Are women defficient in intelligence and religion? Answer,No!
Discover the true meaning of the most commonly misunderstood hadith
- The most commonly misquoted and misunderstood hadith in Sahih Bukhari:
- The meaning of the hadith in question
- Answer given by Sheikh G.F. Haddad
- Answer given by Sheikh Muhammad Ali Al-Hanooti
- Answer given by Sheikh Salman al-Oadah
- Answer given by Sheikh `Abdul-`Aziz Ibn Baz
- The hadith is not meant literally, more proof from the Quran and the authentic sunnah
- Extra fatwa by the scholars of www.ourdialogue.com
- Extra fatwa by Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
- Mash’allah comment by a sister
- Will there always be more women in hell then men ? Answer, no !
- Why Two Women Witnesses ?
Before i explain the most commonly misquoted and misunderstood hadith found in Bukhari and Muslim, i first want to tell the reader some important information about the system of hadith collecting and writing down by famous Imams in history. Imam Bukhari for example in his Jami is not only collecting Hadiths but at the same time he is trying to prove his opinions on fiqh which is known as fiqhul bukhari fi tarajimihi.
Therefore, Imam bukhari might bring the same Hadith a number of times to prove different things from it, however, in doing this he does not bring the full Hadith, but chops the irrelevant bits off so that it doesnt drag and goes straight to the point. This in hadith terminology is known as taqteeul hadith.
One great scholar from Azhar Sheikh Musa Shahin Lashin ( who spent 23 years writing a brilliant commentry on Sahih Muslim fathul mun’im) is currently working on a huge project in collecting all the hadith taqtee’ of bukhari and putting them together according to the system of Imam Muslim’s sahih.
This is a very tedious job because in the case of some hadiths you might think that they are two different hadiths and have nothing in common, however in reality they are two different part of the same hadith. Some one who has great expertise in the field of hadith can only carry out a project like this.
The most commonly misquoted and misunderstood hadith:
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
Once Allah’s Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) on ‘Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).” They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands.
I have not seen anyone MORE DEFICIENT IN INTELLIGENCE and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.” The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?”
They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her religion.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 6, Number 301)
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
The Prophet said, “Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?” The women said, “Yes.” He said, “This is because OF THE DEFICIENTCY OF A WOMAN’S MIND.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 48, Number 826)
The meaning of the hadith in question:
A: ( Sheikh G.F. Haddad )
The problem here is the misconception about the meaning. Even the plainest statement can become completely incoherent on the tongue of a retarded person or a pathological liar. The hadith here uses two figures of speech: the first is hyperbole (mubalagha) meaning exaggeration in the words “even a prudent, sensible man might be led astray by some of you” i.e. a fortiori an ordinary man. The second figure is synechdoche (majaz mursal) consisting in using the whole for the part: intelligence to mean the specific legal testimony of a woman, and religion to mean the prayer and fast at the time of menses.
Numerous verses and other narrations stress that the reward of women equals that of men even if their acts differ. So this particular narration is not meant literally but as an acknowledgment of the power women wield over men while ostensibly less active in the public and spiritual spheres.
However, the real import of the hadith – spoken at the Farewell Pilgrimage – and its actual context was that the Prophet (peace be upon him) challenged the women that were present to realize that unless they helped raise money with their gold and jewelry, they would miss the reward of men waging jihad as well as show ingratitude.
In the full version of the hadith the Prophet also orders the women to ask forgiveness and desist from frequently cursing their husbands. All this was spoken at a time of
(1) the impending departure of the latter on jihad
(2) the impending departure of the Prophet from this world and
(3) the fact that “Cursing the believer is like killing him.”
But the Prophet (peace be upon him) was also being playful in his use of strong terms to impress this teaching on the listeners. Ruqayyah Waris Maqsud writes, “After the Farewell Pilgrimage at the Eid prayer, the Prophet walked past the men leaning on Bilal’s arm, and came to the rows of women behind them.
Bilal spread out a cloth and the Prophet urged the women to be generous with their gifts of charity, for when he had been allowed a glimpse into the flames of Hell, he had noted that most of the people being tormented there were women.
The women were outraged, and one of them instantly stood up boldly and demanded to know why that was so.
‘Because,’ he replied, ‘you women grumble so much, and show ingratitude to your husbands! Even if the poor fellows spent all their lives doing good things for you, you have only to be upset at the least thing and you will say, ‘I have never received any good from you!’ (Bukhari 1.28, recorded by Ibn Abbas – who was present on that occasion as a child).
At that the women began vigorously to pull off their rings and ear-rings, and throw them into Bilal’s cloth.”
(source: fatwa by shaykh G.F. Haddad at www.livingislam.org)
My own note:
- The reward of women equals that of men even if their acts differ , example:
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, says in this regard, addressing women: “Take care of your home for that is your Jihad.” (Musnad Ahmad). Jihad is the epitome of Islamic life. Declaring home-making as Jihad for women is giving it the highest possible status in an Islamic society.
1. Our source of knowledge is Allah (SWT). Reason is not a source, but is a tool to understand what Allah revealed to us through his messanger (SAAWS). If you believe in this data, then your argument would be in the authenticity of the content of a Hadith.
2. The Quran is always fully articulate in vocabulary and style. Everything in the Quran is the exact saying of Allah. The Hadith is different in punctuality of language, because some Hadiths one related by the companions of the Prophet (SAAWS), they could have a different synonym or a different additional or omited conjuction or article. This is what is called in the Hadith terminology “narration by meaning“.
The Hadith in question does not depict a woman as inferior; not at all! Islam honours women very high and many verses of the Qur’an and practices of the early Muslims bear witness to the fact that woman is, at least, as vital to life as man is, and that she is not inferior to man in any way (in neither religion or intelligence).
Islam never belittles woman or underestimates her role in the society. Allah has made this clear in the Glorious Qur’an, by stating shining examples of some women for the believers– male and female- to emulate. In this context, the Glorious Qur’an says,
“And Allah citeth an example for those who believe: the wife of Pharaoh when she said: My Lord! Build for me a home with thee in the Garden, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work, and deliver me from evil doing folk; and Mary, daughter of Imran, whose body was chaste, therefor We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His Scriptures, and was of the obedient.” (At-Tahrim: 11-12)
Allah Almighty and prophet Muhammad praised the good women, let us look at the following quotes from our Islamic sources:
“For Muslim men and women,- for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God’s praise,- for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward. (The Noble Quran, 33:35)”
“The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey God and His Apostle. On them will God pour His mercy: for God is Exalted in power, Wise. (The Noble Quran, 9:71)”
In islam women clearly have the right to forbid men what is evil, so this proofs women aren’t inferior to men in religion or intelligence, since Allah swt gives women the right to correct men when they are wrong, and to forbid them the evil.
3. The Hadith is authentic, the Prophet (SAAWS) talks about women not as a gender or a race or ethnic. He talks about sinful people who deserve what they will have of destiny. If a man does the same, he will have the same Hell. This is the only way you can interpret the Hadith.
4. The Prophet (SAAWS) has explained what he says of shortage of deen which is different from the chrisitian missionaries interpretation or translation of deen. He says, you are less commended to practice the deen, because of menstruation. When he talks about lack of intellect, he does not talk about potential of brain or capacity of talent or skill. A woman is overloaded by being a mother or a babysitter or pregnant.
All these carriers are around the clock, because of what she is, she is always likely to forget more than a man who is devoted to one career only. Allah is merciful, he forgives her and makes it easy for her when she is not fully responsible to give a full testimony as a witness. Nothing of that is defaming a woman, there is not a law that discriminates a woman to put her down.
C: ( Sheikh Salman al-Oadah )
When Islam discusses the deficiencies of women, it is neither insulting them nor belittling them. Some men, unfortunately, do precisely that when they quote the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that women “have a deficiency in their intellect and their religion”. They take these words out of context as a means of oppressing women and putting them down.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) meant something quite different. He said: “I have never seen among those who have a deficiency in their intellect and their religion anyone more capable than women of swaying the intellect of the most determined of men.” He is actually asserting here the power of women to influence men and sway their opinion. This is one of the distinctions that women, in their natures, have.
He then went on to define precisely what he meant by these deficiencies. In the remainder of the hadîth, some women asked him: “O Messenger of Allah, what is this deficiency in our intelligence and religion?” He replied: “Isn’t it that a woman’s testimony as a witness is half of the testimony of man?” They said: “Yes.” He said: “This, then, is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that when she is in her menses, she leaves off prayers and fasting?” They said: “Yes.” He said: “This is the deficiency in her religion.”
These are matters of Islamic Law. A woman is neither sinful nor blameworthy because of the prayers and fasts that she misses. She, in fact, receives blessings by obeying Allah and abstaining from those acts while she is menstruating. Her testimony as a witness is half that of men only in matters wherein she is generally less versed than men. In other matters wherein women have particular knowledge, like fosterage and virginity, the testimony of a woman is accepted but not that of a man.
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) attested to the perfect character of four women: Mary, Âsiyah the wife of Pharaoh, Fâtimah, and Khadîjah. He definitely did not mean that these women did not go through menstruation. He was referring to their good character, strength of intellect, and soundness of opinion.
D: ( Sheikh `Abdul-`Aziz Ibn Baz )
“The Prophet, peace be and blessings upon him, explained that women’s mental deficiency is reflected in their weak memory (A woman is overloaded by being a mother or a babysitter or pregnant. All these carriers are around the clock, because of what she is, she is always likely to forget more than a man who is devoted to one career only) , the fact that makes Shari`ah stipulate that a woman’s testimony must be corroborated by another woman. Thus, this injunction does not imply woman’s inferiority to man; rather it has more to do with justice than to gender.
As for the shortcoming in religion, this stems from the fact that when menstruating or having post- partum bleeding, women neither pray nor fast, and they do not have to make up for their prayers.
As we know, women have no hand in the obstacles that disrupt their religious performances. This is something divine, which reflects Almighty Allah’s overflowing mercy on them, for it will be extremely hard for a woman to be tasked with religious obligation while she is having menstruation or post-partum bleeding. That’s why she is exempted from fasting or praying, as a sign of mercy on her. Also, they do not make up their prayers.
This is because if they were ordered to make up their prayers, it would be extremely hard for them, given that prayers are performed five times a day. Menses may last for a number of days, up to seven or eight or more. Post-partum bleeding lasts for forty days. It’d be definitely hard for women to be obliged to make up the prayers missed while responding to the demands of nature.
So, in the light of the above-mentioned facts, the Hadith does not have any indication of looking down upon women or considering them as inferior, especially when we know that some women excel men in many matters.
Yes, no one can deny the fact that a woman may perform many good deeds and exceed many men in virtue, morality, etc. Islamic history abounds with examples of great women who have made great contribution to the progress of mankind. This is very clear to anyone who is well informed about the status of women during the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and the early generations.
In addition, the Hadith in question does not disqualify women from being narrators of Hadiths, and there is nothing that prevents a woman from being one of Allah’s pious servants, if she is steadfast in her religion even with her being excused from fasting or praying during menstruation or post-partum bleeding”
The fatwas by our beloved sheikhs and the authentic interpretation of the hadith in question clearly refutes the false anti-islamic argument that men are superior to women in intelligence and religion, since the hadith in question is not meant literally but as an acknowledgment of the power women wield over men while ostensibly less active in the public and spiritual spheres. Further the Quran and the authentic sunnah of our beloved prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) proof that this hadith is not meant literally, since:
The authentic sunnah of our beloved prophet Muhammed (peace be upon) is enough proof to refute the lie that men are superior or better then women in creation, intelligence and religion, Since the prophet clearly stated:
“Assuredly, women are the twin halves of men.” (Sahih reported by Abu-Dawud (RA) The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) said, He said, “Yes, for women are the twin halves of men.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 113; Ahmad, 25663. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi)
It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was asked about a man who finds some wetness (on his clothes) but did not have an erotic dream, and he said, “He should do ghusl.”He was asked about a man who had an erotic dream but did not find any wetness,
and he said,“He does not have to do ghusl.” Umm Salamah said, “O Messenger of Allaah, if a woman sees that, does she have to do ghusl?” He said, “Yes, for women are the twin halves of men.”(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 113; Ahmad, 25663. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 98)
In islam women are the twin halves of men. So this particular narration in sahih bukhari ((Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 6, Number 301; see also Volume 2, Book 24, Number 541) is not meant literally but as an acknowledgment of the power women wield over men while ostensibly less active in the public and spiritual spheres.
Moreover, the Holy Qur’an makes it clear that while there are many favours of God that He bestows on His creatures in different measures, there is only one favour which determines the superiority of one member of the human species over another and that is taqwa or God consciousness.
Thus wealth, strength, health, intelligence, position, education, etc. are all favours of God but we cannot say that a wealthier person is superior to a poorer person, a stronger person is superior is superior to a physically feeble person and so on. we can say only that a more muttaqi person is superior to a less muttaqi person. In the words of the Holy Qur’an:
“The nobler among you in the sight of God is the more muttaqi (righteous) among you.” (Qu’ran 49:13)
All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves. (Hafiz Ibn Hibban reported in al-Sahih (11/203/#4862) via his isnad, from Fadalah ibn `Ubayd (Allah be pleased with him)
(Hafiz Ibn Hibban authenticated it by including it in his al-Sahih. Shu`ayb al-Arna'ut said in his comments that its isnad is sahih)
Taqwa (righteousness, God consciousness) is that divine favour of God on which the right use of all other favours of God depends. The more of this quality of taqwa a person has the more the other favours of God benefit him.
Thus the fact that man has been favoured in some ways (for example with physical strenght) more than woman does not make him superior to her. It is only when his taqwa is more than hers that he can from the Qur’anic point of view be considered superior to her. And when a person’s taqwa increases to a worthwhile level the question of his superiority does not interest him, for he or she realizes that all praises are due to God.
Extra fatwas about the hadith in question
My daughter keeps asking me about the Hadith that women are deficient in mental ability and in religion. Could you please explain it? Why does the Prophet, peace be upon him, say that most women will be in hell?
Your daughter is not alone. Many are those who question the meaning it conveys. This is largely due to the fact that the Hadith is quoted only in part and the relevant statement is cited out of context. People always attribute to the Prophet, peace be upon him, the suggestion that women are inferior to men on grounds of a deficient mind a lack of faith. This is far from true.
Let us look at the Hadith in full: “On the occasion of Eid, either that of sacrifice or that of ending the fast, the Prophet, peace be upon him, went to the prayer place, and then went to speak to women and he said: “Ladies! I have not seen people deficient in mind and religion yet can get away with a rational man’s mind like any one of you.” They asked: “How are we deficient in mind and religion, Messenger of God?”
He said: “Is it not true that a woman’s testimony counts as half that of a man?” When they answered in the affirmative, he said: “This is her mental deficiency. Is it not true that when a woman is in her period she neither prays nor fasts?” They again answered in the affirmative. He said: “This is her religious deficiency.” (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
To start with, the Prophet, peace be upon him, was speaking to a congregation of women on a joyous occasion. Exemplary in his care for others, particularly his companions, and kind and compassionate as he was, it is inconceivable that he would insult them by such a statement, if he meant it as a statement of fact, like some of us do. The Prophet, peace be upon him, simply used this phrase “deficient in mind and religion” to alert them to what he wanted to say to them.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, frequently uses such a method, inserting some words that may not be relevant to the point he wants to stress, so that they serve to attract the attention of his audience. Furthermore, his statement expresses amazement at a well-known situation, when a man is infatuated by a woman to the extent that his behavior changes in character.
He may be wise and intelligent, yet he could easily behave in a way that is inconsistent with his intelligence and wisdom when he is so infatuated. This is a case where a woman who is generally weaker than a man can control him.
The Hadith mentions that the Prophet’s women audience asked him to clarify what he said. His clarification pinpoints certain aspects that suggest no inferiority whatsoever. The mental deficiency is related to the fact that in certain cases, two women witnesses are required in place of one-man witness. This has to do with the role of each of the two sexes in Islamic society. It is no reflection on a woman’s mental ability.
As for religious deficiency, the Prophet, peace be upon him, states the fact that a woman is exempt from prayer and fasting when she is in menstruation. While God gives a woman the reward for prayer and fasting as if she has done them, since she stops only because of her condition and in response to God’s orders, still the fact that she does not fulfill these duties means that her worship is less in terms of what she offers. It does not mean that she is a lesser believer.
As for a relevant statement of fact in this regard, the Prophet, peace be upon him, says, “Women are full sisters of men.” In the Arabic text, the Prophet, peace be upon him, uses here a word, which implies total similarity and equivalence. Hence, the Prophet’s statement suggests no inferiority attached to women. The Qur’an and the Sunnah assign the same duties to both men and women, and promise them the same reward. If this does not mean the same status, I would like to know what does.
May I add here that the translation of this Hadith as quoted by you is wrong, because it splits the relevant sentence and gives the Prophet’s words in such a way that they appear to make a statement of fact. This is wrong, as I have explained.
As for the other part, a full translation of it goes as follows: “‚I have seen hell and I have never seen any thing more horrific than what I saw then. I also saw that the majority of its dwellers are women. ‚ They asked: “On what grounds, Messenger of God? He said: “By their denial.‚ They said: “Their denial of God?‚
He answered: “No. Their denial of their spouses and their denial of kindness. You may be kind to one of them all the time, but when she finds fault with you she says: I have never received any kindness from you. ‚”
To start with, the Hadith does not say that most women are in hell. It says that the majority of hell dwellers are women, which simply signifies that more women fail in this worldly test than men. Then the Prophet, peace be upon him, points out their failure, which is not based on denying God.
Rather, it is denying kindness, particularly in marital situations. The Prophet, peace be upon him, has pointed this out in more than one Hadith, warning women against grumbling and frequent complaints. He is also warning them here against denying kindness by their husbands, highlighting a failing that is often expressed in denying past kindness.
The Hadith shows that women can easily avoid such a destiny by being fair and appreciative of kindness. They should always be grateful to God for what He has given them and also be appreciative of any kindness done to them by others, particularly those with whom they live, be they their husbands, parents or other relatives.
2: Fatwa by Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood about the hadith in question:
More women than men in Hell ?
After the Farewell Pilgrimage at the Eid prayer the Prophet (pbuh) used his humour to charm his female companions into donating more for charity than they might have intended. Abdullah b. Abbas, who was there as a child, recorded that after he had offered up the prayer and delivered his khutbah the Prophet (pbuh) waved at the people to make them sit down, came down from the pulpit and walked towards the women who were sitting in rows behind the men, leaning on Bilal’s arm, while Bilal held out his cloak for them to throw in their gifts of charity.
This was not the required zakat-ul-Fitr (contributions made by every Muslim who can afford it so that the poor can be given money in advance in order to be able to pay for their feast obligations) but extra personal gifts according to their own choice. One woman might donate a ring off her finger, and others would see and do the same.
He urged the women to be generous with their gifts, for when he had glimpsed into the flames of Hell, he had noted the vast majority of people being tormented there were women. The women were outraged, and one of them instantly stood up and demanded to know why that was so. ‘
Because,’ he replied, ‘you women grumble so much, and show ingratitude to your husbands! Even if the poor fellows spent all their lives doing good things for you, you have only to be upset at the least thing and you will say, ‘I have never received any good from you!’ At that the women began vigorously to pull off their rings and ear-rings, and throw them into Bilal’s cloak. (Bukhari 1.28, Abu Dawud 439 etc).
Women lack common-sense, therefore there evidence is only worth half that of a man.
After the ‘more women in Hell’ hadith, some versions go on to add that the prophet (pbuh) commented: ‘I have seen none lacking in common sense and failing in religion but (at the same time) robbing the wisdom of the wise, besides you.’ Upon this a woman remarked: ‘What is wrong with our common sense and with religion?’
He observed: ‘Your lack of common sense (in) that the evidence of two women is equal to that of one man; that is the proof of your lack of common sense. And you spend some nights (and days) in which you do not offer prayer and in the month of Ramadan (during the menstrual days) you do not observe fast; that is your failing in religion.’ (Muslim 31. This hadith was also narrated on the authority of Abu Tahir with this chain of transmitters. See also Muslim 448).
Is it possible that the two above wry comments of the Prophet were also intended to be taken as examples of his humour ? It is vital that it should be made very clear that women not offering prayer during their menses or fasting on those days in the month of Ramadan is NOT a failing in their religion at all – it was a concession allowed by Allah in His revelation.
As regarded the fasts, women were simply required to make up the missed days at some other time before the coming of the next Ramadan month. Their period of uncleanness and discomfort during menstruation coming under the category of illness.
‘Therefore, anyone of you who witnesses that month should fast therein, and whoever is ill or upon a journey shall fast a similar number of days later on. Allah intends your well-being and does not want to put you to hardship. He wants you to complete the prescribed period so that you should glorify His Greatness and render thanks to Him for giving you guidance.’ 2:185:
Imam Malik, who did not regard travelling as being a good enough reason, accepted menstruation as valid reason. ‘No one who, by the Book of Allah, has to fast may break his fast except for a reason – illness or menstruation. He must not travel and break his fast.” Malik said, “This is the best that I have heard about the matter.” Al-Muwatta 18:40.
Fiqh as-Sunnah 1.71a (in the Alim Encyclopedia CD) gives us: If women fast (while menstruating during Ramadan), those days will be considered null and void. They will still have to make those days of fasting up later on. Mu’adhah said: ‘I asked Aishah: Why must we make up the fasts missed due to our menstruation, but not the prayers (missed through menstruation) ?’ She said, ‘That was what the Messenger of Allah told us to do. We were ordered to make up the fasts, and we were ordered not to make up the prayers.’
The witness of two women :
It has been suggested that the Prophet (pbuh) regarded women as inferior to men for two reasons – the inheritance laws in which a daughter received half the share of a son; and the fact that two female witnesses were regarded as the equal of one male witness.
In fact, the Qur’an actually taught that the witness of a woman was just as valid as that of a man, and made no distinction regarding the sex of a witness in every single reference except one – the concession of granting two female witnesses in legal cases where women had little knowledge or expertise. The intention of this concession was to prevent women being tricked or cheated by unscrupulous men who could take advantage of their inexperience in business matters.
‘O believers! When you deal with each other in lending for a fixed period of time, put it in writing. Let a scribe write everything down with justice between the parties. The scribe, who has been given the gift of literacy by Allah, should not refuse to write; he is under obligation to write. Let the debtor dictate, fearing the Almighty, his Lord, and not diminishing anything from the settlement.
If the borrower is mentally unsound or weak or is unable to dictate himself, let the guardian of his interests dictate for him with justice. Let two witnesses from among you bear witness to all such documents, if two men cannot be found, then one man and two women of your choice should bear witness, so that if one of the women forgets anything the other may remind her. Witnesses must not refuse (to bear witness) when they are called upon to do so.’ (2.282).
In every other kind of case, there was no reason why the witness of a woman should not be just as reliable as evidence as that of a man, and no distinction of either sex was made or necessary. For example: ‘Those who accuse a chaste woman of fornication and do not produce four witnesses to support their allegation, shall be flogged with eighty lashes and their testimony shall not be accepted ever after, for they are the ones who are wicked transgressors.’ (24.4). The text implies any four witnesses, who could be of either sex.
In societies where it is insisted that the witnesses should all be male, this is really a cultural gloss on the rule, since any text in the Arabic masculine plural grammatically includes both men and women, unless specifically stated otherwise. Assumptions that women’s evidence would be unreliable because of the inferiority of women in intellectual capacity, memory, or character stem from a patriarchal perspective in a male-dominated community which tried to limit the appearance of their women in public.
The Qur’an does not bear this attitude and established the equality of men and women before Allah. The restrictions against public appearance are a nonsense in this century, when the medical evidence of the rape could be presented by a woman doctor to a female litigator in front of a female jurist! It is certainly a travesty of justice to deny a victim of rape the right to testify to this violent attack merely because she is a woman.
A mash’allah comment by a sister to those who criticize islam by misquoting this hadith without knowledge of it:
Well truly the uneducated would read only a snippet of a paragraph and then claim that through that snippet you have been made to understand the entirety of the book ,How absurd,right ? Well let me clarify something: Mohammed asked some women, “Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half that of a man?” The women said, “yes,” He said, “This is because of the deficiency of the woman’s mind. ” Vol. 3:826.
To read the entire Hadith would do you good because then you would see that there is indeed an explanation for this statement! Let me go to the next before I finish with this justly, Mohammed (pbuh) to women: “I have not seen any one more deficient in intelligence and religion than you.” Vol. 2:541. Well any educated discerning person would look for an explenation so let me provide it for you: When examining this very Hadith ’ you have to take into account the Ideology that derived from this and that is:
Women are Emmotional and when under duress cannot contain emmotions but rather become overcome by them due to the nature of the woman leaving room for much error when testimony is necessary thus the reasoning for deeming 2 women the appropriate number when giving an un-biased/truthfull testimony. Also knowing the religion you speak of is of the utmost importance so you may be able to give accurate accounts,
When stating that Women are most defficient in Religion and Intelligiance the setting was a lighthearted gathering where the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh)was making a joke because Women in Islam are not allowed to Pray or to take part in religious duties due to their Menstration thus being defficiant in their religion, now for being deficiant in intelligance that was based on the frailty and emmotional instability he witnessed from many woman thus making the statement he made!
Was he wrong “NO” I am a woman and I can agree knowing that he wasnt deeming women all together defficiant, thus the importance of being educated on the topics that are being discussed! More need to speak from knowledge!
Will there always be more women in hell then men? Answer, no!
The hadith in question gives the impression that the women of this world will be less in Jannah compared to the men. However, Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Radhiallaahu anhu) was asked as to who will be in the majority in Jannah (paradise), the human males or females, he replied by narrating the Hadith in which Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) has stated that ‘every male in Jannah will have 2 (human) wives (Sahih Muslim Hadith 7076)
Hafiz ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (ra) says, ‘Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra [Radhiallaahu anhu] used this Hadith as a proof to maintain that there would be more women in Jannah than men… and this is clearly understood.’ (Fath al-Baari vol.6 pg.400; Hadith 3246)
The Muhadditheen (experts in Hadith) have resolved this apparent contradiction through the following explanations:
- These Ahaadith are clear that females in Jannah and Jahannum will outnumber males by a great margin. (Sharh al-Nawawiy vol.9 pg.170)
- The women could be more in Jahannam and less in Jannah at the beginning. Thereafter, when they are cleansed of their sins or when intercession on their behalf is accepted, they would be entered into Jannah and they would outnumber the men there too. (Fath al-Baari vol.6 pg.401; Hadith3246 – Sifatul Jannah of Hafiz ibn Katheer pg.130)
- The Ahaadith that indicate the women as the major inhabitants of Jahannam refer to that time when Rasulullah [Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam] had physically seen Jannah and Jahannam. They do not mention that it will always remain like that. (Faydhul Baari and Malfoozaat-e-Kashmiri vol.4 pg.244)
Source: Moulana Muhammad ibn Moulana Haroon Abassommar , faculty of specialty in hadith sciences.
Why Two Women Witnesses?
Adapted from the book by Shamshad.M.Khan with modifications and additions by Abu ‘Iyaad
A question that repeatedly arises is that concerning the ‘position of women in Islaam’. Muslim scholars have been able with great success – despite the onslaught of distortion and mis-representation – to demonstrate the true position of Muslim women; especially of women’s liberation in the advent of Islaam.
The Islaamic ruling on issues such as inheritance, the right to earn, the right to own property etc. have reinforced this position and have been prescribed by Allaah – the One True God – long before western nations even thought of such concepts!
The issue of two women witnesses in place of one man is the concern of the present treatise. As will become clear to the sincere and objective reader, the intellectual status of a Muslim woman is neither marred nor degraded by the commandment that if two Muslim male witnesses are not available then one Muslim male and two Muslim females should be invited to witness.
Rather, this injunction is in perfect harmony with the nature and psychology of the woman as will become evident through quotations from psychologists, psychiatrists and medical research.
The passage of the Qur’aan (Baqarah 2:282) in which the above-mentioned requirement is made has usury, capital and debtor difficulties as its theme. Allaah grants guidelines in matters relating to monetary obligations. Then business transactions are dealt with. In this section, the requirement to commit all transactions into writing is stated most emphatically (Reduce them to writing…).
The section after this describes the responsibility of the scribe, or in modern parlance, the person responsible for drawing up the agreement. The following section describes the responsibility and the obligation of the person incurring the liability. The section after this explains how if the party that is liable cannot effectively draw up the contract – out of being deficient or weak mentally,
or being unable to dictate – then his or her guardian should help draw out the contract and choose two suitable witnesses to observe. It must be understood that this situation arises if it is not possible for the liable party to draw out the contract by him/herself. The condition to put things into writing is still supreme.
The next section then explains that two men should be called to witness and if two men are not available (And if there are not two men…) then a man and two women. The legislation then continues and reminds most emphatically that one should not be complacent about putting ALL agreements into writing – no matter whether these agreements are major or minor as this is more JUST in the sight of Allaah and more reliable as evidence.
The passage of the Qur’aan further explains that for practical reasons it may not always be possible to commit on-the-spot agreements into writing. In this case, it is also recommended that it be witnessed. The section which follows then lays down the guidelines which should be followed in the event that no witnesses are present.
The purpose in giving the above outline is to draw attention to the fact the question of women witnesses relates, in this instance, to commercial agreements and is not a STATEMENT ON THEIR STATUS.
Let’s look at the section under investigation in more detail. Allaah said:
And get two witnesses of your own men, and if there are not two men then a man and two women such as you choose for witnesses – so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her… [Baqarah 2:182]
A number of questions (as well as eyebrows!) are raised when this section of the passage is read. The questions often posed include:
* Do women have weaker memories than men?
* Why should two women be needed in the place of one man?
* Are women inferior to men?
One must remember that Prophet Muhammad (sas) was neither a physiologist, a psychiatrist and nor a surgeon. He was an illiterate and could neither read nor write. He passed on the revelation exactly as he received it. Allaah, the Creator, with His infinite wisdom gave the directives best suited to humankind. He is the Creator, therefore, He knows man better than a man himself.
In this scientific age we can explore the significance of this legislation. A great deal has been discovered since the early days of Islaam. And each day of advancement brings about a better understanding of the the last and final revelation from the Creator, Allaah to the creation, humankind.
As women, we are aware of the cyclical psychological strains that a woman has to encounter every month. The symptoms during early pregnancy, ante-natal and post-natal depressions, the phenomenon of menopause, the physiological and psychological problems due to infertility and last but not least the psychological problems faced after miscarriage.
It is under these situations that women can experience extraordinary psychological strains giving rise to depression, lack of concentration, slow-mindedness and SHORT TERM MEMORY LOSS. Let us examine these episodes in a bit more detail and with medical references from the scientific world. PMT is an umbrella term for more than 140 different symptoms and there is a lot of evidence that it causes a lot of unhappiness in many women, and consequently, to their families.
Psychiatry in Practice, April 1983 issue states: “Forty percent of women suffer from pre-menstrual syndrome in some form and some have their lives severely disrupted by it. Dr Jill Williams, general practitioner from Bury, gives guidelines on how to recognise patients at risk and suggests a suitable treatment.” (1)
In the same issue, George Beaumont reporting on the workshop held at the Royal College of Obstreticians and Gynaecologists in London on pre-menstrual syndrome, says: “Some authorities would argue that eighty percent of women have some degree of breast and abdominal discomfort which is pre-menstrual but that only about 10 percent complain to their doctors –
and then only because of severe tenderness of the breasts and mental depression… Other authorities have suggested that pre-menstrual syndrome is a new problem, regular ovulation for twenty years or more being a phenomenon caused by ‘civilisation’, ‘medical progress’, and an altered concept of the role of women.” (2)
In its examination of the occurrence of physical and psychological change during the period just prior to the onset of menstruation we read in Psychological Medicine: “Many studies have reported an increased likelihood of various negative affects during the pre-menstrual period.
In this affective category are many emotional designations including irritability, depression, tension, anxiety, sadness, insecurity, lethargy, loneliness, tearfulness, fatigue, restlessness and changes of mood. In the majority of studies, investigators have found it difficult to distinguish between various negative affects, and only a few have allowed themselves to be excessively concerned with the differences which might or might not exist between affective symptoms.” (3)
In the same article dealing with Pre-menstrual Behavioural Changes we read: “A significant relationship between the pre-menstrual phase of the cycle and a variety of specific and defined forms of behaviour has been reported in a number of studies.
For the purpose of their review, these forms of behaviour have been grouped under the headings of aggressive behaviour, illness behaviour and accidents, performance on examination and other tests and sporting performance.” (4) The lengthy review portrays how female behaviour is affected in these situations.
In ‘The Pre-menstrual Syndrome’, C. Shreeves writes: “Reduced powers of concentration and memory are familiar aspects of the pre-menstrual syndrome and can only be remedied by treating the underlying complaint.” This does not mean, of course, that women are mentally deficient absolutely.
It just means that their mental faculties can become affected at certain times in the biological cycle. Shreeves also writes: “As many as 80 percent of women are aware of some degree of pre-menstrual changes, 40 percent are substantially disturbed by them, and between 10 and 20 percent are seriously disabled as a result of the syndrome.”
Furthermore, women face the problem of ante-natal and post-natal depression, both of which cause extreme cycles of depression in some cases. Again, these recurring symptoms naturally affect the mind, giving rise to drowsiness and dopey memory.
On the subject of pregnancy in Psychiatry in Practice, October-November 1986, we learn that: “In an experiment ‘Cox’ found that 16 percent of a sample of 263 pregnant women were suffering from clinically significant psychiatric problems.
Eight percent had a depressive neurosis and 1.9 percent had phobic neurosis. This study showed that the proportion of pregnant women with psychiatric problems was greater than that found in the control group but the difference only tended towards significance.” (5)
Regarding the symptoms during the post-natal cycle Dr. Ruth Sagovsky writes: “The third category of puerperal psychiatric problems is post-natal depression. It is generally agreed that between10 to 15 percent of women become clinically depressed after childbirth. These mothers experience a variety of symptoms but anxiety, especially over the baby, irritability, and excessive fatigue are common. Appetite is usually decreased and often there are considerable sleep difficulties.
The mothers lose interest in the things they enjoyed prior to the baby’s birth, and find that their concentration is impaired. They often feel irrational guilt, and blame themselves for being ‘bad’ wives and mothers. Fifty percent of these women are not identified as having a depressive illness. Unfortunately, many of them do not understand what ails them and blame their husbands, their babies or themselves until the relationships are strained to an alarming degree.” (6)
“… Making the diagnosis of post-natal depression is not always easy. Quite often the depression is beginning to become a serious problem around three months postpartum when frequent contact with the health visitor is diminishing. The mother may not present with depressed mood. If she comes to the health centre presenting the baby as the patient, the true nature of the problem can be missed.
When the mother is continually anxious about the baby in spite of reassurance, then the primary health care worker needs to be aware of the possibility of depression. Sometimes these mothers present with marital difficulties, and it is easy to muddle cause and effect, viewing the accompanying low mood as part of the marital problem. Sometimes, only when the husband is seen as well does it become obvious that it is a post-natal depressive illness which has led to the deterioration in the marriage.” (7)
Again there is a need to study the effects of the menopause about which very little is known even to this day. This phase in a woman’s life can start at any time from the mid-thirties to the mid-fifties and can last for as long as fifteen years.
Writing about the pre-menopausal years, C.B. Ballinger states: “Several of the community surveys indicate a small but significant increase in psychiatric symptoms in women during the five years prior to the cessation of menstrual periods…
The most obvious clinical feature of this transitional phase of menstrual function is the alteration in menstrual pattern, the menstrual cycle becoming shorter with age, and variability in cycle length become very prominent just prior to the cessation of menstruation. Menorrhagia is a common complaint at this time, and is associated with higher than normal levels of psychiatric disturbance.” (8)
On the phenomenon of menopause in an article in Newsweek International, May 25th 1992, Dr. Jennifer al-Knopf, Director of the Sex and Marital Therapy Programme of Northwestern University writes: “…Women never know what their body is doing to them… some reporting debilitating symptoms from hot flashes to night sweat, sleeplessness, irritability, mood swings, short term memory loss, migraine, headaches, urinary inconsistence and weight gain.
Most such problems can be traced to the drop-off in the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone, both of which govern the ovarian cycle. But every woman starts with a different level of hormones and loses them at different rates. The unpredictability is one of the most upsetting aspects. Women never know what their body is going to do to them…”
Then there are the psychiatric aspects of infertility and miscarriage. On the subject of infertility, Dr. Ruth Sagovsky writes: “Depression, anger and guilt are common reactions to bereavement. In infertility there is the added pain of there being nobody to grieve for. Families and friends may contribute to the feeling of isolation by passing insensitive comments. The gynaecologist and GPs have to try to help these couples against a backdrop of considerable distress.” (9)
On the subject of miscarriage the above article continues: “Miscarriage is rarely mentioned when considering abortion. However, miscarriage can at times have profound psychological sequelae and it is important that those women affected receive the support they need.
Approximately one-fifth of all pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion and the effects are poorly recognised. If however, the miscarriage occurs in the context of infertility, the emotional reaction may be severe. The level of grief will depend on the meaning of pregnancy to the couple.” (10)
Also, the fact that women are known to be more sensitive and emotional than men must not be overlooked. It is well known, for example, that under identical circumstances women suffer much greater anxiety than men. Numerous medical references on this aspect of female behaviour can be given but to quote as a specimen, we read in ‘Sex Differences in Mental Health’ that: “Surveys have found different correlates of anxiety and neuroticism in the two sexes.
Women and men do not become equally upset by the same things, and being upset does not have the same effect in men as in women. Ekehammer (1974; Ekehammer, Magnusson and Ricklander, 1974) using data from 116 sixteen-year-olds, did a factor analysis on self-reported anxiety.
Of the eighteen different responses indicating anxiety (sweating palms, faster heart rate, and so on) females reported experiencing twelve of them significantly more often than males. Of the anxiety-producing situations studied, females reported experiencing significantly more anxiety than males reported in fourteen of them.” (11)
It is in light of the above findings of psychologist, psychiatrists and researchers that the saying of Allaah, the Exalted:
And get two witnesses of your own men, and if there are not two men then a man and two women such as you choose for witnesses – SO THAT IF ONE OF THEM ERRS, THE OTHER CAN REMIND HER… [Baqarah 2:182]
can be understood. One must also bear in mind that forgetfulness can be an asset. A woman has to be put up with children presenting all kinds of emotional problems and a woman is certainly known to be more resilient than man. The aim of presenting these research findings on a number of aspects related with the theme is to indicate that a woman by her biological constitution faces such problems.
It does not however make her inferior to man but it does illustrate that she is different. Viewed in this way, it can only lead one to the conclusion that Allaah knows His creation the best and has prescribed precise laws in keeping with the nature of humankind.
Allaah, the Creator is – as always – All-Knowing, and man (or the disbeliever in Allaah and the final, perfected, revealed way of life, Islaam) is – as usual – ignorant.
1 Psychiatry in Practice, April 1993, p.14.
2 Psychiatry in Practice, April 1993, p.18.
3 Psychological Medicine, Monograph Supplement 4, 1983, Cambridge University Press, p.6.
4 Psychological Medicine, Monograph Supplement 4, 1983, Cambridge University Press, p.7.
5 Psychiatry in Practice, October-November, 1986, p.6.
6 Psychiatry in Practice, May, 1987, p.18.
7 Psychiatry in Practice, May, 1987, p.18. As has been mentioned above the Prophet Muhammad (sas) was neither a psychologist nor a psychiatrist. Rather, he merely conveyed the truth that was revealed to him. It is in the context of this quotation and the one before it that the following saying of the Prophet Muhammad (sas) can be understood: “Treat your women kindly.
The woman has been created from a rib, and the most curved part of a rib is its upper region. If you try to straighten it you will break it, and if you leave it as it is, it will remain curved. So treat women kindly.” And in another narration: “If you try to straighten her you will break her and breaking her means divorce.” [Reported by Bukhari and Muslim].
This is very important advice for the man – for him to have patience and not to try to ‘reform’ the behavioural pattern of the woman during these times i.e. ‘to straighten her’. He will not be able to do that, as it is biological in origin. Instead, he should maintain and protect his relationship with her by showing kindness.
8 Psychiatry in Practice, November, 1987, p.26.
9 Psychiatry in Practice, Winter, 1989, p.16.
10 Psychiatry in Practice, Winter, 1989, p.17.
11 Katherine Blick Hoyenga and Kermit T. Hoyenga in ‘Sex Differences in Mental Health’, p.336.
And Allah swt knows best!