Is this Gender Discrimination?
Social Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

What does this Hadīth mean?

Narrated Abū Mūsā Ash‘arī: Allah’s Messenger (sws) said: ‘Many amongst men attained perfection but amongst women none attained perfection except Maryam (rta), the daughter of 'Imrān, and Āsīyah (rta), the wife of Pharaoh. And the superiority of Ā’ishah (rta) to other women is like the superiority of Tharīd (an Arab dish) to other meals.’ (Bukhārī: Kitāb Ahādīthu’l-Ambiyā’)

Being a woman, I am concerned about the words ‘many amongst men...but amongst women none …’  Why? Doesn’t the Qur’ān say men and women are equal as human beings?


The Hadīth does not compare men and women in their capacity as human beings. It does not say that men are superior to women in this regard. Men and women are equal as far as being human beings are concerned.

A little deliberation on the Hadīth shows that the Prophet (sws) is just mentioning a fact regarding the prominence achieved in piety by men and women until his times. He is not commenting on men and women of subsequent times. In other words, he is not stating any general principle about men and women. What he is actually commenting upon is the historical fact that up to his times more men have achieved excellence in piety than women. This of course does not mean that in later times this proportion will continue, nor does it mean that men are generally more pious than women.


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