Does God Dislike being Assigned Daughters?
Question asked by .
Answered by Adnan Zulfiqar

In the Qur’ān, God seems to show displeasure at being assigned daughters as opposed to sons. Is this indicating a preference for one gender over the other? There are so many horrendous things happening to Muslim women around the world, it seems like we need to do more for them, but this preference for boys over girls seems to be dominating our minds (as well as other countries). Are not women equal to men?


You are probably referring to Qur’ān 53:21 in your question concerning the apparent displeasure that God seems to display over being assigned daughters. First, if one views the style of Arabic language in this particular verse, it is clear that the Qur’ān is employing ‘irony’ as a means of conveying its point. There is no intention of showing displeasure or signifying a preference in God’s eyes towards one gender. It may be best to read the following verse with the words ‘It is ironic that …’ in brackets before the verse. In addition to the linguistic suggestion that this is not a ‘preference’ for sons, it must be clear that the Qur’ān has stressed over and again that God has no offspring, sons or daughters. Hence, it would not make sense for God to prefer sons over daughters because contextually a reading of the entire Qur’ān shows that God finds incredible displeasure in either of them being assigned to Him. For instance:

Those who say: The Compassionate [God] has begotten a son, certainly preach such a monstrous falsehood that the very Heavens might crack, the earth might cleave asunder and the mountains might crumble to pieces – at their ascribing a son to the Compassionate [God], It is not befitting to the Compassionate [God] that He should beget a son. (19:88-92)

With regard to the preference of boys over girls as a global phenomenon, unfortunately this is very true in many societies, not only Muslim ones, but particularly Third World countries. There was an evil practice of infanticide (burying alive girls at birth) rampant among the pre-Islamic Arabs which the Qur’ān banned completely. As you have described, sometimes this preference is a result of society and the lack of value it has given to girls or the ‘costs’ associated with girls (for instance, in South Asia, the traditions associated with marriage have placed an incredible burden upon parents seeking to marry their daughters, many times leaving them in life-threatening debt for the remainder of their lives). Hence, although in some respects one can understand the potential burdens that parents may feel with daughters – this is a problem caused by the society and not by the girls. Hence, we must not punish them for it devalues their existence.  We must change the traditions in our societies in order to properly end this attitude.

I encourage you to champion the cause of the status of women all over the world, in Muslim societies and the West.  Unfortunately, despite the advancements that the West has made with regard to technology, there are still terrible circumstances that many women live in.  Domestic abuse in the United States is rampant and widespread according to many studies conducted by various women’s centers and there are countless instances of rape occurring every day. These are serious ailments that are present in the West, just like domestic abuse, honor killings, and general disregard for women’s rights degrade our own Muslim societies.  Sincere efforts to address these issues are needed.

With regard to equality, I think this word is often abused because many times it implies that there are no differences between people. Reality indicates that there are differences between people and genders on the basis of different factors. In some circumstances, one group may be a level above another group, and then vice versa for an alternative situation. For instance, although a husband is given some authority over the family, the Prophet (sws) has indicated that heaven lies at a mother’s feet.

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