Are women deficient in intelligence in Islam?

Are women deficient in intelligence in Islam?


Mohamad Mostafa Nassar

Twitter:@NassarMohamadMR

In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

It is incorrectly claimed that women are โ€˜deficient in intelligence and religionโ€™ or โ€˜lacking common senseโ€™ according to Islam, and that for this reason restrictions are placed upon a womenโ€™s testimony and intellectual activity. This unfortunate misconception is based upon a misinterpretation or poor translation of the following prophetic tradition:

Abu Saโ€™id al-Khudri reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

ูŠูŽุง ู…ูŽุนู’ุดูŽุฑูŽ ุงู„ู†ูู‘ุณูŽุงุกู ุชูŽุตูŽุฏูŽู‘ู‚ู’ู†ูŽ ููŽุฅูู†ูู‘ูŠ ุฃูุฑููŠุชููƒูู†ูŽู‘ ุฃูŽูƒู’ุซูŽุฑูŽ ุฃูŽู‡ู’ู„ู ุงู„ู†ูŽู‘ุงุฑู

O gathering of women! Give in charity, for I have seen you as a majority of people in Hellfire.

They said, โ€œWhy is that, O Messenger of Allah?โ€ The Prophet said:

ุชููƒู’ุซูุฑู’ู†ูŽ ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ุนู’ู†ูŽ ูˆูŽุชูŽูƒู’ููุฑู’ู†ูŽ ุงู„ู’ุนูŽุดููŠุฑูŽ ู…ูŽุง ุฑูŽุฃูŽูŠู’ุชู ู…ูู†ู’ ู†ูŽุงู‚ูุตูŽุงุชู ุนูŽู‚ู’ู„ู ูˆูŽุฏููŠู†ู ุฃูŽุฐู’ู‡ูŽุจูŽ ู„ูู„ูุจูู‘ ุงู„ุฑูŽู‘ุฌูู„ู ุงู„ู’ุญูŽุงุฒูู…ู ู…ูู†ู’ ุฅูุญู’ุฏูŽุงูƒูู†ูŽู‘

You curse others often and you are ungrateful for your livelihood. I have not seen anyone with reductions in mind and religion more capable of removing reason from a resolute man than you.

They said, โ€œWhat are our reductions in mind?โ€ The Prophet said:

ุฃูŽู„ูŽูŠู’ุณูŽ ุดูŽู‡ูŽุงุฏูŽุฉู ุงู„ู’ู…ูŽุฑู’ุฃูŽุฉู ู…ูุซู’ู„ูŽ ู†ูุตู’ูู ุดูŽู‡ูŽุงุฏูŽุฉู ุงู„ุฑูŽู‘ุฌูู„ู

Is not the testimony of a woman like half of a man?

They said, โ€œOf course.โ€ The Prophet said:

ููŽุฐูŽู„ููƒู ู…ูู†ู’ ู†ูู‚ู’ุตูŽุงู†ู ุนูŽู‚ู’ู„ูู‡ูŽุง ุฃูŽู„ูŽูŠู’ุณูŽ ุฅูุฐูŽุง ุญูŽุงุถูŽุชู’ ู„ูŽู…ู’ ุชูุตูŽู„ูู‘ ูˆูŽู„ูŽู…ู’ ุชูŽุตูู…ู’

That is the reduction in your mind. Is it not that when you menstruate you do not pray, nor fast?

They said, โ€œOf course.โ€ The Prophet said:

ููŽุฐูŽู„ููƒู ู…ูู†ู’ ู†ูู‚ู’ุตูŽุงู†ู ุฏููŠู†ูู‡ูŽุง

That is the reduction in your religion.

Source: แนขaแธฅฤซแธฅ al-Bukhฤrฤซ 298, Grade: Sahih

There are two important points that are misunderstood in this tradition: the reason why there is a majority of women in Hellfire, and the meaning of a โ€˜reductionโ€™ in intellect and religiosity. The first misconception has beenย answered in a separate article.

The โ€˜reductionโ€™ (nuqsan) in mind and religion is related to a womanโ€™s legal obligations. It is not an ontological statement that women are always less intelligent or religious than men. As applied to religion, women are not obligated to pray or fast while menstruating or enduring post-natal bleeding. As applied to mind, women are not obligated to perform some functions such as testifying before a judge in a criminal case.

Some authors have mistranslated nuqsan by using derogatory terms like โ€˜deficient in intelligence,โ€™ or โ€˜lacking common sense.โ€™ This rendition is inappropriate because the word in this context means a โ€˜reduction,โ€™ as it is used in the Quran:

ุฃูŽูˆูŽู„ูŽู…ู’ ูŠูŽุฑูŽูˆู’ุง ุฃูŽู†ูŽู‘ุง ู†ูŽุฃู’ุชููŠ ุงู„ู’ุฃูŽุฑู’ุถูŽ ู†ูŽู†ู‚ูุตูู‡ูŽุง ู…ูู†ู’ ุฃูŽุทู’ุฑูŽุงููู‡ูŽุง

Have they not seen that We set upon the land, reducing it from its borders?

Surat al-Rโ€™ad 13:41

And again:

ุฃูŽููŽู„ูŽุง ูŠูŽุฑูŽูˆู’ู†ูŽ ุฃูŽู†ูŽู‘ุง ู†ูŽุฃู’ุชููŠ ุงู„ู’ุฃูŽุฑู’ุถูŽ ู†ูŽู†ู‚ูุตูู‡ูŽุง ู…ูู†ู’ ุฃูŽุทู’ุฑูŽุงููู‡ูŽุง

Then do they not see that We set upon the land, reducing it from its borders?

Surat al-Anbiya 21:44

The reduction for women is a manifestation of Islamโ€™s leniency towards women, by not burdening them with the same obligations as men while they have their own particular duties and concerns.

In the case of testimony, women in early Islam did not customarily involve themselves in business contracts, debts, and other matters. They were usually doing other important work, caring for their children and elderly parents, and so on. As a result, the verse was revealed to lessen a womanโ€™s obligation to testify in such matters.

Allah said:

ูŠูŽุง ุฃูŽูŠูู‘ู‡ูŽุง ุงู„ูŽู‘ุฐููŠู†ูŽ ุขู…ูŽู†ููˆุง ุฅูุฐูŽุง ุชูŽุฏูŽุงูŠูŽู†ุชูู… ุจูุฏูŽูŠู’ู†ู ุฅูู„ูŽู‰ูฐ ุฃูŽุฌูŽู„ู ู…ูู‘ุณูŽู…ู‹ู‘ู‰ ููŽุงูƒู’ุชูุจููˆู‡ู ูˆูŽู„ู’ูŠูŽูƒู’ุชูุจ ุจูŽู‘ูŠู’ู†ูŽูƒูู…ู’ ูƒูŽุงุชูุจูŒ ุจูุงู„ู’ุนูŽุฏู’ู„ู โ€ฆ ูˆูŽุงุณู’ุชูŽุดู’ู‡ูุฏููˆุง ุดูŽู‡ููŠุฏูŽูŠู’ู†ู ู…ูู† ุฑูู‘ุฌูŽุงู„ููƒูู…ู’ ููŽุฅูู† ู„ูŽู‘ู…ู’ ูŠูŽูƒููˆู†ูŽุง ุฑูŽุฌูู„ูŽูŠู’ู†ู ููŽุฑูŽุฌูู„ูŒ ูˆูŽุงู…ู’ุฑูŽุฃูŽุชูŽุงู†ู ู…ูู…ูŽู‘ู† ุชูŽุฑู’ุถูŽูˆู’ู†ูŽ ู…ูู†ูŽ ุงู„ุดูู‘ู‡ูŽุฏูŽุงุกู ุฃูŽู† ุชูŽุถูู„ูŽู‘ ุฅูุญู’ุฏูŽุงู‡ูู…ูŽุง ููŽุชูุฐูŽูƒูู‘ุฑูŽ ุฅูุญู’ุฏูŽุงู‡ูู…ูŽุง ุงู„ู’ุฃูุฎู’ุฑูŽู‰ูฐ

O you who believe, when you contract a debt for a specified term, write it down, and let a scribe write it between you in justiceโ€ฆ and bring two witnesses from among your men. If there are not two men available, then a man and two women from those whom you accept as witnesses, so that if one of the women errs, then the other can remind her.

Surat al-Baqarah 2:282

The purpose of this rule was a practical matter to achieve justice in business by having two women support each otherโ€™s memories in matters outside of their regular duties. It is not a universal rule that women are half as intelligent as men or that their testimony is always half of a man.

By default, men and women are equal to each other in terms of honesty and piety, but because women in this context were afraid that they might forget some details of the contract, they were told to include another woman to help one another remember. In fact, the testimony of two women outweighs the testimony of one man.

Ibn al-Qayyim writes:

ูˆูŽุงู„ู’ู…ูŽุฑู’ุฃูŽุฉู ุงู„ู’ุนูŽุฏู’ู„ู ูƒูŽุงู„ุฑูŽู‘ุฌูู„ู ูููŠ ุงู„ุตูู‘ุฏู’ู‚ู ูˆูŽุงู„ู’ุฃูŽู…ูŽุงู†ูŽุฉู ูˆูŽุงู„ุฏูู‘ูŠูŽุงู†ูŽุฉ ุฅู„ูŽู‘ุง ุฃูŽู†ูŽู‘ู‡ูŽุง ู„ูŽู…ูŽู‘ุง ุฎููŠููŽ ุนูŽู„ูŽูŠู’ู‡ูŽุง ุงู„ุณูŽู‘ู‡ู’ูˆู ูˆูŽุงู„ู†ูู‘ุณู’ูŠูŽุงู†ู ู‚ูŽูˆููŠูŽุชู’ ุจูู…ูุซู’ู„ูู‡ูŽุง ูˆูŽุฐูŽู„ููƒูŽ ู‚ูŽุฏู’ ูŠูŽุฌู’ุนูŽู„ูู‡ูŽุง ุฃูŽู‚ู’ูˆูŽู‰ ู…ูู†ู’ ุงู„ุฑูŽู‘ุฌูู„ู ุงู„ู’ูˆูŽุงุญูุฏู ุฃูŽูˆู’ ู…ูุซู’ู„ูŽู‡ู ูˆูŽู„ูŽุง ุฑูŽูŠู’ุจ ุฃูŽู†ูŽู‘ ุงู„ุธูŽู‘ู†ูŽู‘ ุงู„ู’ู…ูุณู’ุชูŽููŽุงุฏูŽ ู…ูู†ู’ ุดูŽู‡ูŽุงุฏูŽุฉู ู…ูุซู’ู„ู ุฃูู…ูู‘ ุงู„ุฏูŽู‘ุฑู’ุฏูŽุงุกู ูˆูŽุฃูู…ูู‘ ุนูŽุทููŠูŽู‘ุฉูŽ ุฃูŽู‚ู’ูˆูŽู‰ ู…ูู†ู’ ุงู„ุธูŽู‘ู†ูู‘ ุงู„ู’ู…ูุณู’ุชูŽููŽุงุฏู ู…ูู†ู’ ุฑูŽุฌูู„ู ูˆูŽุงุญูุฏู ุฏููˆู†ูŽู‡ูู…ูŽุง ูˆูŽุฏููˆู†ูŽ ุฃูŽู…ู’ุซูŽุงู„ูู‡ูู…ูŽุง

The woman is equal to the man in truthfulness, honesty, and piety; otherwise, if it is feared that she will forget or misremember, she is strengthened with another like herself. That makes them stronger than a single man or the likes of him. There is no question that the benefit of the doubt given to the testimony of Umm Darda and Umm โ€˜Atiyyah is stronger than the benefit of the doubt given to a single man without them or the likes of them.

Source: al-แนฌuruq al-แธคukmฤซyah 1/136

The increased possibility of error, due to customary gender roles in society, necessitated the addition of another womanโ€™s testimony. But if there is no fear of error, the testimony of men and women return to the default position of equality, because the intention of the rule is to achieve fairness between business partners and truthful witness, not to devalue womenโ€™s intelligence.

Ibn Taymiyyah writes:

ููŽู…ูŽุง ูƒูŽุงู†ูŽ ู…ูู†ู’ ุงู„ุดูŽู‘ู‡ูŽุงุฏูŽุงุชู ู„ูŽุง ูŠูุฎูŽุงูู ูููŠู‡ู ุงู„ุถูŽู‘ู„ูŽุงู„ู ูููŠ ุงู„ู’ุนูŽุงุฏูŽุฉู ู„ูŽู…ู’ ุชูŽูƒูู†ู’ ูููŠู‡ู ุนูŽู„ูŽู‰ ู†ูุตู’ูู ุฑูŽุฌูู„ู

Whatever there is among the testimonies of women, in which there is no fear of habitual error, they are not considered as half of a man.

Source: al-แนฌuruq al-แธคukmฤซyah 1/128

This dynamic can be seen in the way early jurists approached womenโ€™s testimony. They mostly did not accept, or obligate, a woman to testify in criminal investigations, legal punishments, and other matters outside of their customary purview, but they accepted a womanโ€™s testimony as equal in her ordinary duties.

Ibn Rushd writes:

ูˆูŽุฃูŽู…ูŽู‘ุง ุดูŽู‡ูŽุงุฏูŽุฉู ุงู„ู†ูู‘ุณูŽุงุกู ู…ููู’ุฑูŽุฏูŽุงุชู ุฃูŽุนู’ู†ููŠ ุงู„ู†ูู‘ุณูŽุงุกูŽ ุฏููˆู†ูŽ ุงู„ุฑูู‘ุฌูŽุงู„ู ููŽู‡ููŠูŽ ู…ูŽู‚ู’ุจููˆู„ูŽุฉูŒ ุนูู†ู’ุฏูŽ ุงู„ู’ุฌูู…ู’ู‡ููˆุฑู ูููŠ ุญูู‚ููˆู‚ู ุงู„ู’ุฃูŽุจู’ุฏูŽุงู†ู ุงู„ูŽู‘ุชููŠ ู„ูŽุง ูŠูŽุทูŽู‘ู„ูุนู ุนูŽู„ูŽูŠู’ู‡ูŽุง ุงู„ุฑูู‘ุฌูŽุงู„ู ุบูŽุงู„ูุจู‹ุง ู…ูุซู’ู„ูŽ ุงู„ู’ูˆูู„ูŽุงุฏูŽุฉู ูˆูŽุงู„ูุงุณู’ุชูู‡ู’ู„ูŽุงู„ู ูˆูŽุนููŠููˆุจู ุงู„ู†ูู‘ุณูŽุงุกู

As for the testimony of individual women, meaning women without men, it is accepted by the majority in personal rights which are usually not the purview of men, such as pregnancy, consummation, and ailments affecting women.

Source: Bidฤyat al-Mujtahid 4/248

In this regard, the classical rules were largely based upon the customary gender roles of the time and were not indicative of an universal deficiency in womenโ€™s intelligence, testimony, or truthfulness.

In other cases, a womanโ€™s testimony was accepted in important matters of family law without any men present at all.

Ibn al-Qayyim writes:

ู‚ูŽุงู„ูŽ ุงู„ู’ุฅูู…ูŽุงู…ู ุฃูŽุญู’ู…ูŽุฏู ูููŠ ุงู„ุฑูŽู‘ุฌูู„ู ูŠููˆุตููŠ ูˆูŽู„ูŽุง ูŠูŽุญู’ุถูุฑูู‡ู ุฅู„ูŽู‘ุง ุงู„ู†ูู‘ุณูŽุงุกู ู‚ูŽุงู„ูŽ ุฃูุฌููŠุฒู ุดูŽู‡ูŽุงุฏูŽุฉูŽ ุงู„ู†ูู‘ุณูŽุงุกู ููŽุธูŽุงู‡ูุฑู ู‡ูŽุฐูŽุง ุฃูŽู†ูŽู‘ู‡ู ุฃูŽุซู’ุจูŽุชูŽ ุงู„ู’ูˆูŽุตููŠูŽู‘ุฉูŽ ุจูุดูŽู‡ูŽุงุฏูŽุฉู ุงู„ู†ูู‘ุณูŽุงุกู ุนูŽู„ูŽู‰ ุงู„ูุงู†ู’ููุฑูŽุงุฏู ุฅุฐูŽุง ู„ูŽู…ู’ ูŠูŽุญู’ุถูุฑู’ู‡ู ุงู„ุฑูู‘ุฌูŽุงู„ู

Imam Ahmad said regarding a man who writes his will and none are present except women: I permit the testimony of women. Thus, this shows that he affirmed the will by the testimony of individual women even if no men were present.

Source: al-แนฌuruq al-แธคukmฤซyah 1/135

By analyzing the sources and appreciating their historical contexts, we find that the classical rules related to womenโ€™s testimony are not a statement about her inherent intelligence or truthfulness. Perhaps the single most important fact to contradict this claim is that women excelled in narrating the traditions of the Prophet (แนฃ).

In particular, Aisha (ra) was considered to be a scholar by the righteous predecessors. Even the most senior male companions would come to her seeking religious and legal verdicts.

Abu Musa reported:

ู…ูŽุง ุฃูŽุดู’ูƒูŽู„ูŽ ุนูŽู„ูŽูŠู’ู†ูŽุง ุฃูŽุตู’ุญูŽุงุจูŽ ุฑูŽุณููˆู„ู ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ู‡ู ุตูŽู„ูŽู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ู‡ู ุนูŽู„ูŽูŠู’ู‡ู ูˆูŽุณูŽู„ูŽู‘ู…ูŽ ุญูŽุฏููŠุซูŒ ู‚ูŽุทูู‘ ููŽุณูŽุฃูŽู„ู’ู†ูŽุง ุนูŽุงุฆูุดูŽุฉูŽ ุฅูู„ูŽู‘ุง ูˆูŽุฌูŽุฏู’ู†ูŽุง ุนูู†ู’ุฏูŽู‡ูŽุง ู…ูู†ู’ู‡ู ุนูู„ู’ู…ู‹ุง

We never had a problem occur to us, the companions of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and asked Aisha about it but that we found her knowledgeable of it.

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhฤซ 3883, Grade:ย Sahih

Masruq reported: He was asked, โ€œWas Aisha knowledgeable of the religious obligations?โ€ Masruq said:

ูˆูŽุงู„ูŽู‘ุฐููŠ ู†ูŽูู’ุณููŠ ุจููŠูŽุฏูู‡ู ู„ูŽู‚ูŽุฏู’ ุฑูŽุฃูŽูŠู’ุชู ู…ูŽุดู’ูŠูŽุฎูŽุฉูŽ ุฃูŽุตู’ุญูŽุงุจู ู…ูุญูŽู…ูŽู‘ุฏู ุตูŽู„ูŽู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ู‡ู ุนูŽู„ูŽูŠู’ู‡ู ูˆูŽุณูŽู„ูŽู‘ู…ูŽ ุงู„ู’ุฃูŽูƒูŽุงุจูุฑูŽ ูŠูŽุณู’ุฃูŽู„ููˆู†ูŽู‡ูŽุง ุนูŽู†ู’ ุงู„ู’ููŽุฑูŽุงุฆูุถู

By the one in whose hand is my soul, I saw the learned elders among the companions of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, ask her about the religious obligations.

Source: Muแนฃannaf Ibn Abฤซ Shaybah 30387, Grade:ย Hasan

Many more women, not to mention wives of the Prophet (แนฃ), were scholars of the prophetic traditions known for their honesty and reliability. The confirmation of many practices of the Sunnah rely on the testimony of just one woman; the scholars never rejected their testimony merely because of their gender.

Al-Shawkani writes:

ููŽุฅูู†ู’ ู‚ูู„ู’ุช ุฅู†ูŽู‘ ุฐูŽู„ููƒูŽ ุงู„ู’ู‚ูŽูˆู’ู„ูŽ ู…ูู†ู’ ุนูู…ูŽุฑูŽ ูŠูŽุชูŽุถูŽู…ูŽู‘ู†ู ุงู„ุทูŽู‘ุนู’ู†ูŽ ุนูŽู„ูŽู‰ ุฑููˆูŽุงูŠูŽุฉู ููŽุงุทูู…ูŽุฉูŽ ู„ูู‚ูŽูˆู’ู„ูู‡ู ู„ูู‚ูŽูˆู’ู„ู ุงู…ู’ุฑูŽุฃูŽุฉู ู„ูŽุง ู†ูŽุฏู’ุฑููŠ ู„ูŽุนูŽู„ูŽู‘ู‡ูŽุง ุญูŽููุธูŽุชู’ ุฃูŽูˆู’ ู†ูŽุณููŠูŽุชู’ ู‚ูู„ู’ุช ู‡ูŽุฐูŽุง ู…ูŽุทู’ุนูŽู†ูŒ ุจูŽุงุทูู„ูŒ ุจูุฅูุฌู’ู…ูŽุงุนู ุงู„ู’ู…ูุณู’ู„ูู…ููŠู†ูŽ ู„ูู„ู’ู‚ูŽุทู’ุนู ุจูุฃูŽู†ูŽู‘ู‡ู ู„ูŽู…ู’ ูŠูู†ู’ู‚ูŽู„ู’ ุนูŽู†ู’ ุฃูŽุญูŽุฏู ู…ูู†ู’ ุงู„ู’ุนูู„ูŽู…ูŽุงุกู ุฃูŽู†ูŽู‘ู‡ู ุฑูŽุฏูŽู‘ ุฎูŽุจูŽุฑูŽ ุงู„ู’ู…ูŽุฑู’ุฃูŽุฉู ู„ููƒูŽูˆู’ู†ูู‡ูŽุง ุงู…ู’ุฑูŽุฃูŽุฉู‹ ููŽูƒูŽู…ู’ ู…ูู†ู’ ุณูู†ูŽู‘ุฉู ู‚ูŽุฏู’ ุชูŽู„ูŽู‚ูŽู‘ุชู’ู‡ูŽุง ุงู„ู’ุฃูู…ูŽู‘ุฉู ุจูุงู„ู’ู‚ูŽุจููˆู„ู ุนูŽู†ู’ ุงู…ู’ุฑูŽุฃูŽุฉู ูˆูŽุงุญูุฏูŽุฉู ู…ูู†ู’ ุงู„ุตูŽู‘ุญูŽุงุจูŽุฉู

If you say that statement from Umar contains a flaw in Fatimahโ€™s narration of his statement because we do not know whether a woman remembers or forgets, I say this itself is flawed and false by the absolute consensus of the Muslims.

It has not been reported from any scholar that he rejected the report of a woman on the basis of her being a woman. How many prophetic traditions has the Ummah received from a single woman among the companions?

Source: Nayl al-Awแนญฤr 6/359-360

And Al-Dhahabi writes:

ูˆู…ุง ุนู„ู…ุช ููŠ ุงู„ู†ุณุงุก ู…ู† ุงุชู‡ู…ุช ูˆู„ุง ู…ู† ุชุฑูƒูˆู‡ุง

I do not know among women narrators anyone accused of lying, nor anyone abandoned.

Source: Mฤซzฤn al-Iโ€™tidฤl 4/604

Al-Dhahabi then lists over one hundred and twenty women who narrated prophetic traditions.

If a womanโ€™s testimony were always half of a man or she was always less intelligent than him, that would have applied even more so to narrating prophetic traditions.

After all, relating the words and actions of the Prophet (แนฃ) is an awesome responsibility requiring the foremost intelligence, memory, and trustworthiness, yet many women excelled in this field just as men did.

Moreover, women have unique and complementary perspectives, in their own right, that can inform men of their blind spots. For instance, the Prophet (แนฃ) once consulted his wife Umm Salamah (ra) on a serious matter, and she provided him with a key insight into his problem.

Marwan reported: After the treaty of Hudabiyyah was concluded, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said to his companions:

ู‚ููˆู…ููˆุง ููŽุงู†ู’ุญูŽุฑููˆุง ุซูู…ูŽู‘ ุงุญู’ู„ูู‚ููˆุง

Get up and offer your sacrifices, then shave your hair.

None of them stood up, and the Prophet repeated his order three times. When none of them stood up, the Prophet left them and went to Umm Salamah, and he told her about their attitude. Umm Salamah said:

ูŠูŽุง ู†ูŽุจููŠูŽู‘ ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ู‡ู ุฃูŽุชูุญูุจูู‘ ุฐูŽู„ููƒูŽ ุงุฎู’ุฑูุฌู’ ุซูู…ูŽู‘ ู„ุงูŽ ุชููƒูŽู„ูู‘ู…ู’ ุฃูŽุญูŽุฏู‹ุง ู…ูู†ู’ู‡ูู…ู’ ูƒูŽู„ูู…ูŽุฉู‹ ุญูŽุชูŽู‘ู‰ ุชูŽู†ู’ุญูŽุฑูŽ ุจูุฏู’ู†ูŽูƒูŽ ูˆูŽุชูŽุฏู’ุนููˆูŽ ุญูŽุงู„ูู‚ูŽูƒูŽ ููŽูŠูŽุญู’ู„ูู‚ูŽูƒูŽ

O Prophet of Allah, would you like your order to be carried out? Go out and do not speak to them until you have offered your own sacrifice and have called the barber to shave your head.

Source: แนขaแธฅฤซแธฅ al-Bukhฤrฤซ 2731, Grade: Sahih

The Prophet (แนฃ) followed the advice of his wife and made his preparations to end the pilgrimage. The companions would soon follow his lead.

In this example, it was his wife whose exceptional intelligence provided him with guidance and resolution. Intelligence is not simply a linear matter of more or less. There are varieties of intelligence, such as emotional and personal intelligence, which women can excel at and benefit men with their advice.

Ibn Hajar writes:

ูˆูŽุฌูŽูˆูŽุงุฒู ู…ูุดูŽุงูˆูŽุฑูŽุฉู ุงู„ู’ู…ูŽุฑู’ุฃูŽุฉู ุงู„ู’ููŽุงุถูู„ูŽุฉู  ูˆูŽููŽุถู’ู„ู ุฃูู…ูู‘ ุณูŽู„ูŽู…ูŽุฉูŽ ูˆูŽูˆููููˆุฑู ุนูŽู‚ู’ู„ูู‡ูŽุง ุญูŽุชูŽู‘ู‰ ู‚ูŽุงู„ูŽ ุฅูู…ูŽุงู…ู ุงู„ู’ุญูŽุฑูŽู…ูŽูŠู’ู†ู ู„ูŽุง ู†ูŽุนู’ู„ูŽู…ู ุงู…ู’ุฑูŽุฃูŽุฉู‹ ุฃูŽุดูŽุงุฑูŽุชู’ ุจูุฑูŽุฃู’ูŠู ููŽุฃูŽุตูŽุงุจูŽุชู’ ุฅูู„ูŽู‘ุง ุฃูู…ูŽู‘ ุณูŽู„ูŽู…ูŽุฉูŽ

It is permissible to consult a meritorious woman, and the merit of Umm Salamah and her abundant intelligence were such that Imam al-Haramayn said: We do not know of a woman expressing her opinion and being correct as much as Umm Salamah.

Source: Fatแธฅ al-Bฤrฤซ 5/347

In sum, the claim that women are โ€˜deficient in religionโ€™ is based upon a misinterpretation or a poor translation of a prophetic statement. The โ€˜reductionโ€™ in a womanโ€™s intelligence is a reduction in her legal responsibilities related to it, not in her inherent intelligence itself.

The preponderance of other evidence indicates that women can be just as intelligent as men and, therefore, they should be consulted and their perspectives respected.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

Abu Amina