‘When anyone of them is given the good news of a daughter, his face grows dark after this news and he chokes with inward gloom: he hides himself from people because of this disgrace, asking himself whether he should suffer his daughter with disgrace or bury her alive…’
(Holy Quran, An-Nahl, verse 58,59)
Long, long time (some 1430 years) ago, this son-preference over girl behavior of primitive Arabian society was expressed in beautiful prose in the verses by Almighty Allah revealed upon holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW). As if with clinical precision, the inner ailing body-part is anatomized and the tumor of ‘inward gloom’ located and the causes discovered. That was the time the Benevolent of mankind (SAW) was restructuring and re-modeling the uncivilized, pugnacious, arrogant, largely illiterate people of Makkah on the progressive enlightened lines of a new code of conduct called Islam.
The indifference to the plight of the innocent creature her parents expressed and the beastliness they showed when she was being dumped into the dark fathomless wells is of such a ghastly nature that at the day of life-after-death the Almighty Allah instead of asking them what this tender soul they killed for, the buried girl, in Allah’s court, would be directly addressed as Holy Quran in Al-Takweer verse 8 and 9 says: ‘Wa Izl Maua’datw Sueelat, Bi Ayee Zambin Qutilat? (And when the girl dumped alive in grave will be asked, for what sin was she slain?)
So much the ferocity that the Omnipotent Allah at the day of judgement won’t like even to cast a glance at the murdering couple guilty of infanticide – formed from their own ‘clot of blood’.
In Arab the tyrannical practice of burying girls alive was in vogue from time immemorial. And with many reasons. One, the fear of girls being a financial burden to be nourished till the time of their marriage. The sons were preferred as to help in building economy of the family. Second, the sons were taught to provide the muscle arm of the family in tribal feuds. In contrast to it, daughters were thought a liability. Third, at the time of the attack from the enemy, the threat of daughters being abducted or made concubines and sold always loomed large. Because of these reasons the daughter was, at the very moment of birth dumped into the pit or if resistance was offered from the mother or family members, she was brought up for some time and then taken to desert and thrown into the pit never to be retrieved.
Just have a re-look of these verses and have the grasp of contempt towards the girls their own fathers showed. And imagine the fortified fortresses of discrimination which did not allow another equal human half to have the right to birth. No to speak of clamoring for justice.
But with the advent of this great messenger of Allah and the challenging work of social transformation and mind and soul capturing he carried; and the resolution and patience, steadfastness he put in for all the 23 years of struggle, braving all kinds of worst atrocities and persecution – from social boycott to forcible emigration to hideous plots for his liquidation to vilifying character assassination campaigns – Muhammad (SAW), did carry his mission to perfection. And before he left for his heavenly abode, the same primitive, feudal, tribe-dominated, warring and blood-letting society was fashioned to the glory of equality, equity, justice, self-respect, dignity and piety. Where girls were not buried alive in pits of shame, but nourished and loved. Not only as a source of bringing peace to mind, but as the asset, God’s asset, a reward for a berth in the paradise.
In fact one of the blessing from the host of blessings from Islam is that it not only wiped out this extremely brutal practice from Arab soil but even the very thought that the birth of a daughter is a tragedy the family has have to, willy-nilly, bear with, got obliterated. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) changed the perception of people regarding girls as is known through many of his traditions (Ahadees). In one of his Hadeet he stated if one is blessed with a girl and he brings her up and does not show any disrespect to her, nor gives any preference to the son to her, Allah will have his place reserved in the paradise. In another Hadeet the Prophet gave a happy tiding to the man having two or more daughters or sisters and who taught them manners (educated), loved them till they grew up and did not depend on her, said they would enter the paradise with him.
This is not, what ‘progressive’ ‘liberal’ minds would slap as ‘exaggerated adulation’ from a ‘blind follower’. Take some time and browse through the pages of Islam and life history of this greatest reformist whom the author of ‘One Hundred’ rightly and honestly places ahead of all. You will know how the “barbarians” disciplined world and strengthened bonds of universal brotherhood and justice without any regard to geography, race, color or language and gender. You will know how the most “despised” primitive Arabs thought brought ‘disgrace’ got elevated to the status of a ‘divine’ mother, at the feet of which lay the paradise. Got dressed in equality for her equal half (Huna Libasun Lakum, Wa Antum Libasum Lahuna). Were entitled to the right to own and inherit property (unheard of in ‘liberal’ democracies of West till the beginning of twentieth century). Reached to the pinnacle of glory where she would teach even the righteous companions of Prophet (SAW) as did the beloved wife of the Prophet, Hezrate Aashiya (RA). The glorious contribution of Muslim women in service of Islam and Jihad and humanity are immortalized in the pages of history.
It was because of this social transformation that far from looking down upon the girl as a wicked or evil entity, the birth of which brings nothing but ‘disgrace’ to her parents, she became symbol of spiritual bliss, mental peace and a blessing for entire humanity. She got accredited to the sanctimonious status of what you call “Nooristan”.
Koar Cheh Nooristan (the girl is abode of enlightenment) is how she is being projected by print and electronic media, and applauded at seminars and debates conducted in educational institutions. But the flip side of it is that our strands in behavior and mentality towards her, especially the ones who crave for a puff of free air outside the womb, are not different than the primitive ignorant illiterate Arab Tribesmen of pre-Islamic era.
The Jahil Arab people, at least, had nothing to cover up their savagery. But we kill them in mothers’ womb in this ‘civilized’, ‘advanced’ world of 21st century. And try to hide the primitive Arab nestled in our bosom. Doesn’t that reveal the stink within that despite the honorific Koar Cheh Nooristan we have closeted her in and ‘women empowerment’ that we are screaming at the highest pitch, we have degraded her to Koar Cheh Sharmindistan (abode of shame)! You don’t believe, perhaps. Wait. Look at the provisional demographics of 2011 census see the steep fall in the child sex ratio. Why so huge number of girls have vanished.
(The next part of this article will be published next week)