“Separate them in Beds”: Prophetic Advice on Sibling Sexual Abuse

Those who are familiar with the Islamic view of family might know what the heading means. It is a statement from the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) regarding the some etiquette that which parents are to observe regarding their children. Prophet (S) in this hadith states that whether boy or girl, siblings should be separated from beds. Muslims are supposed to be obeying Prophet (S) in every aspect of life. Unfortunately, most of us are ignorant about such teachings and some would claim such instructions would ‘make life unable to live on’.

At the same time, people daily read in the newspapers rapes and sexual assault between brothers and sisters. Hoe you understand that I am not talking about rapes done by brothers and father which are rich in news nowadays. A 23 year old boy from South Carolina has been reported to have sex with his 19 year old sister from when she was 4. A 14 year boy from Kerala had sex with his 12 year for two years, was only revealed by him when he realized the consequences of such an act. Most of children involved share their room and even beds, there by getting more time together.

Sibling abuses have many forms; even incidents the other family members recognize it as all right. Caffaro and Conn- Caffaro (1998) define sibling child sexual abuse as “sexual behavior between siblings that is not age appropriate, not transitory, and not motivated by developmentally, mutually appropriate curiosity”. These kinds of sexual abuse are not reported and are mostly ignored. Approximately 15 % of all people reported some kind of sexual activity with the siblings in the early days.

Sexual abuse between siblings include inappropriate touching, unacceptable kissing, masturbation, oral sex and penetrative sex. But most often these kinds of abuse are leaded with non- touching activities like, introducing a child to pornography, or insisting on watching them in the shower, or telling them to watch them masturbate or asking them to dress and undress in open door. Many of them have said role played films and pornography.

Do you think your child will immediately report to you once it happens? That is not the case. Majority of the survivors of childhood abuse do not reveal it, for many reasons; starting from “no one will believe me”, “it’s my fault”, “I don’t know what to say”, to “But I liked it”. The most dreadful reason would be when the victim says “I didn’t understand what was happening was “abuse” and “I thought it was just what siblings did”.

Now we need to know the consequences of such sexual assaults. Jones (2002) states that sibling sexual abuse could have intense and foremost impact upon its victim. An important point to note here is that in most of the cases the effects emerges in the victim’s adulthood. Thus, an adult survivor can result in revictimization, clinical depression, extreme anxiety disorders, poor self- esteem, self- blame, guilt, and sexual dysfunction. In their childhood, somatic disturbances such as insomnia, nightmares and Psychiatric ill- health like self- injury, eating disorders and suicide are end results. Now let us really care our children.


Let me share with you the complete hadith. The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “Teach your children to pray when they are seven years old, and smack them (lightly) if they do not pray when they are 10 years old, and separate them in their beds.”[i] The prophetic statement does not mere ask to separate children from their beds, rather it commands to close all doors for sibling abuse, whether it is sexual or not. The article has only concentrated on sibling sexual abuse, there are quite lot more regarding sibling abuse.


[i]Narrated by Ahmad (6717) and Abu Dawood (495); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 298.