Islamic Obligations at Puberty
Fatwa No: 83431

Question

Praying in congregation at the Masjid is Fard-ain. I am 14 years old does all obligations such as praying at the Masjid become incumbent upon me. I learnt that when you reach the age of puberty it is obligatory to discharge all obligations. But, is it true that one who has reached the age of puberty and is young like my age he does not have the obligation of Hisba (enjoining good and forbidding evils) upon him. Is it true that there is only one obligation before the age of puberty which is Salat. Because don't you have to pray 5 times a day at the age of ten or around the age of ten which is not the age of puberty.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

It is not obligatory for a child before the age of puberty to carry out any obligatory acts of Sharee’ah. This rule is based on the saying of the Prophet: “The pen is lifted (prevented from writing the sins) of three groups (of people) that is, they will not be responsible for their actions: the insane until they become sane, those who are sleeping until they wake up, and the young until they reach puberty.” [Ahmad, Abu Dawood and al-Tirmithi]

Although it is not obligatory for a child to pray at the age of seven, his guardian is recommended to order him to perform prayers when he reaches seven. The guardian is allowed to beat him if he does not perform prayers only after he reaches the age of ten. This graduation in the instructions regarding the prayer is to train the child and habituate him to perform prayers in a correct way when he reaches the age of puberty.

Therefore, if you observe one of the signs of puberty, then it is mandatory on you to perform the obligatory prayers in congregation and, at the mosque. Besides praying in congregation, all the other obligations of Sharee’ah become also mandatory on you, including enjoining good and forbidding evil, which you should do, in accordance to your ability. If you have not reached that age then you are not obliged to carry out these obligations. However, before puberty it is merely recommended to practice the rites of Islamic Sharee’ah in order to spend your time in the obedience of Allah and to be characterized by Islamic traits. How excellent it is for a youth to adopt Islamic characteristics!

We pray Allah to bless you and us and make us steadfast on the truth and guidance.

Know that there are many physical signs, which indicate the time of puberty. Some of these signs are common for boys and girls, while others are peculiar to girls only.

The common signs of puberty between boys and girls are as follows:

1. Having wet dreams, i.e. ejaculation. Allah Says (what means): {And when the children among you reach puberty, let them ask permission [at all times] as those before them have done. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses; and Allah is Knowing and Wise.} [Quran 24:59]

2. Growing of pubic hair, i.e. the hair, which needs to be shaved not the soft fuzz, which generally exists on the youngsters too. The evidence for this is that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) accepted the judgement of Saad ibn Mu’aadh, may Allaah pleased with him, against the tribe of Banu Quraydhah. Saad decided that all those males who are able to fight should be killed, women and children should be taken prisoners. Then the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) ordered the companions to examine them and those who had begun to grow hair (pubes) were killed, and those who had not yet pubic hair were not killed. [Thirmithi] The Caliph Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him wrote to one of his governors not to kill but those who used razors to shave their pubes.

3. Becoming fifteen (lunar) years old. The evidence for this is the narration of Ibn Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them that he said: “Allaah’s Apostle called me to present myself in front of him on the eve of the battle of Uhud, while I was fourteen years of age at that time and he did not allow me to take part in that battle but he called me in front of him on the eve of the battle of the Trench when I was fifteen years old, and he allowed me to join the battle.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

When Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz heard this Hadith he made this age the evidence to differentiate between a mature and an immature person.

There are two signs of puberty peculiar to girls.

a) Beginning the first menstrual period, for the saying of the Prophet Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ): “Allah does not accept the prayer of a menstruating woman (who has reached puberty) unless she wears a veil”. [Abu Dawood, al-Tirmizi who said that this Hadith is Hasan]

b) Becoming pregnant (for a married girl) because Allah Creates a fetus from the sperm of a man and woman. Allah Says (what means): {So let man observe from what he was created. He was created from a fluid, ejected, Emerging from between the backbone and the ribs.} [Quran 86:5-7].

Actually the sign of pregnancy is also related to the sign of ejaculation which is mentioned above.

The existence of one of these signs is sufficient to determine that a person has reached the age of puberty.

Allah knows best.

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