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Child labour and islamic teachings

Child labour and islamic teachings

In different societies, children face different problems. But generally there are some problems, which every child mostly faces. There are a lot of problems faced by children in different societies, such as child labour, childhood marriage, trafficking of children, commercial sexual exploitation of children, etc. One of these major problems faced by children is child labour.

Child labour: Employment of children of less than a specified legal age .

Child labour is a worst problem, which does not exist in underdeveloped countries, but also developed countries are facing this problem.

Any child under the age specified by law world wide works full time, mentally or physically to earn for his/her own survival or adding to family income, that interrupts child s social development and education is called child labour . Any child under the age of 15 engaged in activity to feed family or self is child labour . ILO s (International Labour Organization) convention 138 (C.138) obligates countries to fix a minimum age for completing compulsory schooling and in any event, should not less than 15 years.

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We see, the participation of the children in different economic activities. Some of them, do this with schooling to help their parents in fulfilling the needs of their home and some of them do this just to earn extra money in school holidays, and some do this to help their parent s business or just for learning their family modes of income. If all these things do not affect their health and does not become hurdle in their way of getting education or their development and dignity, can t be called child labour . Actually these activities are helpful for their development and for making them the strong members of the society during their adult life.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) s convention: 138, that the light work which does not affect the child s education or health is permit-able from the age of 12 years.

So, the term child labour is only used, when a child is forced to work in a factory or in mines which affects his health or education for getting money for the survival of his family.

Types of Child Labour

There are two categories of child labour: self employed and employed with others. Self employed means street sellers, rag or scrap pickers, street entertainers, child prostitution or pornography, begging, abandoned by parents, riot or war misery. The situation changes, in poor countries, they are helping hand to the parents. The second category means, the children who works in factories and in mines or they work as a domestic helpers in other s supervision with their parent s wish or are parentless.

The Causes of Child Labour

There are numerous causes of child labour. Not, a single factor is responsible for this social evil, but there are a lot of factors, who are responsible for child labour. Such as:

1. Poverty

The most important factor, which forces the children to taken up employment is poverty. Parents are compelled by poverty to send their children to seek employment. So, they work hard for the survival of their family.

2. Businesses or Corporations

Business or corporations around the world are one of the major causes. Due to their influence and money driven attitudes, many factories are placed strategically in poor areas. This is to attract cheap labour and millions of children end up working for them.

3. Insensitivity of Society

In a society, where responsible and pious people are present, they pay attention to solve the problems of other people, especially poor ones. Child labour exists in those societies where people don t care about other people or don t help poor people and also they don t pay attention towards children, working in shops or in factories in childhood. So in these societies, the problem of child labour occurs.

4. Lack of Education Facilities

The problem of child labour occurs also in those societies, where lack of education facilities. Educational expenses are not affordable for poor people. So children of poor people are compelled to work in different places, instead of getting education.

5. Failure of the Governments for Providing Facilities to People

Child labour mostly exists in those countries, where government has been failed to provide the basic facilities of life to people. So, people are unable to meet the needs of their home, so they have been left with no other option, just to send their children at work.

6. Ignorance of Parents

Sometimes poor parents who are ignorant and illiterate, has no idea about the benefits of education, so they send their children to factory or motor-mechanics instead of sending them to schools, for training and acquiring the working skills, so they may able to earn money.

Child Labour and Health Hazards

Strenuous work in a young age has its direct harm effects on the development of child, both physically and mentally. They can t do monotonous and heavy work for long hours. It is dangerous for their body and because of the heavy duty in hazardous industries, their bodies can suffer the effect of fatigue and exhaustion much more quickly than that of adult ones.

The hazards occupation and working conditions can be harmful for child s health as mentioned in this table:

Occupation Diseases Spread/Disability

Match sticks/crackers Industry Difficult in breathing, burns of serious type, strain in lifting heavy objects or disability to muscles.

Stone mines/slate Industry Death by inability to breath by suffocation

Carpet Industry Poisoning colours/dyes, serious ailments of lunge by dust and fiber

Glass Industry Silicosis, burning, decrease in age due to temperature and dust in environment

Lock industry/brass Industry Asthma, severe headache, burns by acids

Balloon Industry Pneumonia, hearth attack

Poverty: An Additional Risk Factor

Undoubtedly, the poverty is the main reason, who compels the children to work in risky occupations, like agriculture, mining and construction, so they face many diseases like anemia, malnutrition etc.

Psychosocial Effects of Child Labour

It is always seen that the children who work for long hours, involve in different psychological diseases such as, aggression, sleep sickness etc.

Reasons for the accidents faced by children while working are unhealthy atmosphere of work, working under un-experienced supervision and the lack of experience.

Working in Agricultural and in Mining Sectors, Harmful for Children

70% of children are working in agriculture sector. Over 132 million girls and boys aged 5-14 years old. They work in the fields for long hours, doing heavy tasks such as plantation, handling heavy machines and tractors. Children become the farm labourers at an early age. In rural areas, girls at the age of 5, 6 and 7 years start working in fields. The hazards and level of risks, which children face in fields, results in lifelong disabilities for them. Working in mining sector is also harmful for children. While working in mines children go deep underground in tunnels. They work for long hours. They use heavy tools and dangerous chemicals while working in mines, which is harmful for their physical health.

Facts and Figures on Child Labour

The economic exploitation of children is an insult to humanity. The children are compelled to work under unhealthy and dangerous atmosphere, which is harmful for their moral, mental and physical health. According to ILO estimates, there are some 250 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 years, who are in economic activity in developing countries alone. Work for 120 million of them, is a pull time activity. And the rest of them work with schooling or other non-economic activities. The most ratio of child labour is found in the developing countries. But the developed and industrialized countries are not fully free of this social evil.

Distribution of economically active children 5-14 years of age in developing countries, by regions and sex, 1995

Region Both Sexes

(%) Boys

(%) Girls


World (estimates in millions) 250 140 110

Africa 32 56 44

Asia (excluding Japan) 61 54 46

Latin America & Caribbean 7 67 33

Oceania (excluding Australia and New Zealand) 0.2 57 43

Sex ratio (World) 100 56 44

Source: ILO Bureau of Statistics (Geneva, 1996)

In absolute terms Asia, is most densely populated region of the world, has 61% ratio of child labour.

In relative terms, however, Africa comes first in the proportion of children working in economic activity, with the ratio of 41% of the total number of children aged between 5 and 14 compared to 22% in Asia and 17% in Latin America.

Region Both Sexes

(%) Boys

(%) Girls



(estimates in millions) 24.7 27.7 22.3

Africa 41.4 46.0 36.7

Asia (excluding Japan) 21.5 22.5 20.4

Latin America & Caribbean 16.5 21.8 11.1

Oceania (excluding Australia and New Zealand) 29.3 32.7 25.8

Source: ILO Bureau of Statistics (Geneva, 1996)

More boys than girls work, close to an average ratio of 3 boys to 2 girls. With 37%, Africa has the highest ratio of girls working among the developing regions of the world. However, surveys don t take into account domestic work. Majority of girls do this work between the ages of 8 to 12 than that of boys. But, if the surveys would take into account this domestic work, the ratio of girls working would be more than that of boys.

70 to 74% of child workers, work in Agricultural sector and the ratio of girls is high than the boys in this sector. Some survey results show, that some children work for a hours or some for whole day resulting in exhaustion for them. The ratio of working children in rural areas are high comparatively in urban areas. More than 20% working children in rural areas and around 5% in urban areas are under the age of 10 years.

Different Child Labour Movements

The movement to regulate child labour began in Great Britain at the close of 18th century, when the rapid development of large scale manufacturing had resulted in the exploitation of very young children in the mining and industrial work. The first law, in 1802, which was aimed at controlling the child labour but remained ineffective. Organized international efforts began with the 1st international conference in Berlin in 1890. In 1900, the International Association for Labour Legislation was established at Basel, Switz, to promote child labour provisions as part of other international labour legislation.

Prohibition of Child Labour and European Union

European Union has prohibited the child labour in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and it has given the name to article: 32 of this charter that is: Prohibition of Child Labour and Protection of Young People at Work of this charter. Article: 32: The employment of children is prohibited. The minimum age of admission to employment may not be lower than the minimum school-leaving age, without prejudice to such rules as may be more favourable to young people and except for limited derogations .

Union Nation s Convention on Children Rights and Child Labour

It has been decided in the convention of the children rights under the United Nations that children would not be compelled to do any kind of work which is hazardous for their health or a great hurdle in getting education. It is mentioned in the Article: 32 in the convention on the rights of children, that the child has a right to be protected from work that is harmful for his or her health. It is the responsibility of the state to set minimum ages for employment and provide appropriate working conditions of employment.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and Child Labour

This organization is strongest organization, which is working for labour issues.

The ILO is a specialized agency of United Nations, which was established in Geneva in 1919. It deals with labour issues. At the turn of the century, child labour in the factories in the industrializing countries was of such urgent public concern, that it was an important stimulus in the creation of the ILO itself. ILO has tried to handle problem of child labour through programmes and projects and through the adoption of International Conventions and Recommendations regulating the minimum age for employment of children.

C 138: Minimum Age Convention, 1973

ILO s main objective is to eliminate the social evil of child labour.

ILO s latest convention relating to child labour is the Minimum Age Convention No.138 (1973) which came into force on June 26, 1973. A minimum age of 15 was set for admission to employment with flexibility keeping in mind the circumstances of many developing countries.

C 182: Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999

It is understood to be those types of work for children mentioned in Article 3 of ILO Convention 182.

The full text of this article is:

a) All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.

b) The use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitutions, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances.

c) The use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties.

d) Work, which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

Worst Forms of Child Labour

1. Child Slavery

The main aim of this convention was to eliminate the worst forms of child labour for the protection of the children s right. As mentioned in the above article. It is the worst form of child labour, it means all forms of slavery such as debt bondage, trafficking of children, serfdom and forced labour etc.

2. Child Labour and Armed Conflict

The use of children in armed conflict is considered the worst form of child labour mentioned by ILO Convention No.182, whether it is forcefully or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict. Some children are used directly as fighters and while others are used in supportive roles. Conflict always imposes a negative effect on children and increases the potential for children, working already to indulge themselves in more harmful activities.

3. Child Trafficking

Child trafficking refers to any act or transaction whereby a child is transferred by any person or group of persons to another for remuneration or any other consideration.

It is the worst form of child labour. It is very common in different countries. The children, who are trafficked are those children who are kidnapped and then they are sold for different purposes such as sexual purposes.

4. Domestic Child Servants

It is seen, that children age of 5, 6 and 7 years start working at homes to earn money for the fulfillment of their family needs. They do heavy work all the day resulting in exhaustion for them, which is harmful for their physical and mental health.

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According to recent reports, for example, some 175,000 children under 18 are employed in domestic service in Central America, more than 68,87,000 in Indonesia also, 53,942 under 15 in South Africa and 38,000 children between 5 and 7 in Guatemala.

5. Child Prostitution, Pornography

The definition of child prostitution is the use of a child in sexual activities for remuneration or any other form of consideration . While child pornography means any representation, by whatever means, of a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities.

Prostitution and pornography is the worst form of child labour, because of it, children are compelled to suffer physical and mental abuse. In Thailand, 60% to 70% of child prostitutes are infected with HIV or AIDS. In Latin America, countries such as the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Mexico, street children are involved in prostitution, pornography and sex tourism. In Asia the ratio of sexual exploitation of children is very high.

International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour

It is the programme of the International Labour Organization, which is came into being in 1992. It s main aim is to eliminate the child labour through strong programmes and by creating the awareness of this social evil among people to come forward for the removal of this problem. It also deals with the elimination of worst forms of child labour such as child slavery, child trafficking etc.

World Day Against Child Labour 12 June

Millions of the children from all over the world are involved working in difficult conditions and occupations which is harmful to their health. Because of the heavy duty and lack of opportunities, they are unable to get education. The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the first World Day against Child Labour in 2002. It is 12th June on which, Child Labour is celebrated. The purpose of this is to gain support of different sectors such as media, Governments, Civil Society, Women, Young People etc, against Child Labour.

Child Labour in Pakistan

All the countries of the world are facing the problem of child labour. But the countries from Africa has a high ratio of children working in different sectors. After Africa Asia comes, where majority of children are working. In India, Pakistan and Bungladesh majority of children are working because of poverty, unemployment and lack of education system and facilities etc. in Pakistan about 3.3 million children are working in different sectors out of 40 million children.

The history of child labour in Pakistan began primarily in 1960 s as part of country s dedication to enlarge its manufacturing base. When there was shortage of labourers, so the use of child labourers was started in carpet factories, brick-making facilities and sports ball manufacturing industries. By the early 1990 s The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated that 11 million children under the age of 10 working in Pakistan. So, the excessive use of child labour by Pakistani factories, Western Consumers began to boycott goods associated with child-labour. Because of the international pressure, the Pakistan National Assembly ratified the U.N. convention on the rights of a child in 1989 and passed two labour laws, first was Employment of Children Act of 1991, that prohibited the use of child labour under the age of 14 in kind of hazardous sectors. The second was the Bonded Labour Act of 1992, that ended the peshgi system.

Mr. Anees Jillani says: The summary results of child labour survey in Pakistan announced in Islamabad on October 9, 1996 by the Federal Bureau of Statistics, the Ministry of labour and the ILO stated that the ratio of children working in Pakistan in rural areas is eight times higher than that of urban areas. About 67% children are working in agricultural sector, while 11% in manufacturing sector. Wholesale and retail trade came next employing about 9%, followed by community, social and personal services that employed around 8% – 70% of the working children are estimated by ILO to working as unpaid family helpers followed by 23% as employees and 7% as self-employed.

Though child labour is a worst problem of Pakistan, but it has the greatest impact on a north-western province called Sialkot. It is important centre for producing export goods, especially sporting goods. Majority of children under age 10 working in factories, stitching the footballs. Though child labour is against Pakistan s law, but no one is paying attention to it.

In Pakistan, children are compelled to do heavy tasks, just for fulfillment the needs of their home. The worst forms of child labour like child slavery, child trafficking, child sexual exploitation etc. can be seen in our country.

Pakistan s Constitution and Child Labour

Pakistan Constitution prohibits child labour. Under Article: 11, all forms of forced labour and traffic in human beings is prohibited and the children under the age of 14 are prohibited to engage in any hazardous employment.

And the Article: 14 guarantees the dignity of every man and subject to law, privacy of home as a fundamental right. Article: 3 lays down that state shall ensure the elimination of all forms of exploitation and shall provide fundamental rights to every one.

Though, at the international level efforts can be seen to eliminate the child labour but, in Pakistan, though there are laws against child labour, but they are not satisfactory. The need of the time is take some serious steps to stop child labour by the government as well as by public sector.

Child Labour and Islam

Islam is the only religion in this world which gives us golden rules to live a balanced life in this world. Islam has given the fundamental rights to every one, whether he is child, women, man or old man. So, Islam is a religion which is according to the human nature. Allah has said in Quran:-

The Holy Quran and Sunnah are the two basic sources for formulating Islamic laws and verifying them, and it is to them that all other sources refer. However, it is the Holy Quran that is the main reference and upon which the Sunnah is based. Among the most valuable objectives of the Holy Quran is that it sets forth principles and rules to help people properly regulate their lives, thereby changing a lot of mannerisms that were being practiced. In that sense, it had protected the rights of the individual and the group, allowed for the prevalence of justice, encouraged people to live together in cooperation and good will, and differentiated among people only by the measure of how pious they were.

Man s Basic Necessities and the Arrangements for Their Completion

In this world, there are two basic necessities of man. On the one hand, he requires materialistic and physical resources for the establishment of the relation of body and soul, and on the other hand: for living an individual and social life at strong basis, ethical guideline is require for the man. For the fulfillment of this need of man, Allah has sent Prophets to mankind. As it is said in Quran:

These Prophets taught mankind the moral and ethical values and conveyed them the Message of Allah, that he is alone and everyone should worship him. And for the fulfillment of their physical necessities, Allah has given uncountable blessings to mankind. As Allah has said in Quran:

Now, it is on man, how he uses these blessings. The basic teachings of Islam is to earn money through legitimacy sources. In Islam, it has been described, that earning is a thing, for which man is responsible. Actually it is the responsibility of man to earn money for the fulfillment of necessities of his family. Allah says in Quran:


So, it is not the responsibility of children to earn money, they have a right to enjoy their childhood and get education.

Islam has given facilities to children in prayers and in different matters.

Child Labour and Quranic Teachings

Undoubtedly, that Allah does not give human beings too much pain which is more than their capacity.

Allah says in Quran:

So, from this Quranic Verse, we get to know that, to compel the children to work in hazardous sectors, like, chemical industries, agricultural sectors or mining secotrs is against the rules of Islamic teachings. Because doing in these sectors, is harmful for the mental and physical development of children: and working heavy tasks is a great burden on children and it is more than their capacity, so child labour is prohibited in Islam.

As it is shown from the Hadith:


From all these arguments, it is clear, that heavy tasks and laboured work, which is more than the capacity of child and a hurdle in the way of child to get education and it also affects its health would be against Islamic law.

The Rights of Children in Islam

Islam has given the rights to children both male and female children.

Children according to Islam, are entitled to various rights. The first and foremost of these rights is the right to be properly bought up, raised and educated. This means, the children should be given ethical, religious guidance. They should be taught what is wrong and what is right. Allah, says in the Quran:

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Children therefore are a trust given to parents. Parents will be responsible for this trust on the day of judgment. No doubt in it, that parents are responsible for moral, ethical and essential religious teachings of their children.

Children have the right to be fed, clothed and protected till they grow up to adulthood. It is primarily, the duty of father to do that. Mother can provide help if necessary. Protection means to protect them from physical, moral and intellectual harm. Child has a right to get education, and this right has given Islam to them.

It means Islam gives this responsibility to parents to educate them and fulfill their necessities of their life. So, children should not be compelled to work in hazardous sectors. Before, Islam, we see that children were given no respect, especially the female children and they were buried alive. But Islam eradicated this inhuman custom.

Specification of Age for Child Labour in Islam

The Islamic laws are applicable on attaining the adult age. The Holy Prophet said:

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It means when a child reach at the age of 15. He would be considered adult. And the Islamic laws would be applicable on him as they are applicable on the adult man. So, on the base of this age, child labour can be in boundaries. So before reaching at the age of 15, he should not be given the responsibility of earning. He should be given the proper atmosphere, where he can enjoy his childhood, or can get education, so he or she may become a good citizen of country.

Order of Paying Mercy on Children in Islam

Children are innocent and they are flowers of heaven. That is why, Islam has given the order to pay mercy on them. The Holy Prophet said:

So, children should be treated kindly and affectionately.

Child Labour and Parents Responsibilities

Parents responsibilities for the children is that they should take care of their health. In Islam, it is the responsibility of father to bear the expenses of his family, and provide the basic facilities of life to them. The Holy Prophet said:

Child Labour and the Responsibilities of the Society

A man can t live alone. He like to live in a society. Every body in a society has a rights and responsibilities. Islam establishes, a kind of society, where everyone cooperates each other and takes care of other. The biggest reason of child labour is poverty. That is why, Islam has given us the teaching to help poor people, relatives and orphans.


If any Muslim of the society, who is very poor, that he is unable to bear the expenses of his family and their children are compelled to work. In this situation people should come forward and help such poor families.

Permissible Conditions of Child Labour in Islam

In some conditions, child labour is permissible in Islam. Different scholars mentioned permissible conditions of child labour. Such as Imam Kasani says:

Actually, he is of the view, that learning any kind of skill while working is the thing, that helps him for making him civilized and it is good for his physical exercise. It is said in favour of it, that Hazrat Ans, served the Holy Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H) for many years. Hazrat Ans said by himself that

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Through these arguments, the things come before us that

Services can be taken from young children.

Strickness should not be applied on children, when they work.

Work, that is given to the children should be according to their capacity.

So, those kind of labour for children is permissible in Islam, which does not affect their health and education and which is according to their capacity and from which they can learn some art and skill.

Child Labour and Government s Responsibility

Islam has not given just the teachings but it establishes a system, where everyone can enjoy his rights. It given the practical system of Zakat, and imposes this responsibility upon the government to collect Zakat from rich ones and distribute it among poor people. Allah says in Quran


Being an Islamic state, it is the responsibility of our government to provide all facilities of life to its masses and should take some serious steps to eliminate the social evil of child labour. Poor children are compelled to work because of poverty, so government should eradicate this poverty, so children may enjoy their childhood and get education. Not only the government but also the public sector should take some serious steps for the removal of child labour by helping the poor people.

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