Research studies

Punishment in Islamic Educational Thought A Comparative Study


Prepared by the researcher :  Dr. Roba  Al sayed Mohammed Abu kmeil – PHD in Science Curricula and Teaching Methods Altoffah Musqat School Headmistress – East Gaza Directorate – Ministry of Education, Gaza/Palestine

Democratic Arabic Center

Journal of Afro-Asian Studies : Eighteenth Issue – August 2023

A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin

Nationales ISSN-Zentrum für Deutschland
ISSN  2628-6475
Journal of Afro-Asian Studies

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study aims to know the punishment lineament in the educational thinking and it’s lineaments for thinkers and educators in the different philosophies. It also focuses the light on the punishment phenomenon in educational literature and to know what is it, its shapes and it’s results that some of the educators wrote. The searcher followed the historical analysis approach, the searcher found out that in the Islamic philosophy there are legitim acy standards for using punishment. There is a near consensus from Muslim thinkers to limit the use of punishment and she found that the Islamic education prefers softness in education and she figures that the idealistic saw that punishment should be in the wrong situations and it didn’t prefer using sharpens at the beginning, On the other hand the natural philosophy is opposed punishment with it’s all shapes and statue. It left the status to the natural law. The searcher also figures that the realistic philosophy prefers reinforcement instead of punishment and it considers punishment as a weak method in the behavioral adjustment and its impact is impermanent in the behavioral amending.


The responsibility of upgrading the individual and social level rests with Education as the well-being of individuals, in turn, reflects on society. One of the fundamental functions of Education is modification of human behavior and refinement of human beings. Education is the safe getaway to comprehensive human development and it cannot be dispensed with or even its techniques, which varies between strictness, and leniency, as well as between encouragement and intimidation. No matter how far we get in this era, how fast the knowledge explosion increases and technology advances, and no matter how many technological innovations appear, Education remains the cornerstone upon which we rely, and the umbrella that casts its shadow over all aspects of life.

It is a fact that humans, young or old, is not free from falling into what we should not fall into, as prophet Mohammed peace be upon him, says, “Every son of Adam commits sin, and the best of those who commit sin are those who repent”. (Tirmithi, 2499: 659).

Encouragement and intimidation is considered as one of the means of controlling and directing behavior during the different stages of individual growth in socialization.

Punishment represents one of the critical issues that has arisen in the world of people and has persisted over centuries to be a prominent controversial phenomenon among educators in which views are conflicted and contradicted. (Badr and Al-Kandari, 68: 2010). There are those who believe in its using and that it is the most successful method in modifying behavior and achieving what is desired to be reached. On the other side, there are those who deny and renounce it and urge it to move away from it in all its forms. Also, there are those who believe in this and that and balance between encouragement, intimidation, and punishment, but set limitations for intimidation and punishment.

In Islamic society, Education is considered as the optimal means to clarify and anchor the foundations of faith, moral, and values in the hearts of the community members in accordance with the general intellectual framework of the Islamic curriculum. Islamic Education took the lead in using Encouragement methods, which is prevalent as rewards or reinforcement in the west, and intimidation methods known as punishment in the west. Thus, Islamic Education is an education that takes into account human instinct, and employs encouragement methods to promote positive behavior, and uses methods of intimidation to reduce negative behavior or intimidate one of falling into it. (Farwana, 61: 2010).

In this context, many studies, which have concentrated on encouragement, intimidation, and punishment methods, have been conducted. One of those is Abu-Aqleh’s Study (2015) which aims to identify the implications of the teacher’s use of verbal

Punishment towards students, and to detect the restrains used in corporal punishment by the school administration. The research follows the descriptive approach and employs a questionnaire on 64 male and female teachers. The researcher comes to a result that the abolition of punishment is a non-pedagogical method that has serious implications for pupils. Consequently, teachers resorts to verbal punishment due to the weak training to use appropriate educational methods Such as deprivation or clerical punishment.

An additional study conducted by Dhabi and Boualaq (2011), aimed at identifying physical and moral punishment and their impact on the occurrence of aggressive behavior among students in the intermediate and secondary education levels (a field study in the state of Tizi Ouzou). The researcher forms a questionnaire and an aggressive- behavior measure; the tools were applied to a sample of (240) teachers. The results demonstrated that there is no relationship between physical and moral punishment and the emergence of aggressive behavior among middle and secondary school students.

In addition, a study directed by Malak and Al-Kandari (2010) has been designed to shed light on the most prominent opinions originating in Arabic literature books related to the issue of beating children to educate and discipline them. This was done in the light of comparing the supporting and opposing opinions of children’s corporal punishment. The study adopted the historical analysis approach. The study has concluded that physical punishment, when necessary and authorized, should not exceed the customary norms in terms of quantity, method, and context. Also, it emphasized that the use of physical punishment should always be conditioned on the safety of the outcome and the approval of parents, particularly when resorting to disciplined corporal punishment in institutions concerned with the care and development of children and adolescents.

Farwana (2010) conducted a study aimed to identify the degree of secondary school teachers’ practice of encouragement and intimidation methods as stated in Prophetic Sunnah from the west Gaza directorate’s point of view. The researcher follows the analytical descriptive approach, and applies a questionnaire to a sample of (665) female and male of 12th grade students. The researcher finds that the percentage of secondary school teachers practicing methods of encouragement and intimidation in general is (64.6%).

Moreover, Al-Shehri’s study (2005) has pointed out the educational methods of punishment in Prophetic Sunnah and the extent of its usage in elementary schools in the city of Taif. The researcher uses the descriptive approach, and prepares a questionnaire that he applies to primary school teachers in public and private schools. The study has revealed that punishment in the honorable Prophetic Sunnah is set out to achieve some educational ends within specific controls and conditions. The study finds out that there is no statistically significant differences in the use of punishment in primary schools attributed to the type of education (public/ private) in primary schools.

In addition to that, the study of Abu Daf (1999) intends to focus on the problem of corporal punishment in school education and its treatment in light of Islamic educational guidance. The researcher adopts the analytical descriptive method and finds out that corporal punishment is not a goal, but rather a means to correct the learner. Also, the study concludes that the Islamic perception of punishment is characterized by moderation, balance, comprehensiveness, and full awareness of all psychological, social, and moral aspects. Furthermore, it highlights the necessity of the human dimension in Islamic education, which takes into consideration the individual differences among punished students and doesn’t neglect the special situations of some of them.

Through reviewing previous study, we find that there is a diversity in the followed curricula, ranging from descriptive to analytical- historical approaches. There is also a variety in the applied tools. Studies have shown that there is a contradiction of views on punishment, as some studies considers it a non-pedagogical method with serious effect, while other studies approved it, but with certain regulations. And there are those who seen it as means of evaluating education.

Problem of the Study:

Due to the controversial use of punishment in education, this study has cinducted to establish the concept of punishment and review the most prominent opinions contained in educational literature textbooks related to different philosophies, including Islamic, idealistic, naturalistic, and realistic philosophy. Also, it aims to compare these views and identify the similarities and differences between these philosophies’ interaction with punishment. All of this helps us determine our attitude toward the use of punishment in education. This study is designed to answer the following questions:

  • What is the characteristics of punishment in Islamic philosophy?
  • What is the characteristics of punishment in non-Islamic philosophies (idealistic- naturalistic- realistic)?

Objectives of the study:

  • To identify the features of punishment in Islamic educational thought in Holy Quran, noble Sunnah, and among some Islamic intellectual.
  • To identify the features of punishment in non-Islamic educational thought including idealistic, naturalistic, and realistic.

The importance of the study:

  • As punishment is an ongoing controversial issue that is always being researched, this study provides information about punishment, its definition, types and negative effects that may fulfill researchers in this field.
  • In the process of establishing the concept of punishment, this study sheds light on the issue of punishment in Islamic educational thought.
  • As a matter of openness to other cultures and benefiting from the streams of non-Islamic philosophies, this study presents the features of punishment according to some non-Islamic thinkers and educators.


In this study, the researcher follows the historical analysis approach, which has been represented in gathering information about punishment in Islamic and non-Islamic philosophies and clarifying the opinions of some pioneer philosophers of these philosophies, including idealism, naturalism, and realism.

Study Terms:


It is the penalty for wrongdoings that involves acing in an undesirable stimulus. It leads to physical or psychological pain, thereby discouraging the repetition of this wrongdoing in other situations, or at least reducing its chance to happen again.

Educational thought:

It follows the views of intellectual in different philosophies related to the educational process, its means, goals and philosophy.

A Brief Overview of Punishment: 

           Punishment is a consequence and it can be a reward or a penalty (Al-Munjid, 518:1992). This distinction is clear in Holy Quran as there are verses that indicate the meaning of a reward such as “There the authority is [completely] for Allah, the Truth. He is best in reward and best in outcome.” (Al-Kahf- 44), and “and prevent evil with good – those will have the good consequence of [this] home.” (Al-Ra’d-22). Other verses show punishment as the consequence of evil deeds “And fear Allah and know that Allah is severe in penalty. (Al-Baqara-196), “so Allah seized them for their sins. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and severe in penalty. (Al-Anfal_52), and “and what he (the messenger) has forbidden you – refrain from. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty. (Al-Hashr_7).

 Punishment has been defined by many intellectuals and educators. One of these definitions is the definition of Abduh (2016:10) “that it is the infliction of pain or harm by the teacher towards the student as a result of unwanted behavior; it’s either physical like striking with a stick, or moral such as threatening, or describing the child using inappropriate words or any form of violence that causes physical and/or psychological harm.

Abdul-Hadi and Al-Azza (2005: 152) defines it as “the presentation of a painful stimulus because of the emergence of undesirable behavior, which leads to reduce the likelihood of the future behavior in similar situations.”

            Also, Fatlawi (2005: 309) defines it as “the use of negative or inappropriate stimulus to deal with the learner in order to reduce the rate at which unwanted behavior occurs.

            It has also been defined as “presenting a painful undesirable stimulus or the withdrawal of a desirable stimulus. It aims to decrease the undesirable behavior level, and it is offered after the direct response”

            To blame, reprove, threaten, or strike toward the miss-behaved student who neglects his/her tasks. (Jawad, D.T:415)

           Sharqawi(256:1988) states punishment as everything leads to pain and dissatisfaction. It may contain not giving or dragging any reward expressing disagreement on the behavior issued by an individual; it can be verbal or non-verbal and includes threatening.

           The researcher defines it as a penalty for evil doings through presenting an undesirable stimulus that leads to feeling physical or psychological pain. As a result, there will be no recurrence of evil deeds or reduces the chance of it happening again.

Punishment Types:

Abd al-Hadi (2000: 57) mentions that punishment is divided into:

  • Primary Traumatic events: which directly effects the individual’s elementary needs as affecting his/her senses and body like deprivation of food and loud voice.
  • Secondary traumatic events: These forms are considered painful because of their association with undesirable events and unacceptable actions stern facial features.

Ammar (1999: 236-255) sets that there is more than one type of punishment, and they are as follows:

First: removal of opposing stimulus:

    It is the removal of stimuli that provides an opportunity for the emergence of undesirable response, which occurs as a result of a desire or learning inclination. This is why Allah names it desire when Allah says “But as for he who feared the position of his Lord and prevented the soul from [unlawful] inclination. Then indeed, Paradise will be [his] refuge. (An-Naza’at: 40- 41). The removal of stimulus is considered one type of moral punishment which may heart the soul and stop its inclinations. However, what is important is preventing the wrong answer and its disappearance due to its causes and factors For example, a student who is struggling academically due to frequent absences or being preoccupied with playing. By addressing the reasons that led to the decline in performance, the level of achievement can be improved.

Second: Introducing opposite stimuli:

     Introducing opposite stimuli lead to avoidance or weakening of stimuli. There are a number of acceptable opposite stimuli and the following is a brief summary of some examples of these stimuli:

  • The Sage Advice: If the teacher notices a bad behavior on a student, he initiates with advice and guidance. This is the adopted way in Isalm where Allah says “. So whoever has received an admonition from his Lord and desists may have what is past, and his affair rests with Allah” (Al-Baqara: 275).
  • The prevention of reward: Reward withholding is reflected as a form of psychological punishment that affects the learner and forces him to modify his behavior such as the absence of teacher’s praise or rewarding the outstanding students, which functions as a support for those who deserves it and a motivation or an alert for others.
  • Rebuke and reprimand: If the student is repeatedly warned and doesn’t stop, then the teacher must resort to censure in speech. Censure is one of the punishments that exploits children’s moral fear. Naturally, all of us avoid behavior that provokes rebuke or reprimand and leads to changing one’s behavior and choosing a response that satisfies others. Rebuke has to not escalate to cursing, as cursing is a forbidden behavior in Quran; where Allah says “And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge. Thus we have made pleasing to every community their deeds” (Al-An’am: 108).
  • The Fine: fine is an applicable concept in civil and legislative life. The negligent employee is punished by deducting an amount from his salary, the driver who violates the signal is fined a certain of money, and the teacher can fine his students an appropriate fine. For example, if the student broke the window, he must be fined for repairing it. It should be noticed that a fine should not be an end in itself, but by what values and attitudes it achieves.

As for Hamdan(1990:18) he says that punishment can be verbal by reprimanding and scolding with negative words, and It is either material by losing something that the student owns, or by beating in extreme cases.

Dhiba and Bualaq (20:2011-21) mentions that punishment is divided into:

  • Corporal punishment: It takes several forms, which are beatings, clerical punishment, and stopping the student for a long while at the end of the class.
  • Moral punishment: It is all forms of verbal threats, including reprimands, rebuke, neglect, insults, and ridicule.
  • Social punishment: It is all forms of deprivation and social isolation whereby an individual is transferred from the environment in which he lives to a remote place.

Effects of punishment:

     Educators have clearly different opinions on the issue of school punishment. Some think that punishment is no related to education at all while others advocate for specific guidelines that suits the nature of a situation. Those who support the first opinion believe that protection is better than punishment, and that modifying behavior through punishment doesn’t achieve positive results. On the other hand, advocates of the second opinion think that punishment should be the last choice and preceded by some steps. (Abu Aqla, 2015). Here are some of punishment effects as stated by educators.

     Amar (233:1999) believes that punishment, regardless of its form, is all evil. Even it leads to achieve some limited results, or to stop undesirable behavior as it is not devoid of associating with bad negatives or painful experiences that leave their effects on the learner’s psyche and personality. Also, the results we reach are sometimes insignificant compared to the damages, caused by its types, which affects the learner as withdrawal, aggression, crimes, social exclusion, and rebellion against the law.

     Al-Sharqawi (1988: 256) adds that punishment after the undesirable response may weaken this response, or lead to force the punisher to suppress the response for a certain period or only in the presence of the punisher. It may also lead to explicit aggression against the punisher. Furthermore, threatening with punishment may led to avoiding performing tasks in order to avoid punishment. Punishment effects can manifest in children’s pathological anxiety and negative feelings toward the punisher particularly, and the school in general.

     Abu Aqleh (2015:25) discusses the effects of corporal punishment and states that it leads to the abuse of the child and it is considered demeaning to the person. It destroys the student psychologically and creates negative relationships between teachers and children. Additionally, it eliminates the student’s ability for critical thinking and doesn’t restrain bad behavior.

    Jawad (D.T.: 410) adds that punishment relies on the fear of physical harm, humiliation, loss of status among peers, or the fear of deprivation from prominent things for the learner. In addition, punishment sometimes leads to a complete cessation of behavior, which means that the individual stops working completely when it exceeds their tolerance limit.

There are also side effects of punishment such as developing students’ hatred of the teacher, and even the whole of society sometimes. As well as, the loss of emotional balance and lack of control. Regardless of this, we can’t deny the benefit of punishment as it helps to know what is supposed to be learned.

Furthermore, Al-Fatlawi (2005: 311-312) adds that punishment has negative effects, including:

  • It affects the learner’s self-image through building a negative concept; making them more aware of their weaknesses and thus increasing their feeling of inadequacy and inferiority.
  • Punishment generates negative reactions from the learner such as imitating the aggression from the teacher. As a result, the student starts to use it with his/her peers, siblings inside the family, and with their friends and neighbors. This is because the learner has learned negative modeling from being punished by his/ her teachers.
  • Punishment hinders the learner’s initiatives to express opinions, debate, and criticize for fear of being different from others.
  • Punishment offends the nature of interaction and social relations between the teacher and the learner who is punished; he/she may lose confidence between himself and others. Also, it may generate aversion and disgust, and lead to violating the rules and laws of society

Skinner in the theory of operant conditioning emphasizes that punishment’s effect is temporary and it may decrease response rate. Its effect diminishes after the end of the punished stimulus. Also, punishment does not usually succeed in eliminating undesirable behavior. Rather it may increase it as seen in the cases where children are punished for attacking their peers (Abdul Hadi, 2000: 57).

Templar (2010: 102-104) states that rebuke is better than a stick. This does not mean that the rod cannot be used; Punishment exists only to be used in cases of behavioral lapse, and even when it is used it must be tied with reward. For example, For example, we tell teenagers that if they return home late, they will be punished by staying home during the holiday. However, if they consistently come back early for a certain number of days, we will allow them to delay by an additional fifteen minutes. Templar warns against the size of rewards promised to children because children may become very sad if they fail to fulfill the task and lose the reward. Then, he ends up receiving punishment twice; the first time is due to their feeling of failure, and the second is because he doesn’t get the chance to win the big reward.

Al-Sharqawi (1988: 256-257) states that to avoid the miss use of punishment we should take into consideration the form of punishment, the severity, and the timing. Generally, the deprivation of the reward or its withdrawal from an individual is considered a more desirable punishment method than physical or psychological punishment (Al-Sharqawi, 1988: 257).

As for the researcher, she believes that punishment is a double-edged method, which has negative and limited positive effects. There are other situations where we can’t neglect the importance of punishment Such as failing within the limits of God. However, it must be taken into account that we must think of punishment as the last suggested solution, and if it is used it must be within specific controls and conditions to reduce its negative effects.

Study results:

The answer to the first question, which states:

What are the features of punishment in Islamic philosophy?

    Islamic education abounds with attitudes and opinions on the issue of punishment. This is documented in Quran such as the story of Satan whispering to Adam and Eve, peace be upon them, where Allah says in his decisive book“Then Satan whispered to him; he said, “O Adam, shall I direct you to the tree of eternity and possession that will not deteriorate? And Adam and his wife ate of it, and their private parts became apparent to them, and they began to fasten over themselves from the leaves of Paradise.

 And Adam disobeyed his Lord and erred. (120-121) (Jawad, Dr. T: 412-414). Here is a clear sign that punishment was for not adhering to God’s order, and following whispers of Satan. In many places in Quran, there are references to the fact that punishment is a consequence of not adhering to the commands of God. Among these verses “[Theirs is] like the custom of the people of Pharaoh and those before them. They denied our signs, so Allah seized them for their sins. And Allah is severe in penalty. (Al-Imran: 11) and “That is because they opposed Allah and His Messenger. And whoever opposes Allah and His Messenger – indeed, Allah is severe in penalty”. (Al-Anfaal: 13)

In the Holy Quran, several places linked encouragement and intimidation. This is a sign for humans that they should use their intellect and direct their behavior. Allah, the glorified, said “Know that Allah is severe in penalty and that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” (Al-Maaida: 98), and “Whoever does righteousness – it is for his [own] soul, and whoever does evil [does so] against it. And your Lord is not ever unjust to [His] servants.” (Fussilat: 46). This reflects the nature of human soul its oscillation between encouragement and intimidation, promise and threat, and reward and punishment. Also, punishment is only used for evil deeds, and if it is for anything else, it would be injustice, which Allah doesn’t accept for Himself.

The Holy Qur’an explicitly indicates that human instinct fears punishment. When a behavior is not true to or instinct, man seeks forgiveness from Allah, and pray for Allah fearing his punishment and looking for his reward and mercy. As the Almighty says “Say, “Indeed I fear, if I should disobey my Lord, the punishment of a tremendous Day.” (Al-An’aam:15) (Jawad, Dr. T: 414)

As a matter of pprotecting the five necessities (self – money – honor- mind – religion) the Qur’an has defined the penalty for some punishments due to their danger to the individual and to the Islamic community, as the Almighty said “And We ordained for them therein a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds is legal retribution. But whoever gives [up his right as] charity, it is an expiation for him. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.” (Al-Maaida:45), “The [unmarried] woman or [unmarried] man found guilty of sexual intercourse – lash each one of them with a hundred lashes, and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion of Allah, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day.

 And let a group of the believers witness their punishment.” (An-Noor: 2), “And those who accuse chaste women and then do not produce four witnesses – lash them with eighty lashes and do not accept from them testimony ever after. And those are the defiantly disobedient.” (An-Noor: 4), and “O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.” (Al-Maaida: 90).

The Holy Quran has a major role in dignifying the woman; Quran makes beating the last choice to punish a woman as Allah says “ But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever exalted and grand.” (An-Nisaa: 34). One who reads the Quran, finds that these previous verses are some of the verses that have mentioned punishment. On the other hand, Quran is rich in verses of reward, forgiveness, and mercy and it may exceed punishment verses. The verses of punishment are there so that those who neglect goodness won’t slacken in doing good claiming Allah’s mercy and forgiveness.

The honorable prophetic Sunnah came to complete what was stated in the Noble Qur’an, as- Sunnah played a significant role in establishing the fundamental principles of education. Muslim educators derived many rules from Prophet’s guidance. One of these rules is that they should not be issued because of revenge or hatred, nor should they aim for consolation. Instead, it should only aim at the interest of the learner and help him exert effort in attainment and understanding (Hussain, 1977: 61).

In addition, in his teachings, Prophet Mohammed peace be upon his, chooses the best methods which is close to understand, and affects the addressee’s mind. Thus, the strategies used by the Prophet varies in generation upbringing and behavior modifying (Farwana, 29: 2010). Also, the fragrant biography of Prophet Peace be upon him a practical application of companionship in human interaction. The Messenger Peace be upon him hates violence and extremism. He doesn’t get angry for his personal issues nor does he take revenge for his rights. Rather, he gets annoyed for violating Allah’s rights and sanctities. ‘A’isha said (may Allah be well pleased with her): “Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) never struck anything with his hand unless he was struggling in the cause of Allah [jihad], nor did he ever strike a servant or a woman.”

Umm Salama, the wife of the Prophet, reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was in his house and called for a slave of his (or hers) and she was slow in coming. The anger showed in his face. Umm Salama went to the curtain and found the slavegirl playing. He had a siwak-stick with him and said, ‘”Were it not that I fear retaliation on the Day of Rising with this siwak.” (Abu Ali, 373:6944).

Once a time, Prophet Mohammed had ordered Omar bin Abdul Aziz, may Allah be well pleased with him, to hit a man, and when it was set up to beat him, Prophet Mohammed said: “leave him, I found myself angry at him. As I hated hitting him when I was angry.” The messenger has called Educators to stop hitting, raise the hand, and leave the child as he said “When one of you beats his servant and he makes mention of God, you must stop beating him.” (Tirmidhi, 1950: 337) (Al-Khatib and Eid, 152: 2002).

Prophet Mohammed doesn’t authorize the beating of a child before ten years, even if he/ she rushes in prayer, for his saying “”Command your children to perform Salat (prayer) when they are seven years old, and beat them for (not offering) it when they are ten, and do not let (boys and girls) sleep together”. (Abu Dawud, 187:495). Thus, it is not permissible to hit a child before the age of ten in any of the educational and life behavioral matters, as it doesn’t equal the value of prayer. In addition, Prophet Mohammed forbade striking on the face. He said “don’t strike on the face” (Abu Dawud, 651:2142).

The four schools have different opinions about the legality of punishment. Malikis and Hanbalis believe that if the father for correction and punctuality, or the teacher hits his/ her student for education, and the child or student dies as a result of the beating, there is no liability on them because the father and the teacher only hit for correction and discipline. On the other hand, the Hanafi and Shafi’i schools stated that if a father hits his son and the son dies, he must pay blood money from his wealth and he does not inherit from his son. Similarly, if a teacher hits a student to memorize the Quran, writing, or learning a trade, and the student dies as a result of the beating, the teacher is liable for compensation. This is to ensure that the father refrains from hitting his child and the teacher reserve from hitting the student (Malik and Al-Kandari, 2010: 117).

The following is an explanation of some of Muslim thinkers’ views:

       Ibn Sahnun:

He is Muhammad bin Said bin Habib al-Qayrawani al-Maliki. He was born in Tunisia in 202 AH and died in 256 AH. He states that whoever commits many sins (i.e. violations and mistakes), there is no problem in hitting him more than ten times. He also indicates that the teacher is not allowed to hit the student’s head or face and to prevent his/her food and drink. In addition, punishment must be done only by the teacher; not to be assigned to any student. (Al-Amayrah, 2009: 171-172).


He is Abu Al-Hassan Ali bin Muhammad bin Khalaf Al-Ma’afari; a Maliki scholar. He was born in n Kairouan in 324 AH – 935 AD. He is known as al-Qabisi due to his affiliation with the city of Qabisi near Kairouan. He passed away in 403 AH. He approves the principle of disciplining children but showed compassion towards them, following the spirit of Islam characterized by mercy and forgiveness. He asks the teacher to be companion and fair in his punishment, avoiding excessive severity. Moreover, he states that teachers should not resort to punishment as a first choice if the student miss behaves. Instead, the teacher must warn the student repeatedly, and resort to punishment if there is no response.

Al-Qabisi stipulated that physical discipline should not exceed the limits of causing pain and should not be cruel or harmful. Finally, if the student persists on the mistake, then the teacher should consult her/his parents. (Al-Nabahin, 229: 1996-230).

In addition to the above, Qabsi prohibited depriving oneself of food and drink as a means of punishment. He also forbade taking revenge as a method of punishment and hitting boys in a state of anger (Nasim and Muhammad, 2013: 162).

When Al-Qabisi was asked if a man should discipline his wife, he answered that the way to discipline her is taken from Allah’s book, as stated in His noble verse: ” But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever exalted and grand.” (An-Nisaa: 34).

Ibn Sina:

Abu Ali Al-Hussein bin Abdullah bin Al-Hassan bin Ali bin Sina; the Muslim scholar and physician from Bukhara, who was famous for medicine and philosophy and worked with them. He was born in the village of Afshna near Bukhara (currently in Uzbekistan) to a father from the city of Balkh (currently in Afghanistan) and to a villager mother.

He was born in 370 A.H. (980 A.D.), and died in Hamedan (currently in Iran) in the year 427 A.H. (1037 A.D.). He believes that the child should not be cursed for any reason; he should not be told (you are brat, lazy). In addition, children should not be hit except for a big mistake, and that striking children on their faces is not permitted. (Abdul Latif, 104: 2009). Further, he have faith that the first blow must be somewhat painful because the child will expect the coming to be negative, and his fear intensifies. However, if the first strike is light and not painful, his/her expectations of the rest will be positive, and he will not care about it (Ammar, 302:1999).

Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali:

Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Tusi, the venerable Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali. He was born in Tus in the year 405 AH. He believes that a child must be rewarded and praised for the good deeds he does, bearing in mind that if he does something reprehensible – uncharacteristically- it is better to ignore it especially if the child shows remorse by trying to cover up what he did. Because the exposure to knowledge may increase his audacity and boldness, and he becomes unafraid of repeating it.

However, if the child habitually commits moral mistakes or violations, he should be punished in secret, and warned against coming back to such deeds; he should not reveal his secret in front of people. He also advises not to go too far in punishing and reprimanding because it will become easy for the child to hear blame and commit abominations, and he loses the impact of words from his/her heart. Thus, a father has to preserve his dignity in speaking to him, and not to scold the child repeatedly. Mother has to intimidate him with the father and rebukes him sometimes (Nasim and Muhammad, 151: 2013).

Ibn Khaldun:

He is Wali al-Din Abu Zayd Abd al-Rahman bin Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Muhammad bin al-Hasan bin Muhammad Jabir bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Muhammad bin Abd al-Rahim al-Hadrami al-Ishbili al-Maliki, known as Ibn Khaldun. He was born in Tunisia in 732 AH, and he died in Cairo in 808 AH (Al-Amayrah, 2009: 369). In his introduction, he devoted a special chapter in which he talks about reward and punishment. He states that it is obligatory for the teacher to be flexible with the students not intense or coarse. He believes that distress and oppression leave traces on the whole nation and accustom it to humiliation. According to him, a teacher with his/her student, and a father with his child should not be tyrannical in disciplining them (Al-Nabahin, 1996: 253).

Additionally, Ibn Khaldun was not unaware of the negative consequences of severity and cruelty on students especially beginners. Ibn Khaldun thinks that oppression causes self-humiliation and leads to resorting to immoral ethics and habits. (Shams Al-Din, 1984:85).

One of the texts mentioned in Ibn Khaldun’s introduction is “Those who were raised through harshness and oppression, whether they were students, slaves, or servants will be affected by oppression and will feel constricted in their expansiveness. Their vitality will diminish, and they will be inclined towards laziness, falsehood, and deceit. They will pretend to be what they are not out of fear of facing oppression themselves.

They will learn cunning and deception, and it will become their habit and nature. The noble values and principles that define humanity in terms of socialization and civilization were corrupted. They lose the instinct to defend themselves or their homes and become dependent on others. Their soul will become lazy in acquiring virtues and good character. They shrank from their purpose and the extent of their humanity, and they descended to the lowest of the low” (Shams al-Din, 192:1984).

Although Ibn Khaldun opposed the harshness on the learners due to its negative effects, he did not leave the rope entirely for children. He doesn’t urge the total tolerance with children as long as it doesn’t exceed three whips. He doesn’t ask to use corporal punishment directly, rather it must be the last treatment. Further, before using the physical punishment, he uses various means, including intimidation and encouragement, isolation and neglect, then punishment. As is if he wants to say no matter how good and perfect methods of encouragement and intimidation are, it does not guarantee the protection of all students. Thus, in necessary cases, it is essential to use therapeutic methods, such as corporal punishment, which is limited to three lashes (Al-Amayreh: 2000, 361-362).

Ibn Hajar:

As for Shihab al-Din Abu al-Abbas Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Ali bin Hajar. He was born in 909 AH and died in 973 AH in the Gharbia region in Egypt. He sets limits for students’ punishment; teachers have to adhere to them. These limits begin with the legal permission of the student’s guardian.

 It is not permissible for the teacher to hit the child without the permission of their parents, within narrow limits and difficult conditions. According to Ibn Hajar, it is essential to punish the student when he becomes lazy and neglects what his/her teacher obliged him/her to memorize, or review, or if they harm others through hitting, insulting, or stealing.  These are necessities that justify punishment within a limited framework. The punishment is not limited to shortcomings in educational duties but extends to any negative behavior or neglect of religious obligations, such as neglecting prayers or harming others (Naseem and Mohammed, 181:2013).

Ammar (1999: 299-306) mentions all the restrictions and controls of punishment that were set by Islamic educators, which are:

  • Beating should not be the first thing the teacher thinks of, and the educator does not resort to beating except after exhausting all psychological means, insight, temptation and intimidation following last cure is cauterization rule.
  • Teacher must not strike while he/she is in a state of sever anger because he/she may exceed the limit or cause harmful damage.
  • The purpose of beating should not be revenge and recovery, i.e. not for personal motives, but rather for the benefit of the learner and his discipline.
  • Punishment must be gradual in severity and number.
  • Punishment must suit the nature of the children and the individual differences between them in innate feelings and self-preparation, as well as in upbringing methods. Ibn Al-Hajj Al-Abdari says “For one child, a frowning face is sufficient, while another child is not deterred except by harsh words, and yet another child is not admonished except by physical punishment, each according to their own circumstances.”
  • Some educators believe that children should not be beaten before they reach the age of ten following the Sunnah of the Prophet.
  • If the student is affected or died, there are some consequences on the teacher.

Al-Amayer (2000-165:164) adds the following restrictions:

  • It is not permissible for the teacher to delegate the education of the students to some of them, but he must undertake it himself.
  • The educator should avoid hitting the harmful places and sensitive organs such as the face, head, bones and chest, and to be on the thighs and lower legs.

In general, there is an agreement between Muslim scholars that kindness is the core of education, and punishment is one of the educational principles. Also, the teacher must be on a great level of tolerance, and ease to let the recipients love knowledge. (Badr and Al-Kandari, 2010: 122).

Through an analysis of what precedes, we can reach out that there is a foundation for punishment in the Holy Quran and the noble Sunnah. There is almost unanimity among Muslim thinkers to limit the use of punishment, and there are documented texts in their writings on the controls for the use of punishment in education. In Islamic education, there is a tendency towards gentleness and leniency, and punishment is only administered within the limits set by Allah. Islam approves punishment, but within limits and controls.

The answer to the second question, which states:

– What are the features of punishment in non-Islamic philosophies (idealism _ naturalism _ realism)?

First, Idealism:

The roots of idealistic philosophy go back to the philosophers of Greece, especially Socrates 469-399 AH and his student Plato 427-347 BC. This philosophy believes that ideal value are absolutely stable, and it is not man-made, but it is a part of heaven world. Also, a person should follow it and he/ she will be held to account. (Al-Farhan and Mari, 96: 2012), quoting Zirmas and Al-Hiyari.

Furthermore, Plato, who is the most prominent philosopher of idealistic philosophy, thinks that “oneself dignity lies on its discipline and preventing the soul from its desires; except for what is allowed by the laws. Even if it causes harm in the immediate present. He adds that the effort and toil in which the law’s command is rightful and highly appropriate because it is followed by comfort. He resembles this to the consumption of bitter-tasting medicines, which provides a better outcome of comfort and rest. (Plato, 2010: 117).

One of the most fundamental foundations of Platonic education is that it cannot be forcibly introduced to something from outside such as giving sight to blind eyes. Rather, education is directing the soul towards what it can, and Plato advises not to frighten children (Qarni, 1993: 174-175).

Throughout presenting this, we find that idealism believes that punishment is appropriate in the case of wrongdoing, but it is not preferable to use severity in education at the beginning.

Second, naturalism:

Natural philosophy calls for considering the child’s nature and accommodating their inclinations and desires. It grants the child as much freedom as possible. One of the prominent leaders of this philosophy is Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Al-Nabahin, 293: 1996).

Generally, natural philosophy doesn’t believe in using cruelty, punishment, or resorting to oppressive power and force in education or maintaining order. It relies on natural law, which educates the child according to laws and norms of nature (Jaininy, 2004: 180) quoting from Al-Rashdan.

In his book Emile, Jean-Jacques Rousseau addresses punishment and says that a barbaric upbringing leads to wasting a life of fun amidst tears, sorrows, and punishments. In addition, God is the only one who knows how many children perish because of the extreme wisdom of their parents and teachers. Thus when death approaches them, it brings them joy to escape from that harshness. The only privilege they gain from their pain and torment is to die without regretting life. (Rousseau and Luke, d. T: 80).

Jean-Jacques Rousseau believes that the child should become accustomed to behavior without an external authority that prevents him from committing mistakes. As the fear of punishment creates an individual who does not think about satisfying his conscience before God and humanity, but rather he/ she takes what he does to please others. (Al-Nabahin, 1996: 298).

However, Herbert Spencer opposes the principle of natural punishment advocated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and he decides that the best means of disciplining individuals and cultivating morals in their souls is to make the punishment of the offender matches the nature of their crime (Al-Nabahin, 1996: 298).

From the previous discussion, we conclude that natural philosophy is against punishment in all its forms and situations. It does not believe in the use of punishment and resorting to force and education; the matter is left to the natural law. The researcher thinks that this is a drawback of this philosophy, as the human soul needs controls to limit its evil power.

Third, Realism:

Realistic education is considered a product of the Renaissance era and humanistic education. It combines the new and the old; and focuses on making disciplinary methods suitable for the environment and the time they live in. One of the prominent disciplinary views of this philosophy is the need to encourage children and kindle their enthusiasm. Also, it is not preferable to use pressure and stress with them. (Al-Nabahin, 1996-287:281).

Realistic philosophy cares about order and good behavior in school. It sets a reasonable punishment for each violation. It also believes in the guidance which is provided by an expert or counselor. (Jaeneni, 2004: 155).

Generally, Skinner considers that punishment is a weak strategy for behavior adjusting. It can’t be considered a staple way of preventing changes. Punishment has some emotional effects on the living; as soon as the punishment or the repulsive stimulus is released, the emotional effects vanish. (Al-Sharqawi, 1988-96: 97).

In addition, Skinner adds that punishment is an undesirable way to change behavior; implementing punishment-repulsive stimuli has side effects, including summoning anti-behavior. Also, the child’s exposure to repeated punishment by his/her father or mother may lead to the alienation of the child from them or the house as a whole. (Abdul Hadi, 61: 2000).

Furthermore, Skinner demands to adopt the reward method, not the punishment. He advised the teacher to skip the unwanted behavior, not to comment on it, to consider it as if it wasn’t, and to reward the desirable behavior. Additionally, he calls for the commission of punishment as much as possible and within the narrowest limits. (Abdul-Hadi, Al-Azza, 151: 2005).

Thorndike has a role in the issue of punishment. He models the law of consequences after many experiments he conducted. Via this, he concluded that the reward is stronger than the punishment. whilethe positive effect resulting from the reward strengthens the associations between the stimulus and the response,punishment may or may not weaken these associations. (Abdul-Hadi and Al-Azza, 2005: 151).

Thorndike remarks that the state of discomfort originating from punishment does not necessarily weaken these associations directly, but it does not strengthen them either. Further, if punishment directly weakens the inclination to perform a specific action, a new behavior may emerge, which provids an opportunity for another response to be rewarded (Al-Sharqawi, 80:1988).

Thorndike and his juniors collect evidence about the relative value of each punishment and reward based on observations of human and other living beings’ life incidents. Thorndike concluded that an aversive stimulus associated with a changeable bond that lead an animal to experience fear, sadness, jump backward, flee, cry, repeat the same action but in a more intense manner, or perform any behavior kept in its memory in response to that annoyance in that situation. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the psychological ground of bonds is weakened in a manner similar to how rewards strengthen the bond (Abdel Hadi, 83:2000).

The law of consequence has led to an inquisitiveness on the issue of reward and punishment in schools, reforms, and prisons. In fact, people have always taken into consideration that punishment has limits and controls to make the best of it. Some of them is that it has to follow the sin directly, not to be too lenient in order to be effective, nor too harsh as the student feels unjust or damage one’s pride. Moreover, the overuse of punishment and threatening without punishment takes away its value. (Jawad, Dazat: 419).

Based on the above, we conclude that realistic philosophy favors reward over punishment. Also, it considers punishment a soft method of controlling behavior and that its effect is transient in modifying behavior.


  • Not to exaggerate in implementing punishment methods. A relationship based on love, appreciation, conviction, and respect is more useful and healthier than others based on fear, panic, and anxiety.
  • Always remind children of Allah and his power and that he is the head of matters. Thus, fearing Allah leads to constant concern to perfect the work and makes no need to resort to punishment in all its forms.
  • To focus on the emotional aspect that makes the student’s conscience a protector of values, and his essence rejects to make mistakes, disavows flaws, and avoids sin.
  • To pay attention to the educational methods presented by the Holy Qur’an and the noble Prophet’s Sunnah and to benefit from them in tackling students’ behavioral mistakes.
  • All the institutions of the local community, the family, the school, the mosque, and the media, have to take responsibility for growing children up. Further, all of them have to unite their goals and direct them towards preparing a good citizen by sowing values ​​and virtue in the souls of children.
  • Other alternatives that may work instead of punishment must be followed and taken into consideration.


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