| I asked a Muslim man about how he feels American style school paddling would be received. From his experiences, men at school would never spank or paddle teen women. It would be, he said, a scandal for the family and the entire school. He stressed that his views were not authoritative. Then again there is probably no single authoritative source for all Muslims worldwide. His experiences are, to me, as good as anyone else’s. Although I have come to the point where I don’t believe children should be hit at any age, there is at least some wisdom in the saying he expresses to quit hitting children at age 14, if you are going to do it at all. Many of our US paddling schools perversely start hitting boys and girls at 14, and continue right on up through graduation day at age 18. The paddlings in these particularly backward schools tend to increase in intensity and frequency, with increasing sexual violation, as the students enter adulthood. I think these practices would be considered a great affront to nearly any Muslim.|
| Here is the letter in response to my query on a Muslim Internet bulletin board. Thank-you very much Ahmed for sharing this:|
I just read your message, and I don't know if anyone replied already.
Regarding corporal punishment, there is a hadith (saying or
tradition of the Prophet Muhammad) that tells us to teach our children to pray when they are seven, hit them if they do not pray when they are ten, and be their friend when they are fourteen (i.e. reason with them as you would with a friend.) Traditional madrasas (Koranic schools) allowed corporal punishment, and until recently public schools did too in most Muslim countries. I believe they have laws against it now. However, as a form of sexual harassment, I doubt it exists in Muslim schools. They are generally segregated by sex after elementary school. In Saudi Arabia schools are segregated even from kindergarten. My sister-in-law's husband could not even go to register their daughter, because the staff would only talk to mothers or other female relatives. Female teachers generally staff all girls’ high schools.
While a few Muslims tolerate domestic abuse within the family, the physical punishment of a female student by a male teacher would be not just a family scandal, but a scandal for the school. I can't imagine any Muslim parents who would stand for an unrelated man touching their daughters. Also, the stories I have heard about corporal punishment (from people who were in school 20 plus years ago) were mostly in elementary school - by junior high or high school the students knew how to behave, or dropped out (or married) if they were not motivated.
These are my personal observations, so don't take it as the last word, but I hope it helps as a starting point.
| There is no mandate whatsoever for hitting children in school in Islam, just as there is no mandate for Jews or Christians to hit children in school in the Bible. In fact, when I read the Koran on the subject, the only verse that mentioned anyone hitting anyone was one verse about husbands being able to “lightly” beat their wives.|
| The latter verse draws a lot of controversy, and it is easy to condemn in today’s mind. I think the only possible way to consider it is in the same way that Jesus said that Moses allowed divorce—because of the hardness of the people’s hearts. We might also consider it in the way that Moses called for “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” Many scholars have noted that Moses was not calling for people to necessarily exact that type of revenge, but to limit their revenge to the wrong that was inflicted upon them. There are many cases in humanity, as well as in the Old Testament, where the revenge exacted was many times greater than the wrong, and that was what Moses was actually condemning. It was like the biblical case where Dinah was raped, and her brothers ended up killing many people over that crime. The people Muhammad appeared to were extremely brutish and backward, and by some accounts routinely killed girl children, and perhaps did the same to their wives who offended them. In that sense perhaps Muhammad was speaking down to a hard people and trying to limit their abuse, which was not going to stop altogether. I don’t think, even then, that there is any mandate in the Koran for a man to hit his wife, or anyone else. There is, in any case, not one single verse in the Koran that teaches anyone to hit any child, and certainly no verse that calls for beating children in school, and certainly none which calls for students to be beaten on their buttocks by a man.|
| There is at least one Muslim country that has banned school corporal punishment entirely, so non-violent schools are certainly consistent with Mohammed’s teachings. The United Arab Emirates was featured in a news story by the Gulf News on May 21, 2002. The headline represents a vastly greater social enlightenment, at least in this regard, over the United States.|
| The story was about a teacher who was being investigated for beating a boy and bruising his arm. It opens with a profound statement. “‘Beating pupils is unacceptable,’ declared Ahmad Habib, Director of the Private Education Department at Sharjah Educational Zone. ‘In any case, the ministry has banned any kind of corporal punishment in UAE schools.’” There may be other Muslim countries with non-violent schools, and I would love to hear about them from readers, if you know of any.|