Posted by: alqamardesigns | September 20, 2007

It’s a.…Baby girl…. AGAIN!

It’s a.…Baby girl…. AGAIN!

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Nothing can give more joy to a woman than the birth of a child. All the pain and strain disappear at the first sight of the baby. Tiny yawns and sleepy sighs, a brand new life, a bundle of joy for all the family! You would think that this is true whether the newborn is a baby girl or boy. Unfortunately, in every family this is not always the case.

Although most of us are fortunate enough to have never been discriminated against for being girls, whose parents have loved us unconditionally, whose husbands respect us, and children value us, there are people out there who still perceive the girl no more than a burden and often shame is expected and felt by those women who do not successfully give birth to a boy.

Though discrimination against women is considered a universal phenomenon, this is more marked in the Asian region. In countries where boy children are still valued economically and socially above girls, such as India and China, female infanticide and sex selective abortion has been practiced as a brutal method of family planning. In these Third World countries male children are preferred over female because boys provide more labour, whereas girls require a dowry. Outright, boys bring the dowry in, while girls take one out, putting an economic burden on the family.

Some surveys in the United States revealed a clear preference for masculine babies as the first child. According to a famous anecdote, when Mohammed Ali, the ex-world boxing champion was asked how many children he had, he answered, “one boy and seven errors.” For centuries, sayings and habits worldwide have spread these prejudices. In China the implementation of theone child per couplepolicy in 1978 left many Chinese parents unwilling to invest their one opportunity for parenthood on a daughter. Female babies have been described as worms in the riceand some experts contend that within a few years 90 million Chinese men will be unable to find wives. In one hospital an investigation of 700 individuals sought prenatal sex determination. Of these foetuses, 250 were determined to be male and 450 female. While all of the male foetuses were kept to term, 430 of the 450 female foetuses were aborted. Subhanallah!

Typical also is India, where despite the government outlawing prenatal sex determination tests in 1994, evidence suggests that female infanticide is rife. A study carried out in 1995 illustrates that the 1994 law is widely flouted. In a sample of 700 pregnant women, only 4% of those expecting a girl decided to bring the pregnancy to term. The small number of foetuses kept to term would also be subject to discrimination on the basis of their sex at the early stages of their life and through adulthood. This skewed sex ratio may have enormous implications for the future of these countries. This is a huge cause for concern especially when these countries are home to a large population of Muslims.

But what is the stance in Britain. Under the UKs Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) rules, abortions also cannot be granted on the grounds that the foetus is the wrong gender. Although medically assisted sex selection is illegal in this country, there is nothing to prevent women flying overseas, to countries where the practice is not illegal to have a procedure undertaken which will tell them the sex of their baby. A recent article in a British newspaper, shows how some British couples have visited the clinic of a US based Scientist where the sex of embryos can be screened to ensure couples have a child of the desired sex. The article also mentions that it is privately acknowledged by abortion specialists in Britain that women unhappy with the sex of their unborn child are being granted terminations for social reasons.

The evidence for women going overseas was provided by another British newspaper recently, which found that pregnant British Asian women barred by the NHS after numerous abortions, were going to India for gender defining ultrasounds, to ensure they have a male child. With many clinics refusing to declare the sex of unborn babies in the UK, particularly in Asian communities, Asian women flying abroad, where it costs little and the procedure is over in an hour is on the increase. A gender rights expert from New Delhi, reported that aborting healthy baby girls was well documented among British Asians, and multiple abortions in Britain had become increasingly common. The desire for boys transcends caste, social, educational and economic status. One in seven girls in Delhi is killed in the womb and the situation goes on in Britain, where the belief systems are identical.”

The question is, is this happening amongst the muslim population and if yes, Why? Why is this, when gender equality is an intrinsic part of Islamic belief and when time and time again the importance of the woman and her equal if not high status to man is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. Practices such as female infanticide and forced marriages show how Islamic teachings can be superseded by local culture, tradition and customs.

Certainly the status of the woman in the pre-Islamic era began as inferior at the time of birth when unwanted baby girls were buried alive. The history of human civilisation testifies that the woman was treated harshly, degraded and was denied basic human dignity.

The 7th century dawn of Islam ushered in a new era of morality and divine law, improving the status of the woman and elevating their position in both family and society. Through the teachings of Islam, beloved Prophet Muhammad may Allah bless him and grant him peace, put a swift and resounding end to this evil practice. Not only did he (PBUH) severely discourage and condemn this act but he also used to teach them to respect and cherish their daughters and mothers as partners and sources of salvation for the men of their family:

Islam gave women equal rights, rights that the West fails to give even today. According to Islam, men and women have the same religious and moral duties and responsibilities. Each human being shall face the consequences of his or her deeds. In the interpretation Allah (swt) says in the meaning of the Quran: “And their Lord responded to them (saying): Never will I allow to be lost the work of (any) worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another…” [Quran, 3:195.]

Women’s full and equal humanity is attested to on the final judgement day. The Qur’an makes it clear that both men and women are called upon by God to uphold God’s commandments, and that both men and women are accountable to God for their righteousness (Surah 3:Al-Imran: 195: Surah 4:An-Nisa’:124: Surah 9:At-Taubah:71-72).

Despite the social acceptance of female infanticide among some Arabian tribes, the Qur’an forbade this custom, and considered it a crime like any other murder. And when the girl (who was) buried alive is asked, for what sin she was killed” [Quran,81:8-9.]

The Quran went further to rebuke the unwelcoming attitude of some parents upon hearing the news of the birth of a baby girl, instead of a baby boy. Allah SWT has said in the interpretation of the meaning of the Quran: “And when one of them is informed of (the birth of) a female, his face becomes dark, and he suppresses grief. He hides himself from the people because of the ill of which he has been informed. Should he keep it in humiliation or bury it in the ground? Certainly, evil is what they decide.” [Quran 16:58-59.]

Far from saving the girl’s life so that she may later suffer injustice and inequality, Islam requires kind and just treatment for her. Among the sayings of the Prophet PBUH in this regard are the following hadith: Whosoever supports three daughters until they mature, he and I will come on the Day of Judgment as this (and he pointed with his fingers held together). [Ahmad.]

The Prophet (PBUH) further said: “Whosoever has a daughter and does not bury her alive, does not insult her, and does not favor his son over her, Allah will enter him into Paradise.” [Ahmad]

Islam considered kindness to parents next to the worship of God. Mothers in Islam are highly honoured. Islam recommends treating them in the best way. A man came to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and said, O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The Prophet (PBUH) said: {Your mother.} The man said, Then who? The Prophet (PBUH) said: {Then your mother.} The man further asked, Then who? The Prophet (PBUH) said: {Then your mother.} The man asked again, Then who? The Prophet (PBUH) said: {Then your father.}” [Al-Bukhari.]

Furthermore, marriage in Islam is based on mutual peace, love, and compassion, and not just the mere satisfying of human sexual desire. Among the most impressive verses in the interpretation of the meaning of the Quran about marriage is the following: And of His signs is: that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought. [Quran, 30:21.]

Islam encourages the husband to treat his wife well, as the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: The best among you are those who are best to their wives. [Tirmidhi, Sahih.]

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: The best of you is the best to his family and I am the best among you to my family.” [Tirmidhi, Sahih.]

He (PBUH) also told the Muslims: Fear Allah in respect of women.” And: “The best of you are they who behave best to their wives.” [Tirmidhi, Sahih.]

Indeed the Qur’an goes beyond insisting that individual women and men are to be treated identically. Instead it insists that men and women recognize their interconnectedness and interdependence. The Qur’an affirms that men and women in the umma are members and protectors of each other (Surah 3:Al- Imran:195; Surah 9:At-Tawbah: 71). The Qur’an’s vision of the relationship between men and women within society is therefore neither hierarchical nor adversarial but one of equality and mutuality.

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By Sister S


Responses

  1. MashaAllah sister
    This is great article.it makes us realise how many things Allah and our prophet S.A.W has shown us. Islam is a complete religion and we should treat it as such.

  2. Assalaamualykum

    Brilliant article mashaallah. It’s time people woke up and realised having daughters i just as important as having sons. Alhamdolilah, very good article Simi.


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