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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:

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“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.

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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.

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