The Right of the Child to Lead a Dignified and Secure Life

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The Islamic Sharia prescribes that the financial requirements of the young are the responsibility of the father, so as to guarantee they are being cared for and are safe. The Almighty Allah says:

…BUT THE FATHER OF THE CHILD SHALL BEAR THE COST OF THE MOTHER’S FOOD AND CLOTHING ON A REASONABLE BASIS… (ALBAQARA, OR THE COW, VERSE 233)

 

He also says:

LET THE RICH MAN SPEND ACCORDING TO HIS MEANS; AND THE MAN WHOSE RESOURCES ARE RESTRICTED; LET HIM SPEND ACCORDING TO WHAT ALLAH HAS GIVEN HIM. ALLAH PUTS NO BURDEN ON ANY PERSON BEYOND WHAT HE HAS GIVEN HIM. ALLAH WILL GRANT AFTER HARDSHIP, EASE. (AL-TALAQ, THE DIVORCE, VERSE 7)

 

The Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him, said to the woman who asked him about how much she was entitled to take from her miser husband without his knowledge: “Take in a seemly manner what suffices for you and your children.” This Hadith explains the amount of what may be considered adequate nafaqah (financial support) for the wife and the children. The amount is linked to ability and adequacy, and would vary depending on availability.

 

In case the parents divorce, the Islamic Sharia stands by the woman in order to protect her right to nurse her infant, since she is the natural mother and comes first; no other person may take precedence over her, including the father himself. Muslim jurists are unanimous in assigning nursing rights to the mother unless some prohibiting factor is at play, such as marriage (to another man), or insanity or negligence. Sharia prescribes paying a fee to the nursing mother. The father is to bear the cost of nursing, since this is one of his responsibilities and should be within his means. The mother earns her nursing fee immediately following the expiry of her ‘iddah (the legally prescribed period of waiting during which a woman may not remarry after being widowed or divorced). There is no need in this case for a court order. Sharia also specifies the location where the infant is to be nursed, taking into consideration the best interests of the child during the nursing period. Protecting his or her best interests can be accomplished through a combination of keeping the child with the mother and involving the father in a supportive position. Therefore, the nursed child must be kept in a location that is near to both parents and should not be denied the right to see them together.

 

Muslim jurists have expressed different opinions regarding the time after which the father is no longer obliged to provide nafaqah for his children. Reaching the age of puberty and acquiring the ability to make a living would constitute a reason for terminating financial support. This would mean that the father has a responsibility to educate the child and train him or her to sustain him or herself without needing the father’s subsidy.

 

Terminating the nafaqah just on account of the child maturing into puberty is not acceptable, however, because it would lead to relinquishing the child while he or she is still in need of care and sustenance. The mother is not obliged to provide nafaqah for any of her children, so long as the father is still alive and able to provide. In case the father is unable to provide for his children, but the mother is, then she has a duty to provide the nafaqah. She may be relieved of this responsibility once the father regains his ability to provide it.

 

In case the father dies, leaving behind children with insufficient funds in his will, then the mother and other heirs have an obligation to provide for these children. The Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an:

(AND ON THE [FATHER’S] HEIR IS INCUMBENT THE LIKE OF THAT [WHICH WAS INCUMBENT ON THE FATHER].) (AL-BAQARA, OR THE COW, VERSE 233)

 

The rule is that every obligation incumbent upon the deceased during his life is incumbent upon his or her heirs after his death. This Qur’anic verse provides decisive evidence of the fairness of the Islamic law of inheritance. By taking delivery of inheritance, the heir does not, in any way, relinquish his or her responsibilities towards those who had been under the care of the person from whom he or she has inherited. An heir has a duty to provide care and education to those who are still in need of such essential services. This is an example of how Islam enjoins compassion and encourages individuals to be grateful. The child has a right to be trained by his or her parents to perform religious rituals. The importance of early training is that it allows religious practice to become an easy and acceptable habit that children will maintain and preserve. The parents should endeavour to be role models for their children in terms of adhering to the best of conduct. They also have the obligation to provide their children with love, kindness and mercy, and to avoid harshness and cruelty. It is in this light that we understand the Prophetic guidance, as stated by the Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him, when he says: “May Allah have mercy on a parent who helps his or her child to be good to him or her.” The child has also the right to be trained by his or her parents to rely on him or herself, and to engage in every kind of activity that would develop a strong personality. This allows the child to become a responsible person and avoid the temptation to rely on others for a living, or to feel that others are responsible for him or her throughout life. Parents have a responsibility too to get their children used to making friends with good individuals and to stay away from bad ones. They should also teach them to behave kindly and pleasantly towards their mates and to love them. They should steer their children towards what is good and beautiful, encouraging them to pursue it, and point out what is ugly and bad, warning them against it. If we observe the general principles underpinning any international convention or declaration on human rights, we find them perfectly compatible in their broad framework with some of the principles stated by Islamic Sharia, more than 14 centuries ago, with regard to child protection. What distinguishes Islamic Sharia is that it has an internal mechanism to guarantee the adherence of Muslims to its principles. Universal principles have called for recognizing the rights of all children without discrimination. The Islamic Sharia, in its own way, has affirmed these rights in terms of Qur’anic and Prophetic directives. The Almighty Allah says:

O MANKIND! WE HAVE CREATED YOU FROMAMALE AND A FEMALE,AND MADE YOU INTO NATIONS AND TRIBES, THAT YOU MAY KNOW ONE ANOTHER. VERILY, THE MOST HONOURABLE OF YOU WITH ALLAH IS THAT [BELIEVER] WHO HAS AT-TAQWA [PIETY] (I.E., HE IS ONE OF THE MUTTAQUN [THE PIOUS]). VERILY, ALLAH IS ALL KNOWING, ALL-AWARE. (AL-HUJURAT, THE PRIVATEQUARTERS, VERSE 13)

 

He also says:


(THE BELIEVERS ARE NOTHING ELSE THAN BROTHERS [IN ISLAMIC RELIGION].) (AL-HUJURAT, THE ROOMS, VERSE 10)

The Islamic Sharia has also prescribed equality as a general principle for the Islamic state, in which no preference is made except in terms of righteousness; therefore, a Muslim is no better than a dhimmis (a member of other faith communities protected by the state by virtue of a covenant from Allah and His Messenger). In such a state, enmity is not allowed to

hinder the serving of justice. The Almighty Allah says:

…AND LET NOT THE ENMITY AND HATRED OF OTHERS MAKE YOU AVOID JUSTICE. (AL-MA’IDAH, THE TABLE, VERSE 8)

A child deprived of parental care should be sponsored. His or her sponsors should act as if they are the child’s parents, and are expected to provide what parents are usually expected to provide. The Islamic Sharia encourages Muslims to take up sponsorship to provide care for children in need. In compensating for the loss of parental care, the sponsors are promised a great reward; they will be in the company of the Prophet himself in Paradise. The Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him, said: “I shall be in Paradise together with the sponsor of the orphan just as these two are.” And he pointed to his index and middle finger. There should be no discrimination between an orphan whose father is known and an orphan without known ancestry.

 

 

Reference: Children in Islam THEIR CARE, UPBRINGING AND PROTECTION

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