What Age Are Children Commanded With The Prayer?
People are commanded in phases. So it begins when they are small while the child cannot tell the difference between right or wrong.
Like the Fuqaha say, ‘They don’t know the difference between a piece of date and a piece of coal, or the difference between good and evil.’
So this one is not commanded to do anything nor is he responsible with any obligation.
However, if he is good at something, then we guide him to it.
So if we find he is able to memorize from the Qur'ān, we have him memorize it.
If we find that he loves to pray, we don’t prohibit him. Rather we encourage him to pray, but we don’t command him at the beginning. This is because he is not from those who are commanded.
Then he reaches the age of discernment and some of the Fuqaha say there is no specific age of discernment, rather it is by actions.
So if he is able to discern between that which harms him and that which benefits him then he has reached the age of discernment.
And some of them say it (the age of discernment) is the age of seven. And this is closer (to what’s correct) because the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Command them with the Ṣalāt when they are seven (years old).”
And this is to command in a gentle manner, with Iḥsān, with guidance, and with encouragement, without causing fear.
'Come, let’s pray.'
“If you pray, you will have something from Allāh.” And this is very important brothers!
“If you pray Allāh will give you Paradise! He will enter you in his Paradise and Paradise has such and such.”
Don’t accustom your children to worship because of the Dunyā. From the mistakes in instilling (worship) in our children is that he gains nearness to Allāh only because of the Dunyā.
So you say, “Pray, and I will give you a Dirham. Pray and I will give you ten Dirhams and we will go to so and so’s place.”
This increases in his heart the intention for the Dunyā. However, make the intention Paradise and the Pleasure of Allāh and say to him, “If you pray, Allāh might guide me to give you ten.”
Connect him to Allāh! Because he is a child and he’s receptive.
“If you pray, Allāh might make it easy for me to go to so and so’s place.”
Connect him to Allāh!
And this is very important in cultivating Īmān in instilling sincerity in the hearts and connecting him to Allāh (ﷻ).
Due to this you find that some children don’t lie. If you were to ask him why? He’ll say, “Lying puts a person to the Fire.”
Cultivate him upon this and this will remain with him.
However, if you say, “Don’t lie or else you’ll see what’s going to happen!”
Khalāṣ, if he is far from you, then he has no problem (with lying)!
So this is something we have to be aware of.
So we say when he is seven years old, command him in an encouraging manner, without causing fear, without hitting him, without getting angry, without cursing, without any of this!
Until he reaches ten years old, three years.
It is obligatory upon you, pay attention O brothers, it is obligatory upon you O parents to command him to pray while it is not obligatory upon him.
It is obligatory for you to command him while it is not obligatory for him to pray!
Meaning; If you don’t command him, then you are sinful. But if he doesn’t pray he is not sinful.
And this matter should be continuous. Every time the Ṣalāt comes in, (tell your child) “Pray.”
When he reaches ten, the Ṣalāt is not obligated on him and he is not sinful if he doesn’t pray. However, it is obligatory for him to be hit if he reaches ten years old pray and he doesn’t pray, so that he is prepared to pray when he matures.
From the age of ten until he reaches the age of maturity begin causing fear, and from that is hitting so that he is steadfast upon the Ṣalāt.
This is what Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) guides us to.