My sister does not pray. She is eleven years old and I have repeatedly spoken to my mother about encouraging her to pray, but my mother says: You have nothing to do with her; she has a Lord who will call her to account. But the Messenger (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Teach them (to pray) when they are seven years old and smack them (if they do not pray) when they are ten.” My question now is: Is there anything I should do with regard to this matter?.
Praise be to Allaah.
We ask Allah to record for you the reward of paying attention
to your sister and your keenness for her to pray regularly. And we ask
Allah, may He be exalted, to guide your mother to undertake the duty of
calling her daughter to do good, and to raise her properly. If the daughter
refuses to pray, the mother should smack her as a form of discipline, so as
to save her from following her whims and desires, and so as to raise her to
obey Allah, may He be exalted. And we ask Him to guide your sister and to
make it easy for her to adhere to His commands.
The text of the hadeeth mentioned in the question is:
It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (may
Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace
of Allah be upon him) said: “Instruct your children to pray when they are
seven years old, and smack them (if they do not pray) when they are ten, and
separate them in their beds.”
Narrated by Abu Dawood (495); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani
in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
The one to whom the command to teach the child is addressed
is not only the father and is not only the mother either; rather it is
addressed to everyone who is responsible for this child, but the father is
the first one to be addressed, because he is the “shepherd” of his
household, and he is the one who is responsible for his flock; the mother
shares this responsibility with him.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him)
It is obligatory for every person in authority to instruct
those over whom he has authority to pray, even the children who have not yet
reached puberty. The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him)
said: “Instruct your children to pray when they are seven years old, and
smack them (if they do not pray) when they are ten, and separate them in
Whoever has a slave who is a minor, an orphan or a child and
does not instruct him to pray, the adult may be given a severe disciplinary
punishment (ta‘zeer) if he does not instruct the minor (to pray), because he
has disobeyed Allah and His Messenger. The same applies to one who has adult
slaves, servants, a wife or slave women: he has to instruct all of them to
pray; if he does not do that, then he is disobeying Allah and His Messenger.
Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa, 22/50, 51
And he (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Rather guardians have to instruct children to pray when they
reach the age of seven, and smack them (if they do not pray) when they are
Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa, 28/360
Based on that, if your mother or father are present, they are
responsible for teaching your sister and smacking her if she has reached the
age of ten (and is not praying). If your father is not present, and you have
an older brother, then the responsibility is shifted to him and your
For more information, please see the answer to question no.
Your mother should also pay attention to herself, lest she
bear the burden of sin for what she said. Allah, may He be glorified and
exalted, will not call your sister to account for not praying if she has not
reached the age of puberty, but the mother is accountable for not teaching
her daughter and not encouraging her to pray, and not smacking her if she
does not pray.
Al-Maawardi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Teaching that to them before they reach puberty makes them
get used to it and feel comfortable with it, but neglecting them and failing
to teach them causes obvious harm, as it makes them lazy when it (prayer)
becomes obligatory, and makes them feel reluctant to do it at the time when
it becomes obligatory. As for teaching it to them when they are younger than
seven, that is not obligatory; in most cases they do not learn properly what
is taught to them and they are not able to do what they are told. But when
they reach the age of seven, they are able to discern and learn properly
what they are taught. At that age it becomes obligatory for their parents to
teach them, but they do not have to smack them if they do not do it. When
they reach the age of ten, it becomes obligatory to smack them if they do
not pray, but the smack should not be painful or cause injury, and it should
be in places where there is no fear of causing injury. And when they reach
puberty, they are now regarded as accountable, so they should be reminded
and they have to purify themselves, pray and do all other obligatory duties.
Al-Haawi al-Kabeer, 2/314
With regard to your role, it is to carry on advising and
guiding your sister, and encouraging her to pray in a kind and gentle
We ask Allah to guide her.
And Allah knows best.