Parental justice between sons and daughters

And it is because of the perverted attitude towards daughters that female infanticide was common among the Arabs because their traditions allowed the father to bury his daughter alive for actual or expected poverty, or out of fear of a disgrace she might bring upon them when she grew up. And this attitude is conceived in the guise of social plausibility in an implicit way. In the spiritual world (hereafter) the victim herself (dumb here) will be asked to give evidence that she had committed no crime and that she had been innocent. The Qur'an proclaims, "When (on the Day of Judgement) the female infant buried alive is questioned - for what crime she was killed?" (Al-Qur'an: 81:8-9). The message of the verse is that the parents will definitely be questioned if they make any sort of discrepancy in rearing their sons and daughters.

The essence of Islamic teachings in this regard is that every parent should be ready to welcome the birth of his/her child without the least discrimination of its sex. Son should not be preferred as human person to daughter. Islam prohibits any sorts of unfairness or favouritism between the children on the basis of sex in taking care of them or in giving them affection or gifts. A prophetic tradition is likely to clarify this assertion: Hazrat Nu'man bin Bashir (RAA) says that his father took him to the holy Prophet (SAWS) and said, "I have a slave whom I have given to this son of mine as gift." The Prophet (SAWS) asked: O Bashir, (Nu'man's father) have you other children beside this one? He answered: Yes. The Prophet then asked: Have you given (a slave) to each of them? He answered: No. The Prophet (SAWS) said: Then do not make me a witness for I do not want to be a witnessfor an injustice (cruelty). One more version says: Do not make me witness for an injustice.

Another version relates the Hadeeth that the Prophet (SAWS) said, "Do you like that all of your children may behave equally well towards you? My father said: Yes. The Prophet (SAWS) then answered: Then don't do injustices now. (Bukhari and Muslim) (quoted in Riadus-salehin Hadeeth no. 1773)

The lesson of this tradition is that Muslims should always abide by the Islamic ruling of justice in the rearing of the children. The Prophet (SAWS) was a bit more kind-hearted to his daughters. Hisrelationship with his daughter Fatima can be a model for all to follow. A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reports, "Whenever Fatimah came into 
the room, the Prophet (PBUH) would stand up, welcome her, kiss her and offer her his seat, and whenever he came into the room, she would stand up, take his hand, welcome him, kiss him and offer him her seat. When she came to see him during his final illness, he welcomed her and kissed her." (Abu Daud; 4/480) Furthermore the Prophet (SAWS) says, "Surely my daughter is part of me; I fear what frightens her, and I am harmed by what harms her". [Transmitted by all the six. See The Concise Book of Traditions (Mukhtassar As-Sunna)by Al-Munzery, Hadith (1987).]

In contrary to the utilitarian attitude of some parents of the present world, the Islamic teachings to do justice between sons and daughters can be followed by the humanity. The following traditions can  potentially give us directions in this regard:

A'ishah (RA), she says, "A poor woman came to me carrying her two daughters. I gave her three dates to eat. She gave each child a date, and raised the third to her own mouth to eat it. Her daughters asked her to give it to them, so she split the date (that she had wanted to eat) between them. I was impressed by what she had done, and told the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) about it. He said, "Allah (SWT) has decreed Paradise for her because of it," or, "He has saved her from Hell because of it." (Sahih Muslim, 16/179)

Abu Hurayrah (RAA) reports that the Prophet (PBUH) said:"Whoever has three daughters, and shelters them, bearing their joys and sorrows with patience, Allah (SWT) will admit him to Paradise by virtue of his compassion towards them." A man asked, "What if he has only two, O Messenger of Allah?" He said, "Even if they are only two." Another man asked, "What if he has only one, O Messenger of Allah?" He said, "Even if he has only one." (Ahmad, 2/335)

Ibn `Abbas (RAA) said: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: `Whoever had a daughter born to him, and he did not bury her alive or humiliate her, and he did not prefer his son over her, Allah (SWT) will admit him to Paradise because of her." (Al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak 4/177)

The Prophet's compassion extended to females, and included sisters as well as daughters, as is seen in the Hadith narrated by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad from Abu Sa`id al-Khudri, who said:

"The Prophet (PBUH) said: `There is no-one who has three daughters, or three sisters, and he treats them well, but Allah (SWT) will admit him to Paradise." (Bukhari Mufrad, 1/162)

According to a report given by al-Tabarani, the Prophet (PBUH) said: "There is no one among my Ummah who has three daughters, or three sisters, and he supports them until they are grown up, but he will be with me in Paradise like this -" and he held up his index and middle fingers together. (Tabarani) (The Ideal Muslimah: The True Islamic Personality of the Muslim Woman as Defined in the Qur'an and Sunnah; Dr. Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi; Translated by Nasiruddin Al-Khattab; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: International Islamic Publishing House, 1999; available on

Apart from someone’s own daughters the Prophet made Paradise the recompense of every man who take cares of slave-girls. He says, `Whoever sustained and protected two slave-girls until they cameof age, on the Day of Judgement, he and I will be; then he put his two fingers together." It was phrased by Al-Termithy in the following manner: "Whoever sustained and protected two slave-girls, he and I will enter Paradise like these and lie joined his forefinger to the next finger." As slavery has been abolished, this teaching of Prophet can be applied in one’s treatment with the maid-servants.

Parental justice between sons and daughters

Among many parents — both Muslim and non-Muslim — a discrepancy is noticed in their attitude towards sons and daughters. In rearing their children they very unjustly make difference in giving attention to  sons and daughters. Some parents are very stern in applying the moral discipline to their daughters and quite lenient in the case of sons (out of their excessive love for the latter). The result is that the daughters are suppressed; the sons become spoilt and unruly; and the parents  become oppressor in the eyes of daughters and ineffectual in the sight of sons. When a Muslim parent does so 
s/he violates the most important Islamic ruling of justice—the essence of the creed.

Many parents are there who give more importance to the education of their sons and less importance to that of the daughters. When the son demands anything it is managed on the instant but when a daughter wants something it 
becomes a different case.

Unfortunately the discrepant attitude towards sons and daughters starts right from the beginning i.e. when the child is born. In many societies, when a son is born then it creates a lively atmosphere in the family and the parents start distributing sweets to the neighbouring houses and some volleys of congratulations are heaped on the “proud”(?) parents. In contrast when a daughter is born, the surrounding atmosphere seems to be bleak and unwelcoming and as such when the father or mother goes to his/her work, s/he talks little and seems to be reluctant to make the news of the 
childbirth known, as it is not a good news at all? There are some parents who take the risk of further and further issues in the hope of giving birth to a male child. And many a husband is there who divorces his wife or marries more than one wife only on this ground.

What is most inhuman is that some mothers of female children face brutal torture from the unprincipled husbands and suffer remarks of humiliation from the close in-laws (this mostly happens in case of recurrent female childbirth although recurrent male childbirth brings an opposite consequence).

It should be made clear that the matter of childbirth is absolutely subjected to the will of Allah (SWT) and no human intervention can change the gender of any issue. Neither the husband nor the wife has anything to do in selecting the gender of the would-be-child. Allah says, "To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and earth. He creates what He wills (and plans). He bestows (children) male or female according to His Will (and Plan). Or He bestows both males and females, and He leaves barren whom He wills: For He is full of knowledge and power." (42: 49-50).

The discrepant attitude is the result of a utilitarian mentality of the parents concerned who consider the matter of childbirth a matter devoid of love and affection. Sons are thought more useful and of assistance and the daughters are thought burden and financial load. Some other— both fundamental and peripheral—factors are responsible for this disparity, which is difficult to cover in a span of this write-up.

Exactly the same notion about childbirth was prevalent in many periods of history before the advent of Islam specially among the pagan Arabs. In that society when a father was informed about the birth of his newborn daughter, he used to be disheartened and annoyed and said, "By Allah she is not as blissful as a son; her defence is crying and her care is but stealing!" What the father used to mean is that the daughter would not be able to fight for the family or tribe when they are in danger. She could not carry arms and what she could do was to simply cry and scream. Moreover, she would be a disgrace to the family and the tribe.

The Qur'an vehemently condemns such attitude towards daughters and depicts the prevalent Arab situation in the following manner, "When news is brought to one of them of the birth of a female child his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief. With shame does he hide himself from his people, because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain it (the female child) on (sufferance) and contempt or bury it in the dust? Ah! What an evil choice they decide on?" (Al-Qur'an: 16:58-9).

The Qur'an has illustrated in parables how some of the daughters could be more remarkable in their influence and more immortal in memories than many male offspring. We have a good example in the story of Mary, daughter of `Imran, who was chosen by Allah from all other women and purified. Her mother who bore her had wished the child to be a male to serve Allah and to be of the righteous:"(Remember) when the wife of `Imran said: "O My Lord! I have vowed to You 
what (the child that) is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services (from all worldly work; to serve Your Place of worship), so accept this, from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing." Then when she delivered her (child Mary), she said: "O My Lord! I have delivered a female child, "-And Allah knew better what she delivered,- "And the male is not like the female, and I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge with You (Allah) for her and for her offspring from Satan, the outcast." So her Lord (Allah) accepted her with a goodly acceptance. He made her grow in a good manner. [ Surah 3:35 - 37] (quoted by Dr. Yousuf Al-Qaradawi in The Status of Women in Islam;). The Quranic clause “male is not like the female” here gives another indication that for certain purposes (or maybe in general) females are better than males.

Home - Quran & HadithCharity - Family & HealthIslamMiscellaneousMatrimonials

Human Rights - WomenNewscenterBoycottChechnyaPalestine - Links