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A Father Bathing His Daughter

Question

Up to what age can a father bath his daughter?

Answer

A father can bath his daughter up to the point that he doesn’t have any inclination or desire for her.

As far as the age-limit for this is concerned, the Fuqahaa (Jurists) have not stipulated a specific age in this regard. One could perhaps speculate that due to the fact that parents have been told in a Hadeeth to start commanding their children to perform Salaah from the age of seven, it shows that this is an understanding and responsible age. Based on that, one could say that this is the cut-off age up to which a father would be permitted to bath his daughter. One could also speculate that due to another Hadeeth wherein parents have been commanded to separate their children’s sleeping arrangements from the age of ten, perhaps that could be the cut-off age. A third possibility could be that the cut-off age is nine as the minimum age of puberty for a girl has been mentioned as nine in our Shari’ah. But all this would be mere speculation, which is why the Fuqahaa have not explicitly stipulated a cut-off age for this, especially as some children become conscious and aware of matters pertaining to the Awrah before other children. Furthermore, some children’s physique and build is bigger than other children; for example, a three year old child may appear to be a six or seven year old. Maybe it is for these reasons that the Fuqahaa have not stipulated a specific age. Hence, the aforementioned rule (that there should be no physical inclination or desire involved), should be used as a guideline. In effect, it boils down to the fact that the father will have to apply his mind and use his discretion: as soon as father and daughter begin to feel uncomfortable about this (which could be even as early as when the girl is three or four years old), the father should desist from bathing her.

In fact, even when the daughter is of a very young age (where there is no danger of physical attraction and inclination), the father should be careful not to look at her private parts as far as possible. If there is the slightest doubt in the father’s mind, the ideal and best line of action obviously would be for the womenfolk to carry out this task, especially when there are women available in the household who can handle this task of bathing the little girls. 

References

ويجوز للرجل والمراة تغسيل صبي و صبية لم يشتهيها
(نور الايضاح – باب احكام الجنائز)

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