Issue 2, Volume 10 July / September 2018 - Jumada Oula/Rajab 1424H
 
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Usurpation of Iraq
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Four Corners Missed the Target
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Clash of the Religions
Interview :
Hamas leader Dr. Abdel Aziz Al Rantisi
Fiqh :
Regulations regarding the Newborn
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 Regulations

Regarding the Newborn

By Bilal Abu Aisha...

All praise belongs to Allah, the Most Merciful, Who created man in the best form and most beautiful appearance, “The One who forms you in the wombs however He wills…”[i] The All-Mighty Who: “Creates what He wills.  He gives to whom He wills female [children], and He gives to whom He wills males. Or He makes them [both] males and females, and He renders who He wills barren.”[ii] And may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon Muhammad (saw) who said: “Marry a woman who is loving and can bear many children, for I will display your outnumbering [on the Day of Judgment].[iii]  Hence, Muslims are encouraged to have children and raise them righteously according to the authentic Islamic teachings deduced from its two primary sources—the Qur’an and Sunnah. This article addresses a number of practices that should be observed when child is born.

Before the Birth

   Islam directs men to choose a good mother for upbringing and development. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “So marry the religious woman, otherwise may your hands be covered with dust (i.e. may you then be successful).”[iv]  Furthermore, men have been instructed to seek Allah’s protection of their offspring from the harm of Satan. According to Ibn ‘Abbaas (ra), the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “When one you wants to approach his wife (with intercourse) says: “Bismillaah, Allaahumma jannib-nashaytaan, wa jannib-ishaytaana maa razaqtanaa, [In the name of Allah, O Allah, Keep Satan away from us, and from what you grant us] If it is then decreed that they have a child from that (intercourse), Satan will never be able to harm it.”[v]  So, fathers should take heed of this noble prophetic advice for the protection for their children, providing a shield from the harm of every Shaytaan (Satan).

Announcing and Congratulating the Arrival of the Newborn

In Islam, when a child is born it is recommended to give the good news. According to the Qur’an, good news was given to Prophet Zakariyyaa and: “…Allah gives you the glad tidings of Yahyaa.” [vi]  And prior to this,  Prophet Ibrahim was given the good news of the impending birth of his first son Ismaa’il with the divine words: “So We gave him the glad tidings of a tolerant boy.”[vii]

To congratulate the parents of the newborn is an important deed in Islam, just as it is with marriage, or during the two ‘Eids (Islamic festivels), at the time of repentance, and any other such joyful occasions.  There is no specific way that the Prophet (saw) has established to congratulate others.  As general rule, congratulating someone with a blessing and beautiful words is permissible.  

In many cultures, the newborn receives gifts.  The giving of gifts in all occasions is good practice to Muslims.  The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Exchange gifts, for that will make you love one another.”[viii] And so it is permissible to give a present to the family of a newborn as a token of help and support. However, gifts should not be given as an obligation.

Giving Adhaan and Iqaamah in the Ear of the Newborn

The recitation of the adhaan (in the right ear of the newborn, and then reciting the Iqaamah in the left) is very common practice all over the Muslim world.  It is based on the hadith reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and at-Tirmidhi on the authority of Abu Raafi’: “I saw the Prophet give adhaan for the prayer in the ear of al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali when his mother Fatimah gave birth to him.” This hadith has been declared as da’eef  (weak) by many of the scholars of hadith, including Sheikh al-Albani.  All other hadiths that have been used to establish this practice have also been verified to be either da’eef or mawdoo’ (fabricated). This practice cannot be justified as part of the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw). With regards to Iqaamah to the baby, one of the compilers of hadith, al-Bayhaqi reported two hadiths attributed to the Prophet (saw) that were criticized and classified as da’eef (weak) by many scholars such as ibn al-Qayyim and al-Albaani.  So even though there are scholars who have applied these narrations, the correct opinion that is closer to the Sunnah is that Iqaamah to the baby should not be practiced.

Tahneek

The first practice a child is greeted with is Tahneek, which means to soften a date with water or saliva, which is then rubbed to the upper jaw or palate (hanak) of the newborn right and left with the finger. There are several authentic reports of the Prophet (saw) performing tahneek for newborns.  Bukhari and Muslim reported on the authority of Anas and Sahl ibn Sa’d: “Newborns were occasionally brought to Allah’s Messenger (saw).  He would invoke Allah’s blessings over them and perform tahneek for them.” According to al-‘Ayni in his book ‘Umdatul Qaari’: “The wisdom behind tahneek is the expectation that the baby would then attain Imaan (sincere faith) and its sweetness, because dates are the fruits of the tree that the Prophet (saw) likened to a believer…Don’t you see that when Allah’s Messenger (saw) performed tahneek for ‘Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr, he attained virtues and qualities of perfection beyond description? He was a reciter of the Qur’an and a virtuous man in Islam and in sublime goodness…”[ix]

A common practice is to have a righteous man or woman perform tahneek with the belief that the saliva of this pious person will impart blessings to the baby.  Although there are a number of scholars who endorse this, Sheikh al-Albani (May Allah have mercy on his soul) disapproved the performance of tahneek with any person’s saliva after the Prophet (saw). Furthermore, there are no reports of people bringing their children for tahneek to the likes Abu Bakr or ‘Umar (May Allah be pleased with them), Therefore, performing tahneek with the saliva of lesser Muslims, regardless of how righteous they may be, is not justifiable, and that this action may be carried out by the father, mother, or any other Muslim present at the time of delivery.

Naming the Child

The Prophet (saw) ordered naming newborns on the seventh day. That is as soon     as they were born.  Allah’s Messenger (saw) said: “Every child is mortgaged with its ‘Aqeeqah, which is to be slaughtered for it on its seventh day.  On that day, it should also be named, and its head should be shaved.”[x] On the other hand the Prophet (saw) said: “A baby boy was born for me this past night.  So I named him with my (great grand) father’s name, Ibrahim.”[xi] The best way to reconcile between the Prophet’s (saw) statements is by allowing both of them to hold simultaneously.  However, naming the child should not be delayed beyond the seventh day from birth.

Parents are required to choose a good name for their newborns.  There are a number of guidelines to be considered when looking for a name for one’s child.  The best and most beloved names to Allah are ‘Abdullah and ‘Abdur-Rahmaan.  The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Indeed, the best and most beloved names to Allah are ‘Abdullah and ‘Abdur-Rahmaan…”[xii] These two names declare servitude to Allah through His two foremost superb names.  About 300 of the companions of the Messenger of Allah were named ‘Abdullah.  The very first child of the emigrants (Muhaajireen) born in Madina was named ‘Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr.

It is also recommended to give names that express servitude to any of Allah’s other names such as calling Abdul-Salaam or Abdul-‘Aziz in the case of males, and calling Amatullah (female slave of Allah) in the case of females. This is in light of the verse: “Say, call upon Allah or call upon Ar-Rahmaan (the Most Merciful).  Whichever (name) you call - to Him belong the best names.”[xiii] Names of the Prophets are also praiseworthy names, recommended by Islam..  The Prophet (saw) said: “Bear my name, but do not use my kunya (i.e. Abu Al-Qaasim).”[xiv] Following this principle, the Messenger of Allah named his own son Ibrahim, according to Saheeh Muslim.  It is also encouraged to name children after the names of pious people such as the companions, martyrs, and scholars. Az-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awaam named his nine sons after the martyrs of Badr. 

A child must be ascribed to his or her true father, and not to the mother or some other person.  Allah Most High says: “Ascribe them to their fathers; it is more just in the sight of Allah…”[xv] Even on the Day of Judgment, people will be ascribed to their fathers according to Bukhari and Muslim. Sheikh al-Albaani declared as a mawdoo’ (fabricated) the hadith which said: “On Judgment Day, the people will be called by (ascribing to) their mothers.” Ascribing the newborn to his or her father is only permissible if the child is born through a legitimate relationship.  A child born as a result of adultery or fornication may not be ascribed to the biological father.  The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “The child belongs to the (owner of) the mattress, and the adulterer deserves the stone (i.e. is a loser).”[xvi]

The ‘Aqeeqah

The linguistic meaning of the word ‘Aqeeqah is derived from the Arabic verb ‘Aqqah, which means to split or cut.  In Islam, it refers to cutting the throat of a sheep or goat that is sacrificed for a newborn child.  The ‘Aqeeqah is an act of worship distinguishing the Muslims from the pagans who used to smear the child’s head with animal blood and the Christians who baptise their children with water.  Concerning the ‘Aqeeqah, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Every child is in pledge for its ‘Aqeeqah which is sacrificed for it on its seventh…”[xvii]

The scholars have differed regarding the ruling for the ‘Aqeeqah.  The first view is that it is waajib (obligatory).  This is the opinion of Imaam Ahmad (ra) in one of his narrations.  One of the numerous hadiths used by this school of thought and other scholars to justify their opinion is the hadith of the Prophet (saw): “A ‘Aqeeqah is prescribed for every child.  So spill blood on its behalf…”[xviii] Here the command to spill blood was taken as obligatory.  Furthermore, declaring as something held in pledge for a debt suggests it is waajib (mandatory). The second view is that it is Mustahab (desirable).  This opinion indicating it is merely a recommended Sunnah is the view of Imaam Maalik and Ash-Shaafi’ (ra). This is the preferred and best-known saying of Ahmad.  Their view is based on the following hadith: “Whoever wishes to perform a sacrifice for (the birth of) his child, let him do so…”[xix] They argue this hadith makes it dependant on the father’s wish or inclination.  Imaam Abu Hanifah (ra) is of the view that it is merely something permissible and lawful.

This ritual is to be performed for the newborn child whether it is a boy or a girl. However, two sheep are to be sacrificed for the boy and one for the girl.  Ibn ‘Abbaas (ra) reported that Allah’s Messenger (saw) said: “(Slaughter) for a boy two sheep, and for a girl just one.  It does not matter whether they (i.e. the sheep) are male or female.”[xx] Regarding the difference in the number of animals to be sacrificed between male and female newborns, some scholars compare it to the difference between males and females in matters of testimony, inheritance, blood ransom, etc.

The ‘Aqeeqah should be slaughtered on the seventh day from birth including the actual birthday. “The Prophet commanded that a newborn be named on the seventh day and that the harm (i.e. hair) be removed off it and its ‘Aqeeqah be slaughtered.”[xxi]  Since the Prophet (saw) has set the timing for this act of worship, it is not permissible to slaughter the ‘Aqeeqah prior to the seventh day.  If the ‘Aqeeqah is not carried out on the seventh, it may still be slaughtered on the fourteenth or twenty-first day from birth.   The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “The ‘Aqeeqah should be slaughtered on the seventh, the fourteenth, or the twenty-first day.”[xxii]  If the ‘Aqeeqah is not slaughtered on one of these three dates for a legitimate reason such as ignorance, forgetfulness, or poverty, it may be slaughtered as soon as possible after that.  The prescribed dates are for the actual slaughtering. 

As for cooking and eating it, this may be done at any time after that.  There is specific text stipulating how the meat should be divided. Some scholars recommended dividing it into three parts: eating one part, feeding the second, and giving the rest as charity.  Many scholars recommend cooking the ‘Aqeeqah’s meat and inviting others to feast on it—a practice of many Muslims from early times. 

Shaving the Newborn’s head

Shaving the baby’s head on the seventh day of the child’s birth and giving sadaqah equal to its hair’s weight in silver is from the prescribed manners related to newborns.  Allah’s Messenger (saw) commanded his daughter Faatimah to do this for her two sons al-Hasan (ra) and al-Husayn (ra) saying: “O Faatimah, shave his head, and give charity equal to his hair’s weight in silver.”[xxiii]  The obligation of shaving a newborn’s head applies to both males and females as there is no evidence for restricting the shaving to the boys.  Like the ‘Aqeeqah, the shaving of the newborn’s head and distribution of the sadaqah should be done on the seventh day and not before.  It should be noted that it is not permissible to pay charity equal to the hair’s weigh in gold. The author of the infamous commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari, Ibn Hajar (ra) said: “All reports agree that the charity is given in silver, and none of them mention gold.”  The value of this charity is more of a symbolic action.  

Circumcision

Circumcision, known in Arabic as Khitaan, is prescribed for the newborn. Allah’s Messenger (saw) said: “The fitrah (pristine nature) are five: circumcision, shaving the private parts, trimming the moustache, clipping the nails, and plucking the hair from the armpits.”[xxiv] Circumcision is an act of cleanliness, first ordained by Allah for Prophet Ibrahim at the age of eighty.  There are two opinions concerning its ruling.  The first view is that of al-Hasan al-Basree and Abu Hanifa who say it is mustahab (recommended). Their evidence is based on the hadith: “Circumcision is a Sunnah for men, a noble action for women.”  This hadith may not be acted on as it has been classified as da’eef (weak).  They say it is only desirable because the Prophet (saw) linked it with other recommended actions in the hadith of the fitrah. The weightier opinion (and Allah knows best) is that circumcision is waajib (mandatory) in light of some of the evidences mentioned by ibn al-Qayyim. 

Firstly, it is based on Allah’s commandment to the Prophet (saw) to follow the pure creed of Ibrahim as per Surat an-Nahl [16: 123].  Secondly, the Messenger of Allah (saw) ordered Kulayb al-Juhani to get circumcised when he embraced Islam saying: “Shave off the hair of disbelief, and get circumcised.”[xxv] Thirdly, circumcision is one of the clear and apparent practices that distinguish Muslims from non-Muslims.  The fourth proof is that circumcision causes pain and may result in complications and serious repercussions.  This would not be allowed for the sake of a non-compulsory action. Sheikh al-Albani said: “As for the ruling of circumcision, the correct opinion according to us is that is obligatory.  This is the view of the majority of the scholars such as Malik, ash-Shafi’, and Ahmad.  Ibn al-Qayyim took this position as well, presenting fifteen different reasons to support it…”[xxvi]

As for female circumcision, there is a popular assumption that female circumcision has no place in Islam.  There is no basis for this suggestion, because female circumcision was practiced during the time of the Prophet (saw) and he approved of it according to many narrations.  The Messenger of Allah (saw) said to a woman in Madinah who circumcised women: “When you trim do it slightly and not excessively…”[xxvii] Aisha (ra) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (saw) said: “When the two circumcised parts meet, ghusl (a ritual bath) becomes obligatory.”[xxviii]  According to hadith and other similar narratives, the Prophet (saw) describes both the male and female sex organs as khitaan, which means, location of circumcision.  Some scholars such as the Shafiee’s, and a narration from Ahmad hold that it is waajib (obligatory).  The majority of the scholars hold that it is only mustahab (recommended).  This is the view of Abu Hanifah, Maalik, and some of the Hanbalees.  From what has been said, we see that female circumcision is voluntary and not mandatory.

Concerning the time for circumcision, there is a recommended, obligatory, and permissible time.  The recommended time is for the circumcision to take place on the seventh day after the birthday.  It is reported Fatimah (ra) circumcised one of her children on the seventh day.[xxix]  The permissible time to perform it is before the seventh day, afterwards, or until before puberty. If the time of puberty draws near, one enters the obligatory time period, since puberty is when the actions of worship become obligatory.


[i] Aal-‘Imraan, 3: 6

[ii] Ash-Shooraa: 49-50

[iii] Abu Dawud – Declared authentic by Albaani

[iv] Bukhari

[v] Bukhari and Muslim

[vi] Aal-Imraan, 2: 39

[vii] As-Saaffaat, 37: 101

[viii] Bukhari in his book al-Adab Al-Mufrad

[ix] al-‘Ayni in his book ‘Umdatul Qaari

[x] Abu Dawud

[xi] Bukhari and Muslim

[xii] Saheeh Muslim and others

[xiii] Al-Israa’, 17: 110

[xiv] Bukhari and Muslim

[xv] Al-Ahzaab, 33: 5

[xvi] Bukhari and Muslim

[xvii] Abu Dawud and Ahmad with a hasan (good) chain

[xviii] Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi

[xix] Abu Dawud and An-Nasai with a hasan (good) chain

[xx] Ahmad and Abu Dawud – declared authentic by al-Abani

[xxi] Tirmidhi – declared hasan (good) by al-Albani

[xxii] at-Tabaraani – declared authentic by al-Albani

[xxiii] Ahmad and Bayhaqi – verified as hasan (good) by al-Albani

[xxiv] Bukhari

[xxv] Abu Dawud and Ahmad – classified as hasan (good) by al-Albani.

[xxvi] Tamaamul Minnah

[xxvii] al-Haakim and at-Tabaraani – declared authentic by al-Albani

[xxviii] Saheeh Muslim and others

[xxix] Reported by Malik and Abu Dawud

 

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