I have often pondered the attitude of many
pious Muslims who although they dearly love Allah and His Messenger
(Allah bless him and give him peace) nevertheless seem to have
a reverence based on fear. If one reads the Qur'an and hadith
collections, it is as plain as the nose on your face that the
chief characteristic of our dear Lord Allah is His Compassion,
His understanding love.
The fact that He is the Compassionate, the Merciful introduces
every surah except surah 9 (probably because it is most likely
a continuation of surah 8) and every prayer. Yes, there is sternness
and justice when dealing with evil, but above all, there is enormous
compassion for weakness and mistakes. The Almighty our Creator
knows full well that we are but human beings, full of faults and
sins and disappointments and blind-spots. It is one of the greatest
blessings that when it comes to punishing us for our failings,
our Lord does not judge as a human being does, but in a way we
can never fully understand or appreciate.
His compassion is so far above our own.
As He revealed to us in the Qur'an, if He punished us according
to what we deserved, there would be left on earth no living
thing. (Surah 35:45).
Similarly, our beloved Prophet (Allah bless him and give him
peace) was the living example for us of all the qualities Allah
wished us to encourage and build up in ourselves. He was gentle,
and kind, and honourable, and brave, taking the side of the
helpless, the children, the destitute, the abused women. He
did this even before his call to Prophethood, for it was the
main aim of the Order of Chivalry (the Hilf al-Fudul) founded
by his uncle Zubayr b. Abd al-Muttalib, and the chief of Taym,
Abdallah b. Juda'an.
So, whenever we come across a bald statement in the writings
that seems to be out of keeping, and looks as if our beloved
Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) couldn't possibly
have said that for it does not ring true with what we know about
him, we must look a little deeper to see if there is some aspect
of it that we have perhaps missed. Needless to say, the very
first rule of judging whether or not a hadith is reliable is
to test it against the teaching and spirit of the Qur'an. Any
hadith that disagrees with the Qur'an cannot possibly be genuine.
The western media is frequently accused of misunderstanding
Islam, so let us look briefly at a few stunning headlines that
might have appeared shortly before 632 CE. They all give pause
Prophet dooms young orphan girl to early death.'
Prophet curses favourite wife from his death-bed.'
'Prophet insists Paradise is denied to old women.'
'Prophet rages: 'Hell is two-thirds full of women!''
None of these headlines would sound at all right to anyone
anything about Islam. All the Prophet's (Allah bless him and
peace) words, actions and way of life reveal him as a man of
gentleness, kindness, humility, good humour and excellent common
sense, who had a great love for all people, especially for his
family. Aishah said of him: 'The Prophet (Allah bless him and
give him peace) never abused or spoke ill of anybody. He forgave
faults and refrained from retaliation. He never thought of taking
personal revenge, forgave non-believers promptly on their conversion
to Islam; never fought on personal grounds; took an interest
in his household affairs; condemned vendettas and blood feuds;
and never beat anyone, not even a slave'. When Aishah was asked
what the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was like
at home, she said: 'He does what you all do in your houses -
he also patches his clothes and repairs his shoes, and feeds
his goats.' He used to 'serve his family', and help them in
their household chores until the time came for prayer, and then
he would go out.
She said: 'He was more bashful than a maiden in seclusion, but
when he disliked something, we could see it immediately in his
He never used to speak badly of people, following the principle
you couldn't say something good, then say nothing at all. He
whispering and sniggering. He once said: 'If you are three people,
you should not speak in a confidential manner in the presence
of the third until you mix with other people, because that brings
sadness to the heart of the third person, who feels left out,
and alienates him.' Those who spoke with him knew that they
would be treated with courtesy, forbearance, modesty and trust.
He disliked raised voices, and never shouted or uttered obscene
words, or indulged in fault-finding. He simply ignored what
he did not like, and did not make a fuss about it.
Moreover, he was very kind, and never gossiped or made known
shortcomings of anyone, or exposed their defects to others.
He did not
attempt to find out people's secrets, and when told them, he
declared them to others. The one thing he did hate was lying.
Aishah recorded: 'No habit was more disgusting to him than telling
a lie. If he found out about anyone lying, he kept away from
that person until they were genuinely sorry for it.' Yet if
he disapproved of something, he never told the person directly
or abruptly, but simply let his wishes be known tactfully.
He also hated suspicion, and said: 'Suspicion is the worst
of false tales;
and do not look for the others' faults and do not spy, and do
jealous of one another, and do not desert (cut your relation
another, and do not hate one another; and O Allah's worshippers!
brothers (as Allah has ordered you)! (Bukhari 8.90).
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) believed
in good manners, always greeting people kindly, showing respect
to elders. He was never arrogant or 'superior' despite his eminent
position as leader, making no-one ever feel small, unwanted
or embarrassed. People who sat in his company never felt that
he was rude to them, or that he ignored or neglected them. When
he shook hands with someone, he was never the first to withdraw
his hand. He would not break off a conversation until he was
sure the person had finished and was ready to turn away, and
he never turned his face away from the person he was talking
He had done that once in the early days in Makkah, when blind
Abdallah b. Umm Maktum came to interrupt him with a question
about one of the revealed verses. At the time he was deep in
conversation with Walid b. Mughirah and his influential friends
Uqbah and Shaybah b. Rabi'ah, Abu Jahl and Umayyah b. Khalaf.
The Prophet's (Allah bless him and give him peace) momentary
impatience earned him a violent headache and temporary partial
blindness, and a rebuke from Allah that came in the revelation
of Surah 80:1-16. For years after that he used to greet Abdallah
with the words: 'Salaam to the one on behalf of whom my Sustainer
has rebuked me.' This was the Ibn Umm Maktum (called both Abdallah
and Amr in the sources) who was frequently deputised to lead
the prayers in Madinah when the Prophet (Allah bless him and
give him peace) was on his expeditions.
Some people have supposed the Prophet (Allah bless him and
give him peace) to have been a severe, austere man, but in fact
he was always smiling. One companion said of him: 'I have seen
no person smiling more than the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless
him and give him peace).' Aishah said: 'He was the softest and
most kind of all people; and he was a man like you, except that
he was cheerful and smiling.'
When people laughed, he laughed with them. Although his laugh
was usually no more than a smile, sometimes it was said of him
that he threw back his head and laughed so completely that his
teeth shone like white hailstones.
There are many hadiths recording how the Prophet (Allah bless
him and give him peace) laughed so heartily at something that
people could see his molar teeth! For example, when Aishah as
a child argued with him about her model horses with wings, and
pointed out that Solomon had such horses, 'Thereupon the Apostle
of Allah (peace be upon him) laughed so heartily that I could
see his molar teeth.' (Abu Dawud 2316).
During one time of drought he prayed for rain, and 'the rain
Allah's permission, and before he reached his mosque streams
When he saw the speed with which the people were seeking shelter,
(peace be upon him) laughed till his back teeth were visible.
Then he said: 'I testify that Allah is Omnipotent and that I
am Allah's servant and
apostle.' (Abu Dawud 452).
Examples of many other hadiths making a point of mentioning
the Prophet's (Allah bless him and give him peace) laughter
are Bukhari 3.157;Bukhari 6.466; Bukhari 8.299; Bukhari 9.510;
and Muslim 82;
He had, in fact, a whimsical sense of humour, revealed in
many of his
sayings, and the nicknames he gave people. For example, any
lady who was called Barrah immediately got her name changed
to something else, for 'barrah' meant 'good', and the Prophet
(Allah bless him and give him peace) explained that if he did
not change that name he would never be able to say 'goodbye',
for it hurt him to bid farewell to the Good.
Other nicknames included Abu Hurayrah ('Father of the little
cat' - so
called because when he worked as a shepherd he used to keep
a kitten), and Abu Turab ('Father of dust' - the Prophet's (Allah
bless him and give him peace) name for his son-in-law Ali, who
used to throw dust on himself whenever he and Fatimah had a
The Prophet's (Allah bless him and give him peace) wives were
known as 'the glass vessels'. Anas recorded how he and Umm Sulaym
had been in company with the Prophet's (Allah bless him and
give him peace) wives once while they were travelling in howdahs,
being hurried along by Anjasha's singing.
'Gently, O Anjasha,' cried the Prophet (Allah bless him and
peace) to the camel-driver. 'Be careful - these camels are carrying
delicateglass vessels. Don't break them.'(Muslim 5746).
One day when they were digging the Ditch before the Battle
of al-Ahzab theProphet (Allah bless him and give him peace)
fell asleep from sheer
exhaustion, and Abu Bakr and Umar stood guard over him keeping
labourers away so that he could sleep in peace. Zayd b. Thabit,
who wasjust sixteen and preparing for his first experience of
battle, also fell
asleep. Umarah b. Hazm played a practical joke on him, stealing
clothes and tools, and hiding them. Thus Zayd earned the nickname
Abu Ruqad (the'Sleepy One' or 'Father of Dreams').
One of the keenest diggers was the 'little beetle', Amr b.
(Ju'ayl). One of his companions gave rhythm to his digging with
the song: His name he changed, Ju'ayl to Amr, gave the poor
man that day his help.'
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) joined in
shouting the words at the end of each line loudly, making people
Surely it would be improper for a prophet of God to have a sense
Far from it -- it only seems improper to those who have not
read about the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)
with understanding. In fact, he was not a dour pronouncer of
doom except when such pronouncements were necessary -- he was
a man who was attractive and alive with humour, forever drawing
people to the faith, not driving them away. He once said: 'The
dearest of you to me are those who have good manners; the most
offensive to me are the most boring and the long-winded!'
Umar b. Khattab recorded that during the lifetime of the Prophet
bless him and give him peace) there was a man called Abdullah
nickname was Donkey, who regularly used to make the Prophet
(Allah bless him and give him peace) laugh. One day the Prophet
(Allah bless him and give him peace) had him flogged because
of drinking alcohol. A little later he was brought back again
on the same charge and was lashed again. At that, one of the
men said, 'O Allah, curse him! How frequently he has been brought
(to the Prophet on such a charge)!' The Prophet said: 'Do not
curse him, for by Allah, I know for he loves Allah and His Apostle.'
Nothing enraged him, and he despised no-one - except those
overcome by evil, who were opposed to Allah and His ways. Even
so, it was not the
person, but the evil that had taken hold of them that was despised.
any such person repented and turned back to good, he or she
was accepted instantly, and forgiven - both by Allah and His
Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). He did not take
offence at anything and then take revenge on the person who
offended him, unless the sacred things of Allah had been violated,
in which case he would only take revenge for the sake of Allah.
He certainly never made unpleasant remarks designed to hurt
or spite people.
However, sometimes his remarks were given with dry humour,
which has been misinterpreted by those who have taken such statements
literally. For example, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give
him peace) took a dim view of Muslims who could not manage to
offer a few prayers during the night-referring to them as 'those
in whose ears the Devil has urinated!' He did not mean this
Once he made an old lady cry by teasing her that there would
be no old
women in Paradise. She was devastated until he explained that
meant was that Allah would make all old people young again.
Once Umm Ayman asked him if she could have a camel. He commented
that he would only mount her on the offspring of a she-camel.
Umm Ayman was hardly satisfied - and pointed out that it would
not be able to bear her weight.
'Mother,' the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) insisted,
will only mount you on the offspring of a she-camel' At last
he was joking with her, for all camels were offspring of she-camels!
Qaswah was the Prophet's (Allah bless him and give him peace)
favourite camel, and was with him until he died, having shared
many significant moments with him - notably the hijrah, the
pilgrimages, the surrender of Makkah, and the Final Pilgrimage.
She was not only famous, but very fleet of foot, and was never
beaten in a race until a Bedouin on a much younger camel finally
succeeded. They hardly dared inform the Prophet (Allah bless
him and give him peace) of this 'humiliation', but knowing that
all creatures slow down with old age, he merely smiled and said:
'Allah has the right to humiliate those who rise high in the
At the Battle of Khaybar the Prophet's (Allah bless him and
peace) forces were assisted by Umm Sulaym who came with an orphan
girl she had raised in her household as her own daughter. The
Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) saw her and teased
her: 'How can that be you? You seem to have grown younger! May
you never advance in years.' The poor girl totally misunderstood
him, and Umm Sulaym found her in tears. She explained that the
Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) had cursed her
so that she would never live to old age. Umm Sulaym rushed straightway
to confront him with this outrage. He smiled and said: 'Umm
Sulaym, don't worry. I have made a bargain with my Lord - I
am only human, and am pleased or in bad temper like any other
person; but I asked Allah that if I ever cursed a person who
did not deserve it, then Allah would on the contrary let that
be a source of purity and nearness to Him for that person, on
the Day of Resurrection'. (Muslim 6297).
After the Farewell Pilgrimage at the Eid prayer, the Prophet
him and give him peace) walked past the men leaning on Bilal's
arm, and came to the rows of women behind them. Bilal spread
out a cloth and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)
urged the women to be generous with their gifts of charity,
for when he had been allowed a glimpse into the flames of Hell,
he had noted that most of the people being tormented there were
women. The women were outraged, and one of them instantly stood
up boldly and demanded to know why that was so. 'Because,' he
replied, 'you women grumble so much, and show ingratitude to
your husbands! Even if the poor fellows spent all their lives
doing good things for you, you have only to be upset at the
least thing and you will say, 'I have never received any good
from you!' (Bukhari 1.28, recorded by Ibn Abbas - who was present
on that occasion as a child). At that the women began vigorously
to pull off their rings and ear-rings, and throw them into Bilal's
Even on his deathbed the Prophet (Allah bless him and give
him peace) made characteristic remarks. He had requested Abu
Bakr to lead the prayers in his place, but he heard Umar's voice
and demanded an explanation. Aishah admitted she had sent Umar,
explaining that her father was too distressed and overcome with
emotion, his voice shook, and he wept when he recited the Qur'an.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) insisted it
was to be Abu Bakr, and called Aishah 'one of the women of Joseph'
(that is, one of those who were tempted to seduce the Prophet
Yusuf/Joseph (Allah bless him and give him peace). He also used
the expression 'may your hand be cut off.' He had only said
those words fondly, but when he noticed later that Aishah kept
looking at her hands he asked her what was the matter. She
told him she was wondering which hand she would lose!
Thus it is that reading and pondering deeply on the hadiths
pays enormous rewards to those who love the Prophet (Allah bless
him and give him peace).
Phrases that had at first seemed like teachings hostile to women
taken out of context suddenly bring us close to our Messenger,
and we feel instead his love and humour and humanity.
In conclusion, perhaps we should note that it was not only
(Allah bless him and give him peace) humour that was sometimes
misunderstood, but even straightforward statements.
For example, it was the normal practice of the female Companions
to pray in the mosque, with no sutrah dividing them from their
men. They prayed behind them, but with no dividing walls or
curtains - which one could argue might have invalidated their
prayer 'in congregation'. Yet nowadays, in some places we find
devout brothers in Islam depriving women of their rightful place
in the mosque by quoting the hadith that it is better for women
to pray at home. Where did this originate? In fact, it came
from an occasion when an elderly and arthritic Muslim lady-Umm
Humayd-expressed her regret to the Prophet (Allah bless him
and give him peace) that although she longed to pray behind
him in the mosque, as so many others did, she was not able to
be there. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) told
her not to be concerned about this, it was better for her to
pray in her own home (Abu Dawud 570). Many male Muslims have
misguidedly used this hadith to try to prevent their women from
going to mosques, and have turned them into 'male clubs' where
any women who do go feel obtrusive, shy and 'pushy', when it
is obvious from so many other hadiths that it was the normal
practice in Madinah for them to go. For example, Caliph Umar's
grandson tried to prevent his wife, but was over-ruled by his
father since the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)
had encouraged them saying: 'Do not prevent the handmaids of
Allah from attending the mosque.' Muslim 888, Abu Dawud 568.
Sometimes the supposed anti-female hadith seems completely
untrue. One such hadith was the one that no nation that allowed
itself to be ruled by a woman would prosper. This may have been
an example of one of the Prophet's (Allah bless him and give
him peace) wry comments, but it is suspect for it was only quoted
for the first time by Abu Bakra just before the Battle of Siffin,
some thirty years after the Prophet's (Allah bless him and give
him peace) death. The reason was that the troops opposing Caliph
Ali were in fact being led by a woman, none other than the Prophet's
(Allah bless him and give him peace) beloved wife Aishah!
The hadith seems in direct opposition to the words of the
Qur'an to the
ruling Queen of Sheba in the time of the Prophet Sulayman (Solomon),
who ruled over the most wealthy and well-known people in the
Arabia. She was asked to accept Islam, but not to give up her
rule (Surah 27:23-44).
Indeed, some feel that Abu Bakra's testimony should be held
anyway, since he had previously been flogged for a fraudulent
statement, and the shari'ah ruling was that after such an offence
the person's word should never again be upheld as reliable in
a court of law. However, Abu Bakra was a noble Companion who
had converted to Islam from Taif, and who related several hadiths.
His 'offence' concerned the case of Mugheera b.
Shu'ba, a man known for his weakness for women. He would marry
women and would divorce them after some time to make room for
more beautiful faces. In this way, he married no less than 80
wives, taking steps to ensure that at a time his wives were
not more than four, the limit prescribed by the Shariah.
In those days at Basra, there was a beautiful woman Umm Jamil.
belonged to the same tribe as that of Mugheera. Her husband
had died and she became notorious for loose morals. Mugheera
was attracted by her and she visited him often.
Some Muslims in Basra became critical of the conduct of Mugheera.
Among them was Abu Bakra Thaqeefi whose house across the street
faced the house of Mugheera.
One day a strong wind blew and the windows of the houses of
Abu Bakra and Mugheera got opened through the force of the wind.
He saw through the window that in this house Mugheera was locked
in an uncompromising state with a woman. He thought that the
woman was Umm Jamil. He had some friends with him, and they
also saw Mugheera involved with a woman.
Abu Bakra wrote to Caliph Umar accusing Mugheera of adultery.
The report was endorsed by four witnesses who had seen Mugheera
in an uncompromising state with a woman. Umar took prompt action.
Umar appointed Abu Musa as the Governor of Basra and removed
Mugheera from the office. Mugheera was summoned to Madinah to
face trial. Abu Bakra and the other witnesses who had made the
complaint were also summoned to Madinah.
At the trial, Mugheera pleaded not guilty. His defence was
that the woman in question was his wife and not Umm Jamil. With
great indignation he averred that Abu Bakra and the men with
him had no right to interfere in his privacy. Abu Bakra on the
other hand maintained that the woman was Umm Jamil. Three other
witnesses corroborated the statement of Abu Bakra. The fourth
witness Ziyad stated that he had seen the event, but he had
not seen the face of the woman and did not know who she was.
The other witnesses were cross examined, and it was found that
there were some weak points in their evidence. They were asked
whether the woman had her back or her face toward them. They
said that she had their back to them. They tried to make out
that even from her back she could be identified as Umm Jamil.
They argued that the scandal of Mugheera and Umm Jamil was very
common in Basra, and that lady was none else but Umm Jamil.
Under the Quranic law in order to press the charge of adultery
evidence of four witnesses was necessary. As in this case the
witness was not sure of the identification of the woman, Mugheera
given the benefit of doubt and acquitted. Abu Bakra and his
companions who had levelled the charge were punished with lashes
for making a charge which could not be established. Such was
the care that was taken with evidence for adultery in those
days! However, one feels that Abu Bakra did not deserve his
In spite of his acquittal, Mugheera was not restored to the
office of the
Governor, and was detained in Madinah. He made some show of
indignation at having been treated shabbily in a case which
was false. Umar called him to his presence and issued the warning:
"O Mugheera offer thanks to God that full evidence was
not forthcoming against you, and you have been saved from disgrace
by a technical flaw. Grounds of suspicion against you were very
much there, and I have given you the benefit of doubt. Remember
that if the evidence was complete, you would have been stoned
to death." (From the lives of the Caliphs, Alim CD).
I would like to examine more closely the saying about Hell
two-thirds full of women. The hadith in fact came in several
different versions, based on two quite separate occasions -
the first being the collection of alms after the Eid prayer,
as I have presented it in my article, and the second being the
day of the tragic death of the Prophet's (Allah bless him and
give him peace) son Ibrahim, when an eclipse occurred. Added
phrases mention the women's practice of Islam as being inferior
to that of the men.
Taking the 'eclipse' sayings first:
Abdullah bin Abbas (who was also the source of the hadith
given in Bukhari 1:28, where the occasion was the Eid prayer)
narrated: The sun eclipsed in the lifetime of the Prophet (Allah
bless him and give him peace). Allah's Apostle offered the eclipse
prayer and stood for a long period equal to the time in which
one could recite Surat-al-Baqara. Then he bowed for a long time
and then stood up for a long period which was shorter than that
of the first standing, then bowed again for a long time but
for a shorter period than the first; then he prostrated twice
and then stood up for a long period which was shorter than that
of the first standing; then he bowed for a long time which was
shorter than the previous one, and then he raised his head and
stood up for a long period which was shorter than the first
standing, then he bowed for a long time which was shorter than
the first bowing, and then prostrated (twice) and finished the
prayer. By then, the sun (eclipse) had cleared. The Prophet
then said, "The sun and the moon are two of the signs of
Allah. They eclipse neither because of the death of somebody
nor because of his life (i.e. birth). So when you see them,
remember Allah." The people say, "O Allah's Apostle!
We saw you taking something from your place and then we saw
you retreating." The Prophet replied, "I saw Paradise
and stretched my hands towards a bunch (of its fruits) and had
I taken it, you would have eaten from it as long as the world
remains. I also saw the Hell-fire and I had never seen such
a horrible sight. I saw that most of the inhabitants were women."
The people asked, "O Allah's Apostle! Why is it so?"
The Prophet replied, "Because of their ungratefulness."
It was asked whether they are ungrateful to Allah.
The Prophet said, "They are ungrateful to their companions
(husbands) and ungrateful to good deeds. If you are benevolent
to one of them throughout the life and if she sees anything
(undesirable) in you,
she will say, 'I have never had any good from you.' " (Buk
Buk 7.125 gives the first part the same as the above, and
saw Paradise (or Paradise was shown to me), and I stretched
my hand to pluck a bunch (of grapes), and had I plucked it,
you would have eaten of it as long as this world exists. Then
I saw the (Hell) Fire, and I have never before, seen such a
horrible sight as that, and I saw that the majority of its dwellers
were women." The people asked, "O Allah's Apostle!
What is the reason for that?" He replied, "Because
of their ungratefulness." It was said. "Do they disbelieve
in Allah (are they ungrateful to Allah)?" He replied, "They
are not thankful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the
favours done to them. Even if you do good to one of them all
your life, when she seems some harshness from you, she will
say, "I have never seen any good from you.' "
Now let us consider the Eid sayings:
Abu Said al-Khudri narrated: Once Allah's Apostle went out
to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) on '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 Apostle?" 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 Apostle! 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." (Bukhari 1.301).
According to Bukhari 2.541 Abu Said al-Khudri narrated: On
'Id ul Fitr or
'Id ul Adha Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) went out to the Musalla.
finishing the prayer, he delivered the sermon and ordered the
give alms. He said, "O people! Give alms." Then he
went towards the women and said. "O women! Give alms, for
I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-Fire were
you (women)." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle!
What is the reason for it?" He replied, "O women!
You curse frequently, and are ungrateful to your husbands. I
have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion
than you. O women, some of you can lead a cautious wise man
astray." Then he left. And when he reached his house, Zainab,
the wife of Ibn Mas'ud, came and asked permission to enter it
was said, "O Allah's Apostle! It is Zainab." He asked,
The reply was that she was the wife of Ibn Mas'ud. He said,
her to enter." And she was admitted. Then she said, "O
Prophet of Allah! Today you ordered people to give alms and
I had an ornament and intended to give it as alms, but Ibn Mas'ud
said that he and his children deserved it more than anybody
else." The Prophet replied, "Ibn Mas'ud had spoken
Your husband and your children had more right to it than anybody
In Muslim 31 Abdullah ibn Umar narrated: The Messenger of
O women, you should give charity and ask for much forgiveness
for I saw you in majority amongst the dwellers of Hell. A wise
lady among them said: Why is it, Messenger of Allah, that our
gender is in majority in Hell? Upon this the Holy Prophet observed:
You curse too much and are ungrateful to your spouses. I have
seen none lacking in common sense and failing in religion but
(at the same time) robbing the wisdom of the wise, besides you.
Upon this the woman remarked: What is wrong with our common
sense and with religion? He (the Holy prophet) observed: Your
lack of common sense (can be well judged from the fact) that
the evidence of two women is equal to that of one man, that
is a proof of the lack of common sense, and you spend some nights
(and days) in which you do not offer prayer and in the month
of Ramadan (during the days) you do not observe fast, that is
a failing in religion. This hadith has been narrated on the
authority of Abu Tahir with this chain of transmitters. See
also Muslim 448.
However, we must make very clear that women not offering prayer
during their menses in the month of Ramadan is NOT a failing
in their religion at all - it was a concession allowed by Allah
in His revelation. Women were simply required to make up the
missed days at some other time before the next Ramadan month.
'Therefore, anyone of you who witnesses that month should
and whoever is ill or upon a journey shall fast a similar number
of days later on. Allah intends your well-being and does not
want to put you to
He wants you to complete the prescribed period so that you should
glorify His Greatness and render thanks to Him for giving you
Imam Malik did not regard travelling as being a good enough
reason. 'No one who, by the Book of Allah, has to fast may break
his fast except for a reason - illness or menstruation. He must
not travel and break his fast."
Malik said, "This is the best that I have heard about the
Fiqh as-Sunnah 1.71a: If women fast (while menstruating during
Ramadan), their fasting will be considered null and void. If
they fast during the month of Ramadan, they will still have
to make those days of fasting up later on. Mu'adhah said, "I
asked 'Aishah, 'Why must we make up the fasts missed due to
our menstruation, and not the prayers (missed through menstruation)?'
She said, 'That was what the Messenger of Allah told us to do.
We were ordered to make up the fasts, and we were ordered not
to make up the prayers."
As regards the witness of two women being required instead
of one, the
shari'ah generally accepts that this is advisable in cases where
have little knowledge and no expertise of the subject. In matters
where their witness would be just as valid as a man's, the witness
of one women is sufficient.
(Many passages in this article were taken from my book on
the Life of the Prophet, due out later this year insha'Allah,
and where no reference is given to the sahih hadith collections,
they were derived from Ibn Hisham or Ibn Sa'd).
May God bless you all, wasalaam, Ruqaiyyah.