Before the advent of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the society was quite ignorant. People were leading a life without any Divine guidance. They had in fact lost the guidance taught by earlier Prophets. The result was that the society was immersed deeply in evil practices. One of them was burying a girl-child alive, for fear of shame or poverty.
This was the case about fifteen centuries ago. Since then, the society has progressed in the various fields. But it has not learnt to respect girls and women. Along with other crimes against women, burying a girl-child alive still makes headlines! It is an irony that we are celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav 2022 to mark the 75th anniversary of Independence of India and we read to our utter chagrin a story headlined: “Rescued after buried alive by parents, newborn dies in Gujarat hospital” on August 11, 2022. When farmer Hitendrasinh found the girl-child buried in his farm, he along with some neighbours rescued and rushed the baby to the Himatnagar government hospital on August 4. After a nine-day fight for life the baby girl breathed her last. After their arrest, the girl-child’s stony-hearted parents Manjula and Sailesh Bajania gave three reasons for their extreme step: premature birth, their financial weakness and fear of medical expenses. This is nothing but the Jahiliyyah (Ignorance) revisited.
When Prophet Muhammad ﷺ started reforming the society in the light of Divine guidance, he took up this issue in a realistic manner. The Qur’ān (81:8-9) says: “And when the girl-child buried alive shall be asked: for what offence was she killed?” The verse does not say that the parents would be asked why they killed the innocent baby. But rather the slain baby would be asked for what crime she was killed. This reflects the enormity of the crime in the eyes of Allah, the Creator and Sustainer.
The Qur’ān (16:58-9) again throws light on the issue: “When the birth of a girl is announced to one of them, his face grows dark and he is filled with rage and inward gloom. Because of the bad news he hides himself from everybody: should he keep her with disgrace or bury her under the dust? How ill they judge.” This is Divine condemnation of the heinous act.
If they bury the girl-child for fear of poverty, the Qur’ān (17:31) says: “You shall not kill your children for fear of want. We will provide for them and for you.”
Besides the Qur’ānic teachings, the Prophet ﷺ also changed the then prevailing concept of the people in respect of girls. In a hadith reported in Bukhari and Muslim, he said: “The person who is put to a test because of the birth of the daughters and then he treats them generously, they will become a means of rescue for him from Hell.”
In another hadith reported by Abu Dawood, the Prophet ﷺ said: “The one who has a daughter born to him and he does not bury her alive, nor keeps her in disgrace, nor prefers his son to her, Allah will admit him to Paradise.”
In yet another hadith reported in Bukhari, the Prophet ﷺ said: “The one who has three daughters born to him, and he is patient over them, and clothes them well according to his means, they will become a means of rescue for him from Hell.”
Allah is the Provider and Sustainer; and we human beings have to strive to earn livelihood. So, there is no room for hopelessness and certainly there is no excuse for you to take extreme steps like burying a girl-child alive.