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The following hadith is listed as "Da’if (Darussalam)" (weak) at sunnah.com:

Abdullah narrated that The Prophet said: “The woman is Awrah, so when she goes out, the Shaitan seeks to tempt her.”
Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1173

However, Islam Q&A gives another narration as sahih:

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Woman is ‘awrah, and if she goes out, the shaytaan raises his hopes (of misguiding her). She is never closer to Allaah than when she stays in her house.” Narrated by Ibn Hibbaan and Ibn Khuzaymah; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Shaheehah, no. 2688.

I'm not sure what to make of these two conflicting classifications. I think "al-Albaani" is Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani on Wikipedia.

Question: How reliable is the hadith "the woman is Awrah"?


Meta comment: If this question is "opinion based", I'm hoping the kind of opinions required to answer the question are educated opinions: it requires familiarity with the hadith sciences to properly answer. (Related question: Is there a scale or classification for scholars and their qualification of hadith narrators?)

  • Have you checked if the narrators are the same? It could be that Tirmidhi didn't find good narrators for the hadith while others did. – The Z Mar 16 '18 at 9:38
  • @TheZ if at-Trimdhi qualified a hadith as Hassan sahih then this hadith basically has no issue in the narrator chain according to his opinion. The fact that he says sahih is an indication, the fact that he adds Hassan is a confirmation. In this case he seems to say ghareeb because all narrations pass through a single narrator as far as I could find so far. – Medi1Saif Mar 16 '18 at 9:51
  • No I haven’t checked, and it’s possible that there is a reliable chain of narration, which explains the discrepancy. Basically, what I know is what’s in the question (aside from some web searching in English that didn’t help). – Rebecca J. Stones Mar 16 '18 at 9:52
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The hadith is reliable since it has its authentic (sahīh, Arabic: صحيح) chains, albeit not through Jami' at-Tirmidhi 1173. To understand where the Islam Q&A article comes from, one has to understand what is involved with this hadith:

Matn. The words of the hadith (al-matn, Arabic: المتن) were recorded on multiple occasions in at least seven versions. Note that all the translations are mine, so treat with care. I have used "hopeful because of her" to translate istrashfaha (Arabic: استشرفها) as it is the closest in meaning. It is basically saying that Satan (or any of his aides) would rush to her seeking to be in front of her as she would be a source of temptation since women are men's strongest temptation (see Sahih Muslim 49/9):

  • Version 1: The woman is 'awrah; when she goes out, the Shaitan is hopeful because of her (Arabic: المرأة عورة فإذا خرجت استشرفها الشيطان).
  • Version 2: The woman is indeed 'awrah; when she goes out, the Shaitan is hopeful because of her, and the closest she is to the face of Allah when she is in the middle of her room (Arabic: إن المرأة عورة فإذا خرجت استشرفها الشيطان وأقرب ما تكون من وجه ربها وهي في قعر بيتها).
  • Version 3: The woman is 'awrah; when she goes out, the Shaitan is hopeful because of her, and the closest she is to her Lord is whenever she is in the middle of her room (Arabic: المرأة عورة فإذا خرجت استشرفها الشيطان وأقرب ما تكون من ربها إذا هي في قعر بيتها).
  • Version 4: The woman is 'awrah; whenever she goes out, the Shaitan is hopeful because of her, and indeed she is never closer to the face of Allah than when she is in the middle of her room (Arabic: المرأة عورة وإنها إذا خرجت استشرفها الشيطان وإنها لا تكون إلى وجه الله أقرب منها في قعر بيتها).
  • Version 5: The woman is indeed 'awrah; when she goes out, the Shaitan is hopeful because of her. Then the closest she is to the face of Allah when she is in the middle of her room (Arabic: إن المرأة عورة وإنها إذا خرجت من بيتها استشرفها الشيطان فأقرب ما تكون إلى وجه الله وهي في قعر بيتها).
  • Version 6: The woman is indeed 'awrah; when she goes out, the Shaitan is hopeful because of her. The closest she is to the face of her Lord is when she is in the middle of her home. Her prayer in her place of prayers is better than in her room and in her room is better than in her home (Arabic: إنما المرأة عورة فإذا خرجت استشرفها الشيطان وأقرب ما تكون من وجه ربها وهي في قعر بيتها صلاة المرأة في مخدعها أفضل من صلاتها في بيتها وصلاتها في بيتها أفضل من صلاتها في حجرتها).
  • Version 7: The woman is 'awrah; whenever she goes out, the Shaitan is hopeful because of her (Arabic: المرأة عورة فإذا خرجت من بيتها استشرفها الشيطان).

Takhrīj. The hadith was recorded and classified by topic (takhriīj, Arabic: التخريج) through:

  • 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ūd in
    • Al-Awsat fi as-Sunan by Mohammad ibn Ibrāhīm al-Monthir (hadith 2081) as version 5.
    • Al-Mu'jam al-Awsat by At-Tabarāni (hadith 2890) as version 4, (hadith 8096) as version 4, too, and (hadith 10115).
    • Al-Muhalla bi al-Athār by Ibn Hazm Adh-Dhāhiri (hadith 3/116) as version 6.
    • At-Tawhīd by Ibn Khuzaima (hadith 23) as version 3.
    • Jami' at-Tirmidhi by Mohammad ibn 'Īssa at-Tirmidhi (hadith 1173) as version 1.
    • Musnad al-Bazzār by Abu Bakr al-Bazzār (hadith 2061) as version 3, and (hadith 2065) as version 7.
    • Sahih Ibn Hibbān by Abu Hātim ibn Hibbān (hadith 5599) as version 2.
    • Sahih Ibn Khuzaima by Ibn Khuzaima (hadith 1591) as version 2 and (hadith 1592) as version 4.
  • 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar in
    • Al-Mu'jam al-Awsat by At-Tabarāni (hadith 2890) as version 4.
  • Mursal (in this case, mursal mu'allaq, i.e., without a companion) in
    • Sahih Ibn Hibbān by Abu Hātim ibn Hibbān (hadith unnumbered) as version 4.

There are numerous other books that quoted or documented one or more versions of this hadith, but the objective here is not to list all of them; rather, it is to show that there are several narration chains and several versions.

Sanad. The chains of narration (as-sanad, Arabic: السند) of the hadith are numerous: 23 in total, with at least 2 narration chains that qualify as sahīh (authentic), 15 narration chains that are at various levels of hassan (good), and 6 that are da'īf (weak) or lower. The strong narration chains are the ones through Ahmad ibn al-Miqdām through 'Awf ibn Mālik (also known as Abu al-Ahwas) through Qatāda ibn Du'āma through Salmān ibn Tarkhān at-Taimi.

The weakening of some of the chains is based on several reasons.

One reason is whether Sulaiman at-Taimi dropped Mūraq from the chain of narration or not. In one chain by Sa'īd ibn Bushair, it is reported that Qatāda ibn Du'āma heard the hadith through Mūraq Abu al-Mu'tamir through 'Awf ibn Mālik, while in another by Sulaiman at-Taimi it says that Qatāda ibn Du'āma heard it directly from 'Awf ibn Mālik. While all of the men in both chains are trustworthy, this created what is called a chain of narration that is continuous with trustworthy men (Arabic: سنده متصل رجاله ثقات). Such chains may be elevated to the degree of sahīh under conditions when strengthened through a number of chains, or be lowered to hassan or da'īf when there may be what is called tadlīs taswiya.

Sa'īd ibn Bushair is himself weak according to Abu Zar'a (both of them), Ad-Dāraqutni, Al-Baihaqi, Al-Bazzār, Al-Bukhāri, Al-Hākim an-Naisapūri, Al-Wāqidi, An-Nasā'i, Ar-Rāzi, Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalāni, Ibn Hibbān, and Yahya ibn Ma'īn. The fact that he created doubt by including Mūraq Abu al-Mu'tamir (who is actually trustworthy) is irrelevant since Hammām ibn Yahya ibn Dīnar (who is trustworthy) has a chain of narration that goes through Qatāda directly from 'Awf ibn Mālik; hence, the reason for strengthening the chain to sahīh.

For your information, tadlīs taswiya is when a narrator drops someone from the chain (tadlīs) with the intention of tidying up the chain of narration to make it look authentic (taswiya). Let's assume that narrator A is the sheikh (teacher) of narrators B and C. Both narrators B and C could potentially hear a hadith through A, so when examining the continuity of the chain, the following may be deemed plausibly continuous:

  • A ⟶ B
  • A ⟶ C
  • A ⟶ B,C
  • A ⟶ B ⟶ C
  • A ⟶ C ⟶ B.

If narrator D claims that their chain is A ⟶ B ⟶ D, when in fact it is A ⟶ B ⟶ C ⟶ D, this is tadlīs. If narrator C is weak, this is taswiya.

The doubted narrations of Sa'īd ibn Bushair that could potentially be doubted as Mūraq Abu al-Mu'tamir is being dropped:

  • Qatāda ibn Du'āma ⟶ 'Awf ibn Mālik
  • Qatāda ibn Du'āma ⟶ Mūraq Abu al-Mu'tamir ⟶ 'Awf ibn Mālik

are irrelevant as the Hammām ibn Yahya ibn Dīnar narration, which is Qatāda ibn Du'āma ⟶ 'Awf ibn Mālik, removed the doubt that there was a form of tadlīs.

The reason for some of the chains being hassan is the level of some of the narrators (not weak, but not strong enough to authenticate through them), namely 'Amr ibn 'Āsim, Hishām ibn 'Ammār, Khalīfa ibn Khayyāt, Mohammad ibn Ibbān, Mohammad ibn Ibrāhīm, Mohammad ibn Mohammad, Mohammad ibn al-Hassan, Qāsim ibn Mohammad, Suwaid ibn Ibrāhīm, and Zaid ibn Ja'far.

This is a very high-level view of what Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani (it is indeed the same Al-Albani mentioned in the Islam Q&A article) used to grade two chains of narration as sahīh.

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