The following observation is to me one of the clearest evidences of the inequality of men and women under Islam.
Mohammed said, “I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers are women.”
This hadith can be found in:-
SaHeeH Bukhari: 29, 304, 1052, 1462, 3241, 5197, 5198, 6449, 6546 (FatH Al-Bari’s numbering system)
SaHeeH Muslim: 80, 885, 907, 2737, 2738 (Abd Al-BaQi’s numbering system)
Sunan Al-Tarmithi: 635, 2602, 2603, 2613 (AHmad Shakir’s numbering system)
Sunan Al-Nasa’i: 1493, 1575 (Abi Ghuda’s numbering system)
Sunan Ibn Majah: 4003 (Abd Al-BaQi’s numbering system)
Musnad AHmad: 2087, 2706, 3364, 3376, 3559, 4009, 4027, 4111, 4140, 5321, 6574, 7891, 8645, 14386, 27562, 27567, 19336, 19351, 19415, 19425, 19480, 19484, 20743, 21729, 26508 (IHya’ Al-Turath’s numbering system)
Muwata’ Malik: 445 (Muqata’ Malik’s numbering system)
Sunan Al-Darimi: 1007 (Alami and Zarmali’s numbering system)
I’ve read this Hadeeth when I started researching Islam a year ago, and I found it to be the strongest evidence that men and women are not equal. Let me explain:-
Let’s say we have two classes in a certain school, they both have the same number of students, and that number is a huge number. Say we gave them both a test. The majority of Class A passed the test while the majority of Class B failed. If both classes have the same mental capabilities, same degree of education, same test, same incentives then they should get very close results. Else, it means that something was not right. That either Class B are not as well educated as A, or that B’s exam was harder, etc…. Thus the examiner isn’t a fair examiner.
The above applies to the Hadeeth. If both men and women are equal then the number of men relative to women in hell should be almost equal too. If not, then it means that either women are more subject and tempted by sin (a harder exam), or that they don’t have the same opportunities men do (less level of education). Which in the end indicated that God either wasn’t fair in testing them, or he wasn’t fair in creating them.
Add to this observation that there are naturally more boys are born than girls (about 5% more), i.e. more men than women have lived on this earth (even though they die younger), then this issue becomes even stronger.
Even though it seems quite clear what Muhammad meant, a possible objection could be raised from the English translation. What is the meaning of the word “majority” in the Arabic? Is it possible to interpret it as 50.1% to 49.9% or does the Arabic indicate a vast difference in numbers?
The word in Arabic is “akthar”, and is usually used when there’s a great difference in size, number, etc… That Hadeeth is understood by all Sheikhs and taken for granted that it means the “vast majority”. I even once heard someone saying that it means two-thirds of the people of hell are women. From the context, it is impossible to interpret it as 50.1% to 49.9%.
Another reason for that is that Mohammed “saw” with his eyes the vast difference, he didn’t do a survey, and God didn’t tell him the number. So if the difference is seen then it cannot possibly be just a 1% or 2% difference.
I did a further search and this Hadeeth appears lots of time. I found another Hadeeth in Bukhari which says something along the line of “the general public of hell’s dwellers are women”. The Arabic phrase used makes it very clear that Mohammed is talking about a VAST majority here.
- Narrated Usama:
The Prophet said, “I stood at the gate of Paradise and saw that the majority of the people who entered it were the poor, while the wealthy were stopped at the gate (for the accounts). But the companions of the Fire were ordered to be taken to the Fire. Then I stood at the gate of the Fire and saw that the majority of those who entered it were women.”
This hadith is found in
SaHeeH Bukhari: 5196, 6547 (FatH Al-Bari’s numbering system)
SaHeeH Muslim: 2736 (Abd Al-BaQi’s numbering system)
Musnad AHmad: 21275, 21318 (IHya’ Al-Turath’s numbering system)
The Arabic word used for “the majority” here is ‘Aammah (or 3ammah), and it indicates beyond any shred of a doubt (in Arabic) the *vast majority*. You see, I don’t think that “the majority” is a good translation. The translation for 3amah that I found was “the general public”. So Mohammed was actually saying that the “general public” of the people of hell are women.
Number of occurrences in Bukhari (both Hadeeths): 11 times
Number of occurrences in Muslim (both Hadeeths): 6 times
Number of occurrences in Ahmad (both Hadeeths): 27 times
Total number of occurrences (of both Hadeeths in ALL nine books): 53 times
Based on it being reported in many of the authentic books and also by many different chains of narrators, it is not possible to argue that this hadith is not authentic in its essential meaning.