Authenticity of hadeeth about commanding children to pray at seven
Fatwa No: 357337

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. Can you elobrate on the authenticity of the hadith reported by Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, and others which says, "Order your children to pray when they are seven years old, beat them when they are ten years old, and seperate their beds." Shaykh Albani said that it is Sahih (authentic), can you inform what the earlier scholars of Hadith said? May Allah reward you.

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, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

The hadeeth in reference was cited in many Hadeeth books; it was cited by Abu Daawood and Ahmad. Shaykh Shu‘ayb Al-Arnaa‘oot said in his commentary on Musnad Ahmad, "Its Isnaad (chain of narration) is Hasan (good)." It was also cited by Al-Bayhaqi, Al-Baghawi in his book Sharh As-Sunnah, At-Tirmithi, and others.

The version cited by At-Tirmithi reads, "Teach the boy the prayer when he is seven years old, and beat him for it (i.e. if he does not pray) when he is ten." He commented on it as follows, "It is Hasan; some Hadeeth scholars, such as Ahmad and Is-haaq, held that it is to be acted upon."

Al-Mubaarakfoori commented on it as follows in his book Tuhfat Al-Ahwathi, "It was cited by Abu Daawood, and he did not declare it to be authentic or inauthentic. Al-Munthiri mentioned that At-Tirmithi classified it as Saheeh (sound), and he agreed with him. Al-Haakim said that it meets the conditions stipulated by Muslim."

This hadeeth was narrated through different chains of narration that were all cited by Az-Zayla‘i. He discussed them and commented on them in his book Takhreej Al-Ahaadeeth wal-Aathaar Al-Waaqi‘ah fi Tafseer Al-Kashshaaf liz-Zamakhshari. We will quote what he said here for the benefit it provides:

"The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, 'Command them to pray at the age of seven.'

I said: It was narrated on the authority of Sabrah ibn Ma‘bad Al-Juhani, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn Al-‘Aas, Abu Hurayrah, and Anas.

As for the hadeeth narrated by Sabrah, it was cited by Abu Daawood and At-Tirmithi in the last chapter on mosques on the authority of ‘Abd Al-Malik ibn Ar-Rabee‘ ibn Sabrah ibn Ma‘bad Al-Juhani, from his father, from his grandfather. He said, 'The Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, ‘Command your children to perform the prayer when they are seven years old, and beat them for (not offering) it when they are ten, and separate between them in beds.’' At-Tirmithi classified it as Hasan Saheeh (good or sound).

Al-Haakim cited it in his book Al-Mustadrak in the last chapters on prayer. He said, 'It is Saheeh according to the conditions stipulated by Muslim, but they (Al-Bukhaari and Muslim) did not cite it.'

Shaykh Taqiyy Ad-Deen said in his book Al-Imaam, 'Ibn Khuzaymah cited it in his book Saheeh Ibn Khuzaymah. Al-Bayhaqi cited it in his book Al-Khilaafiyyaat and commented that its Isnaad (chain of narration) is Saheeh.' Shaykh Taqiyy Ad-Deen criticized it, saying, 'Ibn Abi Khaythamah said, ‘Yahya ibn Ma‘een was asked about the ahaadeeth narrated by ‘Abd Al-Malik ibn Ar-Rabee‘ ibn Sabrah from his father from his grandfather, and he replied, 'They are Dha‘eef (weak).'’ Muslim accepted the narration of ‘Abd Al-Malik ibn Ar-Rabee‘ ibn Sabrah ibn Ma‘bad Al-Juhani and his father and his grandfather and cited their reports in his book Saheeh Muslim.'

The hadeeth narrated by Ibn Al-‘Aas (‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn Al-‘Aas) was cited by Abu Daawood on the authority of Sawwaar ibn Daawood from ‘Amr ibn Shu‘ayb from his father from his grandfather (‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn Al-‘Aas) as a Marfoo‘ hadeeth (directly attributed to the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

Al-Haakim cited it in his book Al-Mustadrak and did not comment on it. Al-‘Uqayli cited it in his book on weak ahaadeeth and classified it as defective because its chain of narration included Sawwaar ibn Daawood.

As for the hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurayrah, it was cited by Al-Bazzaar in his Musnad on the authority of Muhammad ibn Rabee‘ah, from Muhammad ibn Al-Hasan ibn ‘Atiyyah Al-‘Awfi, from Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Ar-Rahmaan, that Abu Hurayrah said, 'The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, ‘Teach your children to perform the prayer when they are seven years old, and beat them for (not offering) it when they are ten, and separate between them in beds.’' He commented on the hadeeth, saying, 'We do not know of this hadeeth narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah except through this chain of narration.'

Al-‘Uqayli cited it in his Hadeeth collection of weak reports and declared it defective due to the presence of Muhammad ibn Al-Hasan in its chain of narration. He then cited the hadeeth on the authority of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Ar-Rahmaan from the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, as a Mursal hadeeth (i.e. a Hadeeth narrated by a Tabi'i [successor of the Prophet's Companions]) with an unconnected chain of narration). He said, 'This is more likely... and the versions of this hadeeth have some aspects of weakness.'

Ibn Hibbaan said in his book Adh-Dhu‘afaa', 'It was narrated by ‘Abd Al-Mun‘im ibn Nu‘aym Ar-Riyaahi on the authority of Al-A‘mash, from Abu Saalih, from Abu Hurayrah, as a Marfoo‘ hadeeth. He said, ‘The narrations of ‘Abd Al-Mun‘im are classified as very denounced and not adducible (cannot be used as a valid argument) if the report has been narrated by other strong reporters; what then is the case when he narrates a report alone and there are no other reliable reporters in the chain of narration!’'

As for the narration of Anas, it was cited by Ad-Daaraqutni in his Sunan in the first chapter on prayer. It reads, 'It was narrated on the authority of Daawood ibn Al-Muhabbar that ‘Abdullah ibn Al-Muthanna related that Thumaamah reported from Anas that he said, ‘The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, 'Command them to pray when they are seven years old, and beat them for it (prayer) when they are thirteen.'’ And Daawood ibn Al-Muhabbar was declared Majrooh (a discredited narrator) by Hadeeth scholars.'

At-Tabaraani cited it in his book Al-Mu‘jam Al-Awsat and remarked that it was narrated only by Daawood ibn Al-Muhabbar."

Allah knows best.

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