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According to islam, are women lacking in intellect as compared to men?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

According to this verse: ” And women have rights similar to the rights against them(ie that of men) according to what is equitable and men have a degree over them” Baqarah: 228 Does this mean that men are SUPERIOR to women? If so, is it because of these 3 reasons: 1)men have perfect understanding, and women have a DEFICIENCY in INTELLECT. 2)Is it also because women lack perfection of deen because they miss out on salaah during menses and men have perfection of deen? 3)Is it also because men spend of their wealth on women?? Are all the reasons valid? What is the true interpretation of the above quoted verse? Please advise me on the truth of this matter. I appreciate every effort undertaken.


It is true that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) has mentioned that women have less intelligence than men. This is recorded in Bukhari Shareef.  As far as decision making between husband and wife, the Shari’ah has made the husband the head of the family. The wife has to obey his lawful demands. This does not mean that he should not consult with her, or that she has no say whatsoever in the family, but it means that time final authority lies with the husband.

Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, ‘I have not seen a person deficient in intelligence and Deen more able to overcome an intelligent man that you, O women. The women asked, ‘What is the deficiency in our intellect and Deen.’ Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) replied, ‘Is it not that in testimony, your testimony is half of the man’s.’ They replied, ‘Certainly.’ He (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, ‘This is due to your deficient intellect.’ Also refer below our standard reply to a similar query.

and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

We have taken note of your e-mail. By the grace of Allah we are not offended  by the least. We understand your frame of mind quite well, and are well  aware of the type of mindset you have. We sincerely make du’a that Allah Ta’ala grants you increase in Islamic knowledge and an understanding of the Deen.

Please find attached a copy of the text under question. However, I am sure that this will not solve the matter, for even if we had to present Imaam Bukhari’s hand-written manuscript it will be of no value to you.

The root of the issue is that you view Islam from a western mindset. Your values and principles lie in the kuffaar way of life, hence your apologetic attitude regarding many of the teachings of Islam. We are all in need of shedding some pride, which is the cornerstone of western ideology.

One of the principles that you have inherited from the kuffaar is the equating of inferiority with derogation.

To accept that Allah Ta’ala has created somebody or something inferior to another, in no way implies that the inferior person or thing is belittled.

There are various examples of where Allah Ta’ala, in accordance to His wisdom, has created certain people superior than others. This is the right of Allah Ta’ala and no one may question His Wisdom. His Knowledge is absolute and we, as His creation, cannot fathom His Wisdom.

Consider that Allah Ta’ala has created:

(a) Our Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) as the most superior of all the ambiyaa (prophets).
(b) Hazrat Jibra-eel (alayhis salaam) as the most superior angel.
(c) Hazrat Abu Bakr (Radiyallahu anhu) as the most superior companion of our Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)
(d) Makkah as the most superior city.
(e) The Quráan the most superior of the Divine Books

These are merely few cases mentioned by way of illustration. If we had the time, we could have easily produced a few thousand examples.

In all these cases, since a superior exists, the converse must necessarily follow to be the inferior.

Can one claim that by referring to them as inferior, we wish to belittle or deride them? Do we imply that they are debase and disgraceful? Does it imply that they are ignominious?

If this was the case it would imply that since Allah Ta’ala has created our Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) as the most superior Nabi, Allah forbid, all the other Ambiyaa (alayhis salaam) have no value? Does it mean that since the Quráan is most superior, all other Divine scriptures are merit less? The same question can be posed regarding the other examples given.

On the one hand, inferiority is no shame, and on the other hand, it is the prerogative of Allah Ta’ala to grant intellect to whom so ever He wishes to. If in His Wisdom He granted men more intelligence than women, it is His Right. No one can question Him, nor can we, with our feeble intelligence claim, Allah forbid, that it is illogical for Allah Ta’ala to have done so. It is neither implied that Allah Ta’ala has degraded women, nor made them valueless.

Allah Ta’ala has created man and woman for separate roles. He also granted each one of the two qualities which are more befitting for their respective roles, e.g. women are generally more emotional than men in keeping with their role of motherhood. In the same light he has granted men more intelligence than women, in accordance of their role of guardians and overseers over women.

You have misinterpreted this to imply that women are un-intelligent and stupid. This is the result of the corrupt basis from which you are viewing the issue. You have presumed inferiority to mean degradation.

Almost the entire universe is made of inferior beings. We are all in one way or the other inferior. We do not have to hang our heads in shame for being inferior. It is the Divine system that He has created us inferior in some respect or the other. There is therefore no need for women to feel ashamed of the fact that they have been granted less of one quality than men.

It is rational to accept that not all humans are not of equal intelligence. It therefore follows that some are more intelligent than others are i.e. others are inferior in intelligence. Can one claim that others are devoid of intelligence? Such a claim will certainly be illogical.

The writer hereof has no qualms in accepting that there are many persons more intelligent than I am. This makes me inferior in intellect. Why should I allow my pride make me feel ashamed of it. Now, I wish to meet a person who can claim to be the most superior in intellect. Yet pride will prevent many a person from accepting that they are of inferior intellect, for in their feeble minds it implies some type of disgrace.

In brief, inferiority does not imply disgrace.

May Allah Ta’ala grant us all understanding.

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This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.