What is the importance of taking care of girls (daughters)?

The Details of the Question
What is the importance of taking care of girls (daughters)?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

There exists a custom of Ignorance (Jahiliyya) whose coldness we still feel today: to despise girls (daughters). That rude and ugly custom was very common in Arabia during the time when our Prophet lived. The Bedouins of the desert regarded it a great disaster when a girl was born. They thought she would be a bad girl and they felt ashamed about it. As it is described by the Quran very well, when they found out that they had a daughter, their faces darkened, they were filled with grief and tried to hide themselves from other people with shame due to that bad (!) news. Then, they tried to decide whether to retain her by risking contempt and shame or to bury her in the dust. (see an-Nahl, 16/58-59) When they decided to bury their daughter, they took the innocent child to the desert, thrust her into the grave that they dug with their hands and threw lots of sand on her; then they returned their homes as if nothing had happened.

The custom that did not comply with humanity at all was regarded as quite natural in some regions. Before the marriage, both parties talked about the issue and decided who would bury the baby, the mother or father, if it was a girl. If the mother undertook the task of burying the baby, she would commit the murder in front of many women who would gather to see it. 

Thank God, Islam emerged and it destroyed that ugly custom.

The following is stated in the Quran, “To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills (and plans). He bestows (children) male or female according to His Will (and Plan). Or He bestows both males and females, and He leaves barren whom He will: for He is Full of knowledge and power.” (ash-Shura 42/49-50)

It is always possible that man become happy when he receives a divine mercy and show ingratitude when he faces something that he does not like. Those verses mention a very obvious example of the attitude in the society during the time when the Quran was sent down, and the understanding regarding having children and the gender of children. Instead of attributing the birth of a child and its gender to the will and power of Allah, the Arabs of the Era of Jahiliyya regarded it a matter of praising and being praised, blaming and being blamed and they acted as if they attributed it to human beings. Actually, that consideration, which was seen in various communities and which has affected people openly or secretly in some communities today, was condemned by the Quran.

In those verses, two issues, one regarding belief, the other regarding ethics attract attention:

It can be said that the following message is aimed to be given: No being or phenomenon in the universe can be thought of being outside the sovereignty of Allah; it should not be forgotten that the results that seem to be the products of human will and effort like having children and determining the gender of children – including the effects of medical intervention – are not independent of the divine will and that they take place within the framework of laws imposed by Allah.  

The ethical message aimed to be given along with the message about belief is as follows: as it is understood from the words in the 49th verse, since every child, whether male or female, who is born is the gift and bestowal of Allah, having both sons and daughters or being infertile depends on the divine will, having or not having children, having male or female children should not be a matter of praising or criticizing, or a matter of superiority or inferiority.  If a person has children, who are defined as the allurement of life in some verses, his duty should be to thank Allah who bestowed him that gift; if he has no children despite having tried the legitimate means of having children, he should show patience – taking into consideration the fact that people are not given equal things in terms of bounties like health, body, etc in the life of the world, which is a field of testing.  

It is natural that a person wants to have children and experience the happiness of it, and the religion does not criticize it. However, if someone sees something that he desires to happen regarding having children or any other issue as indispensable for his life and happiness, it will mean he claims to know better what is good or bad for him. It is obvious that such an attitude is wrong, and it means not consenting to the divine determination.

One of the warnings given by the Quran to prevent people from making such a mistake is as follows: "Fighting is prescribed for you and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth and ye know not.” (al-Baqara 2/216)

Furthermore, in such a situation, it is more reasonable and a more convenient way for the happiness in the world and the hereafter for a person to try to share the bounties and opportunities he has with others for instance to experience the happiness of taking care of abandoned children and to expect the reward for it from Allah instead of conditioning himself for asking an event that is beyond his power and will to happen, and destroying his life. (see Kur’an Yolu, Heyet, the interpretation of the relevant verses)

Accordingly, it is necessary to ask a good child from Allah instead of a boy or a girl and it is necessary to thank Him whether He gives a boy or a girl or both and to pay attention to their material and spiritual training and nurture.

A child is entrusted to a person by Allah. It is the duty of the adults to take care of children and to bring them up. It involves years-long patience to nurture and educate them. It involves more care and attention to bring up and train girls.

A child can be taken care of and brought up in two ways. The first is to meet his/her material needs and the second one is to nurture him/her spiritually and train him/her well.

The nurture of the girls goes on until they get married to honest men. According to what the Messenger of Allah points out, it goes on even after they get married. Therefore, there are narrations that a person who trains and nurtures his daughter, sister or the daughter of somebody else religiously will enter Paradise:

"A person who nurtures three daughters, trains them well, marry them and treats them well will enter Paradise." (Abu Dawud, Adab, 120, 121)

"If a person has three daughters or three sisters or two daughters or two sisters and meet their needs and fear Allah about them, he will enter Paradise." (Tirmidhi, Birr 13)

"On the Day of Judgment, I will be together with the person who brings up and nurtures two girls until they become adults." (Muslim, Birr, 149; Tirmidhi Birr, 13)

"If a person suffers due to her daughters but takes care of them, her daughters will be barricades that will save him from the fire of Hell." (Bukhari, Zakat, 10, Adab, 18; Muslim, Birr, 47 See also Tirmidhi Birr, 13)

The girls or daughters that are advised to be nurtured may be a person’s own daughters, his sisters, the children of his wife that he married afterwards even daughters of others who need protection. Being close relatives or not is not important. As a matter of fact, the Messenger of Allah gave the following good news regarding the issue: “A person who takes care of and protects his/her or somebody else’s motherless or fatherless child will be together with me in Paradise.” (Bukhari, Talaq 25, Adab 24)

Accordingly, to take care of girls and to nurture them is an act that pleases Allah and His Messenger. The parents that take care of their daughters and enable them to be trained in accordance with Islamic principles will be neighbors of the Messenger of Allah in the hereafter.

A narration reported from Hazrat Aisha, our mother, is as follows: A woman came to me along with her two daughters and wanted something from me. There was nothing but a single date at home. I gave it to the woman. Without tasting the date, she divided it into two and gave it to her daughters. Meanwhile, the Prophet (pbuh) came along. When I told him what happened, he said:

"If a person has troubles due to her daughters but takes care of them, her daughters will be barricades that will save him from the fire of Hell." (Bukhari, Zakat, 10, Adab, 18; Muslim, Birr, 47)

Hazrat Aisha reported: A poor woman came to me along with her daughters. I gave her three dates. She gave a date to each of them and then she took up one date and brought that to her mouth in order to eat that, but her daughters expressed desire to eat it. She then divided the date that she intended to eat between them. This (kind) treatment of her impressed me and I mentioned that which she did to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). Thereupon he said: Verily Allah has assured Paradise for her, because of (this act) of her, or He has rescued her from Hell-Fire.” (Muslim, Birr 148)

In the previous hadith, it is seen that Hazrat Aisha gave one date but in the following hadith she gave three dates. It means in her house that sometimes there was no cooked meal for three months and that often there was nothing to eat, there was one date at that time and then she found two more dates. Or, maybe that event took place twice.

What did our Prophet mean using the word “troubles” in his statement in the hadith: “if a person has troubles due to her daughters but takes care of them”?

If there are several daughters in a family, it may be a reason for trouble or discontent for them. Issues like taking care of, educating and marrying them may cause financial difficulties. Especially if that family does not want daughters, the burden may get heavier. Therefore, our Prophet declared that bringing up and nurturing daughters and helping them until they get married would save people from the fire of Hell.

Another form of having troubles due to daughters is the existence of material or spiritual in diseases in one ore several of them. In that case, taking care of them and their treatment may cause many troubles. People who regard that situation as a testing by God Almighty and shows patience without rebelling Allah due to that hard testing, they will be saved from the fire of Hell – according to what the Prophet said.

According to the hadith, a person who bring up and nurture two normal, healthy daughters will be a neighbor of the Messenger of Allah. Then, those who take care of daughters with problems will definitely reach that happiness earlier than them and more than them.

What a great and lofty feeling mercy is..

The compassion of the mother who gave the date to her daughter without tasting it though she was hungry too is so lofty and noble. And what about the mercy of Hazrat Aisha, our mother, who gave the three dates that were in the house without even thinking about it? 

The following hadith of our Prophet, who states that the endless salvation will be through mercy, is so meaningful: “Allah shows mercy on those who show mercy on others. Show mercy on those who are on the earth so that those in the sky will show mercy on you....” (Tirmidhi, Birr 16; Abu Dawud, Adab 58)

O our Lord! Put the feeling of mercy in our hearts too!..

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