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Theme Changer

 Topic: Female Infanticide

 (Read 3281 times)
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  • Female Infanticide
     OP - October 06, 2009, 03:39 PM

    How common was female infanticide in pre-Islamic  Arabia?  I know muslim sources say it was rife, but they're hardly impartial enough to be trusted at face value.  Unfortunately when I googled, they are pretty much all I found.  Wiki hints that there are doubts...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infanticide#Arabia

    Does anyone have a good online source about the subject?

    "Befriend them not, Oh murtads, and give them neither parrot nor bunny."  - happymurtad's advice on trolls.
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #1 - October 06, 2009, 04:13 PM

    It's worth looking at it sceptically, but I think it was practised. It took place in a lot of ancient societies, and seems to fit in with the rest of what is known about their society at the time. I doubt the reasons for it were religious.

    "...every imperfection in man is a bond with heaven..." - Karl Marx
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #2 - October 06, 2009, 04:33 PM

    It was practiced but was it as widespread as it is made out by Islamic sources? I doubt it, probably just propaganda.

    Religion - The hot potato that looked delicious but ended up burning your mouth!

    Knock your head on the ground, don't be miserly in your prayers, listen to your Sidi Sheikh, Allahu Akbar! - Lounes Matoub
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #3 - October 06, 2009, 04:36 PM

    The problem with pre-Islamic history is that it has been almost obliterated. Arabia was an isolated area before Islam but there were a few scholarly writings about it from the perspective of Persians, Roman Syrians and a few others who may have come into contact with Arabians-the problem is Islam quickly spread to these areas so any pre-Islamic negative writings and knowledge on the area may have been destroyed or re-written in a more favourable light.

    This is just another one of history's mysteries.

    "I am ready to make my confession. I ask for no forgiveness father, for I have not sinned. I have only done what I needed to do to survive. I did not ask for the life that I was given, but it was given nonetheless-and with it, I did my best"
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #4 - October 06, 2009, 04:40 PM

    There must be some historical sources on the subject though?  For a start where are all the mass graves of these girls buried alive?  I've found something skeptical here, its not exactly a rigorous historical examination though.....

    http://us.geocities.com/realitywithbite/arabwoman.htm

    "Befriend them not, Oh murtads, and give them neither parrot nor bunny."  - happymurtad's advice on trolls.
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #5 - October 06, 2009, 04:46 PM

    This is probably an educated guess and the closest thing to an accurate overview you can find, (from your article):

    Quote

    The many tribes that inhabited Arabia had diverse customs and cultures, in some, women had low status and were not much better than livestock, in others women enjoyed much freedom and independence which was curbed by the imposition of Islamic laws. At one time most Arab tribes would have been matrilineal, an incident in the ?Sirat? sheds some light: two men questioned about their identity say to the Muslims:  ?we do not follow our mother?s line and disown our father.? This indicates that even in the time of Mohammad there would have existed  matrilineal tribes.

    Another incident in the ?Sirat? (Pg. 59 ) tells us of a woman  by the name of Salma d. ?Amr. On account of the high position she held among her people she would marry on condition that she should retain control of her own affairs. If she disliked a man, she left him. She had a son with Hashim -Hashim was Mohammad's great-grandfather -  and Hashim left him with Salma while he was a little boy. It seems that at least some women did have control of their own affairs which included the right to divorce.



    Also, I would have to point out that in Islamic sources we have seen female leaders and famous businesswomen-we rarely see it after Islam for another few hundred years, also, the influence women had in Quraish seems to dissappear in the years after.

    If there was a lot of female infanticide it would have created a problem for the men, the problem would have been solved by polyandry-yet Muhammad never allowed polyandry, instead many men had multiple wives. This would have been impossible if female infanticide was as prevalent as it was exaggerated to have been by Muslim propaganda.

    It's only speculation and the signs are there, but we can't have much definitive proof.

    We do at least know that most of what is written in Muslim sources is false.

    "I am ready to make my confession. I ask for no forgiveness father, for I have not sinned. I have only done what I needed to do to survive. I did not ask for the life that I was given, but it was given nonetheless-and with it, I did my best"
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #6 - October 06, 2009, 04:53 PM

    Ok, thanks Henri.  Its disappointing that there isn't anything more than that, but I spose as the Arabs at that time had a mostly oral tradition they didn't leave many writings behind them. 

    If anyone finds anything, please post it.  Smiley

    "Befriend them not, Oh murtads, and give them neither parrot nor bunny."  - happymurtad's advice on trolls.
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #7 - October 06, 2009, 04:54 PM

    Pre Islamic Arabia would be such an interesting topic to study but it is so difficult! There are very few sources and archeology of Pre Islamic sites is by no means encouraged.

    Religion - The hot potato that looked delicious but ended up burning your mouth!

    Knock your head on the ground, don't be miserly in your prayers, listen to your Sidi Sheikh, Allahu Akbar! - Lounes Matoub
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #8 - October 06, 2009, 05:08 PM

    But it must have been at least reasonably widespread for Muhammad to pick on it so specifically. If you ask any Muslim they know about the Pre Islamic Arabs, the first thing they will probably say is that they bury their daughters alive, and that is used amongst Muslims as probably the main argument to show how "Jahil" the people in the "jahilliyah" were.

    Religion - The hot potato that looked delicious but ended up burning your mouth!

    Knock your head on the ground, don't be miserly in your prayers, listen to your Sidi Sheikh, Allahu Akbar! - Lounes Matoub
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #9 - October 06, 2009, 05:12 PM

    Some references are given here:

    http://www.mwlusa.org/topics/history/herstory.html

    Interestingly, they also say that the practise was almost dead by Mohammed's time.

    "The dispatch of daughters is a kindness" and "The burial of daughters is a noble deed" are two proverbs about infanticide. The source cited is Reynold Nicholson "A Literary History of the Arabs" (1907, reprinted later in 1969). A full text of which is typed up here.

    His own reference is 'Freytag, Arabnm Proverbia, vol. i, p. 229'

    That is Arabum Proverbia (1838 - 1843) by German philologist Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Freytag.

    "...every imperfection in man is a bond with heaven..." - Karl Marx
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #10 - October 06, 2009, 05:15 PM

    So, basically, I can find fuck-all at the moment in terms of non-Islamic historical sources.

    I suggest there is better information out there, but it needs be searched for carefully.

    "...every imperfection in man is a bond with heaven..." - Karl Marx
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #11 - October 06, 2009, 06:16 PM

    Sources about Islam from the Arabic world is next to nothing I am afraid. If there is it is most likely Islamic Propaganda. As for Waad or female infanticide, it is always advertised in Islamic books that Islam came to ban and forbid it. My personal opinion is that it unlikely (not saying impossible) that it was widespread. I am a father, and I can not imagine a father who would kill his own baby whether it was a boy or a girl. finmad

    ...
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #12 - October 06, 2009, 06:26 PM

    It was practiced but was it as widespread as it is made out by Islamic sources? I doubt it, probably just propaganda.


    Whether or not it was as widespread, I really don't think dismissing  the accounts of infanticide as 'propaganda' makes sense. It wouldn't be there at all if it didn't actually happen. If it was more limited than is made out by Muslims since then, which certainly isn't unlikely because it is somewhat part of their religious propaganda, that's a result of later interpretation - not because it was exaggerated by Mohammed or his followers of the time.

    "...every imperfection in man is a bond with heaven..." - Karl Marx
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #13 - October 06, 2009, 07:26 PM

    I didn't mean to dismiss it as propaganda. What I meant was that female infanticide is probably one of the very few things most Muslims know about Jahilliyah and thus think that it was very widely practice. This is due in part to religious propaganda; i.e. Islam came and civilised these ignorant, bad people who used to bury their daughters at birth.

    In reality it is probably somewhere in the middle. It certainly wasn't an extremely widespread practice but it was widespread enough for Muhammad to talk so specifically about it, so early on in his "prophethood".

    Religion - The hot potato that looked delicious but ended up burning your mouth!

    Knock your head on the ground, don't be miserly in your prayers, listen to your Sidi Sheikh, Allahu Akbar! - Lounes Matoub
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #14 - October 06, 2009, 07:52 PM

    Quote from: panoptic
    Some references are given here:

    http://www.mwlusa.org/topics/history/herstory.html

    Interestingly, they also say that the practise was almost dead by Mohammed's time.


    That's an interesting essay, Panoptic, thanks.  Good find.   Afro

    "Befriend them not, Oh murtads, and give them neither parrot nor bunny."  - happymurtad's advice on trolls.
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #15 - October 06, 2009, 08:07 PM

    It's worth looking at it sceptically, but I think it was practised. It took place in a lot of ancient societies, and seems to fit in with the rest of what is known about their society at the time. I doubt the reasons for it were religious.


    It still takes place today, quite commonly in China and India, although it is not infanticide but abortion of female foetus'

    Religion - The hot potato that looked delicious but ended up burning your mouth!

    Knock your head on the ground, don't be miserly in your prayers, listen to your Sidi Sheikh, Allahu Akbar! - Lounes Matoub
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #16 - October 06, 2009, 08:31 PM

    Arabs were split between city arabs and the bedouins. The koran even insults the bedouins on 3 occasions.

    From couple historical books i read that were considered critical of islam by muslims, it mentioned that bedouins were in the habit of killing girls, and that city arabs offered to buy the daughters of the bedouins instead of killing them.

    It was also very common for the bedouins (now woman-less, land-less, food-less) to raid the cities regularly, that some cities would pay bedouins to protect them from other bedouins, and protect their caravans. From memory, i recall that Omar bin Khattab, did kill his daughter.

    "Ask the slave girl; she will tell you the truth.' So the Apostle called Burayra to ask her. Ali got up and gave her a violent beating first, saying, 'Tell the Apostle the truth.'"
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #17 - October 06, 2009, 08:53 PM

    Quote
    i recall that Omar bin Khattab, did kill his daughter.


    I've heard this as well.
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #18 - October 07, 2009, 10:10 PM

    Arabs were split between city arabs and the bedouins. The koran even insults the bedouins on 3 occasions.

    From couple historical books i read that were considered critical of islam by muslims, it mentioned that bedouins were in the habit of killing girls, and that city arabs offered to buy the daughters of the bedouins instead of killing them.

    It was also very common for the bedouins (now woman-less, land-less, food-less) to raid the cities regularly, that some cities would pay bedouins to protect them from other bedouins, and protect their caravans. From memory, i recall that Omar bin Khattab, did kill his daughter.


    That all adds up.

    Do you have any idea what books those were?

    "...every imperfection in man is a bond with heaven..." - Karl Marx
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #19 - October 07, 2009, 10:34 PM

    No, I will ask an egyptian friend of mine who majored in history, he lent them to me at the time.

    "Ask the slave girl; she will tell you the truth.' So the Apostle called Burayra to ask her. Ali got up and gave her a violent beating first, saying, 'Tell the Apostle the truth.'"
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #20 - October 08, 2009, 12:36 AM

    would be cool if you could post about them when you find out  Smiley


    "...every imperfection in man is a bond with heaven..." - Karl Marx
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #21 - October 08, 2009, 12:49 AM

    Ye interesting subject. I am sceptical about the issue. I think there is obviously truth to the practice and highly doubt it was just propaganda. No doubt Muslim sources probably are a bit biased but then there is also stuff in Muslim traditions which do not portray Islam or Muhammad in the best light either. It tends to be the case Muhammad did pick and choose the customs of Jahiliya which he found appropiate and those he found unnecessary or incompatible with the faith he was preaching.

    "The ideal tyranny is that which is ignorantly self-administered by its victims. The most perfect slaves are, therefore, those which blissfully and unawaredly enslave themselves."
  • Re: Female Infanticide
     Reply #22 - October 08, 2009, 04:59 AM

    I don't think that the issue of female infanticide is Muslim propaganda, but that the prevalence of it may be overblown by Islamic sources.  I have no doubt that it was practiced in that society at that time, and it's a good thing that Islam put an end to it. 

    [this space for rent]
  • Female Infanticide
     Reply #23 - August 24, 2017, 11:58 AM

    Twitter thread from Sean Anthony (link also posted on the Qur'anic Studies thread)

    https://mobile.twitter.com/shahanSean/status/900514476012777472
    Quote
    Updating my pre-Islamic Arabia lecture and adding MFRAY-Qutra 1 -a fascinating Saba'ic inscription w/ relevance to the Qur'an

    Tired cliches abt pre-Islamic Arabia depict it as lawless and barbaric and cite the burial of infant girls as commonly accepted practice

    a practice (called wa'd in Arabic) said often to be 'first' forbidden by Qur'an (e.g., see http://quran.com/81/8 (etc.)

    However, already in the second century CE we see the practice legislated against in Sabaic inscriptions from S. Arabia

    This Sabaic inscription from the city of Matirat  (~ 40km NE of Sanaa) address this issue directly and legislates against it

    the last line of inscription reads "[May it be forbidden] to kill one's daughters in all of the commune of dhu-Matiratum..."

    The point is not that the Qur'an borrowed from Sabaic inscriptions - rather, it engaged w/ and drew from the moral universe of Arabia

  • Female Infanticide
     Reply #24 - August 24, 2017, 11:40 PM

    Good to see not everything was destroyed.

    Don't let Hitler have the street.
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