Why does Sahih al-Bukhari 304 says that women are less religious and intelligent than men?

Narrated by Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri:

Once Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) of `Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) ?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion."


1 Answer 1


Let's address the 2 different topics brought up by this hadith:

  1. Women are the majority in hellfire

    • The realities of the Hereafter were not revealed to the Prophet (ṣ) all at once. That he saw a majority of women in hell does not indicate that this is the case for all time, as many believers will enter Paradise after the Greater Intercession when sinners are taken out of Hellfire.
    • Building upon that, it is highly probable that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) only saw a part of hell. None of the versions of the hadith say “the majority of people in Hell are women”. They all mention that when the Prophet (SAW) saw Hell, he saw that the majority of the people (of the part he saw) were women. It is clear that the Prophet (SAW) interpreted this vision as meaning that the majority are women. But since nothing in the Quran or hadith tells us that explicitly, we may consider it to be the Prophet’s own personal conclusion from what he saw.
    • Sources:
  2. Women are more deficient in their intelligence and religion

    • The ‘reduction’ (nuqsan) in mind and religion is related to a woman’s legal obligations. It is not an ontological statement that women are always less intelligent or religious than men. As applied to religion, women are not obligated to pray or fast while menstruating or enduring post-natal bleeding. As applied to mind, women are not obligated to perform some functions such as testifying before a judge in a criminal case.
    • Some authors have mistranslated nuqsan by using derogatory terms like ‘deficient in intelligence,’ or ‘lacking common sense.’ This rendition is inappropriate because the word in this context means a ‘reduction,’ as it is used in the Quran in ayahs such as Quran 13:41 and Quran 21:44.
    • The reduction for women is a manifestation of Islam’s leniency towards women, by not burdening them with the same obligations as men while they have their own particular duties and concerns.
    • Source: Are women deficient in intelligence in Islam?


The majority of inhabitants in hell being women does not indicate that it is the case of being all time. And it's also possible that the Prophet (SAW) was shown only a part of hell.

And the claim that women are ‘deficient in religion’ is based upon a misinterpretation or a poor translation of a prophetic statement. The ‘reduction’ in a woman’s intelligence is a reduction in her legal responsibilities related to it, not in her inherent intelligence itself. The preponderance of other evidence indicates that women can be just as intelligent as men and, therefore, they should be consulted and their perspectives respected.

Extra links you can check out which touch upon this hadith and its topics:


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