There has historically been a bias against women, even by their own parents they were considered inferior to their male counterparts. This could be seen in the time before the Prophet (SAW) preached Islam, in his context it was not unheard of for fathers to bury their daughters out of shame. Islam came and abolished such practices, it upheld the rights of daughters and ensured they had as much protection as the males in society.
Allah has mentioned this period of history in 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? Unquestionably, evil is what they decide.” (16: 58-59) This mistreatment based on gender is completely forbidden in Islam, if one engages in such filth then he will certainly be questioned on the Day of Judgement.
The Prophet (SAW) has advised his Nation to treat their daughters well, he has made it incumbent upon Parents to show kindness toward them. Parents should not give preference to one child over the other, as they are both blessings from Allah. Yet we find that within our Communities this cancer of inequality is alive and well, this is in flagrant contradiction to the Prophetic way.
The Prophet (SAW) has said, “Whoever becomes the father of a girl, he should neither hurt her nor treat her with contempt nor show preference over her to his sons in kindness and affection. (Both boys and girls should be treated alike). Allah will grant him Paradise in return for kindly treatment towards the daughter.” (Ahmad) (Hakim) If parents were to treat their children with kindness, instead of ruling over them with an iron-fist, then the rewards would be immense.
Not only has the Prophet (SAW) linked the good treatment of daughters to Paradise but he has also stated that they will protect a person from Hell and its torments. Aisha (RA) has related that she heard the Prophet of Allah (SAW) say, “The bondsman or bondswoman upon whom the responsibility of daughters was placed by Allah, (and he or she fulfilled the responsibility in a good manner), and treated them properly, for him or her the daughters shall be a means of protection from Hell.” (Bukhari) (Muslim)
In another version of the same Tradition, the incident is mentioned which prompted the Prophet (SAW) to say this. It is narrated that a very poor woman, with two daughters, came to Aisha’s (RA) place to beg. By chance Aisha (RA) had only one date with her at that time, which she gave to the woman. The woman broke the date into two parts and gave each girl one part. She did not eat the date herself. When the Prophet (SAW) came after some time had elapsed, Aisha (RA) related the incident to the Prophet (SAW), upon hearing what happened he remarked the above narration.
Parents sometimes think that due to the fact that daughters usually move out when they get married and live with their in-laws, that there will be no benefit to raising them well. This corrupt mentality is dangerous as it marginalises daughters as they are seen as worthless. This is not the case, every blessing of Allah is priceless, every child is precious and should be raised as such.
This has been emphasised by the Prophet (SAW), where he mentions the reward for raising daughters; “The bondsman who bears the responsibility of two daughters and supports them till they attain puberty, he and I will be close to one another like this on the Day of Judgement.” (Abu Dawud) (Tirmidhi) The narrator, Anas (RA), added that the Prophet (SAW) showed this by joining the fingers of his hand (that as the fingers were close to one another in the same way the bondsman be close to him on the Day of Final Reckoning). This is the reward for raising daughters, again the Prophet (SAW), placed such emphasis on the treatment of daughters due to the abysmal conditions they endured at the time.
When parents raise children they should ensure that they do so with fairness and justice. There should be no discrimination, regardless of gender or age, as this creates resentment for parents and the siblings of the discriminated. Narrated by Nu’man ibn Bashir (RA), “My father took me to the Prophet (SAW)”, according to some reports, “in his arms, and said: ‘I have given a slave to this son of mine.’ (In other narratives, a garden is mentioned in place of slave). The Prophet (SAW) enquired: ‘Have you given the same to all of your sons?’ ‘No’, my father replied. He (SAW) said: ‘It is not correct. Take it back.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) This shows that giving preference to one child over another is disliked and should be avoided. If there is a need to give more attention or financial support to one child over another due to illness or a disability then it is fine.
May Allah give us the ability to be just to our children. May He make our children a means of our salvation and not a means of our damnation. May he allow us to become the best of parents. Ameen.