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Rebuttal: “Are women deficiënt in intelligence ? “

Written by Kevin Abdullah Kareem

 

This article is written in response to certain claims made by polemics against Islam to one of our articles related to this issue. Their article can be found here .In this article we shall discuss each claim of them seperate and response to it.


Anti-Islam claim:


Muhammad's dislike for women caused him to declare that the majority of the inhabitants of Hell are women. When asked why he said it was because they are deficient in intelligence and religion and because they are ungrateful to their husbands. Although Muslim apologists and female Muslims use a lot of creative arguments to explain away Muhammad's declarations about women, they don't stand up to scrutiny. This article will present evidence showing Muhammad's belief that all women are less intelligent than their male counterparts; as well as examine and refute the common Muslim claims about the ahadith in question

 


Response:

This is a very biased comment and a lie attributed to the Prophet [ saaws ]. The next hadith refutes this conclusion:

 

The Prophet [ Sallallahu wa alaihi wassalam ] said :"Three things from your world have been made beloved to me: Women, perfume, and prayer the comfort of my eyes"  [ Source: Ahamd Ibn Hanbal, 3:128 ]

 


One cannot love something which he hates. In other words the fact that the Prophet loved  “women” disproof the claim that he disliked women. Secondly the Prophet also stated that women would form the majority of the people in paradise [ jannah ] :



Jabir said, Allah be well-pleased with him: I heard the Messenger of Allah say, upon him blessings and peace: “I entered Paradise and saw that most of its dwellers were women.” [ Narrated by al-Bayhaqi in “al-Ba`th wal-Nushur” and Ibn `Asakir in “Tarikh Dimashq” ] .

 

 

If we apply the logic of polemics against Islam, one is forced to conclude than women are also better than men since they outnumber men in Paradise. Some Polemics against Islam may object to the above hadith, and argue that the hadeeth refers to houris, however this is a desperate attempt. The language of the above hadith is similar to the language used in the hadith which speaks about women as the majority of people in Hell. Moreover the hadith which speaks about women as the majority of people in paradise doesn’t use the word “houris” , but the word “women” which also indicates that the hadeeth refers to eartly women. Thirdly scholars have concluded that women will outnumber men in Hell as well as in Paradise. Imam Nawawi writes in one of his classic works:

 

 

These Ahaadith are clear that females in Jannah [ paradise ]  and Jahannum [ hell ]  will outnumber males by a great margin. [ Source:  Sharh al-Nawawiy vol.9 pg.170 ]  

 


Women will outnumber men in Hell and in Paradise. One cannot deny this islamic fact.


Anti-Islam claim:

Muslim Explanations for these ahadith – “Muhammad was referring to that specific group of women only”

There is absolutely no evidence that Muhammad's statements in the ahadith were directed at that specific group of women because: Muhammad's sole piece of evidence for this statement is Allah's mandate in Quran 2;282 which states that two women are required to give evidence in the absence of a man; this is to say that the testimony of one woman is equal to 1/2 of a man's testimony. Nowhere in that verse does it say "This is for the women of Muhammad's time" or "this is only for a specific group of women." If the Quran is a book for all time, then the testimony of a woman is always the equivalent of 1/2 a man in Islam. Therefore, for Muhammad to use this as evidence as to the deficiency of a woman's mind proves that it was a "blanket statement" over all women who have and will ever live


Response:

We hold a different view / interpretation than the one which states:
Muhammad was referring to that specific group of women only” . Therefor we shall not comment on the replies given by the anti islamics against this interpretation. However we will still disproof certain false claims that are made by these polemics against in islam in the above quote [ and coming quotes ] :

1: 

It’s impossible to argue that the testimony of one woman is equal to ½ of a man’s testimony. In fact, the Qur’an actually taught that the witness of a woman was just as valid as that of a man, and made no distinction regarding the sex of a witness in every single reference except one [ Quran 2:282 ]. The Qur'an says that one of the two male witnesses may be replaced by two women witnesses. The reason given is that "if one (of them) forgets, the other can remind her." Thus the basis of the rule is that women, being generally less involved in business matters, may be more prone to forget the details of a deal.In every other kind of case, there was no reason why the witness of a woman should not be just as reliable as evidence as that of a man, and no distinction of either sex was made or necessary. For example: ‘Those who accuse a chaste woman of fornication and do not produce four witnesses to support their allegation, shall be flogged with eighty lashes and their testimony shall not be accepted ever after, for they are the ones who are wicked transgressors.’ [ Quran 24.4 ]. The text implies any four witnesses, who could be of either sex. Sheikh Shaltut writes:

There is a stronger proof for equality in the Qur'an's statement that the woman is just like the man in the type of testimony known as the oath of condemnation [ An oath in which either the husband or the wife accuses his or her partner of adultery and the only witness is one of them. (Translator's note.)] "….And as for those who accuse their wives but have no witnesses except themselves, let the testimony of one of them be four testimonies (i.e. testifies four times) by Allah that he be one of those who speak the truth. And the fifth (testimony) (should be) invoking the Curse of Allah on him if he be one of those who tell a lie (against her). But it shall avert the punishment (of stoning to death) from her, if she bears witness four times by Allah, that he (her husband) is telling a lie. And the fifth (testimony) should be that the Wrath of Allah be upon her if (her husband) speaks the truth…" [ Surah 24:6- 9] That is, four repetitions of the oath or testimony by the man concluded by an invocation of his damnation by Allah if he is lying, countered by and invalidated by four repetitions of the woman's counter statement, also followed by an invocation of Allah's wrath upon her if she is lying. [ Islamic Beliefs and Code of Laws, Sheikh Shalt, p.111 - 112]


2:

Secondly scholars like Ibn Taymiyya have pointed out that Qu’ran 2:282 should be understood as a recommendation or advise. Dr. Muhammad Fadel writes:


Ibn Taymiyya also felt compelled to demonstrate the weakness of interpretating Qur'an 2;282 to justify evidentiary discrimination against women in general. He begins by noting that the plain meaning of the verse is not directed toward judges but, rather, toward individual who are involved in a transaction. Thus, the verse's significance, if it has any relevance at all to courtroom proceedings, is only implicit. The implicit meaning of this verse, if taken to adress judges , would be, "Rule with two male witnesses. And if not two male witnesses, then one male and two female witnesses." He points out astutely, however , that no school of Muslim law has actally restricted a judge to using only two male witnesses, or in their absence one male and two female witnesses. Instead , Muslim Jurist agree that a judge is also allowed to rule based on various combinations of witnesses, oaths [ yamin ] , and the refusal to swear [ al-nukul ] . it is therefor known with certainty that the implicit meaning of the verse was not intended by the Lawgiver. he concluded the argument by noting that:

"the command to ask two women to testify at the time of recording [ the testimony ] does not necessitate that judgement cannot be rendered with a number less then this.....The means by which a judge rules are broader than the means by which God advised the posessor of a right to protect it" [ Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya, L'lam al-muwaqqi'in bi-rabb al-alamin, 3 vols., ed. Taha Abd al-Ra'uf sa'd [ beirut: Dar al-Jil, n.d. ] 1:95-96 ]
 [ Souce: M. Fadel: "Two Women, One Man: Knowledge, Power, and Gender in Medieval Sunni Legal Thought", in: "International Journal of Middle East Studies" [ 1997 ] , vol. 29, no. 2 , p.198 ]


In other words Quran 2:282 is simply an advise or recommendation.  

 


Anti-Islam claim:

In the same hadith (not the partial one) Muhammad tells the women that they are also deficient in Religion. Islam is very much a works-based religion; every day of fasting 'counts' for your reward in heaven, every prayer, every 'good deed' (as outlined in the Quran). Since women are not allowed to pray or fast during their menses, this means that a woman doing every 'good deed' she is able to do, and a man doing every 'good deed' they are able to, will result in the man receiving a higher reward from Allah because he was able to do more religious deeds than the female.

Do we also apply the "This was only for that specific group of Women" answer to Muhammad's claim that women are also deficient in Religion? Are women suddenly allowed to fast and pray when they are menstruating? We know they aren't; so why should we apply one part of the hadith to that specific group of women when the second claim is clearly referring to all Muslim Women?


Response:

This claim is also incorrect. Numerous verses [ see Quran 16:97, 3:195, 4:125 ] and other narrations stress that the reward of women equals that of men even if their acts differ. Secondly a woman is commanded by Allah swt not to pray or fast during her menses, in others words by obeying these commands she will receive rewards. Men do not receive rewards for not praying or fasting [ while women do during their menstruation ]. Moreover it is reported that the prophet [ saaws ] said:

 

Take care of your home for that is your Jihad. [ Musnad Ahmad ]

 

Jihad is the epitome of Islamic life. Declaring home-making as Jihad for women is giving it the highest possible status in an Islamic society. Moreover this means that women can receive [ daily ] a very high reward for home making [ even during their menstruation ] . Can a man perform physical Jihad every day against people who torture and mistreat Muslims just as easy as a woman can perform home-making daily ?

Thirdly this part of the hadith [ which speaks the so called “deficiency in religion” ] proofs  that the Prophet’s sayings about the so called “deficiencies” were never ment literal.As pointed out before, Allah commands women not to pray or fast during their menstruation. Therefor one cannot literal view women as “deficiënt” in religion for obeying Allah’s orders here. It would be very naive to label a person literal as “less religious” or “deficiënt in religion” for carrying out a religious / divine instruction [ not to pray or fast during menstruation ] .



Anti-Islam claim:

Muhammad said "The Majority of the Dwellers of Hellfire are Women." If these ahadith refer only to that group of women, then that group must have been extremely large! Think about how many women have and will exist on this earth throughout time. Now, the majority of the people in Hell are supposedly from this one group of Women that Muhammad was addressing? Where then are the pagans, the atheists, Christians, Jews and Hypocritical Muslims? Where are the men? How BIG was this group of women ? Muhammad was clearly making a blanket statement about all women.


Response:

The Prophet [ saaws ] simply warned this goup of women against cursing and being ungratefull. Nowhere did he say or state that their destiny would be Hell. The author is reading things in the text which aren’t there ! Moreover it doesn’t matter if the hadith in question refers to a specific goup of women or not, since Shayk G.F Haddad pointed out that the hadith in question was never ment literal, see:  online source. To Judge a statement, one should read it in it’s proper context.

 

 

 

Anti-Islam claim:

Muhammad was using Hyperbole to Scare Women into Giving Alms

Answering-Christianity [ quotes ] :

 

But the Prophet (peace be upon him) was also being playful in his use of strong terms to impress this teaching on the listeners. Ruqayyah Waris Maqsud writes, “After the Farewell Pilgrimage at the Eid prayer, the Prophet walked past the men leaning on Bilal's arm, and came to the rows of women behind them. Bilal spread out a cloth and the Prophet urged the women to be generous with their gifts of charity, for when he had been allowed a glimpse into the flames of Hell, he had noted that most of the people being tormented there were women. The women were outraged, and one of them instantly stood up boldly and demanded to know why that was so. 'Because,' he replied, 'you women grumble so much, and show ingratitude to your husbands! Even if the poor fellows spent all their lives doing good things for you, you have only to be upset at the least thing and you will say, 'I have never received any good from you!' (Bukhari 1.28, recorded by Ibn Abbas - who was present on that occasion as a child).
At that the women began vigorously to pull off their rings and ear-rings, and throw them into Bilal's cloth.”


This is a very sneaky presentation of evidence. This interpretation attempts to draw together two different sets of ahadith and present them as the same event. The first set is provided above. Here are the ones for this specific interpretation:


Sahih Muslim 4:1923

Ibn 'Abbas reported: I participated in the Fitr prayer with the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) and Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Uthman, and all of them observed this prayer before the Khutba, and then he (the Holy Prophet) delivered the sermon. Then the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) descended (from the pulpit) and I (perceive) as if I am seeing him as he is commanding people with his hand to sit down. He then made his way through their (assembly) till he came to the women. Bilal was with him. He then recited (this verse): O Prophet, when believing women come to thee giving thee a pledge that they will not associate aught with Allah" (lx. 12) till he finished (his address to) them and then said: Do you conform to it (what has been described in the verse)? Only one woman among them replied: Yes, Apostle of Allah, but none else replied. He (the narrator) said: It could not be ascertained who actually she was. He (the Holy Prophet) exhorted them to give alms. Bilal stretched his cloth and then said: Come forward with alms. Let my father and mother be taken as ransom for you. And they began to throw rings and ringlets in the cloth of Bilal


Sahih Muslim 4:1924

Ibn 'Abbas reported: I bear testimony to the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) offering prayer before Kbutba. He (after saying prayer) delivered the Kutba, and he found that the women could not hear it, so he came to them and exhorted them and preached them and commanded them to give alms, and Bilal had stretched his cloth and the women were throwing rings, earrings and other things. This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Ayyub with the same chain of transmitters


Sahih Muslim 4:1926

Jabir b. 'Abdullah reported: I observed prayer with the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) on the 'Id day. He commenced with prayer before the sermon without Adhan and Iqama. He then stood up leaning on Bilal, and he commanded (them) to be on guard (against evil for the sake of) Allah, and he exhorted (them) on obedience to Him, and he preached to the people and admonished them. He then walked on till he came to the women and preached to them and admonished them, and asked them to give alms, for most of them are the fuel for Hell. A woman having a dark spot on the cheek stood up and said: Why is it so, Messenger of Allah? He said: For you grumble often and show ingratitude to your spouse. And then they began to give alms out of their ornaments such as their earrings and rings which they threw on to the cloth of Bilal

 

 

It is true that Muhammad approached the women after prayer in both sets of ahadith; and that he asked them to give alms. However we note in the second set, not even once, does Muhammad make the same claims about Women's Intelligence or Religion. He merely states that women are ungrateful in an effort to goad them into giving more charity. If these ahadith were narrations of the same event, you would expect a mention of Intelligence or Religion.

 

 

 

Response:

All these Hadith clearly refer to the same incident, scholars like Shayk G.F. Haddad have confirmed this. The version in Sahih Muslim 4:1923 by Ibn Abbas

clearly mentions that the Prophet preached to the women after the “Eid / FITR PRAYER” [ not just an ordinary prayer ] and urged them to give charity. The hadith in Bukhari which narrates the Prophet’s sayings about the so called “deficiencies” happened also after the “Eid / FITR PRAYER” [ in otther words these hadith clearly refer to the same incident ] . All versions of the hadith desribe that the Prophet preached to the women [ and admonished them ]  and urged them to give charity. The version in sahih Bukhari simply gives us more details about what the Prophet said, while the versions narated by Ibn Abbas simply tell us that the Prophet admonished the women and preachted tot hem. In other words Ibn Abbas does not give us much details of what the Prophet [ saaws ] said, these details can be found in  the version narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri in Sahih Bukhari. Different versions of a hadith complete each other. The fact that some versions mention the Prophet’s saying about the so called “deficiencies” and some not does in no way indicate or proof that that all these hadith versions refer to different incidents. Such a conclusion is desperate since all the versions of the hadith clearly speak or refer to the same incident. Moreover there are too much similarities between all these hadith  [ versions ] to deny that all these version refer to the same incident. Different versions of the same hadith often have different texts , and some versions give more details or extra text of what the prophet preached than others. To deny this proofs that one has not much knowledge about the “science of hadith”.

 

 


Anti-Islam claim:

Even if this explanation was right, it still doesn't explain why Muhammad called women deficient in Intelligence, and then directed them to the mandate in Quran 2:282 as evidence for this deficiency. If his aim was simply to get them to donate more money, surely a threat of hellfire and calling them ungrateful would have sufficed for his purpose; and evidently it did.

 

Muhammad also knew that Hellfire was a great motivator to his followers; once he found a threat that worked, he milked it for all it was worth. Because of the discrepancies between the two sets of narrations, we can conclude that the two sets of narrations are from seperate events; and that Muhammad simply re-used a scare tactic in order to get what he wanted.

 

 

 

Response:

The author states “Because of the discrepancies between the two sets of narrations, we can conclude that the two sets of narrations are from seperate events’. Are you serious ? Is this a Joke ? The different versions of the hadith clearly mention that Muhammad [ saaws ] :

 

1:

 

Preached to the women after the Eid/Fitr prayer [ which is a special ocassion once in a year ]

2:

 

The Prophet admonished or warned women for cursing and being ungratefull

 

3:


The Prophet told the women of his vision, in which he saw that the majority of the people in Hell were women

 

4:

The prophet urged the women to give charity


It’s desperate to claim that  these different version [ of the hadith in question ] do not refer to the same event. Unless one beliefs that Eid/Fitr prayer is performed daily or weekly ! Secondly if the Prophet’s aim was not to donate money, but to insult women than why did he later point out in the hadith that his sayings were not ment literal  [ when his female audience asked him to clarify his words ] ? Let us take a look at the hadith in question again, the Prophet said:

 

I have never seen among those who have a deficiency in their intellect and their religion anyone more capable than women of swaying the intellect of the most determined of men."

 


He is actually asserting here the power of women to influence men and sway their opinion. This is one of the distinctions that women, in their natures, have. He then went on to define precisely what he meant by these deficiencies. In the remainder of the hadîth, some women asked him:

 

O Messenger of Allah, what is this deficiency in our intelligence and religion?" He replied: "Isn't it that a woman's testimony as a witness is half of the testimony of man?" They said: "Yes." He said: "This, then, is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that when she is in her menses, she leaves off prayers and fasting?" They said: "Yes." He said: "This is the deficiency in her religion."


His clarification pinpoints certain aspects that suggest no intellectual inferiority whatsoever. As for religious deficiency, the Prophet, peace be upon him, states the fact that a woman is exempt from prayer and fasting when she is in menstruation. While God gives a woman the reward for prayer and fasting as if she has done them, since she stops only because of her condition and in response to God’s orders, still the fact that she does not fulfill these duties means that her worship is less in terms of what she offers. It does not mean that she is a lesser believer. As for the so called “deficiency in intellect” or “mental deficiency” , the Prophet told the women that this mental deficiency [ he talked about ] "only" refers to [ because he said: ”this is the deficiency”, and not this is one example or one of the evidences for you deficiency ]  the fact that the Qu'ran in Surah Al Baraqa [ verse 282 ]  stipulates that: " two women witnesses are required in place of one-man witness". This stipulation however only refers to business transactions, or in other words matters in which women are generally less versed then men due to their inexperience [ with it ] and the role of each gender in society. It is no reflection on a woman's mental ability:

 

Another important thing to note about the verse is that though two female witnesses in place of one male witnes have been recommended, only one would bear witness, the other's function being nothing more than reminding her in case she falters [ on account of her inexperience in Financial matters ] . The words of the Qur'an are: "an tadilla ihdahuma fatudhakkira ihdahumal ukhra" [ if one of them should make a mistake, the other could remind her ] . In those days there was always some possibility of female witnesses making mistakes in Financial matter due to their inexperience and not due to any inferior intellectual ability. This verse should be categorised as a contextual and not a normative one. The Qur'an is certainly not laying down any norm that in matters of witnessing two women should be treated as being equal to one man. Had it been so intended the Qur'an, wherever the question of witnessing arises, would have treated the women in this way. However, this is not so. There are seven other verses about recording evidence in the Qur'an but none of them lays down the requirement of two female witnesses in place of one man.  [ Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, "The Rights of Women in Islam" ,New Dawn Press, Second Revised Edition, 2004 , p. 76 ]

 

 

A close examination of the Prophet's clarification or explenation related to the "deficiencies" mentioned in the hadeeth therefor shows us that the Prophet's words were never meant literal and "only" refered to the fact that most women in his time had little knowledge in business transactions or economic issues "due to inexperience" and being less involved in such issues due to their role in society. A woman's intellectual capicity, or ability to think is not discussed or referred to by the Prophet here. If the Prophet’s aim was to insult women, he could have given the women an answer like “you are deficiënt in intelligence because your brains are less wise than man”,  however he clearly didn;t give such an answer. Moreover if the Prophet wanted to state or argue  that women are intellectual inferior compared to men, then why did the Prophet allow women to teach or educate men ? Neither the Prophet, nor Allah Allmighty in the Holy Qur'an treat or view women as inferior or defect in intelligence and / or religion. On the contrary it is well known that the Prophet allowed Muslim women to teach and educate Muslim men [ see: Azizah al-Habri , "Islam, Law, and Custom: Redefining Muslim Women's Rights", in: "American University Journal of International Law and Policy" 1997 , vol. 12:1 , pp. 40-41 and Omaima Abou-Bakr: "Teaching The Words Of The Prophet: Women Instructors Of The Hadith" , in: "Hawwa" 2003 , vol. 3,  nr. 1 , pp. 317-18 ] . Had the Prophet really viewed or believed that women were imperfect or defect in intelligence he would have never allowed Muslim women to teach or educate Muslim men. However he did ! Had women been viewed literal as imperfect or defect in reasoning and religion the Prophet would have never consulted women on important issues. However it is well known that the Prophet consulted his wife Um Salama on one of the most important issues to the Muslim community. Her advice prevented disunity among the Muslims after the Treaty of Hudaybiya and her opinion prevailed over that of many men, including Umar ibn al-Khattab [ see: al-Tabari, Tafsir, vol. 22, p.10 ]. Our beloved Prophet moreover praised his wife Aischa for her intellectual skills and knowledge ! He even allowed her and other women to educate many male companions in the religion of Islam. All these facts clearly proof that Prophet [ saaws ] never ment his saying about the so called “deficiencies”

literal, nor was it  his aim to insult women, for this reason he explained later to the women what he ment by these deficiencies.

One should realize that the Prophet
, peace be upon him, simply used this phrase "deficient in mind and religion" in the beginning  to alert them to what he wanted to say to them. The Prophet, peace be upon him, frequently uses such a method, inserting some words that may not be relevant to the point he wants to stress, so that they serve to attract the attention of his audience. His saying in the beginning of this hadith :

 

 

I have never seen among those who have a deficiency in their intellect and their religion anyone more capable than women of swaying the intellect of the most determined of men."



was an acknowledgment of the inordinate power women wield over men while ostensibly less active in the public and spiritual spheres. As pointed out earlier, the Prophet himself later clarified what he ment by these deficiencies [ which led us to the conclusion that the prophet’s sayings about these  so called deficiencies were

never ment literal, and that the Prophet’s statement in the beginning of this hadith was simply an acknowledgment of the inordinate power women wield over men while ostensibly less active in the public and spiritual spheres, such an opening would off course attract great attention among his female audience and make them very curious to the rest of his message ].

 


Anti-Islam claim:

“Deficiency is only about giving Financial Testimony”  - The Claim:

“….Muhammad did say women are deficient in Intelligence. However, since his evidence was Quran 2:282, Muhammad was only referring to the deficiency of women when giving testimony for financial transactions…..”

 

Quran 2:282 states that the second female witness is required (in lieu of a man) because the first woman may forget; therefore the second can remind her.This implies that women have bad memories and are prone, moreso then men, to forget details. On first look, this explanation looks quite reasonable; however in the ahadith, Muhammad did not specify that the testimony of women, in financial cases only was the cause of their intelligence defects. If this were truly only about testimony for financial cases, then Muhammad would have specified this. His statement "Isn't it true that THE testimony of two women is equal to that of a man" strongly implies that two female witnesses are required for any type of testimony; and in no way implies that it is for financial testimony only.

After all, if this is the deficiency in her intelligence; then Muhammad is clearly referring to the fact that Allah believes that Women have bad memories; and this is the reason a woman is deficient.

 

 

 

Response:

The author obvious doesn’t know much about the Holy Qu’ran. The Qur’an actually taught that the witness of a woman was just as valid as that of a man, and made no distinction regarding the sex of a witness in every single reference except one [ Quran 2:282  ] , a verse which refers only to financial transactions. In every other kind of case, there was no reason why the witness of a woman should not be just as reliable as evidence as that of a man, and no distinction of either sex was made or necessary. In the next quranic verses  clearly no distinction is made between the testimony of  men and women:


"When you hand over to them (i.e. the orphans) their property, then havesome people to witness it, and Allah suffices as the Reckoner" [4:6]

"If any of your women be guilty of indecency, call fourwitnesses from among yourselves to testify against them. If they give evidence and provethe guilt, then confine them to their houses until death comes to them orAllah opens some other way out for them"
[4:15]

"O believers! when the time of death approaches any of you, and he is going to make his will, the principle of evidence is that two just personsfrom among you should act as witnesses. Or, if you are on a journey and thecalamity of death befalls you, then two witnesses may be taken from amongthe non-Muslims"
[5:109]

"As for those persons who charge chaste women with false accusations butdo not produce four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes and neveraccept theirevidence afterwards, for they themselves are transgressors"
[24:4]

"Thus when they fulfill their appointed period, eithr take them back onequitable terms or part with them on equitable terms; and take four
witnesses two persons of known truthfulness from among you, and establishthe evidence as before Allah"
[65:2]


In all of these cases the Quran does NOT make a distinction between the evidence of a man or of a woman. Verse 2:282 is the only one, and as pointed out earlier this

verse only refers to financial transactions. In the historcal sense, it was obvious that as a rule, women in general were less familiar with business procedures then men, and, therefore, more liable to commit mistakes in this respect ,  or more prone to forget the details of a deal [ therefor it’s incorrect to argue that the Holy Quran beliefs women have bad memories in general, since the reason for this stipulation is  lack of certain knowledge on financial transactions due to inexperience , not brain capacity ]. For this reason Qu’ran 2:282 is the only verse which says or advises that two women witnesses should take the place of one male witness. For this reason there was no need for the Prophet [ saaws ] to specify or point out that his saying only refers to a woman’s testimony in the case of financial transactions ,

since verse 2:282 is the only one which gives such an advise ! Further the Prophet can never contradict the Holy Qu’ran, therefor it’s impossible to interpretate the prophet’s statement as a reference to all types of testimony, since this would contradict many quranic verses which states that the testimony of one woman is equal to the testimony of one man [ see 4:6, 4:15, 5:109, 24:4 and 65:2 ].  Moreover one should remember [ see the fatwa by Shayk G.F. Haddad ] that the sayings of the Prophet [ about these so called deficiencies ] were never ment literal in this hadith. The context of the Hadith and the explenation given by the prophet himself [ about what he ment by these deficiencies ] clearly proof this. And finally If Allah believed women had bad memories in general, then the Holy quran would have made a distinction between the testimony of a woman and a man in every single case. However the Holy Quran does not make such a distinction.

 



Anti-Islam claim:

The meaning of these ahadith is very clear. Muhammad "blanketed" a statement over every single woman who has ever and will ever live. Despite many creative ways to explain away the meaning and implications of these ahadith, the actual evidence cannot be denied. Muhammad clearly said that women are deficient in Intelligence because, in Islam, the value of their testimony is equal to that of half a man. If the Quran is a book for all people for all time, then that mandate stands; thus Muhammad was referring to all women in general; and not just a specific group of women.

 



Response:


A close examination [ study ]  of the Prophet's clarification or explenation related to the "deficiencies" mentioned [ or given ] in the hadeeth clearly shows us that the Prophet's words were never meant literally, nor did the Prophet refer to a woman's intellectual nature, ability to think or brain capacity when he talked about her deficiency in "aql" [intelligence ]. On the contrary the hadith in question tells us that the Prophet's women audience asked him to clarify what he ment by this mental deficieny. The Prophet then went on to define precisely what he meant by it. His clarification [ explenation ] pinpoints certain aspects that suggest no intellectual inferiority whatsoever. The Prophet told the women that this mental deficiency [ he talked about ] "only" refers to the fact that the Qu'ran in Surah Al Baraqa [ verse 282 ]  stipulates that: " two women witnesses are required in place of one-man witness". This stipulation however only refers to business transactions, or in other words matters in which women are generally less versed then men due to their inexperience [ in it ] and the role of each gender in society

 

In the light of the preceding evidence, moreover, one can no longer simply assume that modernist interpretations of Qur'an 2:282 represent a radical break from Islamic law; indeed, from the perspective of figh [ literally, fiqh means understanding; it refers to the study of the law in Islam ], the sociological interpretation, not the natural or the psychological one, is the only plausible reading of the verse.  [ M. Fadel: "Two Women, One Man: Knowledge, Power, and Gender in Medieval Sunni Legal Thought", in: "International Journal of Middle East Studies" [ 1997 ] , vol. 29, no. 2 , p.200 ]

 

 

In other words because women were less active in public and business spheres, they had little knowledge on financial matters due to their inexperience in it. For this reason the Holy Qu'ran stipulates in relation to financial contracts that one of the two male witnesses may be replaced by two women witnesses. The reason given is that "if one of them forgets, the other can remind her." Thus the basis of the rule is that women, being generally less involved in business matters, may be more prone to forget the details of a deal. This [ and nothing else ] is the meaning of their "deficiency" in "aql" [ intelligence ]  as has been clarified by the Prophet himself in the hadith. It is clearly no reflection on a woman's intellectual nature or brain capacity. The narration is not meant literally. Shayk G.F. Haddad therefor correctly points out that:

 


The hadith here uses two figures of speech: the first is hyperbole [ mubalagha ]  meaning exaggeration in the words "even a prudent, sensible man might be led astray by some of you" i.e. a fortiori an ordinary man. The second figure is synechdoche [ majaz mursal ] consisting in using the whole for the part: intelligence to mean the specific legal testimony of a woman, and religion to mean the prayer and fast at the time of menses. 

 

Numerous verses and other narrations stress that the reward of women equals that of men even if their acts differ. So this particular narration is not meant literally but as an acknowledgment of the inordinate power women wield over men while ostensibly less active in the public and spiritual spheres  [ Fawta by Shayk G.F. Haddad ,  online source  ]

 


The Shayk further supports this conclusion by analyzing the context of the narration:

 

 

The Prophet [ saw ] was also being playful in his use of strong terms to impress this teaching on the listeners. Ruqayyah Waris Maqsud writes:"After the Farewell Pilgrimage at the Eid prayer, the Prophet [ Allah bless him and give him peace ] walked past the men leaning on Bilal's arm, and came to the rows of women behind them. Bilal spread out a cloth and the Prophet [ Allah bless him and give him peace ] urged the women to be generous with their gifts of charity, for when he had been allowed a glimpse into the flames of Hell, he had noted that most of the people being tormented there were women. The women were outraged, and one of them instantly stood up boldly and demanded to know why that was so. 'Because,' he replied, 'you women grumble so much, and show ingratitude to your husbands! Even if the poor fellows spent all their lives doing good things for you, you have only to be upset at the least thing and you will say, 'I have never received any good from you!' [ Bukhari 1.28, recorded by Ibn Abbas ]. At that the women began vigorously to pull off their rings and ear-rings, and throw them into Bilal's cloth."


In conclusion, we need to remove the meaning of the words of the Prophet [ saw ] from our contemporary context of sour feminism and the clash of the sexes, and replace it into its proper context: namely, a parting, wartime exhortation using certain figures of speech which are not meant literally, nor are women the issue although they are addressed pointedly and, as it were, by the scruff of their gender; but rather, to trigger among wealthy and sensible citizens acts of generosity for the greater good while reminding them that life is fleeting and thankfulness a surer way to Paradise than despair  [ Fawta by Shayk G.F. Haddad ,  online source  ]

 

 

More proof to show that the Prophet's word were never meant literal [ and did not refer to a woman's ability to think or intellectual capacity ] is the fact that a literal interpretation of the hadeeth [ by overlooking the prophet's own explanation given to his statement and context of the hadeeth ] would conflict with various injunctions which are there in the Qur'an itself and also in some other traditions. If women were really viewed as having little intelligence,  then it would be necessary to restrict their power to dispose of their properties and at least make it subject to the approval and permission of their husbands or guardians. But Islam has acknowledged the absolute competence of women in this respect and has allowed her full rights of disposition over her properties. A literal interpretation [ by taking the prophet's words out of context ] would also conflict with some of the historical facts in the Prophet's time and that of the rightly guided Caliphs. During the time of the rightful guided Caliphs, the Caliphs sought counsel from women and gave importance to their opinions. Moreover many companions of the Prophet and various scholars took religious education from women. Dr. Aisha Bewley writes:

 

 

Al-Qasim ibn Muhammad said, "A'ischa undertook fatwa [ giving legal opinion ] in the khalifates of Abu Bakr, Umar, Ithman and so on until she died." In "the shade of the Cloud"by Abu Abdullah al-Ghafiqi about A'isha, "She had the most transmissions and the most figh of those who gave fatwa. She was sought out by people from the furthest lands for her knowledge of the Sunna and what is obligatory. She related all poetry of the Arabs with purity. She was wonderful in tafsir [ commentary on Qur'an ] and eloquent expression. She has the most ample portion of knowledge and medicine." She transmitted to at least 77 men and 8 women, of whom 14 [ 11 men and 3 women ]  were related to her...

 

Ai'ischa used to interpret the sciences and provide information on obscure matters to outstanding men. She corrected a group of Companions in many hadiths - they include: Umar and his son, Abu Hurayra, Ibn Abbas, Uthman ibn Affan, Ali ibn Abi Talib, Ibn az-Zubayr, Zayd, Abu'd-Darda, Abu Sa'id, al-Bara, Fatima bint Qays and others. Urwa said, "I never saw anyone with more knowledge about the halal and the haram, general knowledge, poetry and medicine than A'isha.". Masruq said, "I saw the Companions asking A'isha about shares of inheritance [ Al-Hakim ].

 

This was not limited to A'isha. It was like that with the rest of the Prophet's wives and the female Companions - like Umm Sulaym, Umm ad-Darda, Fatima bint Qays al-Adawiyya, and other women aftert them. People used to receive knowledge and instruction from these women as they received it from men. This is confirmed in the books of hadith, history and biographical collections [ Tabaqat ] [  Dr. Aisha Bewley, "Islam: The Empowering of Women" [ Ta-Ha Publishers, 1999 ] , pp. 8-9 ]


And Prof. Azizah al-Habr writes:

 

 

The Literature abounds with stories of women who dialogued with men about proper islamic practices, or the preferred interpretation of an islamic text. Women were also reporters of hadith. As a result many prominent men came to  them for religious education and guidance. This trend continued for several centuries after the death of the Prophet. As the concept of education expanded, many women leaders appeared in the various disciplines. There were prominent female literary figures, religious leaders, doctors, judges, politicians, and teachers to name a few.

It might be useful at this Point to mention some of these women. Among the outstanding literary figures are Sukaynah bint al-Hussayn, the granddaughter of the Prophet, A'isha bint Talha and Walladah Bint al-Mustakfi. Among the physicians are Zainab, the physician of the tribe of bani Awd and Um al-Hassan, daughter of Judge Abu Jafar al-Tanjali. Among those who actively participated in politics are Hind bint Yazid al-Ansariyah and Akrashah bint al-Utroush  [  Azizah al-Habri , "Islam, Law, and Custom: Redefining Muslim Women's Rights", in: "American University Journal of International Law and Policy" [ 1997 ] , vol. 12:1 , pp. 40-41]

 

 

These facts clearly proof that the conclusions made by the Non_Muslim [ anti-islamic ] author are  wrong.




Anti-Islam claim:

Further thoughts on these ahadithThis set of ahadith cleary show Muhammad's hatred for women. He implemented every rule he could think of to keep them under the control of men and in a state of humiliation.

 

 

Response:


T
he author keeps on lying. The Prophet’s view on women are:
      

 

The Prophet said: “This world is just temporary conveniences, and the best comfort in this world is a“righteous woman   [ Sahih Muslim 10/56 ]                                                                                                                                                                           

 
The Prophet said: “A woman acts for the people," i.e. she gives protection on behalf of the Muslims. 
[ At-Tirmidhi no. 3978 ]

Aischa narrated that the Prophet said:  women are the twin halves of men.” [al-Tirmidhi, 113; classed as Saheeh by Shayk Albani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi ]

The Prophet said: “The most perfect of the believers in their belief are those with the best manners, and the best of you are those who are best with their wives  [ Riyad as-Salihin, Chapter 34, Nr. 278 ]

The Prophet [ Sallallahu wa alaihi wassalam ] said :"Three things from your world have been made beloved to me: Women, perfume, and prayer the comfort of my eyes"  [ Source: Ahamd Ibn Hanbal, 3:128 ]

The Prophet said: "I commend you to be kind to women   [ Riyadh Al-Saliheen, Nizamuddin, New Delhi, India, n.d., p. 139 ]

Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "A believing man should not hate a believing woman. If he dislikes something in her character, he should be pleased with some other [ or another ]  trait of hers."  [ Riyad As saliheen, chapter 34, nr 275. ]

                                                                                                                      

 

How can a Prophet who tells man not to hate women and who states that man's treatment of his wife is a measure of the perfection of his faith be labeled as a woman hater ? How can a Prophet who calls woman the best comfort of this world been labeled as a woman hater ?  How can a Prophet who tells man to be kind to women been labeled as a woman hater ?  The Non Muslim author clearly doesn’t know much about Islam [ or doesn’t want to know much about our Prophet ] .

 

                                                                                     

 

Anti-Islam claim:

 

Look at the Three reasons that Muhammad lists for women being in Allah's Hell:

1.Deficient in Intelligence: The Quran was 'revealed' by Muhammad on behalf of his imaginary Deity, Allah; thus Muhammad himself made the requirement that the testimony of two women is equal to a man. He then goes on to tell women that they will most likely end up in hell; because their intellectual deficiency, which he defined and imposed 'safeguards' against. No evidence; just "I Said so!" What better way to belittle women than to continually remind them that they are 'stupid'.



Response:


This comment is really a joke. Nowhere does the hadith in question state or say that women will end up in Hell because they have a deficient intellect. Nor does the hadith in question describe women as stupid or anything like that [ see the previous responses in this article which refute this anti-islamic claim ] . The author reads things into the hadith which aren’t there. The Prophet only warned women about cursing and being ungratefull to their husbands. The Prophet only gave these two things [ cursing and beings ungratefull ] as a reason for why he saw in his vision that the majority of people in Hell were women. The Non-Muslim author has a rich fantasy.



Anti-Islam claim:

2. Deficient in Religion: Again, Muhammad himself 'revealed' the entirety of Islam; its rules, regulations and requirements, rewards etc.. What better way to keep women down? Tell them your works-based religion, that they cannot perform any of these good works (praying, fasting etc..) when they are menstruating! This keeps them in a state of fear, because they have to make up for the days they were unable to be 'pious'; making them more submissive to Islam then men. Then you get Muhammad who comes along, after making this silly rule about Menstruation; and tells women that most of them will end up in hell because of it! In essence, he's saying that in his religion, women will end up in hell simply for being born female!

 

 



Response:


This Non Muslim author  clearly knows nothing about Islam. It seems he has problems in reading a religious text properly or carefully. Nowhere does the hadith in question say or state that women will end up in hell for missing prayers or fasts during menstruation. The Non Muslim author has truly a rich fantasy ! Further women only have to make up the fasts  [ of Ramadan ] they miss  , they do  not have to make up the prayers they miss during menstruation:


Mu'adhah said:"I asked Aishah: Why must we make up the fasts missed due to our menstruation, but not the prayers [ missed through menstruation]  ?" She said, "That was what the Messenger of Allah told us to do. We were ordered to make up the fasts, and we were ordered not to make up the prayers." [ Fiqh as-Sunnah 1.71a ]


In other words women do not have to make up their prayers. Moreover scholars [ like shayk salam al qadah ]  have pointed out that a woman gets rewards and/or blessings for obeying Allah’s command not to pray during their menstruation. Secondly as pointed out earlier, it is reported that the prophet [ saaws ] said:

 

Take care of your home for that is your Jihad. [ Musnad Ahmad ]

 

Jihad is the epitome of Islamic life. Declaring home-making as Jihad for women is giving it the highest possible status in an Islamic society. Moreover this means that women can receive [ daily ] a very high reward for home making [ even during their menstruation ] . Can a man perform physical Jihad every day against people who torture and mistreat Muslims just as easy as a woman can perform home-making daily. Prophet Muhammad [ saaws ] moreover said that women had other natural advantages in religion. For example, he said that, "Heaven lies at the feet of mothers." [ Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1275 ]  There is no equivalent promise related to fathers.

 

 

 

Anti-Islam claim:

3
. Ungrateful to their Husbands: Again, Muhammad wanted his wives; and all Muslim women within his reach (in case he wanted to marry them) to be as submissive to their husbands as possible. He scares them with threats of hellfire to make them more submissive, and fearful of Allah; thereby keeping women under the thumb of their husbands.

 

 

Response:


What has preaching to  someone 1:  not to curse and  2: not to be ungratefull to do with submission ? Please give me a break. Moreover the Holy Qu’ran in various places warns both men and women for hell-fire [ see for example  Quran 5:72  ]. The Non-Muslim author should stop readings things into the text which aren’t there.


 

Anti-Islam claim:

As a result, to this day, Muslim women, and women in general, are thought of by Muslims as intellectually inferior to themselves. Perhaps this is why Muslim women especially are trying to twist the meaning of these ahadith and narrow down the testimony requirement in Quran 2:282; its either that or admit Muhammad was wrong.

 

 

Response:


The biggest twister of the hadith in question is the Non-Muslim  author himself,  by reading things into the text which aren’t there. Further in the previous responses i have demonstrated that neither the Prophet nor the Holy Qu’ran viewed women as having little intelligence or inferiors  in intellect compared to men.  These conclusions are all based on a wrong reading or interpretation given to the hadith in question [ by both Non-Muslims and Muslims ] . A close examination [ study ]  of the Prophet's clarification or explenation given to the "deficiencies" mentioned in the hadeeth clearly show us that the Prophet's words were never meant literal, nor did the Prophet refer to a woman's intellectual nature, ability to think or brain capacity when he talked about her deficiency in "aql" [intelligence ]. On the contrary the hadith in question tells us that the Prophet's women audience asked him to clarify what he ment by this mental deficieny. The Prophet then went on to define precisely what he meant by it. His clarification pinpoints certain aspects that suggest no intellectual inferiority whatsoever. The Prophet told the women that this mental deficiency [ he talked about ] "only" refers to the fact that the Qu'ran in Surah Al Baraqa [ verse 282 ]  stipulates that: " two women witnesses are required in place of one-man witness". This stipulation however only refers to business transactions, or in other words matters in which women are generally less versed then men due to their inexperience [ in it ] and the role of each gender in society.. Thus the basis of the rule is that women, being generally less involved in business matters, may be more prone to forget the details of a deal. This [ and nothing else ] is the meaning of their "deficiency" in "aql" [ intelligence ]  as has been clarified by the Prophet himself in the hadith. The Prophet [ saaws ] did clearly not refer to a woman’s brain capacity. The next scholars back this up:

 



Fatwa by Shayk G.F. Haddad on the hadith in question:


It's meaning is not literal:

The hadith here uses two figures of speech: the first is hyperbole [ mubalagha ]  meaning exaggeration in the words "even a prudent, sensible man might be led astray by some of you" i.e. a fortiori an ordinary man. The second figure is synechdoche [ majaz mursal ] consisting in using the whole for the part: intelligence to mean the specific legal testimony of a woman, and religion to mean the prayer and fast at the time of menses.

 Numerous verses and other narrations stress that the reward of women equals that of men even if their acts differ. So this particular narration is not meant literally but as an acknowledgment of the inordinate power women wield over men while ostensibly less active in the public and spiritual spheres.

 
Three additional background meanings:

 Three additional meanings provide an indispensable completion of the picture of this hadith. These meanings revolve around fundraising for jihad, the blame of women's cursing of their husbands, and the playfulness of the Prophet [saw], with his female public.

 
1. Fundraising

The real import of the hadith - spoken at the Farewell Pilgrimage - and its actual context was that the Prophet [ saw ] challenged the women that were present to realize that unless they helped raise money with their gold and jewelry, they would miss the reward of men waging jihad as well as show ingratitude.

 
2. Blame of cursing

In the full version of the hadith the Prophet [ saw ] also orders the women to ask forgiveness and desist from frequently cursing their husbands. All this was spoken at a time of [ 1 ] the impending departure of the latter on jihad; [ 2 ] the impending departure of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, from this world; and [ 3 ] the fact that: "Cursing the believer is like killing him" [ this statement of the Prophet can be found in the sahih collection of Bukhari and Muslim ].  



3. Playfulness

The Prophet [ saw ] was also being playful in his use of strong terms to impress this teaching on the listeners. Ruqayyah Waris Maqsud writes:

 

After the Farewell Pilgrimage at the Eid prayer, the Prophet [ Allah bless him and give him peace ] walked past the men leaning on Bilal's arm, and came to the rows of women behind them. Bilal spread out a cloth and the Prophet [ Allah bless him and give him peace ] urged the women to be generous with their gifts of charity, for when he had been allowed a glimpse into the flames of Hell, he had noted that most of the people being tormented there were women. The women were outraged, and one of them instantly stood up boldly and demanded to know why that was so. 'Because,' he replied, 'you women grumble so much, and show ingratitude to your husbands! Even if the poor fellows spent all their lives doing good things for you, you have only to be upset at the least thing and you will say, 'I have never received any good from you!' [ Bukhari 1.28, recorded by Ibn Abbas ]. At that the women began vigorously to pull off their rings and ear-rings, and throw them into Bilal's cloth.



In conclusion, we need to remove the meaning of the words of the Prophet [ saw ] from our contemporary context of sour feminism and the clash of the sexes, and replace it into its proper context: namely, a parting, wartime exhortation using certain figures of speech which are not meant literally, nor are women the issue although they are addressed pointedly and, as it were, by the scruff of their gender; but rather, to trigger among wealthy and sensible citizens acts of generosity for the greater good while reminding them that life is fleeting and thankfulness a surer way to Paradise than despair.


Source:


Fatwa by Shayk G.F. Haddad,  online source




Shehzad Saleem, Director Al-Mawrid, Institute of Islamic Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan comments on the hadith in question:

 

 

The following Hadith is generally presented to support the view that women are less sensible than men: 

 

 

Abu Sa‘id Khudri narrates that the Prophet (sws) while once talking to a group of women on the occasion of Eid ul Fitr or Eid ul Adha said: ‘… and I have seen no one more than you rob even a resolute man of his senses in spite of being Naqisati ‘Aql wa Din. They said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger, what is this Naqs in religious and worldly affairs?’ He said: ‘Is not the evidence of a woman equal to half of a man’s’. They said: ‘Yes’. He said: ‘This is their Naqs in worldly affairs’. He said: ‘Is it not a fact that when they enter the period of menses they neither pray nor fast’. They said: ‘Yes’. Whereupon he said: ‘This is the Naqs in religious affairs’.  [ Bukhari, No: 298 ]

 


This misconception has arisen because of a wrong translation of the Arabic phrase Naqisati ‘Aql wa Din. The word ‘Naqs’ has generally been translated as ‘defective’ keeping in view the Urdu meaning of the word. However, in Arabic, the verb “Naqasa” means ‘to reduce’ and the word ‘Aql here means ‘worldly affairs’ since it is used in conjugation with the word “Din” (religion). Keeping in view, both these aspects, the correct translation of the above phrase, if the context is also taken into consideration, is that women have been given a relief and reduction in their worldly and religious affairs.

The relief in worldly responsibilities, as is mentioned in this Hadith, is that women have not been dragged in certain activities and spheres. For example, the Qur’an urges men to testify on legal documents so that women are relieved of appearing in courts and wasting their precious time on affairs which others can handle. Only if men are not available should a society involve women in such affairs. The relief women have been given in religious affairs is that they are not required to pray or fast during their monthly periods as is mentioned in this Hadith. So what must be kept in mind is the fact that the meaning of a word does not always remain the same in two different languages….Moreover, people who think that women are less sensible than men on the basis of this Hadith do not realize that the Hadith is not merely saying that women are “ Naqisati ‘Aql “, it is also saying they are “Naqisati Din”. If  Naqisati ‘Aql”  means that there is some defect in their ‘Aql (intellect), then by the same token,  Naqisati Din” should mean that there is also some shortcoming in the religion they follow ! This of course is absurd and as referred to above is the result of keeping the Urdu meaning of the word in consideration.

 

Source:

Shehzad Saleem, Islam and Women: Misconceptions and Misperceptions,  pp. 12-13 ,  online source  [ pdf file ] or see:  source  [ html page ]

 

  

 

 

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