Ayatollah Khamenei's website has a video Women are stronger than men dated 2013. It's quite touching, and you can see the women in the audience are visibly moved.

Ayatollah Khamenei

In this video, what he says is translated to:

I always say to my friends and relatives and to women that, contrary to the idea that has been established, women are the stronger gender. Women are stronger than men. Women can completely control and influence men with their wisdom and delicacy. We can see this in practice and we can prove it by reasoning. This is a reality.

Of course, there are a number of women who do not adopt wise measures and who, as a result, cannot do this. But if a woman is wise enough she can tame a man. This is like the situation in which a person can bridle and ride a wild lion. This does not mean that he is physically stronger than the lion. Rather, this means that he has managed to use his mental power. Women have this capability, but they should do this with delicacy and subtlety. When I say delicacy, I do not only mean physical delicacy. As well as physical delicacy, I mean delicacy in implementing thoughts and ideas, showing acumen and making decisions.

These are capabilities which Allah the Exalted has bestowed on women.

In my opinion, this should be the basis. This discourse should be improved and pursued.

It's a remarkable speech, at odds with the idea of women's intelligence being deficient in Islam. For example, in the top answer Why does a man's witness count as two women's witness in Islam?, we find:

In Sunni point of view, Women have deficiency in reason and in religion. -- Abdullah

supported by a fatwa (links no longer working). A similar (yet non-identical) version can be found AbdurRahman.Org) which states "There are many women whose reason is better than men, and are stronger in deen and memorization." and quotes a hadith, probably Sahih al-Bukhari 304 (sunnah.com), as:

... I have not seen anyone more deficient in ability to reason and deen than you. ...

This leads to the question:

Question: What is Shia Islam's take on the deficiency in women's intelligence?


1 Answer 1


O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;- reverence Allah, through whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for Allah ever watches over you. Nisa' : 1

Men are not above women, women are not above men. We are mates.

There is also a beautiful line from Commander of the faithful:

فی رساله أمیرالمؤمنین إلی الحسن (ع) قال: «لا تملک المرأه من الأمر ما یجاوز نفسها؛ فإنّ ذلک أنعم بحالها، و أرخی لبالها، و أدوم لجمالها؛ فإنّ المرأه ریحانه و لیست بقهرمانه.»

“Do not tolerate that women do things beyond their abilities because this is more suitable for their status, it calms their hearts, and preserves their beauty; surely women are like fragrant flowers and not warriors.”(2)

Wasa’il ush-Shi‘ah, vol. 20, p. 168.

To be like a like a flower and not like a warrior she needs different attributes. I'll discuss them in my answer.

Do you have the following premises? That the following 2 quotes must/are be conflicting

  1. "Women can completely control and influence men with their wisdom and delicacy. We can see this in practice and we can prove it by reasoning. This is a reality."

  2. "Women have deficiency"

To me they are in agreement. I've learned things from my child, from my wife, my father, my mother, my grandmother, my grandfather, my sisters, my aunts, my friend, my female teachers, my neighbor, strangers, my students, people with less of education, etc. Some of them were stronger at things they taught me, some of them were weaker at things they taught me.

Generally speaking among Shia's, women are more involved. If you see my other answer about the level of obedience, you see it's different from the Sunni view. In Sunni view, Women are somewhat to obey as long as the husband's request is not-haram. In Shia'ism women have 2 restrictions only: Don't leave the house without your husband's permission and share a bed with him...so she has more freedom. Other than that she's just highly recommended to listen to her husband, while husbands are highly recommended to support and shower their wives with love, help her in the house.

Additionally when men are said to have more intelligence it doesn't mean it's complete/perfect. Many men are idiots/wrongdoers. It only means, men have more of something than women. The perfect amount of wisdom only belongs to the infallible prophets/Imams + infallible ladies (like Maryam, Khadija, or Hazrat Fatima. Only prophet Muhammad's rank is above Lady Fatima)

But there's a Shia quote from the commander of the faithful Imam Ali: Women have deficiency in intelligence (and therefor can't be a judge), deficiency in faith, (because they can't always pray because of their monthly periods) and deficiency in fortunes (because they have half inheritance).

But how is that a good thing? To be honest I'm not sure. But here's what I think:

  • If they were like men, they wouldn't fall for men. In Islam it's recommended to get married as soon as you're in need of feel that you'll sin. But now this man, is young, stupid and without wealth. Why would you marry him? He really doesn't have anything. You the lady on the other hand, have everything, the beauty of a young lady and are fresh, full of joy. You're the treasure and I the man am the dipshit. Why the hell would you marry yourself to this man, which then you would have to seek permission to leave your house? Whom you have to please? (There are many benefits which the women would also get, it's a trade off... I get it). The women does this out of love. It's not a pure calculative decision. ( I don't mean she'll just be dumb and marry any idiot, but it won't be 100% calculative. Same for men. But for me men it's more calculative)
  • Then life goes on and now you're in the same house, but if women were like men, then they wouldn't wake up in the morning to cook for Suhur. They would say "why should I cook?" ...They won't look after their child. Instead they'd be like, "I'll looked after him, now it's your turn". I know that if you leave children to men, they usually tend to get dirty, hungry and won't feel loved. But don't get me wrong, she's not a servant to him. To understand better what I mean kind read this answer of mine.
  • For every 1 man, there are 2 women who get depressed. Why? Because women are more sensitive beings. Now imagine if this women is put in court and now she has to judge people, it would take a more severe toll on her. Over time her love/joy/fire would go cold. Men on the other hand are more brute and less likely susceptible. Additionally because of being more sensitive, they are less likely to carry on with punishments/sentences and therefore make weaker judgements.
  • If she was calculative like men, then the moment she sees a stronger, wealthier women, better looking man she'll just jump to him. Really imagine if women were like that (I'm not saying they are never like that, but it's happening on a far lesser frequency than it's happening for men). Being a man I can tell you that men are somewhat like that. I mean if we see a beautiful women, we really want her. It's hard. I don't know why God created us this way. I guess it helps us to breed and perhaps it's also part of our test (to see women we like, but then hold back...just like a hijabi woman who likes to project her beauties but must hold back).
  • The bodily transformation that a woman goes through her pregnancy is something that if you asked men, most of them would just walk away from it, something growing inside?! I can't work...can't provide...I'll look ugly, fath, I can't do things the same way. Yet mothers are loving creatures, willing to go through with all its problems (back and hip pain, change in body metabolism, limited movement, harder sleep, etc) and we men take it for granted. Men have love, they also have love for their children, but love for women if not superior is yet very different——enough to make them go throw all the hardship of pregnancy.

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  • According to the prophet, "whenever you marry, half of your religion is considered safe". It really means we complete one another with our differences. Half is a huge chunk! I can't think of anything that fixes half of our problems that easy. Staying at home with my father/ male friend/cousin/teacher won't necessarily protect half of my religion but marrying a woman would.

Additionally I find this quote somewhat related:

Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby.. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit!” -- William Golding

To do all of the above, a women/mother/lover needs to have more of love than she needs of logic. Why? Because her domain of activities are not the same of men. Needless to say:Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. ان اکرمکم عند الله اتقاکم

For further research, to find more about the Shia perspective I recommend seeing Ammar Nakhshawani's youtube videos on women. Mr. Khamenei is one of the many Shia scholars. He also holds a political position which somehow affects what he says or can/can't say. Obviously no scholar is infallible, so always be alert.

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