Home Quranet Chapter 5 Is it permissible to discriminate against children, to give boys preferential treatment?
Is it permissible to discriminate against children, to give boys preferential treatment?
Chapter 5

وَالْمِيزَانَ بِالْقِسْطِ لاَ نُكَلِّفُ نَفْساً إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا وَإِذَا قُلْتُمْ فَاعْدِلُواْ وَلَوْ كَانَ ذَا قُرْبَى وَبِعَهْدِ اللّهِ أَوْفُواْ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُم بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ (سورۃ الانعام, آية 152)

And come not nigh to the orphan's property, except to improve it, until he attains the age of full strength; give measure and weight with (full) justice; no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear, whenever ye speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned; and fulfill the Covenant of Allah: thus doth He command you, that ye may remember. (Surah 6, Verse 152)

The Karim family have five children. The parents naturally love them all but Samar always feels that they discriminate against her. Her father contacts her oldest brother every day, asks him how he is and if he needs anything. He does the same with the oldest girl, asks how her examinations are proceeding and if she needs anything. He plays all kinds of games with her two younger brothers. But he is not interested in Samar. She tries to be a good girl and performs all the hard chores at home. But when her brothers make a mistake, their father forgives them easily and when she errs, he is angry and punishes her. Recently her brothers have begun treating Samar as her father does and she is very miserable. She told her class teacher how she feels and the teacher asked her father to come and see her to talk about Samar and how his conduct is hurtful for her. Then she opened the Quran and showed him Surah 6, Verse 152: "Whenever ye speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned." "Are you treating Samar justly?" she asked him. He admitted that he was depriving his daughter. The teacher explained that the verse also refers to just treatment among children, and how important it is for a parent to treat children equally without discrimination between the sexes. "And perhaps because Samar is a girl," she added, "you must be sevenfold careful not to deprive her."

Explanation: This important Quran verse encourages us all to be more objective with regard to our families. Parents must not discriminate against their daughters and favor their sons in any way. In many families the boys receive preferential treatment. But it was with good reason that the Quran commands us to act with justice and equality. A daughter like Samar who grows up with a sense of deprivation will find it hard in the future to function as a good mother. In her maternal role, she needs to feel secure and to transmit this security to her children. A mother who is weak and has internalized a sense of inferiority will raise children who are also weak and feel inferior. Children imbibe from their mothers not only milk but also a sense of security. Moreover, such a mother will find it hard to make a contribution to the society in which she lives, to initiate and to take responsibility. She will always prefer the passive stance and allow her husband to undertake all the difficult tasks because she has never been encouraged or trusted or told how wonderful she is. She will be dependent on her husband but will not be a helpmate for him and assist him, her family and her society.