Question: Salam Alikum, I have seen a hadith that I am really confused about. The hadith reads, “It used to be said that the people with the worst punishment [on the Day of Judgment] are two: A woman who disobeyed her husband, and a people’s Imam whom they dislike.”
What does the hadith mean? Does it mean that a woman who disobeys her husband will have a worse punishment than a husband who abuses his wife and oppressors her? Does that mean that the punishment for neglecting the rights of the husband is worse than the punishment of a husband who severely abuses his wife without justification and does not give her rights?
Wa alaykum al-Salam
Thank you for writing to us.
The hadith you mention is classified as slightly weak, which means it cannot be relied on in matters of fiqh or aqidah. However, even if it were an authentic hadith, it does not mean that women who disobey their husbands are punished more severely than husbands who abuse their wives. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) warned of severe punishments for different categories of people, including people who behave violently to others.
Allah’s Law is Balanced
Know that the Law of Allah is fair and balanced. It brings about stability in the lands and aims at strengthening relationships, honing understanding, and spreading compassion between all human beings. Allah’s Law will never treat anyone unjustly. It does not give preference to one race over another nor one gender over the other. We are all equal, black and white, male and female, in the eyes of Allah and the only thing that distinguishes one from the other is taqwa (Allah-consciousness).
Once this primary and essential understanding is engraved within our hearts, it drives us to find a suitable interpretation or understanding for narrations or traditions that may, at face value, seem to be unjust towards women, or men for that matter.
The Hadith in Question
The hadith has been narrated by Imam Tirmidhi in his Sunan and Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf. Both chains of transmission include Ziyad ibn Abi al-Jad who transmits from the companion Amr ibn al-Harith who said, “It used to be said that the people with the worst punishment on the Day of Judgment are two: A woman who disobeyed her husband, and a people’s Imam whom they dislike.”
In this instance, the narrator, Ziyad bin Abi al-Ja’d, is classified as layyin al-hadith. This means that the above hadith that he transmitted is slightly weak and should not be used to establish law or belief.
Furthermore, the companion does not attribute these words to the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) directly, although one may understand that he is implying that it is a statement of the Messenger.
Nonetheless, and even assuming that the narration is authentic, the words used do not suggest that a disobedient wife is worse off than an abusive husband. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) used the same wording to refer to other categories of people. He did so to stress the seriousness of a crime, without any bias as to gender. In fact, he used the same phrase when he addressed violence, which would include an abusive husband.
In an authentic narration, he (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Indeed those who will be most intensely punished on the Day of Judgment are those who inflicted the most intense punishment on humans in this world” (Musnad al-Humaydi).
And Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.