Subhan’Allah I heard it again this morning:
“My sister-in-law had her baby, it was a girl”
“Never mind, it’s from Allah”
“Oh well, it’s what Allah has decided, what can we do”
This from two good, pious, believing women. One educated, young and modern, the other an older woman, a mother herself who I thought had grown enough as a person to stop thinking and speaking in this way. That child is not a liability, she is a gift from Allah (SWT), a blessing, bringing an increase in rizq (income/sustenance) and a soul with the potential to change the world or at least bring some goodness and beauty into it.
The parents were hoping for a son so that they could stop having any more children. I know it’s easy for me to say, having two sons and with a daughter in a country where it is easier to be a women than most. It’s tough for parents of daughters in Pakistan. People worry about marrying their daughters and the costs of this (with dowry’s etc). People worry about how vulnerable women are, how easy it is to impugn a women’s honour and therefore the whole family or clan’s. They worry about the fact that even after their daughters are married, they are dependent on their husband and his family and therefore vulnerable.
I accept all of the above, but this is one thing I won’t be moved on. We need to start treating our daughters and sisters like the blessings they are. We need to educate and empower them through the teachings and history of Islam. We need to remind each other again and again of the stories of the women of the Sahabah (companions of the Prophet PBUH). The first Muslim – Lady Khadijah (RA) the noblewoman, Saffiyah bint Abdul Mutallib (RA) the matron and warrior, Sumaiyah (RA) the martyr, Hafsa (RA), the archivist and safe-keeper of the Quran, Zainab (RA) the philanthropist they called “Mother of the Poor”, Aisha (RA) one of the greatest scholars of Islam. These are a very few of the galaxy of amazing women who were at the fore front of Islam.
We need to keep going back to their stories, to keep telling our daughters, but also our mothers that women hold value, that daughters are precious and important, not second best or a consolation prize.
This is not a new topic for me, but it is one that I cannot let go of, I have to keep returning to it. I spoke to the sister who gave us the news of the new baby on the phone and we had a very long conversation about how lucky we are to have daughters, how blessed and undeserving we are. I made sure it was within earshot of the other sister who was commiserating. I think the parents of the new baby might be getting some positive reminders from this sister about how lucky they are.
May Allah (SWT) give us the sense to be grateful for what he gives us, to recognise the blessings and to learn from the lives of the great women who came before us insh’Allah, ameen.