Sub-Index for: Women's Issues

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Is it true that, according to the Prophet’s teachings, women are inherently ungrateful? I mean that it is natural for women to possess the trait of ingratitude to a far greater degree than men?

Answered by

Sheikh Salman al-Oadah

Some of the worst, most debilitating falsehoods that ravage the self-esteem of their victims are the stereotypical notions many men entertain about women.

These ideas are perpetuated among both men and women in many cultures. They are promoted by advice columns and passed on via social media and SMS messages.

One of these false ideas is the belief that women are never happy with anything. Those who promote this idea like to cite from the Prophet that a woman might sometimes say to her husband when she is angry: “I have never seen any good in you.”

The Prophet said after leading prayer, he had a vision where, among other things, he saw there were many women in Hell for their ingratitude. They asked him if this was because of their ingratitude (meaning disbelief) in Allah. He answered that it was: “for their ingratitude to their husbands and ingratitude to kindness. If you were to treat one of them kindly for ever, but if she later saw anything (displeasing) in you, she would say: “I have never seen any good in you.” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī and Sahīh Muslim]

The people who cite this to disparage women are taking the Prophet’s words out of context. He is only mentioning something that women had a habit of saying in a moment anger to their husbands, not something they believed in their hearts or that they feel all the time. At another time, the same woman might easily say: “You mean the world to me.”

When the Prophet made that statement, he was just giving an example of the negative things people are in the habit of saying unthinkingly. He meant what he was saying to be for the benefit of all people, to give them general encouragement to be careful in what they say and improve themselves in the process.

It is wrong to doubt a woman’s religiousness, think that women are naturally untrustworthy, or believe that the woman is less than the man. None of this is accurate. Actually, in my experience it seems that women have a stronger inclination to religiousness than men have. There are numerous circumstances wherein women uphold prayer, worship, and ethical conduct, where men often succumb to drink or excessive behaviour.

Men and women are two sides of the same coin. It is important for us to dispel some very general false and widespread notions that some people treat like scriptural truth.

Even the notion of a woman’s guardian in Islam is misunderstood and abused. It is not a role of overseer where a woman’s behaviour is monitored and policed, and where she is kept in her “proper place”. Rather, it is a role of protector, to safeguard the woman from those who would harm her or transgress against her.

And Allah knows best.