Children in Islam are very important and the Qur’an uses various terms for children (Arabic terms: dhurriyya; ghulām; ibn; walad; walīd) but according to Avner Giladi, the context seldom makes it clear whether it is exclusively referring to the unmatures. The Qur’anic statements about children, Giladi states, are mainly concerned with “infanticide, adoption, breast-feeding, and fatherless children.” These statements were of a normative-ethical significance for later Muslim jurists who formed the foundations of Islamic legislation.

In the pre-Islamic Arabia, the children were considered to be the properties of their fathers. The Qur’an rejected this conception. A. Giladi holds that Quran’s rejection of this idea was a Judaeo-Christian influence and was a response to the challenge of structural changes in tribal society.

The Qur’an rejected the practice of infanticide. Together with polytheism and homicide, infanticide was regarded as a grave sin. Infanticide is also implicitly denounced in the story of Pharaoh’s slaughter of the male children of Israelites. The Qur’an also mentions the story, not intended as an example to be followed, of the killing of an unbelieving young man bykhidr. This was done in order to preserve the young man’s faithful parents from disobedience and ingratitude which the young man was destined to bring to their life.

ADOPTING A CHILD

Adoption was a common practice in pre-Islamic Arabia. According to this custom, the adopted son would take the name of his adoptive parent, and would be assimilated into the family in a “legal sense”.

The Quran replaced the pre-Islamic custom of adoption by the recommendation that “believers treat children of unknown origin as their brothers in the faith and clients”. Adoption was viewed “as a lie, as an artificial tie between adults and children, devoid of any real emotional relationship, as a cause of confusion where lineage was concerned and thus a possible source of problems regarding marriage between members of the same family and regarding inheritance.” After the cancellation of the Arabic custom of adoption, Muhammad married Zaynab bint Jaysh, the divorced wife of his adopted son Zayd, thereby confirming the rule that forbids father and son to marry the same woman, Avner Giladi states.

ANGER AGAINST CHILDREN

No matter how mad you are at your children, NEVER harm or kill your children. The child has a right to live. Neither the father nor the mother have the right to take the life of the child, whether a boy or a girl, by killing it or burying it alive, as was done by some Arabs of jahiliyyah. Says Allah Ta’ala: And do not kill your children out of fear of poverty; We shall provide for them and for you. Truly, the killing of them is a great sin. When the female child who was buried alive is asked for what crime she was killed.

A child has a right to sustenance, education, and proper care. The parents are not permitted to neglect the child’s needs nor to abuse it The Prophet (peace be on him) said:“Each one of you is a caretaker and is responsible for those under his care.” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.) “Wasting the sustenance of his dependents is sufficient sin for a man.” (Reported by Abu Daoud, al-Nisai, and al-Hakim) “Allah will ask every caretaker about the people under his care, and the man will be asked concerning the people of his household.” (Reported by Ahmad, al-Nisai, and Abu Daoud)