Questioning the Hadith?


I was wondering if you could talk about how we should deal with hadiths (Prophetic traditions) that seem to be unfair towards women; for example, that the hellfire is full of women, a woman is deficient in intellect, etc. How are we supposed to understand and accept these kinds of statements when they seem to go against the equality of Islam? Couldn’t it be that some misogynistic ideas on the part of the narrators influenced the books of hadith like Bukhari, etc?


Bismillah. In the name of God.

Dear Questioner,

As salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh, May the Peace and Blessings of God be upon you,

I want to begin by thanking you for raising a very important issue. I ask Allah to make this exchange a means for us to gain a fuller and richer understanding of our faith, for our prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “Whenever Allah wants good for a person He grants him or her deep understanding of the religion.”1

144324794_6799525408_bComing across a hadith that may seem troubling to us or out of sync with the general principles of Islam is not out of the ordinary, nor is it limited to womens’ issues. There are a number of texts which, on first glance, can cause disconcertion, frustration, or other negative feelings in a person. How about the hadith that says, “I have been commanded to fight the people until they say ‘la ilaha illa Allah’”? Or that “999 out of 1000 people will enter the Fire”?

There are certain steps a person must take in order to engage with and understand these types of hadith properly. I would say that there are three key elements, like three puzzle pieces, that must be fitted together soundly for one to’see’ a completed, full and accurate picture of a hadith. These three components are the following:

1. Prophetic Words

First, we must determine the accuracy of what we are reading and verify that they are indeed the words of the Prophet ﷺ. You suggested that misogynistic feelings on the part of hadith narrators may have influenced books of authenticated hadith. I believe that even a cursory study of the field of hadith criticism would completely discount this idea.  Please note that by saying this I am not rejecting the idea that misogynistic attitudes did exist in the Muslim world (and still do); but that such attitudes would not have been able to penetrate into the authentication process of hadith, since it was such a nuanced and carefully crafted science. In addition, women played a significant role in hadith narration from its very inception.2

Frankly speaking, sometimes it is easier to have ourselves believe such ideas than to deal with texts that make us uncomfortable. Sometimes we perform our own version of an authentication process in our minds: if it’s something I deem is acceptable, then it’s authentic; while if it is not, then it’s definitely a weak text! I would say that to begin this journey, we must temporarily set aside our feelings and objections to come to an impartial conclusion about the authenticity of the text through reliable sources. If it is fabricated or questionable, then we obviously do not have to concern ourselves with it. If, however, the hadith is authentic, then we need to continue in this process to learn more about it, and understand how it fits into the framework of Islamic teachings.

The first piece of the puzzle, then, is making sure that we are dealing with true Prophetic words and not anything else. Once that is affixed in place, we can go on to the next step, which is discerning the meaning of those words.


2. Context and Meaning


There are a number of things we have to take into consideration in order to understand the meanings and implications of a hadith properly. First is the specific situational context in which the hadith was said. Just as the science of Asbab an-Nuzul3 is extremely important for those seeking to understand the Quran, understanding when, why, and to whom the Prophet ﷺ made a particular statement can grants us great insight into a hadith.


Next, we should seek to understand the text in light of other hadiths on the same issue. The scholars who specialize in determining the underlying principles of Islamic law [the usuliyun] employ a process called istiqraa: Instead of focusing on one specific text, they survey all of the texts on a particular topic and draw conclusions by seeing how they relate to one another and their shared themes and lessons. We need to take on a similar method when studying a hadith before extrapolating from it or making generalizations. We must also look to what the fuqaha [jurisprudential scholars] say about the text’s proper application and the rulings that are derived from it.


119049868_361ad1dfdf_bLastly, we should consider the hadith from the perspective of the sunnah as a whole. I’ve heard one of my teachers liken a hadith to a snapshot: something said or done at a specific time in a specific place, while the sunnah is a more comprehensive, holistic understanding of what the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught and his message. Another analogy would be like taking a four hundred-page novel, ripping out a random page and reading it, and seeking to understand the plot line or the characters from that portion alone. Obviously, the one who does so may very easily come to the wrong conclusions. It is for this reason that we have to place the specific hadith that we are discussing in the greater framework of the sunnah.

We can see that proper analysis and study of a hadith has some complexity and requires some expertise in order to be undertaken properly. This is where sitting with people of knowledge, asking of them and learning from them, plays an important role in guiding and perfecting our understanding.

3. Spiritual Openness


The last piece of the puzzle – and I would argue in some ways the most important – has less to do with the actual content of the hadith in question and more to do with you and I as the reader. If we liken the hadith itself to a sharpened arrow, and its proper conception to a tightened bow, then the spiritual and intellectual attitude with which we approach the hadith would be the fineness of the archer’s eye. Even if the bow and arrow are sound, without proper vision and clarity of sight the mark will never be reached. In the same way, our mindset when we study a hadith is very significant and can alter whether we reach our ‘mark’ (proper understanding) or not.

A critical part of this mindset is considering the hadith and pondering over it with a spirit of introspection, honesty with one’s self, and soul-searching. Instead of immediately concerning ourselves with how others may perceive a particular hadith, misinterpret it, or use it to their advancement (which are certainly valid concerns), we should begin by considering how this hadith is relevant to me as an individual, my actions, and my way of thinking. In other words, my concern should be inwardly directed before it is outwardly manifested.

156051895_248ab882a1_bAnother aspect of the correct spiritual approach is being cautious with rejection.  Sometimes the accusations that are leveled at hadiths and hadith narrators are based on an individual’s internal state and feelings, more so than on any research or ostensible evidence. I am in no way saying that one must eradicate genuine feelings and natural concerns that may arise when reading such hadith; but that our attitude should be one of seeking to learn more, to clarify and to understand, instead of immediately seeking a way to dismiss the hadith in question, which often includes dismantling the entire science of hadith studies. We live in an age where we are encouraged to quickly formulate opinions and draw conclusions, whereas I would say that there is nothing wrong with simply saying, when it comes to an authentic hadith that may trouble us, “I don’t know,” or “I am still learning.” Some of the scholars of old have said that, “Saying ‘I don’t know’ is half of knowledge,” and it is certainly a safer and more precautionary position to take.

As a final point of advice, we should always seek to have a good opinion of our Lord, as the Most Just, the Most Wise, and the Most Loving and Kind to His creatures, who never does injustice to anyone and who rewards those who do good and have faith, men and women, according to the best of their actions.4 Islam is His religion and it is a religion of fairness, balance, mercy, and justice – its teachings a reflection of His noble attributes. And it was Allah Most High who chose the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ for His message. As Muslims we know that Muhammad ﷺ was educated, developed, and beautified in the Divine school of prophethood, guided by the Divine in every aspect of his life, until he was, as the Quran testifies, “certainly upon the most exalted standard of character.”5 He ﷺ was the embodiment of the most beautiful of qualities in his manner with people, his personality, and in his truthful and faithful conveying of the teachings of our religion. The spiritual openness I was referring to also means that when we inquire about these ahadith, we do so with full recognition of who the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was, what he was teaching, and not let that inquiry become an obstacle in the loving and reverential relationship we should have with him and with the Divine.

I would also urge anyone who is having these types of concerns about hadith to commit themselves to reading and studying the seerah.6 The Prophet ﷺ was someone who, the more the men and women around him got to know him, the more they increased in love and awe for him and for his teachings. As the poet7 said in his praise:

(He) is like the sun that appears to the eyes from a distance

Seemingly small and insignificant – but dazzling to the eye when studied.

We owe it to our beloved Messenger ﷺ to seek to find the beauty and meaning in his words, which may not be perceived from a distance, but only when studied close at hand.

May Allah Most High make us people who sincerely strive to make our fractured understanding whole and complete, piece by piece, through His guidance and assistance, until our vision is sound and our aim is sure, and we are among those who know Him and know His religion. May He make us people of deep knowledge, insight, and wisdom, and who, through our spiritual and intellectual endeavors, reach His Nearness and Proximity.  Ameen.


For Further Study

On Hadith:

  • Al-Muhaddithat: the Women Scholars of Islam by Dr. Akram Nadwi
  • Studies in Hadith Methodology & Literature by M. M. Azami
  • A Textbook of Hadith Studies: Authenticity, Compilation, Classification and Criticism of Hadith by Mohammad Hashim Kamali
  • On the Science of Hadith Criticism (CD Set) by Dr. Mokhtar Magharoui

On Seerah:

  • Muhammad: Man and Prophet by Adil Salahi
  • In the Footsteps of the Prophet by Dr. Tariq Ramadan
  • Muhammad: Messenger of Allah (Ash-Shifa of Qadi Iyad) translated by Aisha Bewley

  1. Sahih Bukhari.
  2. See Dr. Akram Nadwi’s book, al-Muhaddithat: the Women Scholars of Islam, which discusses female hadith narrators and their pivotal role in the science.
  3. Asbab an-Nuzul: the study of the events and circumstances that are related to the revelation of particular passages of the Quran.
  4. Qur’an, 16:97.
  5. Qur’an, 68:4.
  6. Seerah: the study of the life of the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam), that includes the events leading up to and during his prophethood and descriptions of his physical and inner qualities.
  7. Imam al-Busiri in his Qasidah al-Burdah
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  1. Mohammad Sabah says:

    Ameen to you dua. Excellent answer masha Allah. Unfortunately it is all too common to find people who prefer their own judgement (with concomitant prejudice and ignorance) over the clear text that has come down to us from Quran and authentic Sunnah, which leads to them handpicking which parts of it they want to believe in. This is a dangerous trend obviously. At the very least, it leads to a warped understanding and practice of Islam. Furthermore, this is the approach taken by many sects of Islam that mix their personal judgment and prejudices with the authentic sources to handpick and (mis)interpret text that suites their agenda, while rejecting other authentic text that clearly goes against what they want to believe in. Anybody who is a student of knowledge and of the sects in Islam, would know what I am talking about here. May Allah guide to constantly seek authentic knowledge of His beautiful deen of Islam and implement it in our lives.

  2. Derrick Peat says:

    Very good article. I don’t know if I’ll be opening a can of worms here or not, regardless, though:

    Regarding the hadith where the Prophet(saw) is reported to have seen a group of women and telling them they were of inferior intellect: Has there been re-analysis of this hadith? In all honesty, it doesn’t even sound like the way the Prophet would ever express himself.

  3. Abu Majeed says:

    Spoken like a true scholar. May Allah preserve our sister as she lays it down once again in Isalmic thought.

    Yo Derrick As-Salamu alaikum Zayyak A’mel Ayy!!!

    The hadith is properly understood according to other Hadiths and context-

    Women are weaker in Deen because they have to go through a week or so every month where they don’t pray.
    My comment on this- That doesn’t mean that all women don’t have just as much potential for Deen and spirituality than men. Just look at this blog and all the sisters who drop lights out articles better than the brothers.
    Women are weaker in reason (not intellect) because of the fact that- by nature- in some cases their emotions can overwhelm their sense of reason.
    My comment on this- that doesn’t mean that women aren’t- and it has been proven that they are- generally superior to men in many sciences and educational backgrounds.

  4. Shazia Ahmad says:

    as salaamu alaykum,

    InshaAllah, in the future I hope to do some in-depth pieces on the particular hadiths mentioned (perhaps as a group project with some of the other writers for the blog), with research on the points mentioned in the second section of the article (the hadith’s situational context, the rulings derived from it, how it is understood in context of the sunnah, etc.)

    However, I hope that this article was able to lay out a certain framework and process we can adopt when considering hadiths.

    wasalaamu alaykum,

    • Amara says:

      Thank-you for the thought provoking article. I look forward to reading future pieces and the deeper analysis on some of these haidth and their true meaning

    • Khadigah says:

      May Allah swt for this simple yet profound article. I’d love to see an analysis from a modern Muslim woman scholar on the hadeeth which are perceived as misogynistic. I know of many who would be willing to help with such a task.


  5. Ali says:

    Assalamu alaykum

    Great article, however, I’ll be honest. I thought that this article would delve specifically into the hadith that was mentioned. If you can maybe follow up this article with series of articles on hadith that seem contradictory to Islam or the Prophet (S) and a thorough explanation of them, that would be awesome. I think that would be a great follow up to this discussion.

    Assalamu alaykum

  6. OnyxMuslimah says:

    That’s the EXACT QUESTION I had all along and the article didn’t give me ANY answer.
    I hope someone can answer this.

  7. Zaynab Ansari says:

    Ustadha Shazia, what an excellent answer to a most pressing question!

    Brother Derrick, to my knowledge, no one has undertaken an comprehensive analysis of this hadith. However, as Ustadha Shazia has explained, just because a hadith doesn’t seem to “fit” our conception of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, does not mean it is inauthentic.

    Perhaps someone will take a closer look at this hadith to see how it can speak to a 21st-century audience.

    • Suhaib Webb says:

      Asalamu alaykum,

      Al-Qadi Faisal Mawlawi of Lebanon explained this hadith and I mentioned it in my intro to Mother’s of the Believers. The Mafahim series from the Ulema of al-Azhar also take the opinion that the ali and lam are for ‘Ahd Dhini and not istighraq.

      Allah knows best,

  8. Sana says:

    yes, in addition to the useful framework laid out here can we please have a specific response to the particular hadiths?

  9. Timur says:

    Al-salamu alaykum,

    I suggest reading up on Khaled Abou El Fadl as he addresses these questions very well.

    • Shazia Ahmad says:

      wa alaykum as salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

      Thanks for your comment! While I have great respect for Dr. Abou El Fadl as our brother in Islam, an academic and thinker with a unique perspective, and as someone who has dedicated his life to studying and teaching the religion, there are a few ideas of his that I disagree with.

      One of them is in stating, in so many words, that we cannot really decipher what the ‘real sunnah’ is from the hadith, because of various issues:

      “For a Muslim who accepts the authoritativeness of the Prophet’s commands, the issue becomes distilling the authorial core that, in fact, can relate back to the Prophet. Assuming that one can do so — assuming that the Prophetic core is recognizable and reachable — then the same analysis that applies to the qur’an will be pertinent for the Sunnah. If I sincerely believe that the interpretive community was in error in understanding the Prophet’s injunctions, as a matter of conscience, I am obliged to dissent. Nevertheless, I believe that in the vast majority of traditions, this Prophetic core is unreachable. In the vast majority of traditions, the different forms of authorship are thoroughly intermingled with the Prophetic authorship, and it is practically impossible to differentiate between the various authorial voices. It must be emphasized that I am not talking about the authenticity of the traditions — I am not claiming that the vast majority of Prophetic traditions are apocryphal. I am arguing that since the Prophet was a human being who, unlike God, is subject to mundane historical processes, his legacy cannot exist outside the context of human mediation and the human authorial process” (from his book The Great Theft 109).

      I find this problematic especially since the mainstream of scholarship understands that the hadiths are the critical source which inform our understanding of the sunnah. Without them, our conception of the sunnah is completely subjective- whatever concepts or principles we feel are appropriately ‘prophetic’, we can attribute to it, while whatever hadiths are not in line with our beliefs, we can dismiss as being taken out of context or misinterpreted by the narrator.

      I talked about this in one part of the article, when I said:
      “Another aspect of the correct spiritual approach is being cautious with rejection. Sometimes the accusations that are leveled at hadiths and hadith narrators are based on an individual’s internal state and feelings, more so than on any research or ostensible evidence. I am in no way saying that one must eradicate genuine feelings and natural concerns that may arise when reading such hadith; but that our attitude should be one of seeking to learn more, to clarify and to understand, instead of immediately seeking a way to dismiss the hadith in question, which often includes dismantling the entire science of hadith studies.”

      I do not want the comments of this article to take on the direction of a debate over a particular person, but I felt that it may be of benefit to mention the preceding.

      May Allah guide us to the best understanding and He certainly knows best.

      wasalaamu alaykum,

    • Muhammad says:

      Let’s stick to sunni scholars….

  10. OnyxMuslimah says:

    Sister Zaynab, you wrote
    ” just because a hadith doesn’t seem to “fit” our conception of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, does not mean it is inauthentic. ”

    I find that a very troubling because hadith doesn’t “just” say something that doesn’t “fit” our conception of Prophet PBUH, it CONTRADICTS it!
    I am shocked that people seem to take VERY LIGHTLY the idea that hell is full of women and that we lack in intellect!
    I mean, we’re not talking about 2% of the population here (not that it would be ok though), we talking about 52% of humanity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Student of Sacred Knowledge says:

    as-Salamu alaikum,

    I seriously disagree with Timur on this. Dr. Khalid Abou Fadl has doena great service to Islam in many areas making strong points in defending our deen from those who distort it. The fact remains that he has quite a few opinions which show he has been informed bu the American based renovation movement of Islam according to modern secular interests. One should be warned and take auestionable opinions from him to the true scholars of Ahle Sunnah like Sh. Suhaib or Sh. Hamzah

    • Suhaib Webb says:

      Asalamu alaykum,

      While I certainly don’t agree with Dr. Fadil on a host of issues, I’m no scholar and would suggest people go to those who are much more on it than me.


  12. mike says:

    I wonder how I can submit questions to Br. Suhaib?

    One that I have is. Islam is perfect is all respects but I have trouble resolving one issue. Form biology, we learn they are mutations that occur in our genome. Normal males are XY and Normal females are XX. Trans-gender people are variant forms of XXY, or XXXX etc. How they resolve they lives and sexuality via Islam, Number two gay people are said to be committing massive sin. There is anecdotal evidence these are predisposed via early childhood. Some say psychological factors play into this ie strong mother, weak father etc… Others say genetic factors… The penalty is death so in full Islamic setting we are killing about 1 to 2% of our people? And this ties with trans-gender people too; how they make they determination. If the person is XXXY and say has underdeveloped testes(ie. not full functional male) but his XXX chromosome cause him to be attract to guys? Also do trans-gender people get a pass like mental handicapped people? Thanks in advance..

    • Son of Adam says:

      I cannot say that I have much knowledge on this topic, but I did a quick research (thanks, Wikipedia!) and found out that mutations in the genome are not what cause someone to be trans-gender (again, based upon my very quick research). They can, however suffer from other abnormalities.

      Secondly, punishment for homosexuality, as far as I’m aware, is only for those who *commit* homosexual acts, not those who have homosexual tendencies. Dr. Abdul Hakim Jackson mentioned that a homosexual would be rewarded with Allah if they tried to overcome their inclinations (

  13. Anon says:

    Assalamualaikum. Just wondering if there is anything wrong with accepting that men and women are not generally equal in this world (e.g. men generally having greater intellect, strength, and following deen more). I even heard a talk from Shaykh Yasir Qadhi just reiterating this reality. At the end of the day they are judged equally in terms of piety for the hereafter, right? The generalities don’t condemn women who strive in the path of God to Jahannam.

    • KristinaMuslima says:

      of fair enough most men are more stronger than women – but please provide proof that men are smarter and more into their deen. This is childish talk.

    • Sithara says:

      As Salamu Alaikum,

      I think there are several issues here:

      1, as KristinaMuslima says, what does the actual evidence say? Is it really all that clear, especially today, that men do have ‘greater intellect’ and ‘men follow deen more?’

      2. Its also important to define at the outset exactly what these terms mean. How do we define ‘intellect’ and ‘following deen?’ ie, certain studies suggest that men may have better mathematical ability while women have better language ability. Is it fair to just limit ‘intellect’ to mathematical ability? Similarly, is ‘following Deen’ simply following the five pillars, or is it a holistic submission to Allah? If following Deen is simply following the five pillars, it can be argued that women here are at a disadvantage, as women are not able to pray, fast, etc, during menses. But is this the best way to define ‘following deen?’

      3. If men have more intellect and follow the Deen more, and women less, is it due to innate ability or due to issues of access? Men historically have had much more access to education, both of the Deen and in secular subjects. Thus, it would not at all be surprising that historically, they have had more ‘intellect’ and ‘followed the Deen more’.

      Often, issues with access are downplayed, leading to an assumption that men are just innately superior to women.

      4. An issue I note repeatedly with Muslim discourse on gender is that men’s strengths are highlighted, and women’s weaknesses are highlighted, but not much is said regarding men’s weaknesses and women’s strengths.

      Again, such reasoning leads to the assumption that men are innately superior in all ways to women.

      Modern studies of course do not support this view at all, however:

      How about highlighting: men’s greater aggression and criminality, lack of self control and risk taking, addictive behavior?

      How about highlighting: women’s greater attention to detail, language ability, intuition, ability to collaborate and compromise?

      Anyway, just some ‘food for thought’ (I’m typing this during Ramadan!) and of course Allah knows best :)!

  14. Dawud Israel says:

    Jazaka Allahu khayran! I would like to add this:

    “May I never find one of you reclining on a couch and speaking about a hadith of mine by saying, ‘I do not find this judgment in the Quran.’ For assuredly, I have been given the Quran and as much again in addition.”
    -Ibn Maja (13); Tirmidhi (2664); Abu Dawud (4604, 4605)

    There are many explanations of these ahadith already in abundance. Often it does have to do with how people frame them, more than it has to do with the actual hadith. There are also a number of hadith that speak about the merit of Muslim women, and that to mistreat them is only to the peril of the community.

    Barakallahu feek.

  15. Do we know in what year of the Prophethood and in what town Volume 2, Book 24, Number 541: was given?

  16. Mehran says:

    Assalaamu Alaikum,

    These types of hadith about women are general. The hadith does not say so-and-so is deficient in intellect or is going to Hell. I’m only going to try to answer the examples given by the asker. As a caveat men have their own problems such as pornography, so please don’t think that I am just hating on the women.

    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 Bukhari Book 6, Hadith 301)

    Hellfire is full of women.

    There are a couple reasons why this is true based upon other hadith. Islam is all about being grateful to Allah. One who is not grateful to others is not grateful to Allah. One who is not merciful to others will not be given mercy by Allah. There are many other examples of hadiths like this. Generally, women are ungrateful to their husbands for the provisions the husband provides. This isn’t true across the board but generally. Unless you have just enough food to make the hunger pangs go away, only have one single piece of clothing that barely covers your awrah, and you have a makeshift roof over your head that only provides some shade from the sun, then everything else is a true blessing from Allah so be thankful for it. There are so many people in the world who cannot even say they have these three blessings. The richest people are the ones who are content with what Allah has given them.

    Everybody backbites but women generally to a higher degree. Aisha once commented on the short height of someone else and the Prophet stated that was backbiting. The Prophet exclaimed to Muadh that many people will be dragged on their faces in Hell because of what their tongues say. Seek refuge against backbiting. It is very hard to prevent yourself from doing it. Especially online comments!!! Oral backbiting, which is still a great sin, is only a single sin. Posted comments are there to stay as long as Allah wills and each person who reads it, is a new backbiting sin.

    Also, the Hour will not be established until there are 50 women for every man. The people at the end of time will be the worst people who have ever existed and therefore a higher proportion of those people will also deserve Hellfire. Just by pure math there are going to be more women than men. This religion can only be from Allah if seemingly disparate statements made over 1400 years ago are so tightly interconnected.

    Clothing is another place which the Ummah is lacking. Women wear tight fitting clothing not only to flaunt their bodies but for the purpose of attracting the attention of men. A lot of Muslims don’t wear hijab. Allah knows best what is in people’s hearts. Some women can’t wear the hijab because their iman is not strong enough, yet they wish and cry to be able to. But from my experience, women generally don’t wear hijab because they don’t want to. This is manifest kufr against ayahs of the Quran.

    You shouldn’t put yourself into a group and then take offense if something goes against that group. Just be in the Muslim group. Allah is the most just and he rewards men and women equally for deeds. On the Day of Judgment, you are given your record (Inshallah in the right hand). You are ultimately responsible for only yourself. It’s best to focus and worry only about yourself and not of all women. That’s a lot of grief you do not need.

    A woman is deficient in intellect

    The context of this hadith is that the Prophet was trying to raise money for jihad and he was trying to encourage them to donate money. Now the intellect reference comes in verses of Baqarah where two women are equal to one man in terms of financial contracts. This is because up until World War II, women were not generally in the workplace. They did not understand financial dealings because they were at home taking care of the family. In case women were used as witnesses, two should be used in the event one forgets. This is because raising a family and doing housework is hard work! It’s much easier for a man to remember if business dealings is what he does all day.

    On the other hand, in Surah Nur, you only need four witnesses for adultery. They can be either male or female because both genders understand what sex is and the penetration requirement to successfully convict for adultery.

    Men and women have different roles in society. Obviously each one is more capable than others in some matters.

    A woman is deficient in religion

    When a woman is on her menses, she cannot pray or fast. Also, she does not have to make up her prayers. Subhanallah this is a great mercy for women. If you pray five times a day, Inshallah, you get rewarded for those prayers even though you do not physically perform them. The deficiency comes from not being able to perform the actual act. A person who is sick and cannot perform the righteous deeds he normally does, gets rewarded for those deeds as if he had done them.

    Wallahu Alem

    I hope you have received some benefit from this and if there was anything wrong that I have said, then I seek the forgiveness of Allah.

  17. Muslema says:


    Shazia– this is really an awesome tarbawy answer. May Allah increase you and preserve you always my sister :)

    btw– miss you already ;)


  18. Suhaib Webb says:

    Asalamu alaykum,


    Thank you for encouraging people to think critically in this day and age. You are bound to take some heat for this. But that is usually a sign of good things.


  19. Sana says:

    salaam, does anyone know where to easily (and freely) access these resources Imam Suhaib mentioned to address the hadith? (links)

    “Al-Qadi Faisal Mawlawi of Lebanon explained this hadith and I mentioned it in my intro to Mother’s of the Believers. The Mafahim series from the Ulema of al-Azhar also take the opinion that the ali and lam are for ‘Ahd Dhini and not istighraq.”

    i identify a lot with the comment made by OnyxMuslimah and find some of the comments here to be very unsettling.

    • Derrick Peat says:

      Regarding the hadith about hell fire being full of women:

      I think it’s important for all of us to remember why the Prophet (saw) was sent. Allah — first and foremost — sent the Prophet (saw) as an undefined mercy (given the magnitude of his coming). And then, as Allah (swt) states in Surat Baqarah:

      “Verily, We have sent thee in truth as a bearer of glad tidings and a warner: But of thee no question shall be asked of the Companions of the Blazing Fire.”

      So from this hadith it’s clear that the Prophet didn’t intend to condemn women to hell fire. He said this to warn us of something, so we can make the proper adjustments in our life to not end up in hellfire. And it’s clear, any women who fears Allah and hears this hadith, will be vigilant in avoiding the characteristics of those described in the hadith. And, we already our Lord is the most merciful, in the areas where we (men or women) have short comings, but the important thing is that we give our effort and strive.

      But, as is the reality unfortunately, many women do not strive and do not take heed, and are often ungrateful to their husbands. And if they are ungrateful to their husbands, they are ungrateful to Allah, because it’s firmly established in our belief as Muslims that anything anyone provides you with in this life is only a means through which (in REALITY) Allah provided for you. So if a woman constantly complains about her living conditions, while consistently cursing and disobeying her husband… it’s clear that such a woman has no reverence for Allah, nor is she showing any gratitude to Him. And we know that one of (if not the main) purpose of our creation is to give thanks.

      “Allah brought you out of your mothers’ wombs knowing nothing at all, and gave you hearing, sight and hearts so that perhaps you would show thanks.”(Qur’an, 16:78)

      Now, if a woman not only fails in regards to her purpose of existence, but furthermore scoffs at the means through which Allah provided her — to the extent that she doesn’t have to worry about anything, and she doesn’t stop to consider that — then where does such a woman deserve to end up?

      And our Lord knows best, and may Allah forgive me for my failures as a man as well,

  20. Derrick Peat says:

    I also think it’s important that clarify my first comment. My main concern with the hadith is the way it purports the Prophet (saw) to have expressed himself. From what I got from the English from the hadith, it seems like the Prophet (saw) just saw two women and really belittled them. And of course we know that this is not something that is among the characteristics of our Prophet.

    To follow up as well, some commentary reached me from Jamal Badawi on things that we can take from this hadith and also somethings that we must understand in regards to dealing hadith. In paraphrasing Jamal Badawi: he said this hadith can not be taken as a categorical statement that women are weaker in intellect than men. The Prophet (saw) was describing the situation of some women (a select few of them, at that) in his soceity 1400 years ago. We all know that back then women rarely worked outside the house, and therefore they obviously had to do less critical tasks (thinking or otherwise) as compared with men of that place and time). But in our modern day period where more women are enrolled in institutions of higher education than their male counterparts, the Prophet’s words are clearly showed in that hadith to not be categorical, historically unbridled speech. But parts of statements — in this particular instance — were giving Prophetic insight into the reality (and consequences of that reality) of a different place and time. It’s upon us to decipher and use our intellects to figure out what the Prophet (saw) actually meant. Because clearly, as we can see today, it’s impossible to draw the conclusions (as some misogynist leaning Muslims or opportunist orientalists might) that the Prophet was saying without qualification that all women are dumber than men.

    As Ibn Taymiyya said, our shariah is one of sound logic and reasoning, and if anything apparently contradicts those things, then it can not be from the shariah.

    And Allah knows best,

  21. brother says:

    Assalamu alaykum,

    Brother Derrick, can you please provide a reference to the following quote? Thanks.

    “As Ibn Taymiyya said, our shariah is one of sound logic and reasoning, and if anything apparently contradicts those things, then it can not be from the shariah.”

  22. OnyxMuslimah says:

    Salam sister Sama,

    SEVERAL comments made so far are more than “unsettling”, sister, they’re just SCARY.

    Salam brother Derrick,

    I can appreciate your approach, thank you for reminding people that if not back, at least today, women are clearly the majority in institutions of higher learning, therefore one cannot question our intellect without embarassing themselves!

    You said:
    “From what I got from the English from the hadith, it seems like the Prophet (saw) just saw two women and really belittled them. And of course we know that this is not something that is among the characteristics of our Prophet ”

    That is why I’m still not convinced as to why/how the Prophet (pbuh) could really have said that. It’s one thing to try explain nuances and contexts, it’s another to try to evade blatant contradictions.. Again, I have yet to find an explanation of the hadith that holds water.

    You said:
    ” We all know that back then women rarely worked outside the house, and therefore they obviously had to do less critical tasks (thinking or otherwise) as compared with men of that place and time). ”

    And this is where I would differ with you.
    (note: I rather address your point than Mehran’s arguments. I definitely appreciate that you give us more credit and show us more respect and are not condescending to us. May Allah bless you and yours.)

    There’s a difference between not having any intellect and not being able to use it or develop it. That’s why I’m not convinced that women back then didn’t have intellect. It makes no sense. It reminds me of back when people used to say that black people were slaves because they have no intellect therefore cannot be treated nor be given work that requires the use of their mind. I doubt that anyone would say that back then we were unintelligent but now that some of us get to go to university we are just as intelligent as anyone else! That’s just not true. Only the power structures in place use that kind of argument and employ such tactics. There’s no way that our Prophet (pbuh) thought of us in such a debasing way.

    And about women not being “grateful” enough of what their husbands do for them…. First of all, we are assuming here that all husbands do what they’re supposed to do for their wives!! That alone is easy to be proven untrue. And then we’re also assuming that women are more ungrateful that men. The fact that men have appropriated themselves the sole authority to define how gratefulness should be measured is the blind spot in this discussion.

    • Shazia says:

      as salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,

      A few points:

      – I would strongly you (and all of us including myself) to try to sit with people of knowledge, and seek to have our concerns and questions addressed *in person*. That is not to say that there aren’t a number of good resources available online… however, a static, written answer or something written by a poster who does not personally know you nor has the ability to determine where you are coming from, mentally, spiritually etc, would most likely prove in many ways insensitive to your needs, and may not be able to address your concerns in a way that you will find satisfactory. I think all too often we as Muslims rely on Shaykh Google or Imam Yahoo to address our religious concerns and issues, and when we are unable to find a satisfactory answer there, assume one does not exist. (This is not specifically directed at you Sr Onyx as I do not know your methods of research and study on this issue – but a comment on a general and increasing trend).

      – I think there is nothing wrong with seeking out answers or explanations that will help us understand the wisdom behind a hadith, but I believe this must be done with a certain mindset and attitude, as I mentioned to in the last section of my article. Does the fact that I personally have not found an explanation that ‘holds water’ mean that the hadith in question is now inauthentic or somehow any less a part of the Prophet tradition? On the contrary, what it means is that I need to make further and increased efforts to understand the ‘sense’ or ‘wisdom’ of the hadith that has somehow remained elusive from me.

      – I will not go into a detailed explanation of these hadiths here, for the reason mentioned above and as other resources are available – but I would like to point out that, in relation to the hadith about gratitude to one’s husband: Simply because a reminder is given to one group of people, that does not necessarily mean that the other party is free of blame. For example, in many places in the Quran, children are exhorted to honor and show loving deference and respect to their parents – yet, that does not in any way preclude the fact that children also have rights upon their parents that must be fulfilled. This is why a text must be put in a greater context, and seen in light of all other texts on the subject. (See Section 2 of the article.) Also as Shaykh Suhaib mentioned, one of the texts was specific to the group that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) was directly addressing, and was, according to scholars, not meant as a statement that can be extended to all women. Here again we see the need to turn to people of expertise and mastery of this science (see the article, Section 2).

      Further, if there is a reminder directed at a category of people I belong to (whether it’s women, or men, young or old, people of wealth, people who are married, people who are single, etc), I think we should not be quick in being defensive, but seek to have an ‘openness’, in that we look to ourselves and see if we fall into those negative traits or actions or not. This is what I was alluding to in the part of my article where I stated, “A critical part of [the correct] mindset is considering the hadith and pondering over it with a spirit of introspection, honesty with one’s self, and soul-searching. Instead of immediately concerning ourselves with how others may perceive a particular hadith, misinterpret it, or use it to their advancement (which are certainly valid concerns), we should begin by considering how this hadith is relevant to me as an individual, my actions, and my way of thinking. In other words, my concern should be inwardly directed before it is outwardly manifested.”

      If the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) advised a particular group or against a particular action, as Muslims we know and believe that there is wisdom in his doing so. It may be that we personally do not fall into those types of actions or that we do not see that trend or the prevalence of that action, but perhaps we are more limited in our sight and our experiences than he (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) who was addressing his entire community.

      Lastly for everyone who has concerns about a hadith, I really urge you to go through the process that I’ve outlined above in the article, particularly in the second and third sections, and turn to people of knowledge in person and other resources which are available to you. It is an endeavor that may take time, but inshaAllah will be fruitful.

      Allah knows best,

      wasalaamu alaykum,

    • Abul says:


      I would simply say that if it can be established that this statement was truly from the Prophet Muhammad (saw), than knowing that he received divine knowledge in regards to the nature of men and women, he must have had justification (i.e., if Prophet Muhammad [p] was granted rightly guided knowledge, his actual statements must be true).

      I think it’s important to realize that such a statement, if made by him, would not have been made in a derogatory manner, but only in a factual sense with no negative implications (i.e. just saying something as it is). It would also have to be contextualized. Now, the sensitivity arises from the content, and I wonder what the definition of “intelligence” was, as used in the statement.

      Plenty of psychologists and Neuroscientists have conducted studies investigating this controversial matter. The traditional view was, because on a natural basis, women were needed to tend to familial matters such as raising babies, they required superior emotional intelligence, whereas men needed to be the food gatherers, and the hunters – situations which require hard logic.

      Of course, society has evolved far past this state, however, I believe our instinctual natures have preserved some of these tendencies (i.e. women generally possess superior emotional intelligence [not always], and men generally seem to view matters through logic and reason alone [not always]). It would be a lie to say that humans rely on logic all the time alone. Humans in general are in fact often influenced by their emotional states far more than we’d like to admit.

      It would be wrong to say that males and females do not have any gender-based differences in regards to how their brains function, as has been proven beyond a shadow of doubt. This is mainly because of physiological and psychological differences. This is supported by studies conducted by, for example, Richard Haier, professor of psychology in the Department of Pediatrics and longtime human intelligence researcher.

      I cite:

      “In general, men have approximately 6.5 times the amount of gray matter related to general intelligence than women, and women have nearly 10 times the amount of white matter related to intelligence than men. Gray matter represents information processing centers in the brain, and white matter represents the networking of – or connections between – these processing centers.”

      Here’s the full article:

      And also:

      The 2nd link also explains these differences, and I quote:

      “Brain size: Typically, men’s brains are 11-12% bigger than women’s brains. This size difference has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence, but is explained by the difference in physical size between men and women. Men need more neurons to control their greater muscle mass and larger body size, thus generally have a larger brain.”


      “Emotions: Women typically have a larger deep limbic system than men, which allows them to be more in touch with their feelings and better able to express them, which promotes bonding with others. Because of this ability to connect, more women serve as caregivers for children. The down side to this larger deep limbic system is that it also opens women up to depression, especially during times of hormonal shifts such as after childbirth or during a woman’s menstrual cycle.”

      And, finally:

      “Left brain vs. both hemispheres: Men tend to process better in the left hemisphere of the brain while women tend to process equally well between the two hemispheres. This difference explains why men are generally stronger with left-brain activities and approach problem-solving from a task-oriented perspective while women typically solve problems more creatively and are more aware of feelings while communicating.

      “Mathematical abilities: An area of the brain called the inferior-parietal lobule (IPL) is typically significantly larger in men, especially on the left side, than in women. This section of the brain is thought to control mental mathematical ability, and probably explains why men frequently perform higher in mathematical tasks than do women. Interestingly, this is the same area of Einstein’s brain that was discovered to be abnormally large. The IPL also processes sensory information, and the larger right side in women allows them to focus on, “specific stimuli, such as a baby crying in the night.”

      So, intelligence can be very relative. For example, of course a Ph.D holder in Physics will be more intelligent than a high school dropout (hopefully), regardless of gender. However, under proportional circumstances (even including diet and exercise), if you give a male and female (on average) the same opportunities, it will be revealed that they think very differently, generally.

      These simply show that men and women think differently, but have thinking styles and processes + strengths and weaknesses that really compliment each other. Both styles are needed in order for society to be complete. Men should not be ashamed of these differences, nor should women, as we all have value granted by Allah (swt).

      I pray this clarifies the matter somewhat.

      • Actually, men and women have similar abilities in math.
        The idea that men are better at math than women comes from the fact that men traditionally are/were the breadwinners and were encouraged to pursue the higher paying math/science jobs.
        There was an experiment with two groups of women and a group of men. Women in one of the groups were told that women are worse at math than men because of genetics. They were all given the same math test. The women who were given told that women were not as good at math performed poorly. However, the other group of women (who were not told that men are better at math) performed the same as the male subjects (on average).

        So the idea that math ability is different in the sexes is a myth.

        Source: Psychology courses I have taken.

        I found these articles on the topic, so you don’t have to take my word for it.,2933,222881,00.html

  23. Derrick Peat says:

    Firstly, that explanation of the hadith was one I got from Jamal Badawi. And it was the best one I found, even though it might not answer the question satisfactorily.

    Regarding this quote:
    “And about women not being “grateful” enough of what their husbands do for them…. First of all, we are assuming here that all husbands do what they’re supposed to do for their wives!! That alone is easy to be proven untrue. And then we’re also assuming that women are more ungrateful that men. The fact that men have appropriated themselves the sole authority to define how gratefulness should be measured is the blind spot in this discussion.”

    Just as a woman is judged based on her behavior, a man is just as accountable for his. So if a man is mistreating his wife, then obvious he is going to have to answer in front of Allah. There is nothing in the hadith that would suggest women are more ungrateful than men. The hadith is referring women who obviously deserved Allah’s wrath because of their internal states, which then led to external ingratitude with what Allah provided them with . To make a long story short, the Prophet was warning women to avoid the characteristics of those mentioned in the hadith. He was NOT condemning women to hellfire. If a believing women struggles and gives thanks to the husband that Allah provided her with, then, insha’Allah, that woman will find mercy waiting on her from Allah. And obviously we all make mistakes, slip up, and possess flaws; the point is to realize that ingratitude is wrong, strive against it.

    And I strongly do not feel — nor is it even really possible — that men have appropriated themselves the sole authority judging gratefulness, i.e. taking a position that only belongs to our Lord; He will dictate, set the criteria, and judge how grateful anyway of His slaves should have been. He will be the Sole Authority on that Day, and only He can forgive or punish. So even if men have anything to say regarding this, our opinion is in reality utterly irrelevant.


  24. jinas says:

    assalamualaikum all your brothers..
    Fore more ladies in hell fire……….AS with logic the status show all over the world ratio proportional is (women) 6:1(men)… and it may higher to any extent in coming days…… if one man igs going at least 3 of them must go……. if we looking equal ism… there is a logic .. but if Allah show rasool (SAW).. then wot to think about all these thing…….First we need to built Faith ie Imaan….so while building that we casn have these logical thoughts and once we confirmed LA ILAHA ILLALLA MU HAMMED RASOOLULLA…..there is no logic at all to questioning god and his messenger…. even in authentic saying’s of prophet SAW
    Jazakallah Khair , Inshah Allah ,,,,,,May Allah leads all of us to a good path,, Ameen

  25. Tricia says:

    I am chiming in several months later on this. I join others in disappointment that many of us were expecting an explanation of these ahadith. The article merely dodged this difficulty and reiterated the importance of looking at context, and asking scholars. But the author should know that many of us have consulted scholars time and again…and we found the explanations unconvincing. When I say this, the response is usually, ‘the asker should have a sincere intention’—we do and you should assume that we do, out of adab. We seek an answer precisely because it affects our iman and we wish to remove this effect.

    There are many other ahadith about women (“I have left nothing behind more harmful than women.”) and the hadith that when a woman goes out is is like a shaytan going out, and several more we can think of, or the fact that 2 lambs are sacrificed for a newborn boy and one for a newborn girl, and the allowance of 4 wives AND slaves, whereas a woman has one husband, if she cheats on him she would be subject to hadd, but a man has so many more sexual outlets he can use before he would fall into the danger of adultery and its punishment. I believe any Muslim, especially Muslim woman, who pretends as if it is a mere problem of misunderstanding or not asking scholars is in severe denial.

    I think the onus is being placed on the wrong people. The onus is on the scholars to explain the overwhelmingly negative accounts of women in ahadith. I do not find a similar number of ahadith singling out men for their faults. Where they do exist, they are usually explained as applying to mankind in general, not only men. So the laymen have indeed sought answers, but none of them make sense. You will even find anti-woman rhetoric in early and later commentators. So we need to see this for what it is and revive the fact that scholars are humans, they exist within cultural, within their own biases, and are thus subject to error. The loss of female scholars that existed early on must be investigated and reflected upon.

    Even if we accepted what someone said, that women are deficient in intellect because they weren’t involved in public affairs…the original hadith seems to suggest an inherent deficiency by virtue of being a woman, not by virtue of not being in the public sphere. If he SAW meant it in that way he SAW would have said it that way, but he did not. He said women.

    Furthermore it does not seem fair that Allah would create us with menstrual cycles, then bar us from praying on menstrual cycles, then hold us to account as “deficient” for something He SWT prescribed and then told us not to pray during it! That would be like me taking a man and woman, sending the woman to school for one year and barring the man from school, and at the end of the year I hold the man to be deficient. Well, he was merely following my order, how can he be deficient for a situation he did not choose? If Islam is really, as we say, looking at the uniqueness of each gender and not holding each gender by the standards of another gender, then how do we make sense of this? Honest question.

    As for this: “Also, the Hour will not be established until there are 50 women for every man. The people at the end of time will be the worst people who have ever existed and therefore a higher proportion of those people will also deserve Hellfire. Just by pure math there are going to be more women than men.”

    This mathematical argument just seems very off-base to me. I dont think the Prophet SAW would casually mention that women are more in hellfire than men…why? Because youre the majority! Joke’s on you! (astaghfirullah)if it is merely proportional and not a manner of unique blameworthness of women, then why would gender even be mentioned?

    I am very disturbed by this commenter’s words. I think the worst people in the end of times are currently the male leaders of countries the world over who are stockpiling arms and fighting wars. I think the worst people at the end of times are the men all over the world who leave single mothers in their wake. If we truly look at the world unbiased, we find men making the most trouble, and women (who are socioeconomically dependent on men, and physically weaker) the victims of their mischief and greed for power. And that’s not “feminism,” that’s just fact!

    Finally, there are sisters who have been so hurt by the barrage of these ahadith, and the way Muslim men (usually) apply them that they are on the verge of leaving the faith they love. I say, if they have to reject a hadith to stay within the fold of Islam, so be it. (And I understand the concerns of keeping the ahadith a legitimate source of knowledge…..but Im sorry, not at the expense of severe spiritual crises over it.)

    May Allah strengthen our scholars and help them to express in public what they express in private, to be brave enough to take new positions if they are felt to be closer to the truth, and may he make us Muslims who question with the best of intentions. This is, after all, our deen. When we write a paper we are more careful about our sources than we are with the sources of our deen. May Allah save us from that

    • “Finally, there are sisters who have been so hurt by the barrage of these ahadith, and the way Muslim men (usually) apply them that they are on the verge of leaving the faith they love. I say, if they have to reject a hadith to stay within the fold of Islam, so be it. (And I understand the concerns of keeping the ahadith a legitimate source of knowledge…..but Im sorry, not at the expense of severe spiritual crises over it.)”

      I completely agree with what you are saying about having to reject some hadith to “keep the faith.” I know that some hadiths have not seemed logical to me (the ones talked about here and others) and so I have decided that for my overall spiritual health I have to disregard them. This is especially true for me because as a convert, what attracted me to Islam was the logic of it, so anything that seem illogical seems to contradict the religion I was attracted to.

    • Shazia Ahmad says:

      as salaamu alaykum,

      Your post really requires a proper and full response as you’ve raised a number of important issues, which I hope to be able to write soon inshaAllah. In short, I think it’s problematic for you to extract and group together a number of different issues and texts and draw a conclusion from them. Is this not similar to the methodology of those who take texts out of context to ‘prove’ that Islam is violent, or Islam is anti-tolerance, etc? You mentioned consulting with scholars time and again, but I’m wondering if those were direct, in person interactions with people who are qualified? it seems many of the questions you’ve asked and issues you’ve raised could be sufficiently addressed by people of knowledge.

      The question I want to post to you is this: If we find a hadith or ayah that troubles us or that we find objectionable, is it really necessary to reject it outright? Could it not be, as I sought to point out in the article, that there is something that we don’t know, or that we are not seeing? My main point in this article was pointing out that we are very quick to see fault in the text, instead of having a more introspective attitude and thinking, there may be more for me to learn or for me to understand. The point of the article was not necessarily to dissect each and every text we come across that may be troubling, but to highlight a certain attitude we often have when we read and study texts that may actually be an obstacle in our spiritual growth and religious development. If we are able to find fault in everything, but hold ourselves above fault, then we need to think about why that is and how that may be affecting our understanding of our religion. It is interesting that this point did not seem to merit your attention.

      May Allah guide all of us to the truth, give us the ability to recognize it as truth, and the strength to follow it. May He help us to see falsehood as falsehood and grant us the strength to stay away from it, Ameen.

      Allah knows best.

      • Tricia says:

        “If we are able to find fault in everything, but hold ourselves above fault, then we need to think about why that is and how that may be affecting our understanding of our religion.”

        Sr. Shazia, it has been about 2 years since you wrote this article…I do not know if you were ever able to provide the follow-up on some of the individual ahadith mentioned. I may have missed it?

        In regard to your above statement, I think you are making a leap here. We have gone from finding fault (indeed) with numerous ahadith that portray women negatively, to you’re saying we find fault in ‘everything,’ and not only that we ‘find ourselves above fault.’

        To be clear, we do not find fault with ‘everything’ nor do we hold ourselves beyond reproach. It has been hinted that perhaps some of us have been consulting Shaykh Google, however my sense is that those who consult Shaykh Google would not be on!

        Furthermore, I am disappointed that there has been a bit of character assassination of Dr Abou ElFadl here along with baseless accusations that he is Shia. Dr Abou El Fadl studied with usuli scholars in various countries before most of us were even born. He copiously cites texts and proofs that make most of the works of other American scholars pale in comparison…none of which were refuted or even mentioned here. In my view, he has made the most sincere and studious effort to address the widespread spiritual discomfort on the part of women AND men with these ahadith that single out women. May Allah reward him for his efforts. Please consider deeply his concept of the ‘conscientious pause.’ May Allah guide us all.

  26. strivinggratitude says:

    Assalaamu Alaikum everyone,
    So I doubt anyone will see this since this article was published a year ago. I guess that I have to agree with Shazia, I mean she was definitely describing me when I first read the hadith. My gut reaction was indeed to reject it, and truth be told if I would have found a thousand sources saying it was authentic and one that said it was questionable, I would have rather believed the one. The hadith made me even more worried when I saw some of the explanations of it online, like that the Rasul (sas) was talking to a specific group of women, which sounds and is completely illogical if you actually look at the wording of the hadith. From then I knew that I’m definitely not the only one desperate to reject/minipulate/pardon this hadith in order to resolve my own personal issues with it as a muslim female.

    When you read a hadith, or any text really, you can’t help but to project your own feelings and life experience onto it, and by doing that you basically create an entirely new text for yourself. As someone who grew up in a house where my mother experienced extreme psychological, emotional, and at times physical abuse at the hands of my father, I can’t help but to think, “why the heck should a woman be grateful to her husband.” The theoretical husband of Islam, yes, I agree, one should be grateful to. However, in practice, and this hadith prophecizes how people will practically live, I honestly can’t believe that the majority of husbands are actually decent to their wives because of the house I grew up in. (Although my parents are still together and not 100% happy, Alhamdulilah my house has peace after almost 19 years of pain).

    It seems to me that people are really defending the husband who is only alive in theory, I mean looking at the world today and the ridiculous oppression of women in both muslim-populated and non muslim-populated lands, who do you think is actually going through more damage. In a region of my country, men are the ones picking up guns while women are repeatedly being raped. Now, if you only look at a certain group of women, such as the middle class ones who do not work outside the home, then you can definitely make the argument that the women are being ungrateful and most of them do in fact spend half their days drinking tea and gossiping.

    But again, that’s only a small group of women. The women in poverty are having their rights taken away, and the women in the west work outside the home, so really it isn’t the husband that is providing for them but they who are providing for themselves through the opportunities Allah swt has provided.

    And again, each spouse has their responsibilites. The way some of these comments sound it’s as if you think it’s normal for the husband to go outside all day slaving while the women are just sitting on their butts (this is only normal for a small portion of society of certain wealth). Even if the woman isn’t working outside the home, shouldn’t the husband also be grateful to his wife that she has cooked and cleaned for him (not obligatory in theory but again I’m talking about practice) and for raising his kids? In my own family my mother worked two jobs (the checks went to pay for household expenses which is supposed to be my father’s responsibility, i could tell she didn’t want to work but she feared him) and then came home to cook and clean. My father wouldn’t even make his own tea after he had been sitting on his behind all day.

    Wow, this comment is way too long, I’m way too worked up about this. Getting back to the point, I can see how in theory and according to the prophet’s sunnah husbands are amazing men who should be revered and respected, but again since the hadith is predicting the consequences for certain actions, then it is talking about practice not just theory. Honestly, the only thing that makes me think the end result of many women being in hell-fire is fair is the prophecy that there will be 50 women for every 1 man.

    Please leave any response you feel is appropriate (but don’t be rude). And if you have any advice as to how I can resolve the issues my father put my family through, that would be great. Although I respect him in my actions I do not think well of him, and this is not good for my heart.
    If you’ve gotten to the end of this, subhanAllah, you are dedicated to helping your muslim sisters and brothers, may Allah swt reward you.

    Please leave whatever response you feel is appropriate (be kind though, I’m not trying to attack any beliefs here, just trying to wrap my head around this).

    • strivinggratitude says:

      And I do agree with what one person on here was saying, about not putting yourself in any group except the muslim one. I agree with it intellectually, but emotionally I am tied to women through the bonds of sisterhood. Therefore I am stuck.

      • K. says:

        Asalaamu alaikum my dear Sister,

        Let me start off by giving you a *Great Big Virtual Hug*. No one should have to witness their parent experiencing spousal abuse.

        You must, must, must forgive your father. Make dua, make dua, make dua to Allah and ask Him to make it easy for you to resolve this issue.

        You may detest his actions but as Muslim we should forgive others as we expect God (Glorious is He) to forgive us. We are rewarded for forgiving others in Islam.

        I can guarantee you that the Qur’an itself is the only thing that will open your heart and mind. Don’t let go of that book. It’s a conversation between you and your Lord. Read a little bit every day. That will save you from any bitterness your heart may be feeling. (insha’Allah)

        I, too found it very hard to accept these ahadith as a Muslim female. I never talked about my feeling to my family because, understandably, questioning the faith is a taboo topic.

        My aunt once remarked that she couldn’t bring herself to read the Qur’an because she felt that her soul would be too shaken. When she read a book called “The Muslim Next Door: the Qur’an, the Media, and that Veil Thing” by Sumbul Ali-Karamali. her doubts were extinguished. The book tackles most misconceptions about Islam. Please read it.

        So my advice to you is:

        1) Make lots of dua. I am only a human. God is a much better Helper than I.

        2) Read the Qur’an. My comment is a mere human being’s. Establish your connection with you Lord by reading His book.

        3) Read Sister Sumbul’s book. I wish I could send you my copy.

        I hope this helped you. Sorry it was so long. Hugs and salaams are being sent your way!

    • K. says:

      For my comment down above: I ask forgiveness from God for any mistakes I may have made. Any good comes from Allah (swt).

  27. strivinggratitude says:

    Oh and lastly, can someone please give me a detailed description of the sciences of hadith. How hadith were first put together, how they are maintained today, and what is preventing scholars today from slipping in a false hadith and saying that this companion and that companion heard the prophet say such and such (meaning what in the sciences of hadiths would prevent people overtime from fabricating the hadiths?)

  28. sumaira says:

    when ever we are in discussion man always stop us by sayin that we are mentally weak and also describing it in hadith is there any hadith which shows man and women are equal in taking decsion

  29. Mustapha says:

    Assalamu alaikum.
    The hadith you quoted that there will be more women in the hellfire is becuase they shoulder more responsibility than their male conterparts. They do not have free time of their own for they look after their children and the property of their husbands. However, the hadith should not be taken literally. It is a warning that man should be fair to their spouses and teach them the Sunna.


  30. Mohammed Awan says:

    Where can I buy this: Science of Hadith Criticism (CD Set) by Dr. Mokhtar Magharoui

  31. Sithara says:

    As Salamu ‘Alaikum,

    As a sister, I feel I am on a spiritual journey regarding these hadiths, and gender issues in Islam in general. I must say that they have historically been a huge stumbling block for me with regards to faith.

    Stage 1: Every time I read these hadiths, I would get completely angry and hate the faith, and be angry with My Creator (astaghfirullah, now I want to cry thinking of those days :(…)

    I would read Shayk Google and QA sites and never found anything find anything that addressed the issues properly.

    Stage 2 (concurrent with stage 1 and somewhat with stage 3, where i am now): I learned about hadith sciences and have pretty much concluded that the most of the hadiths were most likely not fabricated. This is because when deciding on the validity of a hadith, my understanding is that scholars for the most part dont look at the text (matn) as much as the actual chain of narration (isnad). If the chain of narration is authentic, the hadith is pretty much considered authentic.

    This made me question why Allah has made us women the way we are. Are we really so deficient and stupid and evil, as compared to men? What about the evils committed by men on women? (as mentioned by several commentators here?) What about the deficiencies of men as compared to women (which seem so obvious to me, but never seem to show up anywhere in Islamic discussions?)

    Sister Tricia states my thoughts well: “I do not find a similar number of ahadith singling out men for their faults. Where they do exist, they are usually explained as applying to mankind in general, not only men.”

    The hadith regarding men and treatment of women seem much gentler: The best of men are best with their wives. “How does one of you beat his wife as he beats the stallion camel and then embrace her?” Anyone who raises 2 or 3 daughters will go to Jannah. Jannah is under the feet of mothers.

    Of course, the above are not comprehensive, but in general, hadith regarding men relating to women never seem to denigrate men’s characteristics as compared to women, and generally dont link male disobedience or bad behavior with women with hellfire.

    Anyway, my view of the sexes has historically been very distorted because of all of this – I couldn’t help but look at women and men with damaged eyes, feeling anger and hate for one sex and at one time, and the other sex at the other time.

    Stage 3: I literally tore myself away from reading about gender and Islam, and about these hadiths, for awhile. It was the only way I could move forward spiritually, as well as open my heart towards both men and women and become (I hope) a much better person.

    I have now come forward to the realization, after many struggles and mishaps, that Allah knows everything and I know nothing. There must be reasons well beyond my understanding for all of this. Its my jihad to struggle with gender related issues until Allah either increases my understanding or I die, after which Insha Allah, everything will be made clear.

    As Sister Shazia advices, I try to take the good of the hadith, but then mentally set aside the rest before I begin to get worked up. Ie, if I get married, I resolve to be grateful to my husband. I donate regularly to Islamic causes, and Insha Allah Allah will give me the ability to do more.

    On calmer moments, I try to think of the hows and whys Allah created men and women the way we are; why these hadiths have come down the way they have, etc. I have some thoughts but these are only thoughts and are not backed by anything, so will not share.

    Finally, just an exhortation: Sister Shazia, its been nearly three years, if you or anyone can write a series of articles expounding on some of these hadiths, I think it would be tremendously useful for the rest of us struggling with these issues!

    While I agree that it would be best to sit and discuss in person with a knowledgable scholar, and not just read Shayk Google and QA websites, or even articles and comments on, I suspect many of us are like me – we do not know where to turn :(…Most of us do not have access to scholars who have the requisite knowledge, the required sensitivity, as well as cultural understanding to address such issues appropriately.

    I must admit I have not tried to reach out in person, but I have not really run into anyone Imam or scholar who I feel can address such issues appropriately. One can tell by attending a few Juma Khutbas how an imam would deal with such issues :(…

    Anyway, May Allah forgive me all my faults and increase me in understanding of Deen and make my jihad easy for me. Make He englighten all of us struggling with this issue.

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