The first people who resorted to the practice of burying their daughters were the tribe named Bani Tamim. No'man bin Munzir, the ruler of Iraq, attacked his enemies (including Bani Tamim) at the head of a big army and routed them. He confiscated their properties and took their girls as captives. Representatives of Bani Tamim approached him and requested for the return of their girls.
However, as some of the girls had contracted matrimonial alliances during the period of their captivity, No'man gave them the option either to sever their connections with their parents and stay on with their husbands or to obtain divorce and return to their homes.
One of the representatives of Bani Tamim was an old man named Qays bin 'Asim. His daughter preferred to stay on with her husband. The insult cut the old man to the quick and he decided that, in future, he would finish his daughters as soon as they were born. Gradually this practice penetrated into other tribes also.
When Qays bin 'Asim had the honour of presenting himself before the Holy Prophet, one of the Ansar enquired from him about his daughters. Qays said in reply "I buried all my daughters alive and was not touched in the least while doing so (except once!). At one time l was journeying and the time for my wife being delivered of a child had drawn near. By chance my journey was prolonged.
On return home l enquired from my wife about the issue. she replied that owing to some illness she had been delivered of a still-born child. In fact, however, she had given birth to a female child and fearing me had entrusted it to her sisters. Years passed by and the girl attained her youth. l did not have the least information about it.
However, one day, while l was sitting in my house, a girl stepped in all of a sudden and inquired about her mother. It was a very beautiful girl. Her tresses were knit together and she wore a necklace round her neck. I enquired from my wife as to who the lovely girl was. With tears in her eyes she replied, "She is your own daughter. She is the same girl who was born while you were journeying. Fearing you I had concealed her". My silence was taken by my wife to be a sign of my acquiescence and she thought that I would not besmear my hands with the blood of the girl.
Hence, one day, she left the house with a confident mind. Then, according to my solemn promise and vow, I caught the hand of my daughter and took her to a far-off place. There l began digging a pit. When l was engaged in this task my daughter asked me repeatedly as to why I was digging the earth. Digging over, I caught the hand of my daughter, pushed her into the pit and began throwing dust on her head and face without paying any heed to her heart-rending cries.
She continued groaning and saying. "Dear father! Are you burying me under earth? Will you return to my mother after leaving me here alone?" But l continued pouring the dust till it enveloped her completely. It was only on this occasion that I had some scruple of conscience".
When the narrative of Qays came to an end tears were flowing from the eyes of the Prophet and he remarked: "This is an act of hard-heartedness and a nation which does not possess feelings of pity and kindness is not entitled to Divine mercy"