Will you please explain the difference between Puberty (Bulugh) and Age of Maturity (Rushd)?

Details of the Question
Will you please explain the difference between Puberty (Bulugh) and Age of Maturity (Rushd)?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

A boy or a girl reaches youth from childhood through adolescence.

Adolescence becomes visible with the appearance of some physical signs in the child. Having wet dreams for a boy, menstruation and becoming pregnant for a girl are signs of adolescence. It is called natural puberty. In religious terminology, a boy who has reached the age of puberty is called a "baligh" and a girl is called a "baligha".

According to the majority of the fiqh scholars of Islam, the start of the age of puberty is the age of 12 for boys and 9 for girls. The end of this period is the age of 15 for both genders.

When a person reaches the age of property, he/she attains the mental level to understand the orders and prohibitions of the religion.

Man can differentiate between the good and the bad , the true and the wrong only after becoming baligh; therefore, our Lord calls us to account for worshipping like prayer and fasting beginning from the day we become baligh. Thus, our religious responsibilities start after the age of puberty.

Beginning from the first day when this human and sexual feeling, which becomes manifest in the form of wet dreams in boys and menstruation in girls, starts, each order of Allah is recorded in the book of deeds of everybody as "fulfilled" or "not fulfilled".

However, the age of maturity (rushd) and puberty (bulugh) is not the same thing.

Maturity (rushd) is an Islamic legal term meaning to find the right path, to act cleverly, to be mature mentally and spiritually, to have the quality to attain good deeds, to take necessary measures to protect one's property and to prevent extravagance. A person who has these qualities is called rashid. The opposite of rashid is safih. Safih means a person who is sane and has the power to discriminate but who uses his money and property irrationally and illogically. (Ibn Abidin, Raddul-Mukhtar, V, 95; Majalla, item 946, 947).

Rushd means reaching the experience and maturity to control and manage his own property. This state can occur before or after the age of puberty or at the same time based on one's personal education, the conditions of the environment or one's ability.

Islamic law does not impose a certain age limit for rushd but it usually occurs after bulugh. Determining a standard age for rushd is left to the conditions of the era, climate, and the level of the education and culture of the people.

The following is stated in the Quran:

"Make trial of orphans until they reach the age of marriage; if then ye find sound judgment in them, release their property to them…" (an-Nisa, 4/6).

According to this verse, the property of a child is not given to him as soon as he reaches the age of puberty; it is necessary to search whether he is rashid or not.

According to Abu Hanifa, when a person reaches the age of puberty, the financial restriction on his money and property is lifted and he becomes free to use his money and property even if he is safih and extravagant. However, his money and property are not handed over to him as a precaution until he becomes rashid or 25 years old. According to the majority of the Islamic scholars, his money and property are not handed over to him until he becomes rashid regardless of his age.

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