azhar and the one taught in this institution is summed up in a text book taught there on criminal law:

"If a father intentionally kills his son, then the punishment is mandatory." (Al-Jināyah: al-Nafs wa ma dunaha fi al-Fiqh al-Islamī, pp. 106-107).


Was-Salamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh


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