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Imam: Punish parents who beat children

By AZARD ALI Saturday, May 3 2014

NO to corporal punishment whether at school or at home, a Muslim cleric declared yesterday at a congregational prayer meeting in San Fernando.

Parents who punish their children in the manner displayed in the recent Facebook video of a 12-year-old girl being beaten and cursed by her mother “should themselves be punished,” said Imam Mushtaq Sulaimani.

Sulaimani of the ASJA Jama Masjid in San Fernando came out in support of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s denouncing of corporal punishment last week in a comment about the mother, Helen Bartlet, who beat her 12-year-old child with a strap for posting on Facebook a video of herself in her underwear for a boy.

While addressing the Ju’ma weekly congregational prayer, Sulaimani said parents who inflict violence on children show their failure to guide and teach their children values by exemplary lifestyles. The guidance for training children, rather than resorting to violence, Sulaimani said, is in the Shariah law which states, “Save yourself and your children from the fire, the fuel for which are men and stones.”

Sulaimani explained that too often upon the killing of a son or a daughter by the bullet, parents are heard bemoaning how well-behaved they were. But finding solace for their (parents’) lack of guidance, they say, “He followed bad company.”

Sulaimani said in the context of globalisation in which the influence of all kinds of immoral acts is reaching into the living rooms and bedrooms of every mother and child, the onus is on parents to impart discipline by example. Sulaimani said, “But instead, parents beat their children when things get out of hand. Instead, you need to be punished. It shows that you have lost the battle when you have to resort to violence. You have been defeated. You failed in your communication with your children to teach them good manners.”

Sulaimani told the packed hall of worshippers, that he knew of an incident in which a boy was beaten in school by a teacher. “The boy wrote in his copybook, ‘I hate this school; I hate this teacher.’ And there is the story of the mother who caught her teenage son smoking. Instead of scolding him, she said, ‘Son, I have failed you. I failed in disciplining you.’ The boy never smoked again,” said the imam.

Whilst not totally calling for the outlawing of physical force in disciplining children, Sulaimani said corporal punishment should not involve beating one’s child. He said discipline is a continuous exercise, in which there is a time for children to play, and a time to pray.

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