A lot of cultures have a history of females or daughters as inferior. For a while, the law did too. Everyone’s waiting for the Royal Baby to be born. People are placing bets on the date, time, and gender.
Well, don’t forget it wasn’t until recently, until Katherine became pregnant that it was even considered to have a female retain her place in the line of succession regardless of whether or not a son was born. (I’m hoping for a Lady Diana “Ana” Alexandra or a Lord James Allan.)
Daughters in Islam:
Let’s start at the beginning. Birth.
There are still various countries that attempt to restrict female births, cultures that are disappointed when a daughter instead of a son is born, and some that practice infanticide if a daughter is born. This includes African countries, Middle Eastern countries, and Asian countries.
However, the Qur’an severely condemns this heinous practice:
“And when one of them is informed of [the birth of] a female, his face becomes dark, and he suppresses grief. He hides himself from the people because of the ill of which he has been informed. Should he keep it in humiliation or bury it in the ground? Unquestionably, evil is what they decide.” (An-Nahl: 58-59)
The Qur’an makes no distinction between boys and girls. The birth of a female is considered a gift and a blessing from Allah, the same as the birth of a male.
“To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; He creates what he wills. He gives to whom He wills female [children], and He gives to whom He wills males.” (Ash-Shuraa 49)
It’s interesting that female children are mentioned before male children here.
In a step toward ending female infanticide, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said,
“He who is involved in bringing up daughters, and accords benevolent treatment towards them, they will be protection for him against Hell-Fire.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
So, despite various misconceptions, in Islam, from birth, both males and females are equal. There even appears to be a special effort to value females.
Education of the Daughters
First, there is nothing in the Qur’an restricting the education of women. In fact, there are various instances where general education of both genders is emphasized because it is a Muslim’s duty to acquire knowledge and to pass on that knowledge.
Second, going back to yesterday’s post about Khadijah (RA). She was a wealthy, well-educated business woman. She was Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) boss before becoming his wife. Then, as his wife she was his companion, not his servant or inferior. If she was not a woman of strong character and faith, she would not have made a good companion. If she was not educated, she would not have been able to spread Islam and educate the community. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was illiterate, of lower social standing, and had little to no wealth.
Third, I never understood why females would be restricted from education, relegated to home and hearth, but still remain responsible for the rearing and education of the children. If the mother isn’t educated, how can she educate the children?
The Qur’an states:
“O you who have believed, when you are told, “Space yourselves” in assemblies, then make space; Allah will make space for you. And when you are told, “Arise,” then arise; Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do.: (Al-Mujadila 11)
Those among you. Not the men among you, the women among you, the old or the young. A simple, general, all-encompassing ‘those’.
My educational path has been a little different. After attending a public elementary school, I had 7 years of Catholic education (Junior High and High School). Did this cause a conflict of interest for me as a growing, impressionable teenager?
Not really. I’m sure for some it would. It would cause many to question their faith, the Catholic tradition, and whatever else they encountered. I treated Theology class as another class. It was like History or Math for me. I was presented with knowledge, tested, and then graded on my retention on that knowledge.
Do I remember any of it? Actually, I remember most of it. I even know the Our Father (learned it in Latin and English), the Hail Mary, and the beginning of the Nicean Creed. I can also attend mass while knowing the proper responses and actions. Granted, I don’t make the sign of the cross, genuflect at the altar, or receive Communion.
I, however, also remember a lot of what we learned from Saturday and Sunday classes at madrasa (Arabic for any type of educational institute) in between prayers. This was the knowledge I incorporated into my life. I didn’t completely disregard everything I learned in Theology class. I couldn’t. Much of it was similar, specifically the parts that just make you a decent human being.
Now, at our current masjid, we have Friday Night classes where there is a mix of cultures and ages. The older girls teach what they have learned to the younger girls, while brushing up on that past knowledge. However, we are also still learning. (Right now we’re learning to read Arabic and memorize verses f the Qur’an.) This is the same for the boys. But, there are more girls than boys, so the boys are being taught by the fathers. (I think we outnumber then 2:1 o.O)