When I tell this hadith (report of the sayings or actions of the Prophet ﷺ) to a Christian woman, or any woman, how do I explain to her that when the Prophet ﷺ said “man” he is actually referring to a person regardless of gender?
The hadith cited is quoted thus in Riyad-us-Saliheen:
Abu Umamah Al-Bahili (radi Allahu `anhu – may Allah be pleased with him) reported: the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “I guarantee a house in Jannah for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a home in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners.” [Abu Dawud]
There is an important axiom noted by scholars, such as Ibn Rushd al-Hafd and Ibn al-Qayyim, that whenever male nouns, verbs or pronouns are used, they are understood to include both genders, unless it is made clear that they are gender specific. Based on that, the legal ramifications of verses and hadith are applied to males and females. Thus, the word kana (he) in the hadith above, based on this axiom, is understood to include both males and females. The same could be said of the verse of Qur’an, “Successful are the believers.” While the word for believers is a sound male plural, it is understood to encompass females as well.