Corporal Punishment

Ml Yusuf Laher


Corporal Punishment to Children as a Disciplinary Measure 


'Tarbiyyah' i.e. proper up-bringing of a child consists of many facets, one of them is punishment when required. Our Shari'ah has not ignored this facet but acknowledged it and presented us with guidance on this important branch of Tarbiyyah. 

The Ulama versed in Tarbiyyah have said that physical punishment is not the only means of Tarbiyyah and not the first measure to be resorted to. 

Before resorting to physical punishment, the parent/teacher/guardian should observe the following:

a) Dealing with a child is predominantly based on consideration, kindness and mercy. A Hadeeth teaches us to make kindness and gentleness compulsory upon ourselves and to avoid harshness and obscenity. (Al Adabul Mufrad V1 P116)  

b) Start with the easiest and lightest method of discipline, moving to severer methods step by step, if there is a need. 

c) Be considerate of the disposition and nature of the errant child when deciding a punishment. It will be oppressive to punish a child above his/her fortitude. 


The Stages of Severity


* It is best to first admonish the child verbally with civility and courteousness and this is learnt from our beloved Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi wa Sallam). He advised a boy on the etiquette of eating in the following manner: O boy! Take the name of Allah, eat with the right hand and eat from in front of you. (Muslim V6 P109) 

* Make the child aware of the error with a hint towards the error committed. 

* If the above-mentioned two points do not have the desired effect, now reproach and reprimand the child.

* Thereafter, if still not successful, cut ties with the child for a short while, so that the displeasure of the parent can be fully impressed upon the child.

* The last resort is beating the child. The permissibility of physical punishment is taken from the Hadeeth wherein Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said that instruct the children to perform Salaah when they are seven years of age and beat them regarding their Salaah when they are ten years of age. (Abu Dawood V1 P185) 


Parents/teachers should remember that this beating is also governed by Shari'ah. 


1) The Hadeeth discourages from hitting on the face. (Nisa'i V4 P325). Bruising and wounding must also be avoided. Do not hit on any delicate part of the body.


2) When a stick, whip, etc. will not be used for neglect in Salaah, it will not be used for any other misdemeanour. (Raddul Muhtaar V3 P86). The open hand will be used and not a fist. 


3) More than three strikes should not be inflicted. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) advised a teacher: If you inflict more than three strikes, Allah will take revenge from you. (Raddul Muhtaar V3 P86) 


Important Advice


Do not make a decision on the child or mete out punishment while in anger. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) has discouraged making a decision while in the state of anger. (Muslim V5 P132). When in anger, a person gets carried away with emotions, the intelligence is impaired and the parent later regrets the decision and punishment. The parent/teacher who punishes without equilibrium and fairness will be answerable in the court of Allah. 


When sorting out a problem between two children, do not let one of them feel that the other is being favoured in any way. Focus your gaze equally on them, let them be seated on the same level and do not raise your voice on only one of them. These are lessons derived from a Hadeeth of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi wa Sallam). (Musnad Abu Ya'laa V10 P264).


Do not embarrass, belittle and ridicule a child in front of others. Do not expose his fault in front of others. Do not be the cause of the child suffering from an inferiority complex by telling him how 'stupid' he is and how intelligent the other children are. Be his source of encouragement and compliment him when required. This compliment from you the parent will encourage the child towards greater heights. 


May Allah Ta'aala grant Taufeeq to one and all to hold on to justice and fairness in all walks of life, Aameen.