Are women less intelligent than men?

Are women less intelligent than men?

I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. (Bukhari)

Whenever a wife offers her opinion, her husband might say she only has half a brain.

Yet the Prophet (peace be on him) never said that women were stupid, so what did he mean when he said this?

First, we must verify the hadith. When we check it, we find that it is indeed a clear and an authentic hadith. So we cannot reject it. It is valid.

Next, we look at its context. From a linguistic point of view  the word nakis means a deficiency.

Next we check the context of the hadith. When you open the book of the Sunnah and read when the Prophet (peace be on him) said this, you will be surprised. He said it on Eid day. Moreover he said it to a congregation of women.

Was the character of the Prophet (peace be on him) harsh? Or was he merciful and kind? Then how come he was addressing a congregation of women on Eid day, a day of happiness by insulting them? It is not in line with his character. Then how do we make sense of his comment?

It took me a long a time to understand this hadith and to realise he was joking. He was joking with the women at Eid. When I mentioned my idea to a senior Shaykh, he agreed and said it had never occurred to him, but that it made complete sense and that it should be added to the compilation of prophetic jokes.

What was the joke? The Prophet (peace be on him) was saying that women, despite being the proverbial ‘weaker sex’, actually dominate and control their husbands. How are they weak? Not because they lack intelligence, but because their testimony is worth half of man’s. So he is saying imagine how much power you women would have if you didn’t have this deficiency? I have never seen someone as weak as you, as powerful as you are. They must have been laughing because they understood what he meant. Regrettably instead this hadith has been used as a tool to attack women, to say is deficient in her deen and her testimony is less than the shahada of men.

Delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim during his Misunderstood Verses course on 8th December 2020. Transcribed by A Khan

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001.His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College).He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.