At What Age Does Prayer Become Obligatory?

It becomes obligatory for a Muslim to observe prayers upon reaching the age of puberty.

Puberty is defined by natural manifest signs some of which are common to both genders and others are exclusive to just one gender.

Common puberty signs:

– The discharge of the sexual fluid (semen) either in a state of sleep or in an awake state when sexually aroused.

– The appearance of pubic hair which is removed by shaving, unlike the fuzz that appears prior to attaining puberty.

Females are specifically distinguished by two more signs:

– Menstruation: it is the sign for female puberty based on the hadith narrated by the Mother of the Believers, lady ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) who narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who experiences menstruation (i.e. who has reached puberty) except if she prays with her head covered (with a khimar)”[recorded by Abu Dawud in his Sunan).

– Pregnancy: Allah the Almighty creates the fetus from the sexual fluid of both man and woman.

The above mentioned signs are an indication of puberty; otherwise, puberty is considered by age. Shafi’i and Hanbali scholars as well as Abu Yusuf and Muhammad Ibn al-Hassan from the Hanafis have maintained that, for females and males, the age of puberty is by completing 15 lunar years.

(دار الإفتاء المصرية – eng.dar-alifta.org)