Some guidelines for preparing a child for hijab.
1) It is encouraged that as soon as the child is able to walk, she does not wear clothes that resemble the kafr, and that she should always have her knees and as much as possible of the arms and legs covered when leaving the house or having guests over.
2) She should be taught modesty in behavior and dress from the cradle.
It is ideal to sew small jilbabs (light overcoats) and khimaar (head/neck/chest covering) for the young muslimah, properly preparing her for full coverage at puberty. It is actually less fitnah on the parent to dress her in the simple attire of a muslim, as compared to looking for fashionable clothes in a shopping mall.
3) At the age of 7, the parent should order her to pray salah, and of course, she must be wearing hijab (the entire head and body covering) for the salah.
4) By the age of 10, her parents may and should punish her for missing fard (obligatory) salah, and once again, she must be wearing hijab to perform salah.
5) When she reaches puberty, insha’Allah, she will wear niqab (literally: draw the khimaar over her face).
By the age of puberty, she should already be used to wearing hijab (which is in her fitrah [natural state] to be covered).
6) She may have already chosen to veil prior to reaching puberty, and with the proper instruction, she will look forward to and embrace this step in becoming a young woman.
7) Hijab is not something a muslim parent gives as an option to a child. The muslim parent is responsible for seeing that the young muslimah is properly covered according to Qur’an and Sunnah.
8) Parents will have to determine when their daughter has reached puberty, not the child, unless of course, she is a muslim revert with non-Muslim parents, in which case she should seek the counsel of a muslim wali.
Depending on a woman’s environment, she may simply keep her face uncovered and then draw the khimaar up over her face on the rare occasion of a non-mahram’s presence; or, if this is too much fitnah to constantly draw it over her face, such as circumstances when men are frequently present, she may choose to affix a screen (i.e. the Niqab) that does this for her without her needing to use a hand to hold it over her face.
What Age Must a Female Wear Niqab?
It is unquestionable that a female must begin covering by the age of puberty. What is not agreed upon is what exact age that is. Some say that covering commences the day of her first menstrual cycle, others say at the first sign of pubic hairs. Those weak in iman (faith) will look at the kafir system’s designation of “teenager” as the age of puberty, i.e. they use the age 13.
In all situations, Muslims are to use the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)’s example for guidance. The Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) married ‘Aisha(R.A.) before she had reached puberty and consummated the marriage when she was approximately 9 years old. We do not know precisely what he used to determine that she reached puberty, and we don’t even know the exact age that he consummate the marriage, so the issue of puberty is not necessarily a clear cut age to be applied universally to all, but a recognition of the change to woman from child. The earliest pregnancy recorded was that of a seven year old girl, and we know that a menstral cycle does not have to start before some are capable of becoming pregnant. May Allah swt guide each parent to adequately prepare the daughter in time. Amin.
If a mother or father recently converts to Islam and has a daughter who has reached puberty, s/he should immediately begin covering the daughter. The parents should educate the daughter to understand and appreciate the reasons and advantages for covering as a Muslimah is instructed to. The new revert to Islam should not feel apologetic for covering a daughter who was not previously covering. It is as much of an advantage to her as to the new adult muslimah revert, and children do not always know what is best for them, so, like other decisions you make daily for your children, do not leave the issue of wearing hijab up to your children. Make the transition as a family, not you first, then just hoping the children follow suit on their own.
Hadith – Bukhari, Narrated Hishams father
Khadija died three years before the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) departed to Madinah. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married ‘Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumated that marriage when she was nine years old.
Hadith – Abu Dawud, narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin
[Also recorded al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, and ibn Majah. Al-Albani says it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 2, p. 1280.]
The Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) said: Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who has reached puberty unless she wears a khimaar.
Hadith – Dawud, Narrated As-Saburah
[Also recorded by Ahmand and al-Hakim. Al-Syuti has give in a notation signifying that it is authentic. Al-Albani has graded it hasan. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 2, p. 1021.]
The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)said: Order your children to pray at the age of seven. And beat them [lightly] if they do not do so by the age of ten. And separate them in their bedding.
Prescribed Methods of Covering
Tafseer – Ibn Katheer
“Allah commanded the muslim women to cover this sheet on top of them to cover their bodies except one eye, when it is necessary for them to come out of their homes.”
Tafseer – Commentary by Ibn Jarir and Ahkam-ul-Quran, Vol.III, p.457
Imam Muhammad bin Sirin said: “When I asked Ubaida bin Sufyan bin al-Harith (ra) the meaning of this verse and how the jalbaab was to worn, he demonstrated it to me by pulling a sheet of cloth over his head to cover his entire body, leaving the left eye uncovered. This was also the explanation of the word ‘Alaihinna in this verse”
Tafseer – Alu’si, Rul-ul-Ma’ani, Vol. 22, p. 89
“Ibn Jarir Tabari and Ibn Al-Mundhir described the method of wearing the jalbaab according to Ibn Abbas (ra) and Qatadah (ra). The sheet should be wrapped around from the top, covering the forehead, then bringing one side of the sheet to cover the face below the eyes so that most of the face and the upper body is covered. This will leave both eyes uncovered (which is allowed in necessity).