Women: Puberty at a very early age

Q698 :If a girl attains puberty at a very early age, say, nine or 11 years, should she maintain hijab when she is with her male cousins? If she travels to a foreign country, could she wait until she has finished primary school before she wears a scarf? Perhaps I should add that this will cause her considerable social embarrassment. I will be grateful for your advice.

A698 : Some girls attain puberty at an early age, such as 10 or 11. It is not improbable that a girl may reach puberty when she is nine, but these cases are rare. If the girl has this misfortune, she should accept her situation as something that Allah has given her and she should not overburden herself with its effects. We must not forget, when we look at this question, that when a girl attains puberty, even at an early age, her mental development runs in parallel with her physical development. Therefore, she is normally ahead of other girls, mentally. Islam requires Muslim girls who have attained puberty to cover themselves when they appear in public, making sure that all their bodies are well covered with the exception of their faces and the lower parts of their hands, up to the wrists. As you see, this ruling does not relate the action required to a particular age. It relates to a stage of development. Whether that stage is reached at an early or late age is immaterial. Therefore, any girl who attains puberty must cover her head and body. Her schooling is not a factor to be considered. The only factor is her physical development. I appreciate the embarrassment such a young girl may have when she is in a foreign country and she appears to be totally different from her class mates. I am afraid I cannot change the ruling, nor can any one on earth [have an authority to do that]. This is a ruling of Islam, which is a religion revealed by Allah, and Allah alone is the one who decides what rulings to give. Now, if a girl in this situation does not abide by Islamic rules, she is plainly in error. Her parents have to explain to her what Islam requires of her and they should persuade her to fulfill these requirements. Needless to say, it is wrong to use physical force to make any one abide by Islamic rules. When any person disobeys Allah, we would always advise him or her to stop being disobedient and to repent and start implementing Allah's law. We should do our best to help such a young girl overcome her social embarrassment. That should help her fulfill her duty.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )