Question: What are the verses of the Quran that specifically discuss the differences of intellectuality between men and women? There is scientific data that suggests that overall men's brain is more voluminous than women. But it doesn’t prove that men are smarter than women. I am not arguing/objecting. I just need to know how is this concept explained in the Quran and Hadith. بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Answer: Bear in mind that if someone is given virtue in something, this does not entail the degradation of everyone besides him or them having no virtue. For example, just because Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is considered the best of all messengers, this does not necessitate the other messengers’ debasement. In this time of fitnah (trial), many raise objections against Islam, nitpicking particular verses and hadiths without understanding them within their context. If someone were to view these verses and hadiths from an unislamic perspective, then the apparent meaning would seem problematic. Due to living in the West and being influenced by its environment, many Muslims have become affected by false propaganda, which has led them to apologetically misinterpret Islamic texts to make them appealing to non-Muslims. As Muslims, we are proud of our faith; thus, we do not have to sugarcoat our religion for anyone. Our goal is to acquire our Creator’s pleasure and mercy regardless of what others think or say. The Creator knows what to give, how much to give, and whom to give. In short, He knows what is best for His creation. A human being cannot comprehend many things with his limited mind; thus, there is a need for revelation (wahy) to guide him to what is correct.
Regarding the distinction of male and female in the Quran, Allah (SWT) says:
الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّـهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ
Translation: Men are the women’s caretakers because Allah gave virtue to some over others and due to what they spend of their wealth. (Surah An-Nisa: verse 34)
Some scholars of Tafseer mention that among the virtues Allah (SWT) has given man is complete reason (aql kamil) and the skill of good management (husnut-tadbeer). (Tafseer Mazhari: v. 2, p. 98 [Maktaba Rasheedia]) Nevertheless, one should not deduce from this ayat that Islam degrades women. Instead, Allah (SWT) described to us the role a man plays in society. Allah (SWT) has designated for men and women different roles and responsibilities; however, this does not mean a woman cannot excel a man in righteousness, nor does it mean that she is worthless. For a man to carry out his unique role, Allah (SWT) has granted him more reason than a woman. The ruling extracted from the Quran and Hadith regarding the reason of the male genus is general. However, it is still possible that Allah (SWT) allows certain women to surpass men in reason.
If gender equality means men and women are equal in everything, then such a claim is baseless both religiously and scientifically. The questions posed to those who make such claims are why are there separate leagues for males and females, e.g., basketball, mma, boxing, etc., if men and women are equal in everything? Is this not sexist according to the law of ‘gender equality’? The reality is that they have a double standard and love to highlight the matters of gender in Islam, whereas these verses and hadiths were never an issue in the past in terms of being ‘sexist’ or ‘discriminative.’ Take the example of voting-- in the early 1900s, women were not even allowed to vote in the US. However, this matter does not receive much attention, nor is it discussed.
Regarding the reason of women in the Hadith, it is mentioned:
ما رَأَيْتُ مِن ناقِصاتِ عَقْلٍ ودِينٍ أذْهَبَ لِلُبِّ الرَّجُلِ الحازِمِ مِن إحْداكُنَّ، قُلْنَ: وما نُقْصانُ دِينِنا وعَقْلِنا يا رَسولَ اللَّهِ؟ قالَ: أليسَ شَهادَةُ المَرْأَةِ مِثْلَ نِصْفِ شَهادَةِ الرَّجُلِ قُلْنَ: بَلى، قالَ: فَذَلِكِ مِن نُقْصانِ عَقْلِها، أليسَ إذا حاضَتْ لَمْ تُصَلِّ ولَمْ تَصُمْ قُلْنَ: بَلى، قالَ: فَذَلِكِ مِن نُقْصانِ دِينِها.
أخرجه البخاري (٣٠٤)
Translation: The Prophet (SAW) said, “I have not seen such persons deficient of reason and religion who does away with the intellect of a determined man than one of you.” The women said, “What is the deficiency of our religion and reason, o Rasulullah?” He said, “Is the woman’s testimony not half the man’s testimony?” They said, “Yes.” He said, “This is the deficiency of her reason. Is it not that when she menstruates, she does not pray or fast?” They said, “Yes.” He said, “This is the deficiency of her religion.”
Notice here that the illustrious Sahabiyat (female companions of the Prophet SAW) did not object and say ‘this is sexist and unfair’ or anything along those lines. Instead, they wholeheartedly accepted what the Prophet (SAW) said because their hearts were pure and filled with Iman. They had entered entirely into Islam and knew whatever Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (SAW) said was the truth and correct. Those who have hatred for Islam use such verses and hadiths to criticize Islam. On account of their hatred and lack of understanding, they fail to understand these sacred texts' intended meanings. In nature, a woman is more emotional than a man; thus, her reason is affected; however, this is not blameworthy. With this emotion, she can tirelessly raise her kids, bear great difficulties, and do many things her husband cannot do.
Only Allah knows best
Written by Maulana Mohammad Ahsan Osmani Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah Darul Ifta Birmingham