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Explanation of the Hadeeth: “Women are Deficient in Intellect and Deen.” By Shaykh ibn Baaz رحمه الله

June 7, 2011

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Question: WE OFTEN HEAR the noble hadeeth  “Women are deficient in their intelligence and in their Deen” andsome men use this hadeeth as a form of belittlement towards the women. We desire from you O noble Shaykh, clarification of the meaning of this hadeeth?

Answer: The meaning of the hadeeth of the Messenger of Allaah عزّ وجلّ,“I have never seen anyone with a deficiency of ‘aql (intellect) and Deen (religion) who are more overpowering to men than one of you (women).” So it was said: “O Messenger of Allaah صلّى الله عليه وسلّم, what is the deficiency in her intelligence?” He said: “Isn’t the witness of two women equal to that of one man?” So it was said: “What is the deficiency in her Deen?” So he said: “Isn’t it the case that if she is menstruating she doesn’t pray or fast?”

So the Messenger صلّى الله عليه وسلّم clarified that the deficiency of her intellect was from the angle of her weak memory and that her testimony is strengthened with the testimony of another woman. This is because of the preciseness of the witness (in Islaam) and because she could forget and make an addition or deletion to the testimony. Just as Allaah  عزّ وجلّ says:  {And bring forth two witnesses from your own men. If there are not two men (available) then a man and two women, such as you agree for witnesses, so that if one of them (two women) errs then the other can remind her…} [AlBaqarah 2:282]

As for deficiency in her Deen, then it is because during her state of menstruation and postpartum bleeding, she abandons the salaat and fasting, and she doesn’t make up the salaat. This is from the deficiency in her Deen. But this deficiency is not blameworthy upon her. Rather it is a deficiency, which happens as a result of that which Allaah  عزّ وجلّ had decreed for her and this was done in a manner of leniency and easiness towards her. For if she were to fast in a state of menstruation or in a state of postpartum bleeding it would harm her. So from the Mercy of Allaah  عزّ وجلّ (towards women) He has legislated for her to abandon the fast at the time when she is menstruating or in a state of  nifaas, and to make up the fast  afterwards.

As for the salaat, then without a doubt, the state of menstruation prevents her from purification. So from the mercy of Allaah  عزّ وجلّ, He legislated for her to abandon her prayer and likewise in the state of  nifaas. He also legislated for her not to make it up, because in making up the (salaat) is difficulty, because the salaat is tremendous, and repetitious, five times throughout the night and day, and the days of menstruation can be plentiful, sometimes seven or eight days or more than that. And the nifaas  could reach 40 days. So from the mercy of Allaah  عزّ وجلّ upon her and from His  ihsaan  (doing good) towards her is that He removed the salaat from her whether it be the initial salaat or the make-up. And this does not necessiate that her intelligence is deficient in everything nor that her Deen is deficient in everything!

But indeed the Messenger صلّى الله عليه وسلّم clarified that the deficiency in her intelligence is from that which happens to her from the lack of precision in her memory and testimony, and that the deficiency in her Deen is from the fact that she leaves off the prayer and fasting at the time of her menses or in the state of nifaas. Also this doesn’t necessitate that she is less than a man in everything or  the fact that the man is better in everything! Yes, generally the male gender is better than the gender of the females generally for many reasons. Just as Allaah the High and Sublime says:  {Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend their wealth (to support them)…} [An-Nisaa’ 4:34]

But she can surpass him, sometimes, in many things. And by Allaah how many women surpass many men in their intelligence, Deen and precision! But verily that which is narrated on the Messenger صلّى الله عليه وسلّم is that the women are surpassed by men, generally, in intelligence and in the religion only.  There can proceed from her many righteous actions, in which, she can surpass the men and in her taqwaa  of Allaah عزّ وجلّ, and in her station in the Hereafter. There could be some affairs that she places great importance on and is precise in them more so than the precision of a man.

There are many issues, which she carefully considers, and is diligent in memorizing and precise in. She would become the foundation in Islaamic history and point of reference in many affairs and this is clear to those who ponder and reflect on the state of the women during the time of the Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم and after that. With this it should be understood that this deficiency should not prevent her from being treated equally in her narrations and in her testimony, if it is strengthened with the testimony of another woman.

And it doesn’t necessarily mean that it (this deficiency) should prevent her from having  taqwaa  of Allaah and the fact that she could be from the most virtuous slaves of Allaah if she is upright in her Deen, even if the fasting and salaat is not obligatory upon her at the time of menstruation and nifaas  rather this is a deficiency which is specific to the intellect and Deen just as the Messenger صلّى الله عليه وسلّم clarified. It is not appropriate that a believer should accuse her of being deficient in everything and weak in every area of her Deen, and its clarification is pertinent and important so that the speech of the Messenger is understood in it’s proper context and in the best possible manner and Allaah knows best.
Source: Newsletter March 2010

  1. Jazak’Allah Khair

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