By Ebrahim Saifuddin
حدثنا سعيد بن أبي مريم قال أخبرنا محمد بن جعفر قال أخبرني زيد هو ابن أسلم عن عياض بن عبد الله عن أبي سعيد الخدري قال خرج رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في أضحى أو فطر إلى المصلى فمر على النساء فقال يا معشر النساء تصدقن فإني أريتكن أكثر أهل النار فقلن وبم يا رسول الله قال تكثرن اللعن وتكفرن العشير ما رأيت من ناقصات عقل ودين أذهب للب الرجل الحازم من إحداكن قلن وما نقصان ديننا وعقلنا يا رسول الله قال أليس شهادة المرأة مثل نصف شهادة الرجل قلن بلى قال فذلك من نقصان عقلها أليس إذا حاضت لم تصل ولم تصم قلن بلى قال فذلك من نقصان دينها۔ بخاری، کتاب الحیض، باب ترک الحائض الصوم
It is related that Abu Sa’id al-Khudri رضي الله عنه said, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ, set out to the place of prayer on the Day of Adha or Fitr and passed by the women. He said, ‘O congregation of women! Give alms for I have seen that you will make up the majority of the inhabitants of the Fire!’ They said, ‘Why, Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘You call down too many curses and show ingratitude to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intellect or deen. Yet the mind of even a resolute man might be swept away by one of you.’ They said, ‘In what way is our deen and intellect deficient, Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘Is not the testimony of a woman worth only half that of a man?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘That is how your intellect is deficient. Is it not so that when a woman is menstruating, she neither prays nor fasts?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘That is how her deen is deficient.'” – (Bukhari; Book of Menstruation, Chapter of Menstruating Women Abstaining from Fast)
Majority of the Dwellers of Hell
A number of questions have been raised regarding the above-mentioned Hadith which is reported in a number of collections. The first objection raised is regarding more women being dwellers of Hell-fire. This statement has been reported in both Bukhari and Muslim.
The narration in Muslim is as follows:
حدثنا هداب بن خالد حدثنا حماد بن سلمة ح وحدثني زهير بن حرب حدثنا معاذ بن معاذ العنبري ح وحدثني محمد بن عبد الأعلى حدثنا المعتمر ح وحدثنا إسحق بن إبراهيم أخبرنا جرير كلهم عن سليمان التيمي ح وحدثنا أبو كامل فضيل بن حسين واللفظ له حدثنا يزيد بن زريع حدثنا التيمي عن أبي عثمان عن أسامة بن زيد قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قمت على باب الجنة فإذا عامة من دخلها المساكين وإذا أصحاب الجد محبوسون إلا أصحاب النار فقد أمر بهم إلى النار وقمت على باب النار فإذا عامة من دخلها النساء۔ مسلم، کتاب الرقاق، باب أكثر أهل الجنة الفقراء وأكثر أهل النار النساء وبيان الفتنة بالنساء
Usama bin Zaid رضي الله عنه reported that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “I stood at the door of Paradise and I found that the overwhelming majority of those who entered therein was that of poor persons and the wealthy persons were detained to get into that. The denizens of Hell were commanded to get into Hell, and I stood upon the door of Fire and the majority amongst them who entered there was that of women.” – (Muslim; Kitabul Riqaq, Chapter of Majority of People of Jannah are the Poor and Majority of the People of Hell are Women and Fitnah by Women)
These Ahadith suggest that the population of women will be more than men in Hell. In another Hadith reported in Sahih Bukhari it is stated:
It is related from Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The first group to enter the Garden will be like the moon on the night of the full moon. They will not need to spit nor blow their noses nor defecate. Their vessels will be golden and their combs will be gold and silver. Their braziers will burn fragrant aloes-wood and their perspiration will be like musk. Each of them will have two wives, so beautiful that the marrow of their thighs will be able to be seen through the flesh, and there will be no disagreement between them nor any ill will. Their hearts will be one, glorifying Allah morning and evening.” – (Bukhari; Book of Beginning of Creation, Chapter of What has come about the description of the Garden and that it is created)
In this Hadith it is observed that people entering Jannah will all have two wives. When some people were discussing the issue of whether there will be more men or women in Jannah, Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه assessed that there will be more women in Jannah and this narration is reported in Sahih Muslim as follows:
حدثني عمرو الناقد ويعقوب بن إبراهيم الدورقي جميعا عن ابن علية واللفظ ليعقوب قالا حدثنا إسمعيل ابن علية أخبرنا أيوب عن محمد قال إما تفاخروا وإما تذاكروا الرجال في الجنة أكثر أم النساء فقال أبو هريرة أو لم يقل أبو القاسم صلى الله عليه وسلم إن أول زمرة تدخل الجنة على صورة القمر ليلة البدر والتي تليها على أضوإ كوكب دري في السماء لكل امرئ منهم زوجتان اثنتان يرى مخ سوقهما من وراء اللحم وما في الجنة أعزب۔ مسلم، كتاب الجنة وصفة نعيمها وأهلها، باب أول زمرة تدخل الجنة على صورة القمر ليلة البدر وصفاتهم وأزواجهم
“Muhammad reported that some (people) stated with a sense of pride and some discussed whether there would be more men in Paradise or more women. It was upon this that Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه reported that Abu’l Qasim ﷺ said: The first group to get into Paradise would have their faces as bright as full moon during the night, and the next to this group would have their faces as bright as the shining stars in the sky, and every person would have two wives and the marrow of their shanks would glimmer beneath the flesh and there would be none without a wife in Paradise.” (Muslim; Book Pertaining to Paradise, Its Description, Its Bounties and Its Intimates, Chapter of First Group to Enter Paradise will have Faces Bright as Moon, Their Description and Their Wives)
This shows that the number of women will be higher than the men in Jannah. However, a question arises that how can women be majority in both Hell and Heaven. Imam Nawawi رحمة اللہ علیه in Sharh Muslim (First Edition; al-Matba’ah al-Misriyyah bil Azhar, v.17 pg 172) has written:
قال القاضي : ظاهر هذا الحديث أن النساء أكثر أهل الجنة . وفي الحديث الآخر أنهن أكثر أهل النار ، قال : فيخرج من مجموع هذا أن النساء أكثر ولد آدم
“Al-Qadhi said: ‘It is apparent from this Hadith that most of the people of Jannah are women, and from the other Hadith most of the people of Hell are women. What one can understand from both these Ahadith is that majority of the children of Adam are women.’”
Mufti Taqi Usmani is quoted in In’amul Bari (v.1 pg 454) to have stated:
“Some people have stated that this is not an issue as there can be a majority of women in both places. This answer will be acceptable when it is stated that the majority of the population of the world is of women.
But to state this is difficult as by the population of the world it is meant, the collective population that was since the beginning and will be till the end of time. However in a Hadith it is stated that towards the end of times the ratio of women will be more than men and in some countries we see this condition today.”
A Hadith in Sahih Bukhari confirms:
حدثنا مسدد قال حدثنا يحيى عن شعبة عن قتادة عن أنس بن مالك قال لأحدثنكم حديثا لا يحدثكم أحد بعدي سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول من أشراط الساعة أن يقل العلم ويظهر الجهل ويظهر الزنا وتكثر النساء ويقل الرجال حتى يكون لخمسين امرأة القيم الواحد۔ بخاری، كتاب العلم، باب رفع العلم وظهور الجهل
“Anas رضي الله عنه said, ‘I am relating a hadith to you which no one after me will relate to you. I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say, ‘Among the signs of the Hour are that knowledge becomes negligible, ignorance appears, fornication appears, and there are many women and few men so that one man has to look after fifty women.’” (Bukhari; Book of Knowledge, Chapter of Disappearance of Knowledge and Appearance of Ignorance)
Some have also stated that these wives are from the Hoorul ‘Ayn and they gather support for this from another Hadith which is as follows:
وحدثنا قتيبة بن سعيد حدثنا عبد الواحد يعني ابن زياد عن عمارة بن القعقاع حدثنا أبو زرعة قال سمعت أبا هريرة يقول قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أول من يدخل الجنة ح وحدثنا قتيبة بن سعيد وزهير بن حرب واللفظ لقتيبة قالا حدثنا جرير عن عمارة عن أبي زرعة عن أبي هريرة قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إن أول زمرة يدخلون الجنة على صورة القمر ليلة البدر والذين يلونهم على أشد كوكب دري في السماء إضاءة لا يبولون ولا يتغوطون ولا يمتخطون ولا يتفلون أمشاطهم الذهب ورشحهم المسك ومجامرهم الألوة وأزواجهم الحور العين أخلاقهم على خلق رجل واحد على صورة أبيهم آدم ستون ذراعا في السماء۔ صحيح مسلم, كتاب الجنة وصفة نعيمها وأهلها, باب أول زمرة تدخل الجنة على صورة القمر ليلة البدر وصفاتهم وأزواجهم
Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه reported that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said: The (members of the) first group which would get into Paradise will have their faces as bright as stars in the sky. They would neither pass water, nor void excrement, nor will they suffer from catarrh, nor will they spit, and their combs would be made of gold, and their sweat will be musk, the fuel of their brazier will be aloes, and their wives will be large-eyed maidens and their form would be alike as one single person after the form of their father (Adam) sixty cubits tall. – (Muslim; Book Pertaining to Paradise, Its Description, Its Bounties and Its Intimates, Chapter of First Group to Enter Paradise will have Faces Bright as Moon, Their Description and Their Wives)
However there is another Hadith that mentions these wives as “من نساء الدنيا” (from women of the world), as mentioned in Mirqaat Mafateeh (Daarul Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya Beirut, Lebanon; 2001, vol. 3 pg 532) while quoting Tabrani رحمة اللہ علیه. Also, in Durrul Manthur (Markaz Hajar li al-Buhuth wa al-Dirasaat al-‘Arabiyyah wa al-Islamiyyah; 2003, vol.1 pg 214) a Hadith is quoted which is as such:
وأخرج ابن السكن في المعرفة وابن عساكر في تاريخه عن حاطب بن أبي بلتعة سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول ” يزوّج المؤمن في الجنة اثنتين وسبعين زوجة سبعين من نساء الآخرة، واثنتين من نساء الدنيا۔
Rasulullah ﷺ said, “The Believer will get married in Jannah to 72 wives. 70 (of them) will be from women of the Aakhirah and 2 from women of the world.”
Some have given their explanation that this addition of “from women of the world” was added by the narrator as part of his understanding regarding who these wives will be. Some others have also stated that all the Ahadith give the conclusion that at first the majority of the people in Hell will be women. Afterwards when their punishment is over, they will enter Jannah and this is how the woman population of Jannah will now be more compared to men and it will be possible for a person to have more than one wife from the women of the world.
Others have given more explanations to this and thus Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri رحمة اللہ علیه writes in Faydhul Bari (Darul Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon; vol. 4 pg 320):
قلت: و هذه مشاهدة النبي ﷺ في هذا الوقت, فعلهن كن إذ ذاك أكثرها, و ليس فيه بيان حكم جميع النساء, و لا مشاهدة جميع الأزمان
“I say, ‘This is what the Prophet ﷺ saw at that time, so perhaps till then, they were majority of the people in Hell and neither does it include any general ruling on all the women, nor does it indicate the seeing of women of all times.’”
Another explanation is that it will be a possibility for majority to be women but then Allah will forgive them and they will thus enter Jannah. This is seen in Mirqaat Mafateeh (Daarul Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya Beirut, Lebanon; 2001, vol. 3 pg 532) as follows:
أو المراد انهن [الأكثر] اهلها بالقوة ثم يعفو الله عنهن هذا
“Or it means that these people (the majority) of Hell are such ‘bil-Quwwa’ and then Allah forgives them.”
Some would then say that these explanations contradict yet another Hadith in Sahih Muslim which is as follows:
حدثنا عبيد الله بن معاذ حدثنا أبي حدثنا شعبة عن أبي التياح قال كان لمطرف بن عبد الله امرأتان فجاء من عند إحداهما فقالت الأخرى جئت من عند فلانة فقال جئت من عند عمران بن حصين فحدثنا أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال إن أقل ساكني الجنة النساء
“Rasulullah ﷺ said, “Amongst the inmates of Paradise the women would form a minority.” – (Muslim; Kitabul Riqaq, Chapter of Majority of People of Jannah are the Poor and Majority of the People of Hell are Women and Fitnah by Women)
Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani رحمة اللہ علیه answers this objection and writes in Fathul Bari (Darul Ma’rifah, Beirut; vol.6 pg 325):
و يحتمل أن يكون الراوي رواه بالمعنى الذي فهمه من أن كونهن اكثر ساكني النار يلزم منه أن يكن اقل ساكني الجنة
“And it is possible that the narrator of this Hadith narrated it because he had understood (from another Hadith which stated that) as most of the people of Hell were women, thus they necessarily had to be least in Jannah”
Thus the objection is explained away by Hafidh رحمة اللہ علیه that the narrator narrated this Hadith ‘bil-Ma’na’ as per his understanding from another Hadith.
It should be understood that this issue is not as plain as reading one Hadith and thinking that one has reached an understanding of that topic. It is often seen in Muslims, especially in this day and age of the internet where they have access to a whole lot of information without proper knowledge, that they read something from here and something from there and think they have learnt the topic. We have seen how there are a number of Ahadith on this topic and some seem contradictory. In order to reconcile these Ahadith, the great scholars of Islam have offered a number of explanations for these Ahadith so that one can understand the true picture.
For a moment we will say that Ahadith teach that the majority of the dwellers of Hell will be women. Even if this is true, there should be no contention in this matter. One of the two had to be more in Hell, either the men or the women. It is just as such that women are the majority. If men had been the majority then people would have questioned ‘why are men the majority?’ It is thus not any ‘flaw’ of Islam that women will form the majority but rather the flaw of the way man thinks about what is stated.
Secondly to think that this is something which gives men superiority over the women is rather ridiculous. A man who may boast his superiority and lack behind in following the deen and be sinful will end up in Hell along with everyone else. One has to worry about themselves rather than worrying about others. Will this man then point finger at his mother, sister, wife and daughter and be happy that they have a “better chance” of being in Hell? Every man and woman has been given the opportunity to save themselves from being the dwellers of Hell and they should grasp this opportunity instead of worrying how many percentage of women and how many of men will end up in Hell. How about worrying about how much we have done to ensure our entrance into Jannah.
Rasulullah ﷺ, along with the reason has also mentioned a cure. The reason he gave are a matter of nature of women. Now a woman might say, ‘but this is not true as I do not have those qualities.’ Her statement that she does not have those qualities might be true but on what basis can she say that all the women Rasulullah ﷺ saw in Hell for this quality did not have those two qualities in them? The best course of action for one to take is to simply avoid cursing as well as showing ingratitude. Apart from this, one should also give charity as that helps cleanse our ill-doings. These cures have been mentioned by Rasulullah ﷺ for our benefit and one should focus on securing their Hereafter by using the antidote given to us.
Just like when a person is affected by some illness or born with some deficiency, he goes to the doctor for the cure and when a cure is advised then the person ensures to act upon it. So even if we state that all women till the end of time were created with this nature of cursing and showing ingratitude, the cure is mentioned and one should use it. Why do we waste time arguing over this instead of securing our Aakhirah?
However, as stated before, scholars have explained the seeming contradictions in the Ahadith in a number of ways. Four such explanations were mentioned above and will be repeated in a summarized manner below.
First is that scholars have maintained that it is possible that initially the majority of people in Hell would be women and later after they have completed their punishment they will end up in Jannah.
The second explanation is that women will be a majority by possibility but then Allah will forgive them and they will enter Jannah.
A third possibility is that it refers to the entire number of women from the start of creation to the end of it. The number of women would be more than the number of men and thus it is not surprising that the number of women in Hell and Jannah will be higher than the number of men.
Fourth explanation given is that it referred to women till that time at which Rasulullah ﷺ had seen them and it does not incorporate all women and does not refer to all times.
All these are all matters of the unseen and the conditions of Hell and Paradise cannot be explained and understood in their entirety with our limited intellect and knowledge. What we know is that Allah is Just and will not put in Hell anyone who does not deserve to be in Hell. Thus it is better to worry about our doings and not give much thought on such issues as to who will be more in Hell and who will be more in Jannah. May Allah, by His Mercy, save us from the Hellfire and grant us Jannatul Firdous.
The Deficiency in Intelligence and Religion
Another objection in the Hadith is regarding women being deficient in intelligence and religion. The concerned part of the Hadith is reproduced below:
“(Rasulullah ﷺ said), ‘I have not seen anyone more deficient in intellect or deen. Yet the mind of even a resolute man might be swept away by one of you.’ They said, ‘In what way is our deen and intellect deficient, Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘Is not the testimony of a woman worth only half that of a man?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘That is how your intellect is deficient. Is it not so that when a woman is menstruating, she neither prays nor fasts?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘That is how her deen is deficient.’” – (Bukhari; Book of Menstruation, Chapter of Menstruating Women Abstaining from Fast)
The statement in the Hadith regarding the deficiencies are general and do not incorporate everyone. It is nothing but a fact that a menstruating woman cannot offer Salah. So if a man and woman live for the same amount of time in the world, the total number of Salah offered by the man will be more because every month there will be a few days during which the woman will not be able to pray. But this is a general rule because there are many men who neither offer Salah nor fast. So obviously compared to them the Salah of a woman who is consistent will be more. Being deficient is not necessarily something bad and only that deficiency is bad for which one receives a sin e.g. if one leaves Salah on purpose. Further, even in this ‘deficiency’ there may be reward for her.
Allamah Badruddin Abu Muhammad Mahmood bin Ahmad al-‘Ayni in ‘Umdatul Qari Sharh Sahih Bukhari (Darul Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon; 2001, vol. pg 403
و قال النووي و نقص الدين قد يكون على وجه يأثم به, كمن ترك الصلاة بلا عذر, و قد يكون على وجه لا يأتم له, كمن ترك الجمعة بعذر, و قد يكون على وجه هو مكلف به كترك الحائض الصلاة و الصوم. فإن قيل: فإذا كانت معذورة, فهل تثاب على ترك الصلاة في زمن الحيض؟ و إن كانت لا تقضيها كما يثاب المريض، و يكتب له في مرضه مثل النوافل الصلوات التي كان يفعلها في صحته. و الجواب الظاهر هذا الحديث انها لا تثاب, و الفرق أن المريض كان يفعلها بنية الدوام عليها مع اهليته لها, و الحائض ليست كذلك, بل نيتها ترك الصلاة في زمن الحيض , و كيف لا و هي حرام عليها؟ قلت ينبغي أن يثاب علي ترك الحرام
“Imam Nawawi رحمة اللہ علیه said, Lack of one’s deen may be in a way where one commits a sin, such as the one who leaves Salah without any excuse, or it may be in a way for which one does not sin, such as the one who leaves Friday Prayer for a valid excuse, or it may also be in a way one is required to leave such as the menstruating woman leaving Salah and Fast. If one asks, ‘If she has an excuse for leaving Salah during menstruation, does she get rewarded even if she does not do Qadha just like the sick person who gets the reward for the Nawafil he used to pray while being healthy?’ And the apparent answer is that she does not get rewarded, and the difference between her and a sick person is that the sick person used to pray with the intention of praying with consistency and the knowledge that he will be able to do so, while the woman has the intention of not praying while having the period. And how can she pray when praying (during menstruation) is Haram on her? I say, ‘One should get rewarded for leaving the Haram.’”
As far as the witness issue and thus deficiency in intelligence is concerned, the ruling of two women witnesses is also found in the Qur’an in Surah Baqarah. It should be made clear that not in all matters is the witness of two women required. Such an issue on which there is Ijma’ where two women are required is the issue of financial transactions. This has been explained by Ibn Qudaamah in al-Mughni (Darul Fikr, Beirut, Lebanon; 1985, vol.10 pg 155-161) where he has also stated:
قال القاضي: و الذي تقبل فيه شهادتهن منفردات خمسة اشياء: الولادة, و الإستسهال, و الرضاع, و العيوب تحت الثياب كالرتق و القرن و البكارة و الثيابة و البرص, و إنقضاء العدة
“Qadhi said: And that in which the witness of only women of accepted is Birth, Crying of the Child at birth, Rida’, ‘Uyub under the clothes such as Ratq and Qarn, whether she is a virgin or not, Baras and the end of Iddah.”
Thus it is seen that there are many such cases where man has no knowledge and the witness of a woman is accepted. As far as the issue of financial dealing is concerned, some have explained that it has to do with the weakness of the memory of woman in mathematical issues. Some neuro-psychiatrists have also expressed this but it should be know that one should not be in favor of trying to justify or express the wisdom of the laws of Shari’ah with the help of science. This is because science is not absolute but the Wisdom of Allah is Absolute. It should however be noted that this deficiency that the Hadith talks about is general and not all encompassing.
Mufti ‘Aashiq Ilahi رحمة اللہ علیه writes in Anwarul Bayan (Darul Ishaat, Karachi, Pakistan; 2005, vol.1 pg 341):
“This applies to general circumstances since there are many exceptions where women may possess stronger memories, are more intelligent or better able to express themselves than men.”
Moreover, the Qur’an says in Surah Nur (24) verse 6-9:
وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ أَزْوَاجَهُمْ وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُمْ شُهَدَاء إِلَّا أَنفُسُهُمْ فَشَهَادَةُ أَحَدِهِمْ أَرْبَعُ شَهَادَاتٍ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ
وَالْخَامِسَةُ أَنَّ لَعْنَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ إِن كَانَ مِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ وَيَدْرَأُ
عَنْهَا الْعَذَابَ أَنْ تَشْهَدَ أَرْبَعَ شَهَادَاتٍ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ
وَالْخَامِسَةَ أَنَّ غَضَبَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهَا إِن كَانَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ
Those who accuse their wives (of adultery) while they have no witnesses except their own selves, then the evidence of one of them would be to swear four oaths by Allah that he is truthful,
and the fifth (oath) that Allah‘s curse be on him if he is one of the liars.
And it will remove the punishment from the woman if she swears four oaths by Allah that he (the accuser husband) is certainly one of the liars,
and the fifth (oath) that Allah‘s wrath be on her if he is one of the truthful.
In this example it is seen that a woman’s witness by Li’aan is enough to be accepted over the husband’s oath. Mufti Shafi’ Usmani رحمة اللہ علیه in Ma’ariful Qur’an (Maktaba e Darul ‘Uloom, Karachi, Pakistan; 2007, vol.6 pg 363) writes:
“When a husband accuses his wife of adultery or refuses to own his child as being legitimate, and his wife refutes his allegation to be false, and claims for the punishment of false accusation of eighty stripes to be awarded to him, then the husband will be asked to produce four witnesses. If the husband produces four witnesses, then the wife will be awarded the punishment of adultery, and if he could not produce four witnesses, then they will be subjected to Li’aan, that is first the husband will be asked to testify four times with the wordings given in the Qur’an to the effect that he is honest, and the fifth time will say that if he was lying, then Allah’s curse be on him.
If the husband hesitates from saying these words, then he should be arrested and asked either to swear by saying these words five times or accept himself to be a liar. Until he accedes to one of the two alternatives, he should not be released. If he accepts himself to be a liar, then he should be awarded the punishment of false allegation of adultery, but, in case he swears by repeating the required words five times, then the wife be asked to swear five times by uttering the words given in the Qur’an for this purpose. If she refuses to swear, then she should be put under arrest until such time that either she swears five times or accepts her guilt of adultery, in which case she will be awarded the punishment of adultery. In case she agrees to swear and utters the required words five times, then the process of Li’aan has been completed. This way they both have escaped the punishment in this world but in the Hereafter, the one who has lied will suffer the punishment, as Allah knows best who is the liar.”
The suggestion that the woman is half a person, because of the requirement for two women as witness in some issues, is very incorrect. Firstly if woman was something inferior or degraded in Islam then there would not have been an issue where only a woman’s witness would suffice and as seen in the case above, given preference over the man’s witness. And if a woman is said to be half because of certain cases of witness, then where man’s witness is not counted, Islam did not even give that status of half a person to man. Additionally it can also be argued that normally two men are required to complete the requirement of witness in an issue but in the case of adultery the requirement is of four men. Then one should also say that man is half a person as well. Hence such arguments are baseless and do not have any ground to stand upon.
By not making ‘equal’ the witness of one woman to one man in certain cases, there is yet wisdom of Allah. It is not easy to go through the process of being a witness, becoming an enemy of the person against whom one is becoming a witness and at times even travel from one city to another to give the shahadah. These are all stressful and difficult matters and Allah has relieved the woman from such difficulties otherwise it would have been obligatory for the woman to go through all such hurdles to give testimony as Allah says in the Qur’an in Surah Baqarah (2) verse 283:
…وَلاَ تَكْتُمُواْ الشَّهَادَةَ وَمَن يَكْتُمْهَا فَإِنَّهُ آثِمٌ قَلْبُهُ…
“…Do not conceal testimony. Whoever conceals it, his heart is surely, sinful…”
In another Hadith, in Muwatta Imam Malik as well as in Sahih Muslim, it is stated:
حدثنا يحيى عن مالك عن عبد الله بن أبي بكر بن محمد بن عمرو بن حزم عن أبيه عن عبد الله بن عمرو بن عثمان عن أبي عمرة الأنصاري عن زيد بن خالد الجهني أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال ألا أخبركم بخير الشهداء الذي يأتي بشهادته قبل أن يسألها أو يخبر بشهادته قبل أن يسألها۔ موطأ مالك، كِتَاب الْأَقْضِيَةِ، بَاب مَا جَاءَ فِي الشَّهَادَاتِ
Rasulullah ﷺ said, “Shall I not tell you who is the best of witnesses? The one who brings his testimony before he is asked for it, or tells his testimony before he is asked for it.” – (Muwatta Imam Malik; Book of Judgments, Chapter of Testimonies)
Another Hadith narrated by Abu Musa al-Ash’ari says,
قال رسول اللہ ﷺ من کتم شھادة اذا دعی الیھا کان کمن شھد بالزور۔ جمع الفوائد بحواله طبرانی صفه ۲٦ جلد ١
Rasulullah ﷺ said, “Whosoever is called to give witness and then he conceals it, it is as if he has given false witness.” – (Jama’ul Fawa’id with reference to Tabrani, vol.1 pg 26)
It is but for their ease and comfort that the responsibility of certain things are not put on their shoulders unless there is a necessity. Where the burden and responsibility is put on the shoulders of one man, there it has been divided among two women.
We live a short life in this world and have a limited amount of time to do good deeds to secure a place in Jannah with the Mercy of Allah. However, we spend that time dwelling over questions which have no productive effect on our deeds and in no way help us in the Hereafter. The history of Islam is full of women with great achievements in different fields. On the witness of one woman, ‘Ayesha رضی اللہ عنھا, we have a great many number of Ahadith on which many rulings of fiqh are based. Hasan al-Basri رحمة اللہ علیه narrated from his mother Khayrah رحمة اللہ علیھا, a woman. Al-Aqd ath-Thanein mentions Zulaykha bint Ilyas al-Wa’iz رحمة اللہ علیھا who narrated from the scholars of Makkah and earned dual blessings of worship and narration of Hadith. There are many such examples of great women in Islamic history who excelled in their fields. Our time should not be wasted on contemplating how the Hereafter will be. Its state will be seen once we are there but while we are here let us not waste time on asking the question ‘Who will be in Jannah or Jahannam?’ but let us all ask ourselves ‘Will I be in Jannah or Jahannam?’