Questions Pertaining to Children’s Games
There are many games and educations programmes intended for children and, in most cases, these programmes begin with music or something resembling music. An example of this is a “talking” book. We would like you to listen to this song with us and give us your opinion.
What I have heard begins with music and music is made by unlawful musical instruments.
The prohibition of music is confirmed by a hadeeth narrated by al-Bukhari in his Saheeh on the authority of Malik Al-Ash’ari, in which it was stated that the Prophet said,
“From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful”. (Al-Bukhari in his Saheeh 5590)
Based on this, it is not permissible to use these types of book or toys, unless this music is removed from them. In addition, based on what I have heard of the renderings of the sounds of these animals, they do not correspond with actual sounds made by them. They do not give a perfect representation of the sounds made by the animals in the book. For this reason, I consider that they should not be used and that their use is unlawful, if the music remains. If it does not remain, then the benefit in using them is negligible.
Many games contain pictures of living creatures drawn by hand; and the purpose of them in most cases is to teach, such as those found in the talking book.
If it is for the purpose of entertaining little ones, then those who permit games for children would permit such pictures as these. But those who prohibit such pictures do not permit them for children, since they do not represent an accurate picture of these creatures in the form in which Allah created them, which is clearfrom what is before me; and, in this instance, the matter is plain.
O, Eminent Shaikh!, If there is no objection for children, why do we not say regarding music that is in these toys and educational programs, such as the talking book, that since the purpose is to teach children, and are for children why should we not be tolerant of it, because it is for children?
We are not tolerant of it because nothing of its like has been reported in the Sunnah and because the prohibition of it has been reported in general terms, and no exception has been reported from this general prohibition. In addition, if a small child becomes accustomed to entertainment and music, this will become their habit and their nature.
There are many types of dolls for girls which were mentioned by ‘Aisha, such as those made from cotton, that being a bag cut into a shape consisting of a head, arms and legs, while others are exactly like a human being, such as those sold in the shops. Some of them talk, cry and walk or crawl. What is the ruling on making or buying such types (of dolls) for little, as teaching aids and playthings?
As for those which are not complete representations (of human figures),but only consist of some limbs and a head, there is no doubt that these are permissible and that they are similar to those dolls that ‘Aisha used to play with.
But, if they contain precise details, as if you were looking at human being, especially if they move or make sounds, then I do not feel that they are permissible, because they are exact representations of ‘Allah’s creation. While it is clear that the toys with ‘Aisha used to play were not of this type. So it is better to avoid them. However, I would refrain from asserting with certainty that they are unlawful, because in such matters as these, there are things permitted for the young which are not permitted for adults. This is because a child has a natural inclination to play and enjoy themselves. Besides, they are not obligated to perform acts of worship, so that we might say that they wasted time playing and amusing themselves. If a person wishes to guard against such a thing, they can remove the head, or heat it over a fire, until it becomes soft, then press it, until its features are removed.
Does it make any difference whether they are made by the children, or made by us for them or we buy them for them, or they are given as gifts?
In my opinion that making then in a manner that resembles Allah’s creation is unlawful, because this constitutes making representations of living things, which is without doubt unlawful. But, if they come to us from the Christian or other non-Muslims, it is better, as I have said. With regard to buying them, we should buy other things which do not contain pictures, such a bicycles, or toy cars, or cranes or the like. As for the matter of cotton and other materials that are not lifelike representations, though they have limbs, a head and a neck, but do not have eyes or a nose, there is no objection to them, because they do not resemble Allah’s creation.
What is the ruling on making things similar to these dolls out of clay, then shaping them on the spot?
Every person who makes something that resembles Allah’s creation is included in the hadeeth: “The Prophet cursed the makers of pictures” ( Al-Bukhari in his Saheeh 5347) –and:
“The people most severely punished on the Day of Resurrection will be those who make pictures.” (Al-Bukhari 5950)
But as I have said, if the representation is not clear, in that it does not have eyes, a nose, a mouth or fingers, this is not a complete representation and does not resemble the creation of Allah, he Almighty, the All-powerful.
When children play together, the boy acts the part of a father and the girl acts the part of a mother. Should they be encouraged to do this, or should they be prohibited from doing it?
I believe that they should be prevented from doing it, because this may lead to the boy sleeping with her. And closing the door (to this) is better.
There are some stories, the purpose of which is to teach or amuse children which take different forms: some of tell stories of talking animals, for example, in order to teach children the evil consequences of telling lies. One of them relates how a fox pretended to be a doctor in order to lie to a children and deceived it, then the fox fell into a hole because of his untruthfulness. What is your opinion about such stories?
I would refrain from delivering any ruling of them, because although they attribute characteristics to these creatures that they do not possess, such as the ability to speak, to treat illness and to be punished (for their sins), it might be said that the point of it is to coin a similitude, so I will not pronounce any verdict on them.
There is another type of story in which a mother tells a story to her child which might happen, even though it may not actually happen, for example: There was a boy called Hasan, who used to annoy his neighbours and he climbed on their wall and fell and broke his arm. What is the ruling on such stories, from which a child might learn some virtues and praiseworthy qualities? Do they constitute lying?
It would appear that if it was presented as a parable, by saying there was a child or a boy or the like, without specifying a name and making it as if it was something that has happened, then there would be no objection to it, because this is like telling a parable, not relating it as something which actually occurred. At all events, there is no objection to something like this, because there is a benefit in it, and there is no harm in it.
In school curricula, children are asked to draw pictures of living creatures, or they are given an incomplete picture of a children, for example, and asked to complete it. Sometimes, they are asked to cut out these pictures and attach them to a piece of paper, or they are given a picture, and they are asked to colour it in. What is your opinion of this?
It is my opinion that this is unlawful and should be prohibited. Further, those responsible for teaching should fulfil their responsibility in this matter and prohibit these things. If they wish to ascertain the ability of the student, they can ask them to make a picture of a car, a tree or some other thing with which they are acquainted. In this way, the extent of their intelligence, their comprehension and ability to carry out orders will be ascertained. This is one of the means by which Shaytan has put people to trial. Otherwise, it would be seen that it is immaterial when it comes to assessing a child’s ability to draw, whether they are asked to draw a tree, or a car, or a palace or a human being. Therefore, it is my opinion that it is incumbent on those responsible in these matters to prohibit such things. However, if they feel that they must draw such things, then they should draw animals without heads.
With regard to these pictures which are in books, is it necessary to efface them, or does separating the head from the body by placing a line through it suffice to remove the unlawfulness?
It is my opinion that it is not necessary to efface them, because this would entail great hardship and also, the purpose of the pictures in these books is to impart knowledge. As for placing a line between the neck and the body, it does not change the nature of the picture.
A child might fail, if they do not draw this picture in the school, meaning, they might not be given marks in the subject of drawing, and as a result, they fail.
If that was the case, then the child would be forced to do this thing and the sin would be on the one who ordered it and obliged them to do it. But, I hope that those responsible will not allow the matter to reach this level, where the students are forced to commit an act of disobedience to Allah.
There are some children’s nurseries which teach children, boys mixed with girls, up to the age of five or six years. Up to what age is this permissible? Also, in many of them women teach boys and girls. What is your opinion about this? And up to what age is it permissible for women to teach male children?
It is my opinion that this matter should be placed before Hay’at Kibar Al-‘Ulama’ (the Board of Senior Scholars) for them to look into it, because this might open up the door to coeducational schooling in the long term. As for the mixing of small children together, there is no objection to this in principle, but I fear that such plans are intended to be stepping stones to something worse than that. And Allah knows better. For this reason, the matter of these schools should be referred to Hay’at Kibar Al-‘Ulama’, for them to investigate it, or to (other) responsible authorities, which can prevent it, after studying it.
There are some schools in which the male and female students are separated, but the teachers of both male and female students are women? Until what age can they teach male students?
As I said, all that relates to coeducation should be prohibited, no matter what the circumstances.