Tahneek & Branding (Hadith No. 1278)
Hadith no. 1277 (below) is a repeat. Read it here.
Narrated Anas (radiallaahu `anhu):
Some people from ‘Uraina tribe came to Medina and its climate did not suit them, so Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) allowed them to go to the herd of camels (given as Zakat) and they drank their milk and urine (as medicine) but they killed the shepherd and drove away all the camels. So Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) sent (men) in their pursuit to catch them, and they were brought, and he had their hands and feet cut, and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron and they were left in the Harra (a stony place at Medina) biting the stones.
Narrated Anas bin Malik (radiallaahu `anhu):
took ‘Abdullah bin Abu Talha (radiallaahu `anhu) to Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) to perform Tahnik for him. (Tahnik was a custom among the Muslims that whenever a child was born they used to take it to the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) who would chew a piece of date and put a part of its juice in the child’s mouth). I saw the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) and he had an instrument for branding in his hands and was branding the camels of Zakat.
Branding of animals is allowed, but branding on the face is not. Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) forbade this act and cursed its doer.
About Tahneek: It is Sunnah (recommended) to do tahneek for the child when he is born:
It was narrated that Anas ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The son of Abu Talhah was sick. Abu Talhah went out and the child died, and when Abu Talhah returned he said, “What happened to my son?” Umm Sulaym (his wife) said, ‘He is quieter than he was.” Then she brought him his dinner and he ate, then he had marital relations with her, and when he finished she said, “They buried the child.” The following morning, Abu Talhah went to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and told him what had happened. He said, “Did you have marital relations last night?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “O Allaah, bless them.” She later gave birth to a boy. Abu Talhah said to me, “Keep him until I bring him to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).” He brought him to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and I sent some dates with him. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) took him and said, “Is there anything with him?” They said, “Yes, some dates.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) took some and chewed it, then he took some from his mouth and put it in the child’s mouth (tahneek), and named him ‘Abd-Allaah.
Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5153; Muslim, 2144
The scholars are agreed that it is mustahabb (preferred)to do tahneek with dates for the child when he is born; if that is not possible then to use some similar kind of sweet. The dates should be chewed until they become soft enough to be swallowed, then the child’s mouth should be opened and a little of the dates put in his mouth.
Sharh al-Nawawi ‘ala Muslim, 14/122-123