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Burying baby girls alive (the crime of)By Choosa
Picking up on a note I read on facebook, I thought about the history of the abuse of women, with the crime of waad (burying baby girls alive) coming to mind.
In pre-Islam Arabia, it was common place among many to bury their baby daughters alive. It was said that the first man to do so, the man who began this tradition, was named Qais ibn Aasem al-Tamimy who when fighting with another tribe, his daughter was captured. According to the rules of war of that time, she 'married' a man from the tribe that won that battle. Some years later when a peace treaty was made with the tribe Qais found his daughter and wanted her to return back home with him. Instead she chose to stay with her husband. When this happened Qais made an oath that if he ever had another daughter he would bury her alive. And of course with time he did, and he buried her alive. And this tradition continued with the pre-Islamic Arabs then onwards.
There were two established ways to commit the crime of waad. To either make the wife deliver the baby into a hole in the ground, if it was a boy take him out and if it was a girl to cover it up with soil.The second was to wait till the girl reached the age of six, allowing the mother to spend some time with her. Then the father would take the girl to the dessert to a hole he had already dug. As she looked into it to see what was down there, he would put her in and fill in the hole.
In contrast there was a man named Saasaa ibn Nageya al-Tamimi, he was the grandfather of a man named Al-Farazdaq (a famous pre-Islamic poet). Whenever news reached al-Tamimi that a girl was about to be buried by her father he would pay the father money to ensure that either he didn't bury her or that her needs would be taken care of elsewhere. Farazdaq was
very proud of his grandfather and dedicated a couplet to him:
"In was my grandfather who ransomed daughters
And protected them from being buried alive"
BEST OF MEN
One of the scholars opined that "The best of mankind is the one whose first offspring is a daughter" (and that he looks after her properly). When asked to prove his position he referred to the verse in the Quran where Allah Almighty says, "To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows children, female or male, according to his will". He argued that became the word female came before the word male, that girls were more blessed than boys - and Allah knows best.
Of course Islam forbade this practice both by verse from the Quran as well as by example of Prophet Muhammad. For example his first four children, Zeinab, Ruqaya, Umm Kolthoom and Fatima, were girls. And it is reported that when he was told that he had a baby girl he cried out in joy, "She is an aromatic flower for me to smell!"
One of the Quranic verses on this subject reads, "...When news is brought to them of the birth of a child, his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief. With shame he hides himself from the people because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain it and suffer contempt or bury it in the dust? What an evil choice they decide on!"
There are also many hadith on the subject as well, one of which reads, "Allah has forbidden you to be ungrateful to your mothers, burying daughters alive..."
THE FOOLISH BEDOUIN MOTHER
Again before Islam, a story is related of a bedouin man who had two wives, one gave birth to a daughter, the other, to a son. The mother of the boy would dance with him and taunt the other wife chanting:
"Praise be to God, the Great, the High!
Who has saved me this year from girls garments
And from having an ugly girl as a worn-out waterskin
Who can't defend dependents against offense"
When hearing this, the mother of the daughter danced with her baby chanting:
"So what if she is a girl
Who washes my head and may be my dear!
And raises for me what may fall down from my scarf
And when she attains eight years,
I will cover her in a Yemeni scarf (the best quality)
And get her married to Marawan or Mowaeyah
Honest sons-in-laws and expensive dowries"
TRANSITION AND REGRET
Qais ibn Aasem was a poet and a knight who lived before Islam came to Arabia as well as during the early years of Islam. Once, as an older man, in a discussion about burying girls alive by the companions of the Prophet, he too confessed that before Islam he had buried his daughters alive. He said, 'I was in fear of being the topic of conversation for having baby girls, so I killed all the baby girls that I had save for one who was born while I was traveling and my wife gave her to her brothers to look after. When I returned my wife told me a boy was born but he died in birth. Years later when the girl grew up, she went to visit her mother. As she entered the house I saw a girl with beautiful braided hair, ornamented with strips fitted with sea-shells, besides a necklace of Yemeni and Chinese beads of black and white resembling eyes. I asked who she was as I appreciated both her beauty and her intellect. Hearing this tears rolled down my wife's eyes and she confessed that she was their daughter."
I shudder at the thought of any person burying a baby boy or girl alive; murder in the name of fearing the social label of being someone with a baby girl - how utterly shameful. One of the many reasons why the nation of Arab were indeed the worst of people at that time with the message of Islam reforming them. Sadly many negative attitudes and opinions about girls, babies or women still prevail in society today. Prejudice will always exist but I am grateful for the beauty of faith which not only grants girls rights and freedoms but charges society for being responsible to ensure that their rights and freedoms are granted.
In short, all I can say is, Girls rock - mashallah.