In Arabian society, fathers had so much control over their children that they could determine who should live and who should die. As for the sons, they were considered valuable because they were a source of power and honour. The more sons a person had, the more powerful he would be because of the fighting power of the sons. Sons would also work and bring economic benefit to the family. Daughters, on the other hand, were considered a liability. One had to feed them until they grew up and then would have to spend money on marrying them. Thus, they were seen to be causing only expenses, without contributing anything to the family. In case of fighting, they needed to be protected, instead of helping in the fight. In case of enemy raids, they were the first ones to be taken by the enemy and enslaved. This kind of situation led some Arabs to kill their infant or child daughters, often by burying them alive. As they did not have any way to find out whether their wife was pregnant with a son or daughter, some of them would dig a hole in the ground at the time of delivery and bury the child if it was a girl. If it was not possible to kill her at that time, they would let the daughter grow a little and then take her one day and bury her in the desert. This cruelty continued until Islam reformed the Arabs and stopped them from this heinous practice. The Qur-aan forbade the Muslims categorically from committing infanticide for any reason whatsoever. The Prophet (ŜA‘WS) educated the Arabs such that they came to value and love daughters. He changed the Arabian mentality through constant teaching as indicated by the following examples of his quotations:
“Whoever is tested through daughters and he treats them in an excellent manner, they will shield him from the Fire.” (Bukhaari and Muslim)
“Whoever raises two girls until their adulthood, he will come with me on the Day of Judgment like this” – and he showed his two fingers together. (Muslim)
“Whoever raised three daughters or three sisters and provided them with good education and kindness until they become independent of his help, Allaah SWT will mandate Jannah for him”. A person asked about two, he said even two! And the reporter Ibn ‘Abbaas says, if someone would have asked about one, he would have confirmed the same reward for even one. (Sharhussunnah)
“If a person has a daughter and he does not kill her and does not mistreat her and does not give preference to a son over her in any matter, Allaah will make him enter the paradise.” (Aboo Dawood)
“Whoever has three daughters and he remains steadfast for them and gives them as good clothes to wear as he can afford, they will shield him from fire.” (Bukhaari, Ibn Maajah)
“There cannot be a Muslim who has two daughters and he provides them a good living environment except they will take him to paradise.” (Bukhaari)
The Prophet asked Suraaqah ibn Ju‘sham, “Should I tell you the best of charities or one of the best charities? On affirmative response, he said, “Spending on your daughter who has come back to you after being divorced or widowed and she has no one else than you to support her.” (Ibn Maajah, Bukhaari)
In addition to the teachings such as the ones above and the clear commands in the Qur-aan against any kind of infanticide, Islam also addressed other factors that may result in female infanticide. One of the big factors for female infanticide, especially in places like India, is the dowry and wedding expenses. Instead of expecting any kind of dowry, in Islam the groom has to pay some significant financial gift to the bride according to his financial situation. Islam also simplifies the wedding ceremony to avoid any financial burden on the families. Even the wedding feast is the responsibility of the groom.
Thus, as a blessing of Islam, infanticide, whether male or female, has never been tolerated in Muslim societies.
Unfortunately, Arabs were not alone in carrying out female infanticide. Infanticide, in general, and killing of girls, in particular, has been practised throughout the world and this abominable crime continues to be practised in various societies in different forms until today. In countries like India, China, Taiwan and Korea, people (especially those living in rural areas) continue to practise female infanticide. In urban areas where ultrasound facilities are available, girls’ foetuses are routinely aborted, despite this being legally a crime. It is estimated that about 500,000 girls per year are killed through abortion, once the parents find out that it is a girl. The situation has become worse since China legislated that each family can have only one child. Almost everyone wants to have a son, causing abortion of girl foetuses. As a result, in China the ratio of females to males has dropped to 847 females for 1000 males in urban areas and 769/1000 in rural areas, as against the standard ratio of 1029/1000. In India among Hindus, it had dropped to 927/1000 by 2001 and it is estimated that it has been declining further. In Indian Punjab where the majority of Sikhs live, the ratio of girls is even less, and the percentage of abortions is higher. As per a recent study in Canada (http://globalnews.ca/news/2631105/are-indian-born-moms-in-canada-choosing-to-have-baby-boys-over-baby-girls/, April 11, 2016), the Indian families are using the easily available abortion facilities to abort girl fetuses.
Although girls specifically are not discriminated against, infanticide is also rampant in western societies under the misleading slogan of the right to choose -- millions of infants are being killed through abortion.
To help the defenceless children, in general, and girls in particular, we need to spread Islamic teachings as that is the only ideology that has worked in favour and for the protection of little children.