“Could you please explain the hadeeth from Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim regarding the treatment of daughters,
‘whoever is tested by their daughters and is kind to them, they will be a shield for him from the fire.’
? Imaan An-Nawwawee’s commentary from Sahih Muslim on this hadeeth is,
‘verily, they are referred to as a test because they are disliked by custom and Allah Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa says,
“when one of you is given glad tidings of a daughter his face becomes dark and he is full of rage.” [16:58]
‘An-Nawwawee further adds, ‘in these Ahadeeth are merits of being kind to daughters, sustaining them, and being patient with them and their affairs.” I would like a deeper understanding of this please. Specifically, what do they mean test and affairs? If Allah states daughters are “glad tidings”, then are glad tidings also a test? To note, this is from the book “Supporting the rights of the believing women” by Umm Salamah As-Salafiyyah.
Regarding the hadith of ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her),
جَاءَتْنِي امْرَأَةٌ مَعَهَا ابْنَتَانِ تَسْأَلُنِي، فَلَمْ تَجِدْ عِنْدِي غَيْرَ تَمْرَةٍ وَاحِدَةٍ، فَأَعْطَيْتُهَا، فَقَسَمَتْهَا بَيْنَ ابْنَتَيْهَا، ثُمَّ قَامَتْ فَخَرَجَتْ، فَدَخَلَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَحَدَّثْتُهُ فَقَالَ “ مَنْ يَلِي مِنْ هَذِهِ الْبَنَاتِ شَيْئًا فَأَحْسَنَ إِلَيْهِنَّ كُنَّ لَهُ سِتْرًا مِنَ النَّارِ
‘A lady along with her two daughters came to me asking me (for some alms), but she found nothing with me except one date which I gave to her and she divided it between her two daughters, and then she got up and went away. Then the Prophet (ﷺ) came in and I informed him about this story. He said, “Whoever is in charge of (put to test by) these daughters and treats them generously, then they will act as a shield for him from the (Hell) Fire”‘ [al-Bukhari (no. 5995) and Muslim (no. 2629)]
The scholars differed on the meaning of daughters being referred to as ‘tests’. What Shaikha Umm Salamah (may Allah preserve her) cited from Imam an-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy upon him) is one opinion. However, a better meaning to the hadith is that the word ‘test’ here means that Allah will examine the parent whether they will treat their daughter well or not.
Hafidh Ibn Hajar (d. 852 H.), may Allah have mercy upon him, said,
“an-Nawawi said following Ibn Battaal that he (ﷺ) called the daughter a test because the people disliked daughters. So the legislation came to rebuke that and encourage to keep them and stop killing them…Our Shaikh (i.e. Hafidh al-Iraaqi) said in his explanation of at-Tirmidhi,
‘it is possible to carry the meaning of test here meaning to examine. That is, whoever is tested with daughters to see what they will do: will they be good to them or bad to them . . .”. End quote. [Fath ul-Baari (10/443)]
Hafidh al-Iraaqi (d. 806 H.), may Allah have mercy upon him, mentioned the above speech in another one of his works and followed it by saying,
“It being an examination is more suitable [of being the correct meaning] and Allah knows best”. End quote. [Tarh at-Tathreeb (7/67)]
Shaikh Ibn ul-‘Uthaymeen (d. 1420 H.), may Allah have mercy upon him, said,
“The meaning of ‘Whoever is tested’ is not an evil calamity but rather [referring to] whoever it is decreed for him [that he have daughters] as Allah, the Exalted said,
‘And We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good, and to Us you will be returned’ [21:35].
That is: whoever it is decreed to have two daughters and is good to them both, then they will be a shield for him from the Hellfire on the Day of Judgement”. End translation. [Sharh Riyaadh us-Saliheen (2/407)]
From here, it becomes clear that a glad tiding, such as daughters, can also be a test because Allah tests us with both good and bad things as He said,
“And We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good, and to Us you will be returned” [21:35]
Just as Prophet Sulaymaan (may peace and blessings be upon him) said,
“This is by the Grace of my Lord to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! And whoever is grateful, truly, his gratitude is for (the good of) his ownself, and whoever is ungrateful, (he is ungrateful only for the loss of his ownself). Certainly! My Lord is Rich (Free of all wants), Bountiful” [27:40]
In terms of having patience with their affairs, then the intent is being patient in teaching them, raising them, and providing for them as Hafidh Ibn Hajar (d. 852 H.), may Allah have mercy upon him, mentioned in his commentary of this Hadith basing it on other reports. For example,
عُقْبَةَ بْنَ عَامِرٍ، يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ يَقُولُ “ مَنْ كَانَ لَهُ ثَلاَثُ بَنَاتٍ فَصَبَرَ عَلَيْهِنَّ وَأَطْعَمَهُنَّ وَسَقَاهُنَّ وَكَسَاهُنَّ مِنْ جِدَتِهِ – كُنَّ لَهُ حِجَابًا مِنَ النَّارِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ
“Uqbah bin Amir said, I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say, ‘Whoever has three daughters and is patient towards them, and feeds them, gives them to drink, and clothes them from his wealth; they will be a shield for him from the Fire on the Day of Resurrection.’ [Saheeh Ibn Majah (no. 3669)]”
Hafidh Ibn Hajar also mentions, as well as Shaikh Ibn ul-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy upon him), that another reason for being patient and why the reward is so high for raising daughters is that a daughter typically is not a breadwinner like a son. And so, the parents spend on a daughter for a longer period of time than on a son who typically may work and provide for himself [See: Fath ul-Bari (10/443)] and Sharh Riyaadh us-Saliheen (2/407)]. In sum, the virtue of raising daughters is something Islam has come with and these virtues are key example of how Islam has come to honour women.
And Allah Knows Best
Faisal bin Abdul Qaadir bin Hassan