Was Eve created from Adam’s Rib?
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

Was Eve actually created from Adam’s rib? What is the meaning of the following Hadīth?

Allah’s Apostle said: Treat women nicely, for a women is created from a rib, and the most curved portion of the rib is its upper portion; so, if you should try to straighten it, it will break, but if you leave it as it is, it will remain crooked. So treat women nicely. (Bukhārī, Kitāb Ahādīth al-ambiyā)


It is not correct that Eve was created from Adam’s rib. The first verse of Sūrah Nisā explicitly states that the first man and woman (Adam and Eve) were created directly by the Almighty:

O mankind! Fear your Lord who created you from a single soul and of like nature his mate and from the two scattered [like seeds] countless men and women. (4:1)

Some people translate this verse as ‘It is he Who has created you from a single person (Adam) and then He created from him his wife (Eve)’. They explain this verse by saying that Eve was created from the rib of Adam. This misleading translation has probably arisen because of the Arabic words khalaqa minha zawjaha, which if literally translated mean ‘created from him [–the initial soul–] his wife’. Actually the word minha (from the soul) does not imply that ‘Eve was made from Adam’; they rather imply that Eve was made from the same species as Adam. A similar verse points to this interpretation:

It is God who has made from your species your mates. (16:72)

A literal translation of the original words ja‘ala lakum min anfusikum azwājā of the above quoted verse (which are very similar to khalaqa minha zawjaha) would mean ‘it is God which has created your mates from you’ implying that every wife is made from her husband as Eve was. This of course is incorrect; the word anfus (plural of nafs) in this verse means ‘genre’, ‘species’ and not ‘physical being’.

As far as the Hadīth you have quoted is concerned, it needs to be appreciated that in Arabic the words ‘created from’ do not necessarily refer to the substance of creation; they can also refer to the nature of something. For example the Qur’ān says: ‘Man has been created from hastiness’, (21:37). This does not of course mean that man’s substance is hastiness; it only refers to his nature.

Secondly, if all the texts of the Hadīth you have referred to are collected and analyzed, it becomes evident that the Prophet (sws) has compared the nature of a woman with a rib. The comparison subtly alludes to the fact that a woman’s nature is very delicate and tender as well as a bit adamant. The Prophet (sws) has advised men to treat them tactfully keeping in view this nature. Instead of forcing them to accept a particular point of view, men should try to convince and persuade them.

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