Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
I came across this Hadith: ‘O women! Give charity, for I have seen that you form the majority of the people of Hell.’ They asked, ‘Why is that, O Messenger of Allah?’ He replied, ‘You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religious commitment than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.’
Why would these be good enough reasons to send women to hell, nay, make them the majority, when men do far worse things? What is the purpose of this Hadith? Does it make me non-believer if I cannot accept it?
Answer: Assalam ‘alaykum. Jazakum Allah khayr for your questions.
Like any text, verses of the Qur’an and hadith of the beloved Prophet ﷺ must be understood in their context and the way in which the words were intended to be understood. These particular words were said during the Farewell Pilgrimage and just prior to the Muslim men going out on a military campaign for which funding was needed.
Context of the Hadith
An explanation of the specific narration you have mentioned has been answered in detail by Shaykh Gibril Haddad in an article, to which the link is given below. However, we will give you a summary of the context of the hadith here:
· The hadith context was after the farewell pilgrimage and when the men were on the cusp on leaving for Jihad, for which charity was needed for funding.
· The Prophet ﷺ challenged the women that were present to realize that unless they helped raise money with their gold and jewellery, they would miss the reward of men waging jihad.
· The meaning of the hadith is not literal. The Prophet ﷺ used certain language, such as exaggeration, in order in encourage and challenge the women to give in charity, as well as using general terms to make a specific point, for example, intelligence (aql) to mean a women’s testimony, and religion to mean the prayer and fasts during worship. Numerous verses and other narrations stress that the reward of women equals that of men even if their acts differ, as well as the equality of men and women in the eyes of Allah.
· The Prophet ﷺ was being playful in his use of strong words to impress this teaching on those present.
· The hadith did also consist of sincere religious counsel. The Prophet’s ﷺ words to the women that they should ask forgiveness and desist from frequently cursing their husbands was said out of three concerns: 1) because of the impending departure of the men on jihad, 2) Because of the impending departure of the Prophet ﷺ from this world, and 3) the fact that ‘Cursing the believer is like killing him.’ (Adab al Mufrad)
For more details, please refer to Sh. Gibril’s answer here:
Additionally, and after the above article has been read, there are two further notes I often like to mention when it comes to seemingly controversial gender issues in our texts:
The first is that the Prophet ﷺ never put anyone down, especially due to gender, race, class or any other matter. Anything he ﷺ said was ultimately for the good of people, encouraging them to good and avoid sins, so that they attain to eternal felicity in the hereafter. This was out of his pure love and mercy for his followers, men and women.
Secondly, the female Companions and the wives of the Prophet ﷺ were no pushovers. They were among the most brilliant, intellectual, brave, pious and God-fearing individuals to have ever lived. They never felt shy to question a religious matter and how it related to them as women, and the Prophet ﷺ never admonished them for seeking clarification. At the same time, they were also the first to understand and accept the words of the Prophet ﷺ. This was not due to meek resignation on their part, but rather, because of their piety, faith, love and respect for Allah and his Messenger ﷺ, and because they knew the Prophet ﷺ better than anyone else, his sublime character, and the purpose of his words.
I pray the above clarifies the matter for you.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.