By: Najma Bibi Noor Mahomed
South African parents have been left torn after the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg ruled that parents will no longer be able to use the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ if they are later accused of assault.
Judge Raylene Keightley handed down the judgement that has been met with mixed reactions. Various child rights organisations have welcomed it however the decision has been criticised by religious organisations.
The judge found that the Muslim father who kicked and beat his 13-year-old son for visiting pornographic websites, could not depend on the defence of “reasonable chastisement”.
Molo Songololo director Patrick Solomon applauded the decision by the court, saying parents need to learn alternative forms of disciplining their children.
“We are very pleased with this judgement. I mean we have been campaigning for children not to be hit or chastised however we do believe that this judgement highlights that parents need to find more positive forms of discipline.”
Child rights groups have hailed this as a victory with the decision leaning in on the call they have been making for years. At the same time religious organisations have been left puzzled as the new ruling goes against what most groups believe.
Moulana Muhammad Ameer of Darul Ihsaan reiterated that Islam prohibits assault and causing injuries to another human being.
“I think we need to look at this from an Islamic perspective and the fact that Islam impresses on the factors of compassion and kindness in all our relationships. Islam prohibits assault or any form of bodily harm will be regarded as oppression and will be ruled out completely. The beloved Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) mentioned in one hadith that those who do not show any mercy to our young ones and do not respect out elderly then they are not from us,” he explained.
Moulana Ameer adds that looking at the Islamic perspective broadly as far as causing any physical hurt or harm to anyone, we find that Islam position is one of mercy and compassion.
“Of course in certain circumstances and decisions to uphold certain forms of discipline we could say that Islam does have a penal code. In certain circumstances to bring upon a degree of discipline if a subject is completely rebellious, has become obstinate then we would say certain measure would be permitted in certain terms and those measures will be outlined.”
At the same time, there is a hadith that mentions the performing of salaah and how parents need to beat kids if at the age of 10 they are not performing their prayers. Muallima Khadija Allie of the MJC Womens forum advises that parent’s mould their children to appreciate salaah.
“This is a very powerful hadith. At the age of 7 parents should bring their kids into salaah because for 3 years of performing salaah they would form some kind of routine. If they reach the age of 10 and they are not performing salaah then you could implement discipline, however the discipline that is spoken of is not smacking them around.”
Mualimah outlined that as parents we need to make out kids love Allah and salaah.
“We want our children to love Allah (SWT) and salaah and we do that by engaging them. So the measurement of hitting them lightly is the emphasis put there for parents to ensure that we are bringing their kids to salaah.”