Answered by Shaykh Sohail Hanif, SunniPath Academy Teacher
What are the signs of reaching adulthood for men and women? Details helpful, please.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, and all blessings and peace upon our master Muhammad, his Folk, Companions and those who follow their noble way,
Mulla Khusro, the 9th century Hanafi faqih and Ottoman Qadi said in Durar al-Hukkam, a book praised highly by Ibn ‘Abidin in the introduction of Radd al-Muhtar,
“A young male reaches [legally] puberty by:
a wet dream, or
making someone pregnant, or
A young female reaches puberty by:
a wet dream, or
The basic principle [for males] is that adulthood is attained by actual ejaculation …and the other signs mentioned do not occur except by ejaculation. Therefore, each is considered a sign of adulthood…
If none of these signs are found then one is not legally an adult until…the completion of fifteen [lunar] years.
The least [age for reaching adulthood] is twelve lunar years for males and nine for females. ”,(Durar al-Hukkam Sharh Ghurar al-Ahkam, 2: 275, Istanbul )
Ibn ‘Abidin remarked in his Radd al-Muhtar (‘al-Hashiya’) that
“No consideration is given to the appearance of pubic hairs…nor the beard…nor swelling breasts…nor to a deepening in the voice. ” (Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar, 5: 97, Bulaq)
Imam al-Haskafi said in Durr al-Mukhtar,
“So if both [i.e. male or female] are adolescent, having reached this age [i.e. the minimum age for adulthood], and say ‘We have become adults’ they are to be believed so long as their physical build does not indicate otherwise. ”
Ibn Abidin explained
“[so one claiming adulthood] must be such that people [physically] similar to one experience wet dreams. ”(Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar, 5: 97, Bulaq)
Imam al-Shurunbulali (Allah have mercy on him) explained in his notes on Mulla Khusro’s Durar, known asal-Shurunbulaliyya,
“Such discussions show their relevance when a legal responsibility, such as division of a deceased persons will, depends on one’s having reached adulthood. In such a case the individual can be quizzed as to how he attained puberty, in order to assess his claim, though he isn’t required to swear an oath [al-Shurunbulaliyya].
And Allah knows best
Sohail Hanif and Faraz Rabbani.
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