Why is the inheritance of women half of that of men?

Before answering this question, it is necessary to remember that the rule that states that the portion of inheritance of a man is twice that of a woman is not true across the board.

In some cases we find that men and women take an equal sum of inheritance, like for instance the father and the mother of the deceased who take an equal amount of inheritance. In this case there is no difference between man and woman.

Having said this, it is necessary to address the question of why the share of a woman’s inheritance is half of that of a man’s. Is this not a type of favouritism?

In a tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (a.s) was asked as to why women take one portion of inheritance when we see that they are weaker than men and they are more in need of help than them? Why is it that a man, who is stronger than a woman and whose body is more powerful than hers should get a double share of inheritance? Imam al-Sadiq (a.s) replied:

the reason for this is that a man has more responsibilities and he must go to war, enduring many expenses in the process. Aside from his own expenses, a man must also take upon himself the expenses of his spouse and children. What’s more, he must give money to the family of a person accidentally injured by one of his family members.” 1

in another tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (a.s) emphasized the fact that it is the man which must give dowry to the woman-this being a recompense to the loss incurred by her in her inheritance 2.

Islam’s position on inheritance is in reality to the benefit of the woman. In the Age of Ignorance, the daughters and wives of the deceased were deprived of inheritance and all of the wealth of the deceased went to his sons. Islam, however, came and annulled the laws of the ignorant times and made women amongst the inheritors of the deceased. From its inception, Islam gave women independence in ownership and monetary matters, this being a matter that has only but recently entered the laws of European nations.

Even though apparently the inheritance of a man is double that of a woman, when we probe into the matter more thoroughly, we find that the inheritance of a woman is two times that of a man. The responsibilities that have been placed on the shoulders of men necessitates that they spend half of their income on women. Any given man is obligated to spend money on his spouse’s home, clothes, food, and other expenses, while the cost of living of himself and his children are on his shoulders.

This responsibility of upkeep is to such an extent that even if a woman’s social position necessitates her having a servant and she herself does not have the means to pay for such a person, the salary of the aforementioned servant is upon her husband.

These responsibilities are on the shoulders of men, whereas we see that women are exempted from paying any living expenses, including their own-whether that clothes or food. Therefore and in all practicality, it is woman who has more of a portion of wealth than man.

In the commentary of the Qur’an, Tafsir-e-Namunah, an example has been given that is useful in clarifying what we are trying to say. Consider, for example, that the sum total of all the wealth of the world is 30 billion pounds.

Say that this wealth was distributed by means of inheritance between men and women. From this amount of money, 20 billion pounds went to men and 10 billion went to women. Since women do not have to spend on themselves, they can save that 10 billion and become partners with the men in the remaining 20 billion (since the portion of men is spent on women and children), so half of the portion of men, which is 10 billion pounds, goes to women.

When we add this amount to the portion that the women saved from before, their sum total becomes 20 billion pounds.

By taking into consideration what was just said, we can say that the reasons that women’s portion of inheritance is less than that of men’s are three:

1. Dowry: At the time of getting married, man is responsible to take into consideration a suitable dowry for the woman. Whenever the woman asks for it, the man is responsible to give it to her.

So from the beginning, man is religiously responsible to allot an amount of money as the dowry of his wife. This is one of the reasons that have been alluded to in the saying of our Noble Imams (a.s).

2. Allowance: In family life, aside from the fact that a man must look after his own expenses, he is responsible to take upon himself the expenses of his wife and children. For amongst the responsibilities of a man is the provision of food, clothes, and shelter for his wife that is in line with her social status.

Even if a woman were to have a large amount of wealth, she has no responsibility in this regards. Not only does a woman have no obligation in this regards, but if she wanted to, she could ask of a wage for the work she does at home such as breastfeeding her children, cooking, etc.

3. Special responsibilities of man: Some very heavy responsibilities have been placed on men’s shoulders; responsibilities that women have been excused from. A good example is warfare in the path of Allah .

A man must wage war with his life and his wealth. In some of the verses of the Noble Qur’an war by means of wealth has even been placed ahead of war by means of life.

A man must spend from his own pocket the expenses of his going to war. Or when someone is killed by another person, the men of the family of the culprit must pay money to the victim’s family, but women are freed form such an expense.

As can be seen, Islam did not intend to pass laws for the benefit of man and to the detriment of woman, or vice versa. Islam is not an advocate of “woman’s rights,” or that of men’s. More than anything, when passing laws Islam, has taken into consideration the eternal felicity of men, women, their children, and society as a whole.

In any case, in line with the monetary responsibilities that it has relegated for men, Islam has in many instances divided wealth between men and women-such an instance being inheritance.

It is not possible for us to claim that there is discrimination in this regards. Also, the whole corpus of the laws of Islam regarding men and women necessitate that the laws of inheritance be a certain way. This matter does not allow us to object to the civil laws of Islam.

In the end, it is possible for us to say that if it is true that the expenses of the woman are upon the shoulders of the man, then what use does woman have in hoarding a large amount of wealth? We can answer by saying that the dowry and inheritance of the woman is like a savings that is for her future, in case she separates from her spouse or her spouse dies.

It is so she can lead a comfortable and respected life in case such events happen. But the reason that the expenses of the woman is upon the man is so that she can, without any sort of mental anxiety, raise good and pious children. In this way the family, which is the cornerstone of society, will be filled with warmth and love.

In the end we would like to point our reader’s attention to the following: If it should arise that circumstances necessitate that the owner of the wealth should help out the wife or the daughters more than his sons, then this person can do this by following the procedures laid out in Islamic Jurisprudence.

For example, if the father thinks it prudent to help his daughter more, he can, in his lifetime, give as a gift, some of his wealth to her. Also he can give a larger portion than her share of inheritance by writing a specific will in this regard.

[1] al-Kafi, vol. 7, p. 85:
مَا بَالُ الْمَرْأَةِ الْمِسْكِينَةِ الضَّعِيفَةِ تَأْخُذُ سَهْماً وَاحِداً وَ يَأْخُذُ الرَّجُلُ سَهْمَيْنِ قَالَ فَذَكَرَ بَعْضُ أَصْحَابِنَا لِأَبِي عَبْدِ اللهِ (ع) فَقَالَ إِنَّ الْمَرْأَةَ لَيْسَ عَلَيْهَا جِهَادٌ وَ لاَ نَفَقَةٌ وَ لاَ مَعْقُلَةٌ وَ إِنَّمَا ذَلِكَ عَلَى الرِّجَالِ وَ لِذَلِكَ جَعَلَ لِلْمَرْأَةِ سَهْماً وَاحِداً وَ لِلرَّجُلِ سَهْمَيْنِ
[2] ‘Ilal al-Shara’i, vol. 2, p. 570:
عَنْ عَبْدِ اللٌّهِ بْنِ سَنَانِ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللٌّهِ (ع) قَالَ: قُلْتُ لِأَيِّ عِلَّةٍ صَارَ الْمِيرَاثُ لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلَ حَظِّ الأُنْثَيَينِ؟ قَالَ : لِمَا جَعَلَ لَهَا مِنَ الصِّدَاقِ
Ref: Faith and Reason, A Compendium of Fifty Questions and Answers Related to Islamic Theology, Jurisprudence and Other Themes, Compiled by The Porch of Wisdom Cultural Institution, Translated byA Group of Muslim Scholars, Published by: The Islamic Education Board of the World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities

What is the status of women in Islam? Are they the same as men?

If we don’t turn a blind eye to the truth and be realistic, we will see that the perfection of the woman doesn’t lie in her having a status like that of men, and that it is also wrong for men to take pride in their gender. The truth of the matter is that the creation of the human circles around two separate but harmonious halves, the man and the woman.

What brings superiority for both men and women is endeavor for achieving humanity, and in other words, using the potential placed in all of us for the best. Except for differences that are necessitated by the order of creation, there is no difference between the two genders from the Quran and revelation’s perspective.

Since this question is about the status of the woman in Islam, it is necessary to refer to Islamic sources, meaning the Quran and the traditions of the prophet (pbuh) and Ahlul-Bayt, to see what Islam’s view is on the issue.

The different dimensions of the woman’s status

The woman’s status in Islam can be looked at from three perspectives:

     a) Her character

1- The woman is a symbol of elegance, tranquility and beauty. Every single thing in this universe is the manifestation of the attributes and names of Allah (swt), because creating which is one of His attributes of action (not one of the attributes of essence) is the manifestation of the creator in His different creations, as Imam Ali (as) puts it:

All praise is due to Allah (swt) who showed Himself to His creations through His creation.” 1 &2

From the Quran’s perspective, the secret behind creating the woman and establishing the base of the family and the union of marriage is higher than just lust and fulfilling desires and achieving temporary pleasures.

And of His signs is that He created for you mates from your own selves that you may take comfort in them, and He ordained affection and mercy between you. There are indeed signs in that for a people who reflect” 3

2- All racial, gender related, etc. advantages are vain, and

“Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most God wary among you” 4

3- All heavenly books and prophets have addressed humanity and not a specific gender saying:

“Whosoever follows me indeed belongs to me” 5

4- The status of the woman has no boundaries; she can succeed, possess and reach anything she desires:

O man! You are laboring toward your Lord laboriously, and you will encounter Him” 6 , “Every person is in custody of his own doings” 7, “And that man can only have the fruit of what he has strived for; verily, the result of his effort will soon Be observed” 8.

5- Whosoever serves Allah (swt) will be close to Him, regardless of whether it is a man or woman.

When My servants ask you about Me, [tell them that) I am indeed close. I answer the supplicant’s call when he calls Me. So let them respond to Me, and let them have faith in Me, so that they may fare rightly.” 9

6- In order to reach the tayyeb life (good and pure life), two conditions must be fulfilled:

Whoever acts righteously, [whether] male or female, should he be faithful, We shall revive him with a good life and pay them their reward by the best of what they used to do” 10

7- Whosoever disregards the truth, will be cursed by Allah (swt):

Indeed those who turn faithless and die while they are faithless, it is they on whom shall be the curse of Allah, the angels and all mankind”. 11

What is easily concluded from these verses is that the human is their addressee, not a specific gender. Humans are “hostages” of their faith and actions and they “pick the fruit of whatever they themselves plant”, let them be men or women. In revelation’s sight, the woman is a human and gender has no effect on the fundamentals of the obligations and character of people.

     b) The woman and the “ladder” of knowledge and nearness to Allah (swt)

1- Allah (swt) doesn’t exclusively belong to men nor women and the same goes for knowledge and getting closer to Him. There is a general formula that if one goes by, he/she will indeed achieve such a goal, and that formula is: knowledge, affection, obedience and nearness. It doesn’t make a difference who and how much one goes after knowledge and wisdom, what is important is guidance and it is after guidance that this verse applies to us:

Those who strive in our way, we will guide them to ways of nearness to Allah (swt)”

many have done so, men and women, and the Quran gives two examples of those who went this way and two examples of those who went the opposite:

Allah draws an [other] example for those who have faith: the wife of Pharaoh, when she said,” My Lord! Build me a home near You in paradise, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his conduct, and deliver me from the wrongdoing lot” 12

In the next verse, Allah (swt) gives the second example of a good character, which is Lady Maryam.
Also, the two bad people the Quran speaks of are also women (Prophet Nuh and Prophet Lut’s (pbuh) wives). 13 These good and bad women are examples for all, not just for women!

2- The most important requisite for getting closer to Allah (swt) is the heart and a broken heart, and women bear it more than men: “The ways to ascend and go higher for people varies. One way is through dhikr (invocation) and another is through thought; if women aren’t higher and more successful than men in the first, which is the way of the heart and love and affection, they are certainly equal to them.” 14

3- The holy prophet of Islam (pbuh) says:

The best knowledge is tawhid, and the best worship is istighfar (asking for repentance).” 15

Clearly, there is no difference between men and women in reaching such knowledge.

4- If we are pious and wary of Allah (swt), we will reach spirituality, and piety and taqwa don’t belong to a specific gender and group.

Indeed if one is God wary and patient Allah does not waste the reward of the virtuous” 16

But as for him who is awed to stand before his Lord and forbids the soul from [following] desire, his refuge will indeed be paradise” 17

To make it short, different women who had reached very high levels of spirituality in various eras are clear proof that the way is open to all, even women.

     c) The status of the woman in Islamic law and divine rulings

It seems what gives rise to your question regarding the status of woman in Islam, is a series of Islamic laws that pertain to women, but with a general look at the framework of Islamic laws and the effect of gender on them, you will be able to find your answer.

Islamic laws, when looked at from a gender perspective, are divided into several categories:
1. Common rulings: such as fasting, prayer and hajj.

2. Women’s rulings: such as laws pertaining to menstruation

3. Rulings that seem to be discriminative at first sight: such as inheritance, blood money, etc.

Generally speaking, the reasons for such so called controversial rulings can be the following:

i) The man of the home is responsible for the expenditures and sustenance of the family, hence the difference of the share of inheritance compared to that of women (of course in some cases).

ii) When some hadiths speak of women badly, what they are really speaking of aren’t women in terms of them being part of the human race, but what is meant is the adoration of women. (For instance, the hadith that says: “The woman is a scorpion, but her sting is sweet”) 18

iii) Some other hadiths (especially in the Nahjul-Balaghah) that scold women, are only scolding the women of Imam Ali’s (as) time who had risen against the imam in the battle of Jamal (with the leadership of Aisha). 19

iv) Some rulings that aren’t the responsibility of women, like initial jihad, judging, etc. aren’t deprivation, but are a grace and mercy from Allah (swt) so that harsh and hard responsibilities that aren’t in harmony with their delicate spirits don’t rest on their shoulders.

Imam Ali (as) says:

The woman is like a delicate and sweet-smelling flower, not like a harsh and bulky warrior.” 20

v) Some rulings such as coming of age earlier than men, are so that women begin to be trained earlier so they can be ready to train future generations, especially since the age of getting married for women is lower than that of men.

vi) Some restrictions and limitations are so that some boundaries are set in order to prevent certain problems and dangers which indeed need to be prevented. For instance, women have been ordered to speak well but not in a thin and attractive voice so that “those who have sick hearts aren’t tempted”. 21

vii) The same way that badness and deficiency are proportional, preferring and making the man prior are also proportional. Therefore, whenever you see a limitation or reproach of women, consider it proportional. In Islam, there are numerous instances where women have been given advantages, namely:

The prophet of Islam (pbuh) said:

If you are in the middle of a mustahabb prayer and your father calls you, don’t break the prayer, but if your mother calls, break it.” 22

The clear and direct command of the Quran is:

And You should treat women honourably” 23

For further information, see:
Morteza Motahhari, Nezame Huquqe Zan dar Eslam
Abdullah Javadi Amoli, Zan dar Ayneye Jamal va Jalal

[1] الحمد لله المتجلي لخلقه بخلقه
Nahjul-Balaghah, sermon 108
[2] Abdullah Javadi Amoli, Zan dar Ayneye Jamal va Jalal, p. 21.
[3] و من آياته ان خلق لکم من انفسکم ازواجاً لتسکنوا اليها و جعل بينکم مودة و رحمة
[4] Hujurat:13.
[5] فمن تبعني فانه مني
[6] Inshiqaq:6.
[7] Tur:21.
[8] Najm:39.
[9] Baqarah:186.
[10] من عمل صالحاً من ذکر و انثي و هو مؤمن فلنحيينه حياة طيبة…
[11] ان الذين کفروا و ما توا و هم کفار اولئک عليهم لعنة الله والملائکة والناس أجمعين
[12] وضرب الله مثلاً للذين آمنوا إمراة فرعون إذ قالت رب ابن لي عندک بيتاً في الجنة و نجني من فرعون و عمله و نجني من القوم الظالمين
[13] ضرب الله مثلاً للذين کفروا امراة نوح و امراة لوط…
[14] Abdullah Javadi Amoli, Zan dar Ayneye Jamal va Jalal, p. 197.
[15] خير العلم التوحيد و خير العبادة الاستغقار
Kuleini, Usul Kafi, vol. 2, p. 517.
[16] Yusuf: 90.
[17] Naze’at: 40-41.
[18] Nahjul-Balaghah, short sayings, no. 61.
[19] For instance: Nahjul-Balaghah, sermon 80,
ان النساء النواقص الايمان…
[20] فان المراة ريحانة و ليست بقهرمانة
Nahjul-Balaghah, letter 31.
[21] Ahzab:32.
[22] Jame’u Ahadith al-Shia, vol. 21, pp. 428-429.
[23] و عاشروهن بالمعروف

Essence Deficiency of Women

The second question is thus: Some of the religious expressions raise doubt in regard of common identity of the woman and man, like the phrase saying that the women having defective intellect and shortage in faith… etc.

Studying every and each one of these samples is quite out of scope of this research and discussion, but I can give some criteria and rules through which we can judge and issue decision in regard of them “specimen”.

A) Some of these traditions have not been properly interpreted, but by mediation and taking good care a clear meaning can be given to them. If it is stated in a hadith that the women having deficiency in reason, this will not be an informing of a creative and inherent thing in women, but rather taking into consideration acquired and experimental reason, in which social, educational and political conditions have full interference. This should never be taken to indicate inherent inability of women, but would be like saying that the villagers have a lower culture. And this, if supposed to be true, never means inherent ignorance of the villagers, but rather they can, through bringing about the necessary grounds, be equal and even higher than the townsmen, and men of knowledge and culture.

It is natural that if a woman is detained inside the house, and refused the qualifications of honour and knowledge, she would never be able to have, like any other individual attending the events, full knowledge of the incidents and proceedings and possess social understanding. No difference here is found in this regard between woman and man as the same thing would be true in regard of men when they are kept inside the house. Hence the following is said in a hadith:

“Whoever forsaking merchandise, he will verily lose two­thirds of his mind.”1

In this manner, the meaning of the hadith of shortage of faith “of women” will be clear. Because what is intended of faith being not a heartfelt and doctrinal state, but rather assignment and precept being meant to which be referred with the term Deen in most of the narrations. That is the assignment “takleef” of women being less than that one imposed upon men, especially in time of menstruation, whereat God has exempted them of some of the ritual duties and impositions.

The hadith of deficiency of faith has been stated in most of the reliable sources and references with the term deficiency of religion, and only in one version was referred to with the expression shortage of faith “iman”.2 Therefore it never implies any slander or deficiency for women. And if what is meant by deficiency the inward defect, then why have the fuqaha said: “It is recommendable for every woman to sit on prayer rug at times of prayers citing some words in remembering Allah.”3

Through abstruseness and pondering over contents of traditions, with comparing and measuring them with other narrations, some of difficulties and objections would be warded off and evaded. But of course this mediation and abstruseness should be accompanied with equity, abstinence from pre­arbitration and evacuating the mind of the current culture.

B) Some of these traditions can never be ascribed to the religious leaders “Imams”, but rather have been fabricated under the influence of irreligious cultures and multifarious stimulants.

As an example for this, the following traditions are quoted from the Prophet (S): “Burial of daughters “alive” is verily a dignity,”4 and “The grave of the bridegroom is goodness.”5 That is despite their being contrary to the Qur’anic verses vilifying the pre­Islamic “jahili” habits and customs,6 with the traditionists confirming their being composed.

When the following hadith was reported by Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (S) said: “Inauspiciousness lies in three things: means of transport, a wife and a house.” ‘A’ishah said: “The Prophet quoted this saying as a speech of the people of pre­Islamic era “jahiliyyah”, and its narrator has not quoted the first part of the Prophet’s speech.”7

There are so many alike samples in the texts of narrations and traditions.

Undoubtedly, it should be noted that it is not right to consider every hadith not agreeing with our taste and view to be fabricated and falsified but we should have full knowledge of criteria of assessment of chain of transmission “sanad”, and apply them properly.

C) Some of the traditions and narrations are applicable to special provisions, in a way that they can never be generalised. In other words, the purport of the hadith is regarding the conditions and circumstances of that time, not intended to expose the sought situation, like what is reported between the lines of traditions on preventing the learning from writings of women.8

Nowadays no religious expert is found holding the belief that it is not necessary for the woman to learn writing and reading. In the past too, some scholars and thinkers were of this belief. Further a large number of women related “in kinship” to religious scholars, were virtuous and intellectuals. The example for this can be seen in the wife and daughter of ash-Shahid al-Awwal,9 and Aminah Beigum daughter of al-Majlisi the 1st,10 and others.

Seemingly, taking into consideration these principles and rules for evaluating and comprehending so many of narrations concerning the woman would be so helpful and useful.

  • 1. Wasa’il Ash-Shi’ah, vol. XII, p. 8, hadith, no, 20.
  • 2. Masaadir Nahj Al-Balagha Wa Asaaneeduha, vol. II, p. 86.
  • 3. Tahreer Al-Wasslah, vol. I, p. 24, question 11.
  • 4. Silsilat Al-Ahaadeeth Az-Za’ifah Wal-Mawzu’ah, p. p. 220-221.
  • 5. Tahreer Al-Mar’ah Fi Asr Ar-Risaalah, vol. I, p. 13.
  • 6. As in the verses 58& 59 of surat An-Nahl: ” and when is anounced uto (any) one of them a daughter, black becometh his face and he is filled with wrath. He hideth hismself from the people, of the evil for the tidings given to him ( he pondereth whether) he shall keep her with disgrace or bury her ( alive) in the dust ? Behold, (how) evil it is what they decide,…”.
  • 7. Al-Ijaabah Li Irad Ma Istadrakathu ‘Ala As-Sahaabah, p. p. 114-117.
  • 8. Al-Islam Wa Mar’ah, pp. 28-29 and 51-52.
  • 9. Bihaar Al-Anwaar, vol. 103, pp. 55 & 261; Kanz Al-Ummal. vol. XVI, p. 379.
  • 10. Mu’jam Rijaal Al-hadith, vol. XXIII, pp. 179 & 196.

[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ]Woman: AUTHOR(S): Mahdi Mahrizi TRANSLATOR(S): Hasan M. Najafi[/box]

Field of Difference between Woman & Man

So many statements are said in regard of differences between woman and the man, with some of them believing these differences to be little in number and of no value and some believing many differences are there between these two species. It is not easy to prove these claims. What can be cited briefly and defended is the following:

1. Verily a difference is there between woman and man, and no one can claim that there be full equality in all walks of life between woman and the man.

2. Among the said differences, that which can be admitted and agreed upon, there being some issues appertained to survival of species of mankind. That is the differences that are relevant to quality of reproduction of offspring of man. Naturally these differences have some marginal consequences, whose limits, extent, steadiness and decline being controvertible.

3. Beside all that is said, other differences could never be established through definite religious or scientific evidences.

4. In regard of the differences circulated among people nowadays, how can we be sure of not returning them to social conditions? And their not being a transient phenomenon? For example, a woman in a locked society may be confined at home never comprehending so many of social affairs, with her social conscience being not shaped. But if this same woman be brought up and grown in convenient and favourable conditions, no one will dare to accuse her of deficiency of intellect.

Based on above­mentioned points, we can consider, in case of contravention of differences between woman and man, only that extent which is definitely established, and known to be unproduced by social factors but having roots in the nature and composition of woman and man. Otherwise, the identity of every woman and man, and their independent personality and presence may make us to believe in oneness of all walks of life for both of them.

Woman: AUTHOR(S): Mahdi Mahrizi      TRANSLATOR(S): Hasan M. Najafi

The Concealed Belief

All Muslims, shi’ah and sunni, boast of their history due to having virtuous and chaste women, enumerating for them distinguished characteristics from which many men are deprived.

Among these great notable ladies we can refer to: Khadijah, Fatimah (A), Umm Salamah, Zaynab, Hamidah “wife of al-Imam as-Sadiq (A), Sawsan “mother of al-Imam al-Hasan al-Askari (A), Hakeemah “daughter of al-Imam al-Jawad (A) and Umm Ahmad “wife of al-Imam al-Kadhim (A), and others.

Fathoming and examining the biography of women will show them to be among perfection ­seekers, and each having a scholastic and spiritual position in relation to the religious leaders. Rather some of them were known to have the position of succeeding an Infallible Imam and being a spiritual trustee, depository and executor of him.1

The question arises here being: Does the woman have any difference in essence and nature with the man, and is her human cause and background like that of the man or that the difference being not in essence and nature, but they differ in the dimension of human perfections affected by outer circumstances.

If the first case be correct, the presence of women of virtue and maturity and superior to many men, would be somehow impossible in essence and unaccepted. Then how can be there many individuals in whose essence a radical change happened, while no special and unusual provisions being under consideration for them.

And when accepting the second case, that is to consider the women’s defect being a transient and ephemeral phenomenon imposed on them by the social circumstances, again this question will still be raised: Are the imposed provisions admitted by religion and religious leaders? Or that they were concerned for removing that defect, intending to take away those inconvenient conditions?

If the first supposition be admitted, then existence of virtuous and prominent women will be incongruous and reversed to purpose and objective of religion. As a result of all this, it is proper to say that no difference is there whatsoever between women and men, in respect of essence of humanity and leaven of development and maturity: And those partial differences were only caused and created by inhuman conditions, with which religion is not content, the evidence for which can be the presence of outstanding women in history of Islam and Muslims, with emphatic recommendations to maturity and perfection.

In short, we can say that according to the description and portrait of the character of woman given by the Qur’an, “Prophetic” Sunnah and inner belief of Muslims, there is no difference whatsoever in the nature and composition of these two species. Besides, the ability to attain maturity and perfection seeking is the same for both of them “men and women”, as they both can reach the sublime ideal and human positions, and each one of them is never a parasite upon the other.

al-Allamah At-Tabataba’i has an elegant comment in this regard, in which he says:

Evidences and experience necessitate that the man and woman, being two individuals of one and the same essential species, which is the human being. As all the marks and signs witnessed in category of men are witnessed also in the category of women, without a bit difference, and emergence of traces of any species undoubtedly obligates realisation of its subject. No one can deny the fact that the category differs greatly and slightly in some of the common traces, but this can never cause the annulment of existence of species in every individual. Thus it becomes clear that the specific extrapolations and maturities available for one species can be found in the other species, of which the moral maturities attained by faith, worships and seeking God’s pleasure. So the best and most comprehensive words expressing this meaning can be the following Qur’anic verse:

“… I will not suffer the work of any of you that worketh to be lost, be he male or female, the one of you being from the other.” (Qur’an, 3:195). 2

For completing this view, I should give answers to a pair of important questions, since otherwise all my discussion will lead to no conclusion and will be incomplete.

The first question is: If we admit that female and male enjoy one and the same essence and nature, with realising their being not one entity, i.e. neither a woman is a man nor a man is a woman. Then where lies the field of difference between these two beings?

The second question is: Some of religious expressions like deficiency of woman’s intellect, and lack of faith, contradict such view and weaken it. But if we intend to defend this view “that the woman differs from the man with ‘aql and deen”, we should give evidences that it can give reply to such faults. Hence, in conclusion of this chapter, I will make a condensed investigation about these two questions.

  • 1. Zan Wa Payam-awari, pp. 145-238.
  • 2. Al-Mizaan, vol. IV, p. 89.

Woman: AUTHOR(S): Mahdi Mahrizi      TRANSLATOR(S): Hasan M. Najafi

Paradise is under the Feet of Women

In a hadith reported from the Prophet (S), he said: “Paradise is verily under the foot of the woman.”10 This hadith is recorded in books of hadith with other versions, like: “Paradise is under the feet of mothers,” 11 and: “Construction of paradise is under feet of mothers.”1 and others.

Honouring Women

In regard of honouring the women, the Prophet (S) said: “The best of you are those who be too kind to their wives.” 2

He also said: “None honouring the women but the magnanimous, and none insulting them but the mean depraved one.”3

The noteworthy point here is that our religious leaders have, in their last testaments and in most critical situations, recommended to respect rights and dignity of women.

In the last year of his age and in his Farewell Pilgrimage “hijjat al­wadaa'”, which was attended by a huge multitude of people, the Messenger of Allah (S) addressed people saying:

“O mankind, your wives have right over you and you have right over them… so fear you the wrath of God, in respect of the women, and recommend to them all the good.”4

al-Imam Ali “peace be upon him”, after being stroked on the nineteenth night of Month of Ramazan, has summoned his children giving them and all people throughout history, precious recommendations, among which the following maxim was also cited:

” “I recommend you to observe your duty to” Allah in regard of the women and the captives whom your right hands possess. As the last thing recommended by your Prophet was that he said: “I commit to your charge the two feebles: the women and what your right hands possess.”5

That which can be concluded out of this statement is that the custom of enslaving “others” is never approved by religion at all, and it has exerted so many efforts for abolishing and eradicating it from the human society.

Further, some laws and regulations have been revealed and enacted all for changing and removing this abominable practice with time passage. In regard of women the same method was followed and adopted to the effect that our religion never intending to discriminate between males and females, and the aim of some of the laws and rules was to creating gradual accompaniment with the society and eradicating that habit forever.

  • 1. At-Tabaqaat Al-Kubra, vol. IV, p. 274.
  • 2. Kanz Al-Ummal, vol. XVI, p. 461.
  • 3. Mawsu’at Atraaf Al-hadith An-Nabawi, vol. IV, p. 513.
  • 4. Sunan Ibn Majah, vol. II, p. 636.
  • 5. Mukhtasar Tareekh Dimashq, vol. VII, p. 50.
  • 6. Tuhaf Al-Oqool, p. 30
  • 7. ibid., p. 140.

How can Felicity be Obtained by Man & Woman?

The Qur’an has introduced only one way toward felicity of man, and invited and asked all children of Adam, men and women, to follow and adopt that way.

“Enjoined I not on you O children of Adam! that ye should worship not Satan? for he is your open enemy. And ye should worship “only” Me, “and” this is the “only” Right way?” (Qur’an, 36:60, 61).

Throughout the five daily “obligatory” prayers, every follower of Islam implores God five times, day and night, to guide him toward the straight path, which is way of guidance.

Enemy of Woman & Man on Course to Perfection

Do the woman and man have enemies on the path to happiness? Is their enemy a common one? Is his enmity to each of them of the same degree? These are requests to which answers should be given within the last question. Some of feeble and ignorant thoughts indicate that in view of religion, the Satan contracts enmity with the man while proposing friendship with women, and Adam was entrapped for the first time by Satan, through his wife.

The holy Qur’an regards this idea to be incorrect. Besides, the creation verses indicate that Satan has whispered and prompted to Adam and Eve to err and they both went astray. But then they both confessed before their Lord that they have wronged themselves.

In other verses the Qur’an considers the Satan as the enemy of man, not the enemy of men.

“… Verily Satan unto man is an open enemy!” (Qur’an, 12:5).

The Almighty Allah has also made a covenant with all children of Adam charging them to keep themselves far from Satan, as stated in surat Yaseen:

“Enjoined I not on you O children of Adam! that ye should worship not Satan?” (Qur’an, 36:60).

To sum up the discussion, it can be said that the holy Qur’an never maintains any difference between personality of woman and that of the man, but rather it looks at them both equally as a pure human entity, preparing for both of them the ground of development and progress. The only difference lies in the fact that the Qur’an considers the woman and man as complementary to each other in human life.

“… they are an apparel for you and ye are apparel for them;…” (Qur’an, 2:187).

In his exposition of this verse, al-Allamah At-Tabataba’i writes:

By apparel “libas” the commonly known meaning is indicated, that is whatever man covers his body with. These two sentences are metaphorically used, as each woman and each man can curb the other from following evil ways and being a joint property, and every one of them is raiment for the other, covering his/her defects and screening his/her private parts.6

The Prophetic Sunnah

Through and between the traditions, an eloquent statement is quoted that manifests the views of our religion leaders “Imams” the character of the woman, to some of which I refer herewith:

Mates of Men “shaqaayiq”

It is reported from the Messenger of Allah “peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny” that he said: “The women are verily the mates “shaqaayiq” of the men.”7

The same hadith is quoted with other versions like: “They are verily equals of men.” and “The women are mates of men.” 8

In regard of the meaning of the word Shaqaayiq, lexicographers write:

The woman are verily mates “shaqaayiq” of the men, meaning that they are like and equal to them in morals and behaviour and nature, in a way that it can be said the women have not been separated from the men. 9 The root of the term shaqeeq gives the meaning of full brother “from the same father and mother”.

Woman: AUTHOR(S): Mahdi Mahrizi      TRANSLATOR(S): Hasan M. Najafi

How Do Woman & Man Enjoy the Values?

A number of values are stated in the holy Qur’an that can be a moral measurement criterion for man, and in which no distinction or preference is seen. These values are the following:

Faith and Good Deed

“Whosoever did good, whether male or female, and he be a believer, then We will certainly make him live a life good and pure…” (Qur’an, 16:97).


“Allah will exalt those who believe among you, and those who have knowledge, to high ranks.” (Qur’an, 58:11).

Piety “taqwa”

“O ye people! Verily we have created you of a male and a female, and made you in nations and tribes, that ye may recognise each other; Verily the most honoured of you with God is the one of you who guardeth “himself” the most “against evil”.” (Qur’an, 49:13).

Competing in Faith

“And the foremost in the race, the foremost in the race. Those are they who will be brought night.” (Qur’an, 56:10, 11).

Jihad “struggle”

“… And Allah hath distinguished those who strive above those who sit “holding back” by a great recompense.” (Qur’an, 4:95).


“So their Lord did respond to them “saying” “I will not suffer the work of any of you that worketh to be lost, be he male or female, the one of you being from the other. They, therefore, who did migrate and were turned out of their homes and suffered in My way and who fought and were slain, I will most certainly blot out their sins from them, and I will most certainly admit them into gardens beneath which flow streams; A reward from God! and God! Verily with Him “only” is the Excellent Reward.” (Qur’an, 3:195).

In continuing discussion of values it is proper to relate a tale from history of first stage of Islam.

Muqatil says: When Asma’, the daughter of Ummays returned with her husband Ja’far from Abyssinia, she went near the wives of the Messenger of Allah “may God’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny” and said: Is there any verse revealed in the Qur’an regarding the women? The answer came to her in negative.

Thereat she betook herself toward the Prophet (S) saying: The women are sustaining a loss and detriment, all the time. The Prophet questioned: Why? She replied: Since Allah has never referred to them in good terms, as He did in regard of men.

After that the following verse was revealed:

“Verily the Muslim men and the Muslim women, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obedient men and the obedient women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women, and the humble men and the humble women, and the almsgiving men and the almsgiving women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard, and the men who remember God much and the women who remember God “much”, Allah hath prepared for them forgiveness and a great recompense.” (Qur’an, 33:35).

Woman: AUTHOR(S): Mahdi Mahrizi      TRANSLATOR(S): Hasan M. Najafi

What is the Aim of Creation of Woman & Man?

Is there any difference in the objective of creation of woman and man? Has the Qur’an stated any distinction between women and men in this respect? The answers for these questions are definitely in negative, as the Qur’an mentions the goal of creation to be servitude and devotion, no difference is there in this regard between the woman and man. Also no separation is seen between the two in regard of the end of invitation “da’wah” of the messengers, which is life and living.

“I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me.” (Qur’an, 51:56).

“O ye who believe! respond ye to His Apostle “Muhammad” when He calleth you to that which giveth you life…” (Qur’an, 8:24).

Woman: AUTHOR(S): Mahdi Mahrizi      TRANSLATOR(S): Hasan M. Najafi

How Qur’an Introduces Talents of Men & Women

The second question whose answer should be found in the holy Qur’an being: How were the aptitudes and abilities of the woman and man divided in the Qur’an? And are all of them stated to belong to the men alone? Or no distinction is mentioned in it?

Further many verses are there in the Qur’an demonstrating the genetic and legislative talents and powers of human beings, using everywhere words of man and mankind with general expressions, with no exception on behalf of women or preference of men over women.

In regard of aptitude, the Qur’an referred to the following points:

Divine Spirit

Man has “inside” a Divine Spirit, and this merit is not distinguished alone to the men.

“So when I complete him and breathe into him My Spirit, fall ye down unto him prostrating “in obeisance”. (Qur’an, 15:29).

Fashioning and Modification in Creation

“Surely We created man of the best stature.” (Qur’an, 95:4).

“O thou man! What hath beguiled thee from thy Lord, the Most Gracious One. “He” Who created thee, and fashioned thee and “gave thee a body” justly proportioned.” (Qur’an, 82:6, 7).

Tools of Administration

“He it is Who caused for you the hearing and the sight and hearts; “very” little it is what ye give thanks “unto Him”.” (Qur’an, 31:23).

The Divine Creation

“Then set thou thy face uprightly for “the right” religion, in natural devotion to the truth “following” the nature caused by God in which He hath made the people…” (Qur’an, 30:30).

Moral Conscience

“By the soul as it is perfected. And inspired unto it “against” its vices and “about” its piety!” (Qur’an, 91:7, 8).

Bearing the Trust

“Verily we offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to bear it, and were afraid thereof…” (Qur’an, 33:72).

Further, He considered all natural potentials to belong altogether to man, referring to them with plural form and with expressions like: “He made subservient unto you, created for you, and made for you”:

“And made subservient unto you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth.” (Qur’an, 45:13).

“He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth…” (Qur’an, 2:29).

“Who made the earth a bed “resting place” for you and the sky a structure and causeth water to descend from heaven…” (Qur’an, 2:22).

In regard of educating the human beings, the plural pronoun with terms of man are used:

“God”, The Beneficent, Taught He the Qur’an. He created man, He taught him expression.” (Qur’an, 55:1­4).

“He” Who taught “to write” with the pen. “He” taught man what he knew not.” (Qur’an, 96:4­5).

In regard of delegating the apostles and legislating a religion, and sending down a scripture also there is no distinguishment of differentiation:

“He it is Who raised among the ummies “illiterates” an Apostle from among themselves, reciting unto them His signs, and purifying them, and teaching them the Book “Qur’an” and wisdom…” (Qur’an, 62:2).

Woman: AUTHOR(S): Mahdi Mahrizi      TRANSLATOR(S): Hasan M. Najafi