Meaning of the lack in reason and religious commitment in women

Meaning of the lack in reason and religious commitment in women
We always hear the hadeeth, “Women are lacking in reason and religious commitment” and some men quote it in order to annoy women. We hope that you can explain the meaning of the hadeeth.

Praise be to Allaah.

The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him) said: “I have not seen any lacking in reason and religious
commitment but (at the same time) more able to rob the wisdom of the wise,
except one of you [women].” They said: How are we lacking in religious
commitment and reason, O Messenger of Allaah? He said: “Is not the testimony
of a woman like half the testimony of a man?” They said: Yes. He said: “That
is how she is lacking in reason. And when she menstruates, does she not
refrain from praying and
fasting?” They said: Yes. He said: “That is how she is lacking in religious
commitment.” So the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
explained that her lacking in reason refers to her weak memory, and that her
testimony must be supported by the testimony of another woman, in order to
confirm the testimony, because she may forget, and add something to or take
something away from her testimony, as Allaah says (interpretation of the
meaning):

“And
get two witnesses out of your own men. And if there are not two men
(available), then a man and two women, such as you agree for witnesses, so
that if one of them (two women) errs, the other can remind her”

[al-Baqarah 2:282]. 

With regard to her lacking in
religious commitment, that is because when she is menstruating or bleeding
following childbirth, she does not pray or fast, and she does not make up
the missed prayers, so this is lacking in religious commitment. But this
lacking is not something for which she is called to account or blamed,
rather it is something that happens by the will of Allaah; for He is the One
Who has prescribed that out of kindness towards her and so as to make things
easier for her, because if she were to fast during menses and nifaas, that
would harm her. By His mercy Allaah has prescribed that she should not fast
at the time of menses and nifaas, and she should make it up after that. 

With regard to prayer, at the time
of menses she is unable to purify herself, so by His mercy Allaah has
prescribed that she should not pray, and the same applies to nifaas, and He
has not prescribed that she should make it up, because making it up would be
very difficult, as prayers are offered five times a day, and menses may last
for several days, seven or eight or more, and nifaas may last as long as
forty days. So by His mercy and kindness towards her, Allaah has waived the
duty of offering and making up prayers.  

This does not mean that her reason
is lacking entirely, or that her religious commitment is lacking entirely,
rather the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
explained that the lack in her reasoning has to do with what may happen of
her testimony not being accurate, and the lack in her religious commitment
has to do with what may happen of her missing prayers and fasts at the time
of menses and nifaas.  But that does not imply that she is less than a man
in everything, or that a man is better than her in everything. 

Yes, the male gender is superior
to the female gender in general, for many reasons, as Allaah says
(interpretation of the meaning): 

“Men
are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of
them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their
means”

[al-Nisa’ 4:34]. 

But a woman may sometimes surpass
a man in many things. How often has a woman surpassed men in her reason,
religious commitment and memory. What is narrated from the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) with regard to the female gender
being inferior to the male gender in reason and religious commitment is from
this point of view, which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) explained.  

A woman may do a great deal of
righteous deeds and thus surpass many men in her righteous deeds, fear of
Allaah and status in the Hereafter. She may have a great deal of interest in
some matters and thus able to give proper testimony, better than that of 
some men in some issues in which she has an interest. She may strive in
memorization and understanding these issues, thus becoming a reference point
with regard to Islamic history and many other things. This is clear to
anyone who studies the state of women at the time of the Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and after that. 

Thus it is clear that this lack
does not mean that women cannot be relied on in narration (of hadeeth etc)
or in giving testimony, if it is supported by another woman. It also does
not mean that she does not fear Allaah or that she cannot be among the best
of Allaah’s slave and the best of the female slaves of Allaah, if she
adheres strictly to Islam. Although fasting is waived for her at the time of
menses and nifaas, she has to make it up, and even prayer is waived in her
case, but she does not have to make it up. This does not imply that she is
lacking in all things when it comes to fearing Allaah, obeying His commands
and becoming well-versed in matters that are of interest to her. It is a
lack that is specific to reason and religious commitment, in the way that
the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) explained. So
the believer should not accuse her of being lacking in all things, or of
being weak in religious commitment in all aspects, rather it is a specific
type of lacking that has to do with her religious commitment and reason,
which has to do with accuracy of testimony and so on. So she should be
treated fairly and the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) should be interpreted in the best possible manner. And
Allaah knows best. 

Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz
(may Allaah have mercy on him) 

Majallat al-Buhooth al-Islamiyyah (29/100-102).
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