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Return to Jahiliyah

July 6, 2007

For my non muslim readers, Jahiliyah is an arabic word refering to the time before the advent of Islam in Arabia. Literally I believe it means ‘Ignorance’. So despite the name sounding exotic, I’m pretty sure its not a place worth visiting. This was a rough time for all, but especially women.

The second Caliph of Islam, Umar Ibn Al Khattab, often recalled a story where he buried his daughter alive as was a common practice amongst the Arabs in pre-Islamic Arabia. After becoming a Muslim, he would often cry while remembering this act of his. The Arabs used to be disheartened and annnoyed with the birth of girls. The perception was that girls are useless in defending the family short of just screaming and shouting and would not bring money into the home. These beliefs allows for this evil practice so even the fear of poverty or disgrace was enough to push people into performing these heinous acts. In some traditions, it was also permissible to sell a daughter into effectively slavehood. In that context, the Qur’an states in a derogatory manner of occurences during the day of judgment:

“When the female child buried alive is questioned: For what reason were you killed?” (81:8-9)


“When news is brought to one of them, of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide himself from his people, because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain it on (sufferance and) contempt, or bury it in the dust? Ah! what an evil (choice) they decide on?” (16: 58-59)

As a father of a girl, whom I love like crazy, I am sick to my stomach whenever I read accounts of what used to happen before. And this morning I find myself experiencing the same feeling as I read the story of Abdul Rahman (who I’m guessing is a muslim, the name is a bit of a giveaway. In fact the name is a shocking misnomer in this instance meaning “The Servant of the All Merciful”).

Abdul Rahman, the Grandfather of this child decided to take it upon himself to bury her.

I have nothing more to add other than I feel sick.


From → Islam, Jahiliyah

One Comment
  1. Yeah, me too (ughhhh)

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