Women as infants children and daughters
Allah, the Exalted, states in the Qur’an concerning the necessity and importance of the preservation and care of newborn children, the very first right of the child: “And kill not your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Surely, such a killing is a great sin.” [17:31]
Islam requires parents to give their children beautiful names, take proper care of them, take care of all their needs, provide for them reasonably in accordance with the parent’s income, and ensure a decent, respected and honorable life for them.
And the authentic prophetic tradition says:“Verily Allah has prohibited for you to be disobedient and ungrateful to your mothers or to bury your daughters alive…” [Bukhari & Muslim]
Thus they have the right of blood money (financial restitution) if killed, as it is reported by Aishah: “Two women from Huthail tribe fought and one threw a stone and killed the other and that which was in her womb, so the Prophet judged that the blood money is the emancipation of a slave boy or girl, and the blood money of the woman was to be paid by her clansmen.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
Allah, the Exalted, states in the Glorious Qur’an: “Mothers shall nurse their children for two whole years, for those parents who desire to complete the term of suckling, and the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother’s food and clothing on a reasonable basis.” [2:233]
Care and guardianship of children is the most important right after the right of (milk) nursing by the mother. The mother is entitled to the custody of the child, son or daughter at the early stage of life, between the ages of one and thirteen or fourteen. This applies particularly in cases of divorce due to essential differences between parents. Islam entitles the mother to her child’s custody during early childhood because she, generally, is more caring and attentive to the child’s needs. ‘Abdullah bin Amr related that a woman came to the Prophet (s) complaining about her husband saying: “My womb held my baby as a fetus, my breast nursed the baby as an infant, and my lap carried the child for a long time. Now the father divorced me and he wants to take the baby away from me!” He said: “You deserve the child’s custody more as long as you do not remarry.” [Abu Dawood & others]
Parents are obligated to treat all their children mercifully and with compassion. Abu Hurairah reported: The Messenger of Allah kissed Hasan ibn Ali (his grandson) in the presence of Aqra’ ibn Habis at-Tameemi who said, “I have ten children and have I never kissed any of them.” Upon that he looked at him and replied: “Whoever does not have mercy will not receive mercy.” [Bukhari]
Islamic law stipulates that parents must care and pay attention to their children, especially girls.
The Prophet (s) also said: “Whoever supports two girls till they attain maturity, he and I will come on the Day of Resurrection like this.” The Messenger of Allah then joined his fingers to illustrate this. [Muslim #2631]
Islamic laws and teachings mandate that parents raise their children with the best manners and offer them a sound, beneficial and healthy education. The Prophet of Allah (s) said: “It is enough sin for a person to neglect those for whose care he is responsible.” [Muslim]
Ibn Umar reported that the Messenger of Allah (s) said: “Each one of you is a shepherd and each one of you is responsible for those under his care. A leader is a shepherd and is responsible for his citizens. A man is a shepherd of his family and is responsible for them. A woman is a shepherd of the home and is responsible for whatever is under her care. A servant is a shepherd of his master’s wealth and is responsible for whatever is under his care. Each one of you is a shepherd and each one of you is responsible for whatever is under his care.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
Islam commands justice in all matters and this general ruling is applied to all children regardless of their genders. Allah, the Exalted, states in the Qur’an: “Verily Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that you may take heed.” [16:90]
Aishah, the Prophet’s wife and the mother of the believers said: A poor woman came to my door carrying two little girls. I offered them three dates [as I had nothing else]. She gave each of her two girls a date, and lifted the third one to her mouth to eat. Both her daughters urged her to feed them more, so she split the last date into two pieces and gave one half to each of her two daughters. I admired what the woman had done and told the story to the Prophet of Allah who said upon hearing it: “Verily Allah obligated paradise for her due to this act of hers” or “liberated her from the Hellfire due to this act of hers.” [Muslim]
And in another authentic narration he said at the end: “Whoever is tested by trials in caring for these daughters, they will be a cover for him from Hellfire.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
Islam emphasizes the importance of taking care of orphans. Being an orphan has a great negative impact on the mental, spiritual and emotional status of a child. This state may lead an orphan to deviation or corruption at times, especially if the orphan exists in a society that does not give him due care, fulfill his needs and be kind and merciful to him.
Islam pays special attention to the welfare of orphans, males and females alike. Islam requires that the immediate relatives of that orphan take good care of him/her. If there are no relatives, then it becomes the responsibility of the Muslim government to take care of them, manage their affairs and provide them with care. Allah, the Exalted, states in the Qur’an: “And as for the orphan, do not treat them with harshness.” [93:9]
Allah, the Exalted, also states in the Qur’an: “Verily, those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, they eat up only a fire into their bellies, and they will be burnt in the Blazing fire!” [4:10]
The Prophet of Allah (s) said to a man who complained of hardness of the heart: “Would you like that your heart becomes soft and that you acquire what you need? Be merciful with the orphan, pat his head and feed him from what you eat. This will soften your heart, and enable you to get what you need.” [AtTabaraanee & As-Silsilah as-Saheehah]
Allah’s Prophet (s) also said: “Avoid the seven major sins that cause destruction.”
The companions asked: “O Prophet of Allah! What are these sins?”
He said: “To associate others in the worship of Allah, to practice sorcery, to kill a human soul for no just reason, to deal with interest, to devour the wealth of an orphan, to flee from the battlefield, and to accuse the innocent, chaste, believing women with adultery.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
Many other Prophetic statements have been reported as urging believing Muslims to sponsor orphans, take good care of them, be kind to them, and demonstrate love and affection for them. For instance he said (s) : “I and the guardian of an orphan are like these two in Paradise.” He then indicated with his index and middle fingers. [Bukhari]
Islam cares for the welfare of those illegitimate children who, through no fault of theirs, are left without any acknowledgement from their parents. The Muslim government is required to take care of such children, exactly as any other orphan so that they may become, by the will of Allah, successful and beneficial members of the society. As the Prophet of Allah said as a general ruling of benevolence: “…you have reward for showing kindness to every living being.”[Bukhari]
Islamic jurisprudence obligated the fathers (or guardians) to ask the opinion of the daughters when it comes to marriage, as her opinion is an essential condition for the validity of the marriage. She is free from any coercion, and may accept the person or reject a proposal.
The Prophet of Allah (s) said: “A divorcee or widow should not be married without her permission and a virgin girl must not enter wedlock until she approves.” They asked: “And how does she approve O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “She stays quiet (out of shyness but doesn’t indicate disapproval).” [Bukhari]
Imam Ahmad and others report that ‘Aishah said: A woman came to Allah’s Prophet (s) and said: “O, Prophet of Allah! My father offered me in marriage to his nephew to elevate his social status.” Allah’s Prophet returned the matter to her hands, to accept and approve the marriage or to reject. The woman said: “I approve now of what my father has done, but I wanted to teach other women that their fathers have no right in this (to force them to marry whoever they want).” [Ahmad]
This is because daughters are precious, as the Messenger of Allah (s) said in a verified tradition: “Do not force the daughters and girls for they are precious and delightful companions.” [Ahmad and verified]