The Pen is Lifted From Three

The Messenger of Allah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: “The Pen is lifted from three (i.e., their deeds are not recorded):

  1. a child until he reaches puberty;
  2. an insane man until he comes to his senses;
  3. one who is asleep until he wakes up.”

[Recorded in Abu Dawud #4403, and Ibn Majah #2041]

This is an important hadith, fundamental to usool-ul-fiqh. This hadith applies in practically every situation and with every issue. It gives us understandings such as that children don’t need to pray or fast prior to puberty, that the insane are not criminally liable, and so on. It’s fundamental to usool-ul-fiqh, the since of how we derive fiqh.

But what does this hadith REALLY mean? Well, first recall the definition of fard: an action which, if done, entails reward, and if neglected, entails punishment. Recall that haraam means the opposite–an action which, if done, entails punishment, and if neglected, entails reward.

With this in mind, we can re-articulate this hadith to mean: there is no sin upon children, the insane, and the sleeping (some conditions apply to the sleeping–i.e. intentionally sleeping at 4am when Fajr is at 4:30am with the claim of “I’ll wake up” is just fooling yourself), though they can still earn the rewards, insha’Allah!

How amazing is that! You should encourage your children to perform more good deeds–not just to get them into the habit, but also for the potential of the reward!

And what’s more, think twice before you get angry at your children–remember that the one above the heavens is not angry with them! So why should you be?

May Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) help us all to understand this hadith and implement it wherever possible in our lives, ameen ajma’een!

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4 thoughts on “The Pen is Lifted From Three

  1. Abu AbdAllah

    bismillah. as salamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuhu.

    children imitate those around them. so, if a child does not pray, or rebels against any other fard, his parent should first spend at least some time looking in the mirror. should think about how much time he spends with his child, and what they do together.

    because the hadith offers no immunity to the parent.

    but when the parent has decided to raise that child among kuffar in America (classmates, neighbors, TV, etc.), then even if that parent is very good in observing the fard, that parent has surrounded his child with bad examples.

    examples that not do not follow the fard, but which encourage the haram (dating, drugs, eating pork, drinking alcohol, etc).

    such parents should be strict, and especially so with children who show any tendency to shirk what will be fard upon them after puberty.

    children should be praying all five salat by the time they are 7. they should be physically disciplined if they fail to do so by age 10. and i did not make up that advice.

    should the parent strike the child in anger? no, the Prophet, sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam, never encouraged anger.

    he encouraged love for children, and he encouraged discipline. the hadith you have quoted does defend children. but it does not encourage lax parenting.

  2. Anon

    As-salam wa alaykum.

    I know various scholars have accepted the text of the hadith, but can I have the authenticity of it’s chain according to muhadditheen?

  3. Ilm Seeker Post author

    @Anon, according to this site, it’s collected in As-Sunan, the major six books of hadith, which include the collections of Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah; it’s also recorded in An-Nawawi’s famous 40 ahadith.

    So it’s definitely hassan, if not saheeh (and both must be believed in and acted upon).

    Wallahu a’lam.

  4. Pingback: In Islam are the mentally disabled punished for their sins ?

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