Refuting misconceptions about inferiority of women
Fatwa No: 353038

  • Fatwa Date:21-8-2017 - Thul-Qi'dah 29, 1438
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Question

Assalaamu alaykum Shaikh. In summary, in Majmoo Al-Faatawa, it is stated that men are perfect, so he does not need to adorn himself for the person whom he loves, and that women are imperfect, so she needs to adorn herself for the person whom she loves (her husband). I even read a fatwa, the main point of which is that if a man castrates his genital, it is as imperfect as a woman's genital. As a woman, I feel very sad, upset, ashamed, stupid, and degraded. Is this imperfection blameworthy or not? I am requesting you to clarify; are women belittled in this explanation or not? What is actually meant by the imperfection of women? Scholars say that women are imperfect, have faults, and cannot execute many tasks, and I read these statements on authentic Islamic websites. Is being a man a matter of pride and being a woman a matter of shame? I feel sad because these statements belittle women and devalue women. I know that Islam honours women and gives them rights, but I am confused about some matters. So I would be grateful if you could explain the actual and authentic matters, so that I can get rid of my confusion, as it is not clear to me. I am requesting you to answer my question specifically instead of showing other fatwas.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger. 

We will respond to your questions in the following points:

1- The matters which you mentioned in the question do not lead to any action. So there is no point in investigating them and being concerned about them; let alone them becoming a source of confusion and anxiety. So it is better for you to be concerned with what you need of Islamic rulings. Also, it is not good to follow questions about misconceptions, as they may affect your heart; as a result, it would be difficult to get rid of them, thus it spoils the religion of the Muslim. A sound heart does not accept such misconceptions; rather, it rejects them immediately. In fatwa 340435, we mentioned a valuable advice from Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah to his student Ibn Al-Qayyim with regard to misconceptions, so please refer to it.

2- The need of women for adornment is something that the Shariah highlighted and reality proved. It is part of the nature of the woman to like adornment and luxury. It is something that is intrinsic to her Fitrah (natural disposition). It is for this reason that she needs jewelry and the like, unlike the man, who does not need what women need. Abu Hayyaan said in his interpretation Al-Bahr Al-Muheet: {So is one brought up in ornaments….} [Quran 43: 18]; “i.e. one who moves in his life from one stage to another in ornament, which is the jewelry that is suitable only for females and not for males, to adorn themselves for their husbands…” This is also an indication that men do not need to be adorned like women and that men should tolerate roughness; and a real man refuses to have the same qualities as those of women.

A woman being inferior to man in some cases and her unsuitability for some works or crafts is not a shame for her, and she is not blamed for it, because she has no control over this matter; rather, she is created like this, as we have already mentioned.

3- Deficiency is the nature of human beings, both men and women. When women are described as being deficient, then this deficiency is relative; meaning compared to men. She is created in proportion to the task that she is fulfilling in this life, such as giving birth to children, nurturing them, and so on. It is for this reason that she is mostly affectionate, and she menstruates and gets weak, and her mood changes during pregnancy.

On the other hand, if a man is described as being perfect, then this perfection is also relative; meaning compared to women. One of his most important tasks in life is to make a living, to face adversity, to be firm in matters, and so forth. It is for this reason that he is given strength and endurance and his mind is dominant over his affection.

It is appropriate to mention here that the difference in creation led to the difference in obligations, and the Shariah alleviated many matters for women, while men are ordered to perform them. For instance, a man is obliged to spend on his wife even if she is rich, and he is to spend on his children who have no money, and if he is negligent in this, he is sinful. He is also addressed to make jihaad and guard the borders, for example. Women are not responsible for any of this.

4- Manhood is not a matter of pride for men, and womanhood is not a disgrace for women, as neither men nor women have a hand in choosing their gender; rather, it is the Creation of Allah.

5- Your saying, "I even read a fatwa, the main point of which is that if a man castrates his genital, it is as imperfect as a woman's genital." We do not know in which fatwa you read this. In our view, this is an irrelevant comparison, because a man who is castrated becomes unable to have sexual intercourse, while women are not so.

Allah knows best.

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