May 12, 2016

Pre-Islam Arabia is much like today's world, in which violence against women is an epidemic. To such barbarity, Prophet Muhammad forbade men from harming women in any way. The Qur'an implemented a systematic method teaching men to never resort to violence against women. At a time when abuse of women was common, like it is today, Muhammad emphatically declared, "Do not beat women," and led by example. His wife Ayesha reports, "The Prophet never raised a hand against a woman."

I promise to combat the backward mentality that a woman's dress justifies violence against women. I promise to continue to teach your brothers that they must treat all women with respect. I promise to continue to teach your brothers to value the moral characteristics of civility in discourse, respect for a woman's body, respect for a woman's right to self-determination, and the equality and equity of women in general. I promise to place the burden to end violence against women where it rests -- on men, and not on you. This is the example Prophet Muhammad set forth and thus the guidance I intend to follow.

Therefore, my daughter, I promise to create a world around you in which your brothers and I educate men to control their behavior and subdue their anger and violent actions, and hopefully soon we can end violence against women.

4. I promise to treat you as an equal to your brothers.

When your mother and I were expecting your two elder brothers, I would cringe whenever someone would remark, "Congrats on a boy! Good thing you didn't get stuck with a girl."

We live in a highly patriarchal society in which having a boy is all to often deemed as somehow "better" than having a girl. This is tragic and further creates a hostile world for girls and women even before they are born. On the contrary, Prophet Muhammad remarked about his daughter Fatima, that she and he would be together in paradise like two fingers are next to one another. In another incident Muhammad admonished, "Treat all your children equally, even in [something as simple as] your show of affection." Likewise, Prophet Muhammad banned the barbaric practice of burying infant girls alive, and taught that true honor comes to parents who raise and educate a girl to the best of their abilities.

Therefore, my dear daughter, just as I exclaim with joy and kiss your brothers whenever I see them, and just as I have the highest ambitions for their future success, know that you can expect the same excitement and love and support from me throughout your life.

5. I promise to love you and treat you like the future queen you are.

Prophet Muhammad's sons all died in their infancy or youth. Four of his daughters lived to adulthood. Prophet Muhammad's relationship with his daughter Fatima is probably best recorded, and he treated her like royalty. Whenever she would enter the room, he would stand up to greet her, kiss her hands, and offer her his seat. My life goal is to follow this model for as long as I shall live. You are a queen, and you should never expect treatment of anything less than what a queen deserves.

Therefore my dear daughter, I promise to love you and treat you like the future queen you are.


Some of Prophet Muhammad's dying words were, "treat women well, for they are your committed partners."

My dear daughter, it may be years before you read my letter for the first time, and it may be years more until you understand what I have written. But know that throughout my life, I will fulfill these promises to you to the best of my ability. In education, in encouraging you to find your own path to truth, in protection from violence, in equal treatment as your brothers, and in love -- know that my every waking moment will live to serve you as the future queen you are.

Your loving father,