At what age does the Salat and Fasting become obligatory?

Question

Can you please tell me what is the age at which the Salat and Fasting become obligatory on a child? The idea of beating a 10 year old child if he does not pray does not seem to be in line with the spirit of Islam. Does the Quran give us the age at which we should instruct our children to observe the Salat and Fasting?

Reply

There is no mention in the Quran of a fixed age at which the Salat and the Fasting become obligatory. What applies to one child may not apply to another. Rather, it all depends on when the parent thinks the child is ready. That is why the Quran does not give a fixed age that is applicable to all.
Please take a look at the following verse as an example. Even though the subject is not the age for Salat nor Fasting, yet the message in this verse confirms the fact that each child will have a different age for maturity and readiness:

You shall test the orphans when they reach the age of marriage, then if you sense in them sound judgement, you shall hand over to them their money.
4:6

God could have said "Give the orphan his/her money at the age of 16 or 18 or 21", yet God did not give a fixed age but only instructed the guardian to "test" the orphans readiness and maturity.
Any parent should therefore follow God's instructions and gauge the readiness of the child to start Salat and then at a later age the fasting. This is because fasting is much more demanding than the Salat, especially in these long days of summer.
At no point should parents beat their children to force them to observe the Salat or other rituals.

1-
The Quranic rule of no compulsion in religion applies to all people (God did not exclude children from this rule).

2-
If a parent beats and forces the child to observe the Salat, the parent may indirectly build an inner aversion in the child towards the Salat because the child will link the Salat with being beaten up.

3-
Instead, the parents should educate their children and give them sound wisdom as to why we should observe the Salat and worship God, and even more important, why do we need God every minute of the day.