In the pre-Islaamic era, people used to bury their daughters alive, as Allaah informs us, saying:
وَإِذَا بُشِّرَ أَحَدُهُمْ بِالْأُنْثَى ظَلَّ وَجْهُهُ مُسْوَدّاً وَهُوَ كَظِيمٌ يَتَوَارَى مِنَ الْقَوْمِ
مِنْ سُوءِ مَا بُشِّرَ بِهِ أَيُمْسِكُهُ عَلَى هُونٍ أَمْ يَدُسُّهُ فِي التُّرَابِ أَلا سَاءَ مَا يَحْكُمُونَ
which means: “And when one of them is informed of [the birth of] a female, his face becomes dark, and he suppresses grief. He hides himself from the people because of the ill of which he has been informed. Should he keep it in humiliation or bury it in the ground? Unquestionably, evil is what they decide.” (An-Nahl: 58-59).
Who was the one who initiated this innovation?
It was Qays ibn ‘Aasim At-Tameemi, when some of his enemies attacked his premises, captured his daughter and (one of them) married her. Later, the two reconciled, so they gave her freedom of choice, whereupon, she preferred her husband and refused to go back to her father. At that point, Qays took a pledge upon himself to bury alive any new daughter and the Arabs imitated him after that.
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
من سنة سيئه فعليه وزرها ووزر من عمل بها الى يوم القيامة
“Whosoever introduces an evil practice in Islaam, will shoulder its sin and the sins of all those who will perform it until the Day of Resurrection.”(bukharee)
One of the Muslims who killed his daughter in the period before Islaam and regretted his action afterwards, narrated his story:
إنا كنا أهل جاهلية وعبادة أوثان فكنا نقتل الأولاد وكانت عندي إبنة لي فلما أجابت وكانت مسرورة بدعائي إذا دعوتها فدعوتها يوماً فاتبعتني فمررت حتى أتيت بئر من أهلي غير بعيد فأخذت بيدها فرديت بها في البئر وكان آخر عهدي بها أن تقول يا أبتاه يا أبتاه
“We used to worship idols in the pre-Islaamic time and kill our daughters. I had a daughter, who, when she was old enough to comprehend and talk, would rejoice whenever I called on her and would immediately respond. One day, I called her and told her to follow me, so she did, until we reached a well which belonged to my tribe. I took her by her hand and threw her in the well, and the last thing I heard her cry was: ‘O father! O father!” (Ad-Daarimi).