Does Hadith say women are deficient in intelligence?
ANS:-Many anti-Islamic polemic writers specially the Christian Missionaries often quote a Hadith and yell obscenities about Islam and Holy Prophet (PBUH). The Hadith they quote is;
----Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: Once Allah's Messenger went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o '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 Messenger?" 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 Messenger! 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, Hadith 293)------
Two questions are raised about this Hadith. Firstly why does the Hadith say that women will majority in the hell and does it not condemn women this way? And secondly why did the Prophet say that women are deficient in intelligence and religion. As to first question, why the Hadith says women form the majority in the hell? You can find the answer Here.
Here we address the second question.
Context of the Hadith:
Firstly we need to see that this was said in a proper context, Holy Prophet (PBUH) was asking people to raise funds for Jihad at the eve of Eid (one of the two yearly Islamic festivals) so he asked women using a figure of speech called synecdoche (majaz mursal) i.e. using the whole for the part: intelligence to refer to the legal testimony and religion to refer to prayers and fasting in specific monthly days. Later part of the Hadith testifies this. The Prophet (PBUH) was actually inviting women to generously donate in the way of Allah as they were to miss the reward of practically waging Jihad. This can be well understood and its astounding affect can be observed if we refer to other Ahadith.
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. (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 1467)
This makes it clear that the purpose of the saying those words to women was only to make them contribute more generously for the Noble Cause of Islam which they actually did.
Having clarified the context now we come to further details.
Are women actually somewhat deficient in intelligence?
This is a reality none can deny that men and women have differences regarding intellect and feelings. By intellect I only mean theoretical intellect or more simply; men are stronger then women in analytical, philosophical, hypothetical and socio-political aspects of intellect. This is why men are usually better then women in mathematics and pure sciences. That's why most of the research work and inventions come from men and most of the Noble Prize laureates are also men. According to a BBC Report, a research later published in British Journal of Psychology shows that on average men are five points ahead of women on I.Q. tests.
Women on the other hand are stronger in emotions by nature and this indeed is much important considering the fact that emotions influence all the human actions. A mother understands what her baby is up to in a way no father can ever. Briefly we can say that men have more I.Q. (Analytical and Logical intelligence) and women have more E.Q. (Emotional Intelligence). [According to a Research made by Multi-Health Systems, Inc. (MHS) women score better than men on most measures in E.Q. including Empathy, Social Responsibility and Interpersonal Relationships]
On the whole Man and Woman are equal:
Thus we see that both men and women excel in one thing and lack in another when compared among each other. So they are both in need of each other. Men need women because of their emotions and women need men by the way of their intelligence. That's why we read in Hadith;
Narrated Aisha, Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: "Assuredly, women are the twin halves of men."(Jami' Tirmidhi, Book 1, Hadith 113)
So we see that what was said by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was true indeed and it was only emphasized in a particular context.
True Criterion of Excellence:
But one thing that needs to be remembered is that intelligence, whether Emotional or Logical, is no criteria to gauge a human being. The sole criterion is righteousness and piety. Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran:
"Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you."(Al-Quran 49: 13)
INDEED ALLAH KNOWS THE BEST!
…by Waqar Akbar Cheema