Islam and the fight against Female Infanticide

Islam and the fight against Female Infanticide

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


Infanticide is the old practise of killing female babies once they were born by Pagan Arabs before Islam. Which Islam condmned strongly. It is disheartening to see around that some parents express happiness when the newborn child is a male and display their displeasure when the child is a female. 

This is an attitude of pre-Islamic period, still prevalent in our multicultural society. In the pre-Islamic Arabia, daughters were seen as a liability and source of humiliation. Burying them alive was a common method for killing infant daughters. The Quran condemns this attitude by mentioning the condition of the pre-Islamic fathers when daughters were born;

“And when one of them receives tidings of a female (child), his face darkens and he is choked with anguish. He hides from the people on account of the evil of the tidings he has been given. Shall he keep it in humiliation, or bury it in the dust? Behold! Evil indeed is the judgment they make!” (16:58-59)

The Quran made it clear that killing one’s children for such reasons or out of fear of poverty (6:151, 17:31) was among the most evil attitudes of the pre-Islamic Arabs. The revelation of these Quranic verses nearly abolished the female infanticide.

However this evil practice is still committed, in spite of the strict laws having been made around the world. This practice must be eradicated and for that matter we should educate the people that this attitude is based on a Satanic impulse and carried over from the pre-Islamic days.

The Quran says, “Do not slay your children for fear of poverty, We will provide for you and for them” (7:151). This verse warns parents against “slaying their children” for fear of poverty, commanding them that they must rely on God to provide for the requirements of themselves and their children. Similar warnings against slaying one’s children have been given in verses 6:140 and 17:31.

The Quranic verse (16:59) serves as a chastisement and a strict warning to those who dislike daughters. Other Islamic accounts consider daughters a source of blessing and teach us to show generosity and kindness to daughters, even more so than to sons. The following are some hadith on how to treat daughters, all of which are deemed authentic.

The Prophet is reported to have said “That person in whose guardianship two daughters remain until they reach puberty, then such a person will come forth on the day of the Judgment in such a condition that he and I will be very close to one another.” Then the Prophet  joined both his fingers to show this closeness”. (Sahih Muslim)

Hazrat Aisha is reported to have said that a woman came to me with her two daughters and then requested for something. I did not have anything in my possession except one date. I gave that away to her. The woman split the date and shared it between her daughters, and she remained without eating. 

After she had left, the Prophet  arrived (and) I mentioned this incident to the Prophet, who said, ‘That person whom Allah has blessed with daughters, and he is compassionate towards them, then they shall be a barrier for him from the fire of hell”. (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim)

It is narrated by Hazrat Aisha that a Bedouin said to the Prophet ‘You (people) kiss children (affectionately) and we do not do this.’ The Prophet said, “What can I do if Allah has removed mercy (compassion) from your heart.” (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim)

Hazrat Aisha is reported to have said, “A poor woman came to me with her two daughters and I gave her three dates. She gave one each to her daughters and was about to put one into her mouth, when her daughters asked her for it. She broke it into two pieces and shared it between them. When I mentioned this to the Prophet, He  said, “Allah Almighty has made the Paradise compulsory upon her and granted her salvation from hell-fire”. (Musnad Ahmad and Sahih Muslim)

Hazrat Ibn Abbas narrates that the Messenger of Allah said, “Almighty Allah will definitely make Paradise compulsory upon a person who shares his food and drink with an orphan, except if he committed such a (grave) sin, which cannot be forgiven.

 Allah will make Paradise compulsory upon a person who takes care of three daughters or the same amount of sisters and teaches them good character and is compassionate towards them, until such time that they become self-sufficient (i.e. independent)….” (Sharhus Sunnah)

The Prophet is reported to have said, “Should I not inform you of the greatest Sadqa (charity)? It is to take care of your daughter who has returned to you”. (Musnad Ahmad, Haakim and Ibn Majah)

The Messenger of God is reported to have said, “That person who has a daughter and refrains from being cruel towards her and from causing her any insult and he does not give preference to his male children over her; Allah will enter him into Holy Paradise” (Abu Dawud).

The Messenger of God said, “For a person to teach his children good manners are better than him giving One Sa’a” (Tirmidhi)

The Prophet is reported to have said that a father cannot give a gift better than good manners to his children. (Tirmidhi and Baihaqi)

The Prophet is reported to have said, “There is no greater gift from a father to his children than him teaching them good manners” (Tirmidhi and Haakim)

The Prophet is reported to have said, “Respect your children and teach them good manners”. (Ibn Majah)

The Prophet is reported to have said, “Give to your children equally”. If I had to give excellence (preference) to anyone, I would have given this preference to girls (daughters)” (Tabarani).

The Prophet is reported to have said, “Be just with your children, when giving them gifts, just as you desire that all of them should be just in kindness and compassionate towards you”. (Tabarani)

This is how Islam stops from female infanticide. To add more here, not only does Islam command to stop female infanticide but it also teaches parents to show kindness and compassionate nature towards their daughters. In several Ahadith quoted above, daughters are considered shields from hellfire. We should educate such beautiful teachings to common masses, especially those who express displeasure when the newborn is female.

Allah knows Best. 

Women in Islam, the reforms and misconceptions

Woman before and after Islam

Almighty Allah is the highest and most knowledgeable, and the attribution of knowledge to him is the safest.

Right from Almighty Allah and wrong from me and Satan

Prepared by Mohamad Mostafa Nassar- 

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Arrogance is not only a sign of insecurity, but also a sign of immaturity. Mature and fully realised persons can get their points across, even emphatically without demeaning or intimidating others.