(read also the farsi original text)
Introduction my greetings to the honorable marja and most esteemed
eminence Ayatollah al-Hajj Al-Seyyed Ali al-Husseini Khamenei. I request guidance
from you in illuminating the issues noted below:
NB: Each answer is preceded by the epithet, Bismehi Taaala, in the Name of the
Most High. For the sake of simplicity, it has been omitted from the translation.
Q1: When are boys and girls considered mature
A: According to the well-known criteria, a girl is considered mature after the
completion of nine lunar years of age, boys upon the completion of fifteen lunar
Q2: What are the signs and criteria for determining
maturity (bulugh) in boys and girls?
A: In addition to the above noted criteria, for boys it includes the ejaculation of
sperm and for boys and girls, the growth of the coarse hair beneath the
Q3: Until what age is decision-making of children
left to the discretion of parents? Under what criteria are children released from
A: As long as a child has not reached the age of maturity, or is not mature, the child
is under the guardianship of the father, or someone from the paternal lineage (i.e. the
grandfather or uncle). After attainment of maturity, the father or paternal lineage no
longer has guardianship, unless it is in regards to the marriage of a virgin
which case the permission of the father or paternal lineage is required.
Q4: Is the guardianship of children exclusively with
the father, or is the mother party to it as well?
A: The guardianship of a child is exclusively with the father, or the paternal
Q5: If a childs guardian fails to live up to
his responsibilities or treats the child in a harmful way, can the Islamic ruler of the
day revoke his guardianship? In this regard, to whom or to what institution can the
guardianship of the child be granted in order of preference? If the first guardian is
later deemed fit, is it necessaryis it even permissibleto return guardianship
to him? Finally, if the guardian emotionally or physically abuses the child, can he latter
still be worthy of having guardianship returned to him?
A: If the ruler by way of witnesses and the childs state of appearance determines
that to forcibly continue the guardianship over the child and his possessions is to the
childs detriment, then the relationship must be severed. With the forcible
termination of rights, the guardianship belongs to the hakem-e share (the highest
religious authority of the city). After termination, the return of guardianship is at the
discretion of the religious authority.
Q6: If parents regularly slap a child in the face, or
act aggressively towards any part of the body, granted that (it is forceful enough
red imprint of the hand to remain, can that child demand diyyeh (blood money)?
A: Hitting and any type of disciplinary action that leaves a red mark is
Q7: In what situations must a child (even if he is
mature in body and intellect) still obey the commands of his parents?
A: It is not obligatory to obey ones parents. However, it is forbidden to annoy
them, or cause them grief.
Q8: Is it obligatory for every Muslim to seek
treatment for life threatening or non-life threatening illnesses?
A: It is obligatory to seek treatment for life threatening or non-life threatening
illnesses if not doing so would lead to harm.
Q9: Do parents have an obligation to seek examination
and treatment for their children? A: It is obligatory to seek it.
Q10: If a patient is physically mature, but has not
reached the age of decision-making, and there are two treatments available, and the
patient and his father are in disagreement as to which to choose, whose decision is given
A: A childs guardian has a duty to follow the course that he deems best suited
for his child.
Q11: If a child or teenager is suffering from a
terminal illness, is it that patients right to be informed of his
which of the following circumstances would it be obligatory to tell them: a. If the child
is a minor, b. a (physically) mature adolescent, or, c. a mature and discerning
A: It is not required that the physician inform him, unless a. not telling the patient
would lead to his non-compliance with the treatment, b. in the end lead to his
result in permanent damage, or, d. if the physician was sought merely for diagnosis (and
not for treatment).
Q12: If a Muslim suffers from a terminal
he required to seek treatment? What if the side effects of the treatment are more painful
than the illness, or may even result in death? Is it at his discretion to request pain
killers (instead of treatment)? If the patient is a minor, is there a different
A: Even if there is a good possibility that his illness will result in death, it is
necessary to seek treatment. In this sense, there is no difference between a minor and an
Q13: Is it permissible for a Muslim physician to
prescribe birth control pills for a single Muslim woman at her request, granted that she
states that if she becomes pregnant (due to not having been prescribed the pills) that she
will certainly undergo abortion of the fetus? Can the Muslim physician justify his
prescription on the fact that he is preventing abortion (granted that he knows that in any
case she will engage in illicit sexual relations [zina])? What is the ruling for the above
situation if the patient is a non-Muslim woman?
A: Absolutely speaking, it is not a problem, unless it is determined that prescribing
the birth control pills aids in the sexually illicit relation of zina.
Q14: If a young Muslim lady, before the age of
decision making, confides to her physician that she is engaging in illicit sexual
activity, should the physician keep her secret, or is he obligated to inform her parents
or other responsible parties?
A: Yes, it is necessary to keep it confidential, unless he is certain that telling her
parents or other parties will prevent her from this sinful behavior.
Q15: If a physician in the course of his regular
examination of a girl for other reasons suspects physical and/or sexual abuse inflicted by
some older people, what duty and obligation does the physician have? Is the physician
obligated to inform the appropriate Islamic or other responsible authorities, or should he
confront the parents and other responsible adults?
A: If discouraging what is evil (nahy an al-munkar) stops with informing the necessary
parties, and with this information the disagreeable behavior ceases, then the physician
must do so. Of course, that is granted that there is good probability that this illicit
behavior will no longer be repeated.
(read also the farsi original text)