Is it true that one should not let one’s children outside in the evenings due to the Shayāṭīn being around at that time?
There are many concepts which have become unusually prevalent within certain parts of the Muslim world. If such concepts cannot be justified by the Qurʾān and Sunnah, they are not to be accepted; on the other hand, a textual evidence will prove a particular concept to be from Islām and not from a cultural tradition.
As for keeping one’s children indoors in the evenings, there is an authentic ḥadīth in the Ṣaḥīḥayn wherein the Prophet of Islām ﷺ explicated this. The ḥadīth reads:
إذا استجنح الليل، أو قال: جنح الليل، فكفوا صبيانكم، فإن الشياطين تنتشر حينئذ، فإذا ذهب ساعة من العشاء فحُلُّوهم، وأغلق بابك واذكر اسم الله، وأطفئ مصباحك واذكر اسم الله، وأوك سقاءك واذكر اسم الله، وخمر إناءك واذكر اسم الله، ولو تعرُضُ عليه شيئا
“When night falls, keep your children [i.e. do not let them out] because the Shayāṭīn are scattered at that time. When a portion of the night goes by, you may let them free. Mention Allāh’s name when closing your door; mention Allāh’s name when extinguishing your lantern; mention Allāh’s name when locking your water-skin; mention Allāh’s name when covering your utensil – even by placing something across it.”
Another ḥadīth of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim reads:
«لا ترسلوا فواشيكم وصبيانكم إذا غابت الشمس حتى تذهب فحمة العشاء ، فإن الشياطين تُبعَث إذا غابت الشمس حتى تذهب فحمة العشاء»
“When the sun sets, do not send out your cattle and your children until the time of ʿIshāʾ enters, because the Shayāṭīn are sent out after sunset until the time of ʿIshāʾ enters.”
Although the chain of the second narration contains a mudallis, Abū ’l-Zubayr, he has explicitly mentioned having heard this narration from Sayyidunā Jābir ؓ, as recorded by al-Ḥumaydī in his Musnad (1273); and the above-mentioned narration, as well as other narrations, support its meaning.()
Therefore, there is a sound basis to the well-known concept of keeping young children indoors after sunset. As for the Fiqhī status of keeping one’s children indoors – i.e. wājib, mandūb etc – we advise one to resort to an expert of Fiqh who is well-versed in the principles of one of the four major schools of Sunnī Law.
We surely attest that Allāh ﷻ knows best.
Answered by Shahin-ur Rahman, Northampton.
Sunday 9th Dhū ’l-Qaʿdah 1436 AH (23rd August 2015 CE)
Checked and approved by Shaykh Dr. Abul Hasan Hussain Ahmed, London.
 Muslim  (2013) and Abū Dāwūd (2604). This has been translated according to one interpretation of the word faḥmah. For more details, see al-Nawawī, Abū Zakariyyā, Al-Minhāj Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim b. al-Ḥajjāj, Dār al-Fayḥāʾ, Damascus (1431/2010), ed. Muwaffaq Marʿī vol. 5 p. 209.