By Ruhie Jamshaid
The birth of a child heralds hope and cheer in the life of a family. Needless to say, a child is a special gift from Allah (swt), and not everyone has the blessing of being a parent.
Ironically, while we understand the blessings of having a child, many amongst us tend to down-play the birth of a daughter. If distribution of Mithais (sweetmeats) and the resonance of ‘Mubaraks’ (congratulations) is seen and heard at the birth of a boy-child, the same excitement is often doused at the birth of a girl-child in most South Asian societies. Many still believe that only a male child can carry on the family name and be the flag-bearer of a legacy. Interestingly, our own Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) legacy was carried on by his daughter, Fatimah (rta) at a time when male offspring were considered to be a source of strength for the clan.
It is exclusively Allah (swt), Who decides whether one has sons or daughters, or both or none. Yet, as believers in the decree of Allah (swt), we must question our rather placid attitudes towards the birth of a girl. Why is it that we possess such differing reactions to the birth of a boy as opposed to a girl?
“Indeed, Allah has set a measure for all things.” (At-Talaq 65:3)
In His infinite wisdom, Allah (swt) has a plan for all of us, as we reside in His vast universe. He, the All-Knowing, knows what good therein lies for each one of us.
Therefore, when we are blessed with a girl-child, there is great benefit in it. In fact, the status of girls is often emphasized in Islam.
“Whoever has three daughters or sisters, or two daughters or two sisters, and lives along with them in a good manner, and has patience with them, and fears Allah with regard to them will enter Paradise.” (Abu Dawood, At-Tirmidhi and others)
Bringing up a girl-child to become a righteous Muslimah is a great honour and a doorway to Jannah. When we endow our daughters with a sound education, solid morals and thorough knowledge of their Deen, they become a force to reckon with. Strong, educated Muslim women will strengthen the future generations, because a mother is the main character-builder and groomer of her children.
The character of a Muslim girl must be honed holistically. Often, two extremes dominate – either we focus on grooming our daughters to become homebound individuals or motivate them to take on a career-orientated path in life. Taking either of these extreme paths can be hazardous. We must not forget that Islam has clearly segregated gender roles: women are to be the main home managers, while men are ordained to work externally to provide for their families. There is always wisdom in Allah’s (swt) decrees, and we must adhere to the rules.
Even though a woman’s main job is to manage the home, she is also often reminded to benefit society at large.
Abu Hurairah (rta) relates that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Whoever removes one of the hardships of a believing soul, Allah will remove from him one of the distresses on the Hereafter. Whoever solves someone else’s problem, Allah will make things easy for him in this world and the Hereafter… Allah is ever assisting His servant, as long as that servant is helping his brother.” (Muslim)
Hence, we must also mould our daughters to learn a skill or to gain knowledge, with which she would be able to add value to the Muslim Ummah. An intelligent and academically inclined Muslimah may choose to become a gynecologist, so as to provide the option of a female woman’s health physician. Some others may choose to teach, so as to dissipate knowledge to our fellow Muslims. We must remember that Aisha (rta), one of the mothers of the believers, was a scholar and had the privilege of reporting an enormous number of Ahadeeth based on the knowledge imparted to her by the Prophet (sa) himself. The Muslim Ummah is humbly indebted to her for her sincere service.
A woman is a brick that builds and strengthens the Muslim Ummah. To be blessed with a daughter is an honour we are bestowed upon by Allah (swt). We must strive to bring her up to be an exemplary Muslimah, for there is Allah’s (swt) great pleasure in doing so.