Rights of the Child in Islam

Islam guarantees the child the right to survival, even if it is still a fetus in its mother’s womb. Islam also stipulates taking care of children; guaranteeing them the right to breastfeeding and nursing, and ensuring the maintenance of their physical and moral rights. Islam prohibits the violation of any of these rights. It warns parents against negligence when bringing up their children.
The Islamic Fiqh Academy, affiliated to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), in its 12th round in Riyad, Saudi Arabia, September 23-28, 2000 / Jumada Al-‘Akhirah 25–Rajab 1, 1421, tackled the subject of the rights of children and the elderly. After reviewing the researches and studies made on this topic and reading the recommendations of the juristic and medical symposium held in Kuwait, October 18-21, 1999/ Rajab 9-12, 1420, under the cooperation of the Islamic Fiqh Academy and the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences (IOMS), the Council of the Academy decided the following:

Islam considers the issue of children’s rights very important, as children are the nucleus of a healthy society. Islam encourages males and females to marry and to choose their spouses well, for this is the hereditary basis for a caring home and a good upbringing for children.
Based on this overall principle, the council decided the following:
1. The Islamic Shari`ah dictates that it is a duty (upon society and parents) to protect the fetus against any harm that may afflict it or its mother, such as the harm caused by poisons and drugs.
2. The child has the right to survival from the moment of its conception; this right is not to be abused by abortion or anything else that may deform the child or cause him/her physical disability.
3. Every child has physical and moral rights. The physical rights include the right to ownership, inheritance, bequeathal, to give donations, and endowments. The moral rights include the right to have a good name, to know who his/her parents are, to know his/her lineage, and to have sound religious and moral guidance.
4. Children who are orphans, foundlings, displaced, victims of war, and the like, have rights the same as other children; the society and governments of their countries should see to the realization of their rights.
5. The child has a right to a full 2-year nursing period.
6. The child has a right to be brought up in a decent and clean environment in his or her parent’s and, in case of separation between the parents, in his or her mother’s custody. If this is not possible, then the child has the right to be brought up in the custody of the next closest relative, as is clarified in the Islamic Shari`ah.
7. The child’s person and wealth should be under the guardianship of his/her family or the state until he/she reaches the age of legal responsibility.
8. The right to a good and moral upbringing, receiving a good education and training, and learning skills that will qualify the child to earn his/her livelihood and lead an independent life are some of the most important rights. Talented children must be given special care so that their energies can be developed properly. All this must be done in the framework of the Islamic Shari`ah.
9. Islam warns parents and societies against neglecting children, lest this causes feelings of homelessness and loss. Islam also prohibits the exploitation of children in fields of labour that may affect their physical, mental, and psychological states.
10. Islam considers abusing the religious rights of children, endangering their lives, exploiting them sexually, misappropriating their properties, and brainwashing them as blatant crimes.