Children in Islam?

I’ve gotten the feeling that children in Islamic households, boys anyway, are pretty much exempt from rules until they get older (puberty, maybe). I’ve probably gotten this idea from seeing street scenes on tv, and the practicing families here in the US. the mothers, when present, seem to be pretty liberal with the kids. I just saw part of a travel program in Iran, and a bunch of unsupervised young boys were goofing for the camera.
Anyway, is it true?

I’d be interested to know too, although I dunno if it’s a religious thing or more of a cultural thing.

From my experience as a Security Officer, Somali boys (we have a significant Somali population here) are allowed to run wild with minimal supervision, and the parents would be anything from outright shocked to mildly annoyed when I would reign the boys in and inform the parents that they either needed to control their kid or LEAVE.

Small girls were not given this freedom.
Yeah, yeah, we don’t want your little monster destroying everything in the store. What a shock. Now be a parent and either do something about it or get him out of here. :rolleyes:

Children throughout the world have a lot more leeway than American children. Indeed, children just a couple generations ago pretty much “run wild.” The idea that children should have constant adult supervision is one that only comes when people have less kids and when neighbors remain strangers.

In my experience in Islamic north Cameroon was that boys and girls pretty much ran free as small children. It was not at all unusual to see random three year olds wandering around, or bands of six year olds with full run of the neighborhood. Everyone knew each other, so it wasn’t like they were really unsupervised. And anyway, with ten kids who can keep track of all of them all the time? As kids got older, girls got more household responsibilities and were kept closer to home.

Not girls in Islamic households, not IME. I grew up around a lot of Islamic people and the girls were expected to be young ladies from a very young age. They had to sit and do their daily namaaz, heads covered, they were expected to learn household duties, and take care of their male siblings, and their father, learn Arabic, etc…

Strikes me that is like asking about Children in Christianity. Too much local variation to have a coherent answer (I mean look at the post above which uses some Indian word). I’d guess that if anything you see a big variation in child raising between people of recent rural origin, and long time city dwellers.

It’s exactly like asking about children in christianity. So? In my limited experience I don’t see the variation in islamic people that I do see in christian people in childraising. Hence my question. And I am asking about practicing muslims.
In my mind, if you don’t follow the tennets of a religion, you’re not of that religion. But that’s another question, isn’t it.

I’m not surprised. That’s the way it was for a whole lot of us young Canadian boys after school , on the weekends, and during the holidays. It amazes me to see abandoned school grounds after school is out or empty lots or groups of young boys playing unsupervised sports these days.

Well, given the variation one sees within Christianity - and over time, see the Dutchman above - it strikes me as a useless question. Nigerian Christians don’t seem to have anything in common with Russian Christians other than practicing.

Seems to me you’re really asking about the practices of whatever group of Muslims you’re meeting and (urban) Californian practices.

Well, no. I’m also asking about kids I’ve seen on tv, kids in many parts of the Mideast. It appears pretty universal over there for the boys to be running around and interacting with the foreiners. But what girls I do see are standing quietly and demurely in the background. The girls do smile and wave sometimes, but they aren’t usually in the crowd surrounding the camera.
I don’t understand your point. Are you somehow offended by my question? :dubious:

Not at all, but it seems to me you’ve asked the wrong question. Take a look at videos of Africa, etc. its the boys who swarm over the foreigners.

Just anecdotal evidence, but I am friends with 4 brothers who’ve all been raised in the Islamic tradition, and they’ve all had a very strict upbringing it feels, though I couldn’t speak for them as children, I know as teenagers though they were not allowed to bring girls home, no drinking or smoking or even eating non-halal foods, with strict curfews and all that.

Though they were Muslim boys being raised in the United States, and I know of them AFTER puberty. But they had such a fear of breaking those rules and all, that it feels like they couldn’t have just learned those rules and such after puberty, but that sort of behavior should be ingrained into them.

Then again, I cannot really answer the question about pre-puberty, but that’s just my thoughts on the matter- I think perhaps we as Americans are just stricter, but I’m sure there’s some sort of rules and such culturally established. Though I’d prolly agree that boys may have more leeway than the girls would.

I have looked at videos of other countries, and IRL in the US, and almost universally there are boys and girls in the crowds.
For a local take on it, go to a mall in the US. Many of those kids are pre-teen, and seem pretty equal in their freedoms. Here in Berkeley I see many more apparently Muslim young boys than apparently Muslim young girls running around. Many youngsters around here ride the bus to get around, and downtown is popular. And the difference is obvious there too.

I know certain rituals like fasting at Ramadan aren’t required during childhood. It’s a voluntary thing.

The key I was referring to, is you see what you are referring to in non-Muslim countries in Africa, etc. So it seems to me you’re starting from a mistaken premise.


We get a pretty limited exposure to Islam in the United States, even with media factored in. For example a lawyer in Istanbul is going to raise her kids differently than a farmer in rural Mali, who is going to raise her kids differently than a Hui factory worker in China. We may get a few Turks, and there is a small African population out on the Oakland border. I don’t recall ever seeing any Chinese Muslims, even though the Hui are the largest minority in China.

Islam spans a HUGE space, and there are all the variations you’d expect. You can no more say “they all act the same” as you can say that Christians all act the same.

But it is okay to generalize about such a large group, especially when the generalization is about such a small thing as the rearing of young children and the differences between the rearing of boys vs girls.
And even more especially when that generalization is put forth as a question. I’ve seen nothing to make me doubt that my assumptions that girls and boys are treated differently, and that boys are given quite a bit of freedom. Such treatment is common to many cultures. Some are christian.
My own feeling is that it’s good for the boys, but not so good for the girls. But that’s just me.
I was kind of hoping for an appearence by the “ask the muslim” guy.

I think you need to make a distinction between (1) kids/boys who are allowed to go outside of the parental supervision zone and (2) kids who are not disciplined when they act up, whether they are in range of their parents or not. It seems like we’re having two different discussions here.

In my childhood, for example (70s/80s), the kids were allowed to run off in little groups by themselves, out of sight of their parents—but if we got out of line anywhere, it was seen as WHOLLY justified that any adult, parent or no, would call us on the carpet for it. Today, however, I know of few kids who are allowed to run around outside of their parents’ eyeshot, period.

Actually I think it is insane to generalize for a sweep of people from Morocco to the Hui in China, esp. if you see examples that suggest that what you’re thinking of is not related to the religion as such.

So, if your question boils down to some specific injunction in the religion itself, I have never heard anyone say that such exists.

Seems to be a widespread habit not really that connected to Islam (since traditional non-muslim cultures in Africa and from what I have seen South America) seem to tend to follow the same habit of letting boys run around, keeping a closer eye on girls.

And I think Toadspittle has it right that there are at least two different questions here.

I guess what I’m saying is that “Muslim” probably isn’t the group you want to generalize about. Maybe something like “Middle Eastern and Subcontinental Muslims.”

I’m not attacking you or trying to be needlessly specific. Some people hold the belief that Muslims are culturally uniform. You can no more expect the same thing from a Turkish and Chinese Muslim as you would from a Turkish and Chinese Christian. I feel like it is important for people to remember that the Muslim world is a lot more than just the Middle East.

Anyway, once again my experiences in Islamic north Cameroon were that children of both genders “ran wild” to some degree as small children. The idea of constant parental supervision simply didn’t exist and wouldn’t be workable anyway. Around age 8, girls began to be responsible for an increasing number of household chores. By around 10 they were pretty busy most of the time helping with cooking, washing, taking care of younger siblings, etc. Boys may or may not also be busy with school and part time jobs at that age. Students of both genders often did not live in their home village (which probably didn’t have a school) and it isn’t that unusual to see children as young as ten renting rooms and taking care of themselves during the week. This was a big reason why many girls did not continue school- their parents didn’t want them living on their own and possibly getting knocked up.

Many girls married in their mid to late teens, and would stay in the house a lot more after that. Boys sometimes married in their teen years but more often waited until their mid to late twenties. Part of this was a persistent belief that the country had a lot more girls than boys. Teen boys were given a fair amount of freedom- often getting their own mini-house in a far corner of the family compound. But they were still often harshly disciplined by their parents if they screwed up.

This pattern stayed pretty true for both Christians and Muslims.