Male Child: When my wife was pregnant, I insisted we don’t seek to know the gender of the child. So most of our scans were done in a Government hospital that does not indicate the baby’s sex in the scan result unless you request. That policy in that Allāh will stand for all future occurrences.
The reason was simple, I want to have a heart that accepts whatever Allāh has decreed without letting my personal longings interfere. Despite this, I still had my own secret yearnings. Whenever we took a bet with my wife, I will pick a girl while she picked a boy. Weird right? Before I got married, I had fallen in love with fathers who bonded so nicely with their daughters and wanted nothing but that experience too.
Why bring all these up? Our willingness to accept qadr doesn’t preclude our natural yearnings as humans for a particular outcome(male child in most cases). Whenever the topic of people wanting a male child is discussed, I fear we invest too much emotions into the topic and incline towards trying to deny people a natural longing for something they have every right to. There are persons who are blameworthy in their longing for a male child. They include Gender chauvinists who have no regard for a female, so they feel less of a parent if their wife gave birth to a female child. They are the ones Allāh describes”Whenever one of them is given the good news of a baby girl, his face grows gloomy, as he suppresses his rage” Q 16:58.
The ignorant one who blames his wife for giving birth to a female child. They are ignorant on two grounds; ignorant on scientific grounds and ignorant on religious grounds. As for sex determination at a chromosomal level, men are the determinants of a baby’s sex. Your wife only gives you whatever you put in her. This is the ignorance of Science. As for religious ignorance, Allāh is the ultimate determinant of who gets a boy and who gets a girl.
Allāh says: “To Allah ˹alone˺ belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. He creates whatever He wills. He blesses whomever He wills with daughters and blesses whomever He wills with sons” Q 42:49. So whoever you see blaming his wife for giving birth to a female child is ignorant on two grounds! However, not all longing for a male child is blameworthy. People should be allowed to long for their desires and not be made to feel any less pious on account of that. There are genuine reasons why a person may wish or long for a male child and ironically this longing is probably as old as human existence.
The first is the fact that we may argue, the male child is not like the female child, as perfectly captured by the grandmother of Jesus when she said “and the male child is not like the female child” Q 3:36. Males and females are neither biologically nor socially the same. The roles they are biologically created to fit in the society are different.
Thus a person may want a male child for the fact that he wishes for them to fit a particular purpose for him. Take for instance those days when our fathers owned large farmlands where he and his sons cultivated. Not having male children will have been a disadvantage to his ability to cultivate those lands as the limitations in the strength of a woman is well known even if few exceptions may exist. Some of such reasons may exist till date even if the circumstances may differ.
Prophet Zakariyya specifically asked Allāh for a male child and he stated his reason. He said “…..so give me from Yourself an heir who will inherit me and inherit from the family of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, pleasing [to You].” Q 9:5-6. People may say if his concern is who will inherit him a daughter could inherit from him, except that inheritance in this context is not referring to material wealth but that of prophethood hence his reference to the house of Ya’qoob (Jacob). This is definitely something that only a male is best suited for. Thus Allāh granted him his prayers after some years of patience, with prophet Yahya عليه السلام.
Today people may not long for a male child to inherit prophethood but because they want at least someone to continue the family name. It is well known that the grandchildren of your daughters will carry the name of their father and thus mark the end of that family name. Of course, there are many other ways by which a name may survive long after your death, but none of them implies that a person wanting a male child just to establish continuity of his lineage is blameworthy as long as he doesn’t fall into the categories mentioned above.
A man may want a male child because he wants someone to act in ‘mahram’ capacity for his daughters to fulfill certain obligations stipulated by islām. Besides this, the place of a male child in a house, his ability to play deputy father in the absence of the father can not be underplayed. We have seen homes where only ladies were born to step up to fill the void and perform wonderful roles, but we can not use a necessity to turn a blind eye on something well known.
Each gender be it male child or female child has specific roles to play in the house, and in the society. It is just the same way a house without a daughter will seem incomplete because the boys will find it difficult to perform the roles of girls. Some people argue that wanting a male child by persons who already have female children is ingratitude since there are people who are seeking for just one child and are yet to be blessed.
At some point in my life, I have also argued along this line but later realized it is just an emotional argument that holds no water. It is like saying a graduate wishing to become an MSc degree holder is ungrateful because there are JAMBITes seeking for admission.
The fact that there are persons in abject poverty neither stops the rich from enjoying his wealth nor asking for more. We are to individually ask Allāh for our needs, and nothing is too great to ask from Allāh.
People who make mountains out of a molehill over innocent and a natural longing for a male child are usually either gender equality proponents or persons who think mere wanting a male child implies the person doesn’t value female children.
As long as you are willing to accept the decree of Allāh without despair, and not blame your wife for what is beyond her control, there is nothing wrong in being specific about the gender you want when praying to Allāh or longing for a male child from Allāh. There is no ingratitude whatsoever in that, and it doesn’t in any way indicate a blemish on the strength of your faith. If a prophet can be specific about what he wants, nobody should be made to feel weak in eemaan for doing the same.
Written By : Abu Imran