“DON’T BURY YOUR DAUGHTERS ALIVE”
As stated earlier, gullible Muslims around the world celebrates Muhammad as the liberator of women. The most important propaganda in this regard is that he rescued female babies from being buried alive by their parents.
While there is some truth in this propaganda, but Muslims blow it out of all proportions.
In the distant past, some societies (India, China etc.) used to practise infanticide as a means of population control. Female infanticide was more common especially in male-dominant societies, because women did not participate in economic activities and were considered an economic burden. Unfortunately, even today, female infanticide exist in some countries albeit at much less frequencies.
The pre-Islamic society of the Arab desert too practiced infanticide due to famine. There are multiple references in Islamic scriptures, referring to the Arabs' practice of infanticide that included both male and female infanticide. In pre-Islamic Arabia, women were not absolutely equal to men, but were relatively free and independent. They used to participate in business, ride camels, travel alone without any male escort, were allowed to buy slaves and were free to choose their life-partners without the help of a male guardians. It is Muhammad who snatched their freedoms from the Arab women and enslaved them under the male dominance. Muhammad brought their social status down to the level of domesticated animals.
Growing Opposition to Infanticide among Arabs during Muhammad's time
Jewish and Christian communities were scattered around Arabia during Muhammad's time. Thanks to Christian missionary propaganda, many Bedouin tribes of the Arab Peninsula had embrace Christianity. Since Christians and Jews never practised infanticide but opposed it, it expected that those Christianized Arab tribes had also stopped practising infanticide in any form. During Muhammad's time, only Polytheistic Arab communities, for example the people of Mecca, were still practising infanticide. But opposition to infanticide was growing even in those Polytheistic communities. For example, there was a small community in Mecca, who – influenced by Jewish and Christian doctrines – had broken away from Polytheism and tilted toward the idea of the Oneness of God. They were called Hanif, or followers of the True Religion (Hanifiya). Ibn Ishaq writes of them (The Life of Muhammad, p. 99):
“They were of the opinion that their people had corrupted the religion of their father Abraham, and that the stone they went round was of no account; it could neither hear, nor see, nor hurt, nor help. 'Find for yourselves a religion,' they said; 'for by God you have none.' So they went their several ways in the lands, seeking the Hanifiya, the religion of Abraham.”
One of the Hanif was Zayd bin Amr, who opposed infanticide, as Ibn Ishaq informs us (p. 99):
Zayd b. 'Amr stayed as he was: he accepted neither Judaism nor Christianity. He abandoned the religion of his people and abstained from idols, animals that had died, blood, and things offered to idols. He forbade the killing of infant daughters, saying that he worshiped the God of Abraham, and he publicly rebuked his people for their practices.
Not only that, he even adopted the new-born girls, who were about to be buried alive. As per Sahih al-Bukhari 4:232-233:
Zayd b. Amr used to save the lives of newborn girls destined to be buried alive. He would say to a man who wanted to kill his daughter: "Do not kill her. I will support her." He would then take her. After she grew up, he would say to her father: "If you wish, I will return her to you, or if you wish I will continue to support her on your behalf."
The Hanifs, particularly Zayd bin Amr, had tremendous influence on Muhammad's religious thoughts, and had greatly inspired his Prophetic Mission. At the beginning, Muhammad claimed his revelations were the True Religion of Abraham (Quran 16:123). In many verses of the Quran, Muhammad's religion is called the True Faith (Hanifiya) and his followers as True in Faith, i.e. Hanif. Muhammad reverence toward the Hanifs can be deduced from the fact, despite Allah forbade Muhammad from praying for his uncle Abu Taleb, because he died as a non-Muslim. Accordingly, Muhammad did not pray for his mother while visiting her grave on the way from Medina to Mecca, because also died as a non-Muslim decades before Islam's birth, and still will burn in hell. But when Muhammad's companions Umar and Said bin Zaid (Zaid's son) asked whether they should pray for Zayd bin Amr (died as non-Muslim), Muhammad replied, “Yes, for he will be raised from the dead as the sole representative of a whole people.”
Given Zaid bin Amr's towering influence on Muhammad, it is natural that Muhammad would disapprove infanticide, so will Muhammad's alter-ego Allah. As a result, the Qur'an rejects the practice of infanticide regarding it a grave sin (see 6:151, 60:12).
It is notable that the Quran never mentions the gender while disapproving infanticide. Muhammad was heading a small community of followers, which was struggling to grow because of the Meccan Polytheists' persistent rejection of his faith. So, for Muhammad, killing of babies within his small community was a big loss. He needed males to fight in his plundering Jihad (raids) and females to breed more followers for him. He engaged the little boys in the battlefield to collect the arrows. New-born boys were future soldiers for Muhammad and the new-born girls were future breeding machines. So, when the Quran condemns infanticide, it never mentions gender, because new-borns of both sexes were important for Muhammad.
In the entire history of Islam, empowerment or liberation of women was never a topic of discussion or argument. Women were considered property or slaves of men, and that remained the norm, never being disputed within the Muslim community. Only during the Age of European colonialism, when issues of liberty, human rights and freedom and empowerment of women came to the Muslim world, some western educated Muslim scholars started discovering elements within the Quran and hadiths, which they thought empower women and started projecting Muhammad as the champion of women's liberation.
QURAN AND HADITH ON INFANTICIDE: DON’T KILL YOUR CHILDREN, MALE OR FEMALE
As the part of their usual deceptive propaganda, Muslim apologists only highlights the hadiths that condemn female infanticide only. Yet, there are multiple references in the Islamic scripture that condemn the killing of boys, which those deceptive Muslims will never mention. This article highlight these hadiths to tear down this deceptive mask of Muslim propagandists:
What the Quran and hadith say about infanticide:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud: I said, "O Allah's Apostle! Which is the biggest sin?" ……He said, "To kill your CHILD lest it should share your food….” (Sahih Al-Bukhari 8:82:802)
Narrated Asma', daughter of Yazid ibn as-Sakan,: I heard the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) as saying: Do not kill your CHILDREN secretly, for the milk, with which a child is suckled while his mother is pregnant, overtakes the horseman and throws him from his horse. (Abu Dawud 28:3872)
“…..and do not kill your CHILDREN out of poverty; We will provide for you and them….” (Quran 6:151)
“O Prophet, when the believing women come to you pledging to you that they will not associate anything with Allah ,…. nor will they kill their CHILDREN, ….” (Quran 60:12)
The above hadiths and verses of the Quran speak about the infanticide in general without gender discrimination. This only highlights the fact that both male and female babies were important for the future of Muhammad's fledgling community and the strength of his nation. Clearly, the Arabs sometimes killed their babies because of poverty, as shortage of food and famine was regular occurrence in the Arab desert. So, we see Allah saying: “do not kill your CHILDREN out of poverty; We will provide for you and them”. And Allah even fulfilled this promise by enriching them with the wealth of the non-Muslims, making the looted booty from non-Muslims halaal for Muhammad and his companions in several Quranic verses.
This issue of infanticide was discussed in the sacred ‘Sahih Sitta’ (authentic hadiths), which are sacred to Muslims next to the Quran, in a double-tongued way – some prohibiting killing infant girls, others prohibiting killing infant boys. Modern Muslim apologists talk about the prohibition of killing the infant girl only for deceiving the unaware westerners, who always vocal in defense of the rights and liberty of women. In fact, there are more hadiths forbidding the killing of boys than the girls, but Muslim scholars hide the hadiths prohibiting killing of the boys just to project Islam as religion upholding the rights and liberty of women.
HADITHS PROHIBITING KILLING OF DAUGHTERS
Warrad reported that al-Mughira wrote to Mu'awiya: Peace be upon you, and then coming to the point (I should say) that I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Verily Allah has Prohibited three things and has forbidden three things. He has declared absolutely haram the disobedience of father, burying of DAUGHTERS alive, and withholding that which you have power to return, and has forbidden three things: irrelevant talk, persistent questioning, and wasting of wealth. (Sahih Muslim 18:4257,4260)
Multiple references: Sahih Al-Bukhari 3:41:591, 8:73:6, 8:76:480, 9:92:395
HADITHS PROHIBITING KILLING OF SONS
Sahih Al-Bukhari: 8:73:30: Narrated 'Abdullah: I said 'O Allah's Apostle! Which sin is the greatest?" He said, "To set up a rival unto Allah, though He Alone created you." I said, "What next?" He said, "To kill your SON lest he should share your food with you." I further asked, "What next?" He said, "To commit illegal sexual intercourse with the wife of your neighbor (neighbor refers to a ‘Muslim neighbor’).
There are Multiple references to the similar hadith: Sahih Al-Bukhari 6:60:4, 6:60:284, 9:83:1, 9:93:611, 9:93:623.
In the 19th-century, some Western scholars started criticizing Islam for its subjugation and enslavement of women under the men, and deprivation of their liberty, dignity and rights. To counter this criticism, Muslim scholars started looking for elements in the Quran and Hadith that can be used to portray Islam as a religion that defends the rights, dignity and liberty of women. The hadiths that specifically talk about the prohibition of killing baby-girls became very handy to these deceptive Muslim scholars. Although there are probably more hadiths prohibiting the killing of baby-sons, those scholar kept highlighting only the hadiths prohibiting the killing of baby-girls, completely overshadowing those prohibiting the killing of boys. And thus, those master deceiver Muslim apologists greatly succeeded in popularizing the propaganda that Islam exclusively prohibited the female infanticide, and thus were they able to project Muhammad as the champion of women's rights.
Even if we are willing to buy this deceptive Islamic propaganda, we should recognize that Jews and Christians, who had considerable presence in the Arab Peninsula during Muhammad's time, never engaged in infanticide. Moreover, certain individuals of Muhammad's hometown of Mecca were already condemning the Arabs' occasional practise of infanticide of both sexes. Zayd bin Amr, with whom Muhammad had close relationship, not only condemned female infanticide, he even adopted the infants from their parents, who wanted to kill them, and raised them. So, Muhammad or his Allah was not the originator of the idea that infanticide, whether male or female, was wrong. Muhammad picked the idea from the Jews or Christians living in the Arab Peninsula, or from members of his Meccan community, such as Zayd bin Amr, who were already opposing this cruel practise. We also see that Zayd bin Amr was saving many infant girls, who were about to be buried alive, by adopting them from their parents. We do not see Muhammad ever adopting such girls to save their lives.
In sum, clearly from the Jews or Christians or individuals like Zayd bin Amr did Muhammad pick the idea that killing of infants just because of poverty was wrong. And the prohibition of this cruel practise within his small community was also useful for the success of Muhammad's mission of becoming the ruler of the Arab Peninsula. Therefore, in the hadith we see Muhammad prohibits the killing of both male and female infants, so does Allah in the Quran. Neither Allah nor Muhammad shows any preference to saving female infants. And most of all, both Allah and Muhammad simply copied this humane idea from the Jews or Christians, or from Meccan residents like Zayd bin Amr.