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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Is hell filled by women?





These hadiths were given to me and I was asked the question 'is hell filled with women'?


These are the hadiths that are relevant:


عِمْرَانَ بْنِ حُصَيْنٍ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: (اطَّلَعْتُ فِي الْجَنَّةِ فَرَأَيْتُ أَكْثَرَ أَهْلِهَا الْفُقَرَاءَ وَاطَّلَعْتُ فِي النَّارِ فَرَأَيْتُ أَكْثَرَ أَهْلِهَا النِّسَاء)َ . رواه البخاري 3241 ومسلم 2737

Imran ibn Husayn [may Allah be pleased with him] reports that the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, "I looked into paradise and most its inhabitants were from the impoverished [in the world]. I looked at hell and I saw most of its inhabitants were women." Bukhari and Muslim.



فعَنْ عَبْد اللَّهِ بْنِ عَبَّاسٍ قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ( َأُرِيتُ النَّارَ فَلَمْ أَرَ مَنْظَرًا كَالْيَوْمِ قَطُّ أَفْظَعَ وَرَأَيْتُ أَكْثَرَ أَهْلِهَا النِّسَاءَ ) قَالُوا :  بِمَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ؟ قَالَ : ( بِكُفْرِهِنَّ ) قِيلَ : يَكْفُرْنَ بِاللَّهِ ، قَالَ : ( يَكْفُرْنَ الْعَشِيرَ وَيَكْفُرْنَ الإِحْسَانَ لَوْ أَحْسَنْتَ إِلَى إِحْدَاهُنَّ الدَّهْرَ كُلَّهُ ثُمَّ رَأَتْ مِنْكَ شَيْئًا قَالَتْ مَا رَأَيْتُ مِنْكَ خَيْرًا قَطُّ ) رواه البخاري 1052

Abdullah ibn Abbas [may Allah be pleased with him] reports that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, "I have seen hell and I have not seen a sight, like today, more horrid. I saw most of its inhabitants were women." They asked, "Why was that? O Messenger of Allah?" He replied, "They denied." One asked, "They denied Allah?" He said, "They denied [ungrateful] towards their family, they denied goodness [that they were given]. If someone was good to them their whole life they would see something [bad] from you. They would say I have never seen any good from you." Bukhari 



حديث أُسَامَةَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم، قَالَ: قُمْتُ عَلَى بَابِ الْجَنَّةِ، فَكَانَ عَامَّةَ مَنْ دَخَلَهَا الْمَسَاكِينُ وَأَصْحَابُ الْجَدِّ مَحْبُوسُونَ غَيْرَ أَنَّ أَصْحَابَ النَّارِ، قَدْ أُمِرَ بِهِمْ إِلَى النَّارِ وَقمْتُ عَلَى بَابِ النَّارِ، فَإِذَا عَامَّةُ مَنْ دَخَلَهَا النِّسَاءُ أخرجه البخاري


Usamah [may Allah be pleased with him] reports that the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, "I stood at the door of paradise and most of those who entered it were poor and those who exerted themselves in isolation, unlike the residents of hell. I moved to [see] hell and stood at the door of hell. Most of those in it were women." Bukhari.




These hadith have to be explained and understood. This is something that caused me a lot of grief, when this question was asked of me. Now firstly we have to look at what our scholars said. 


قال القاضي عياض: النساء أكثر ولد آدم


Qadi Iyyad said, "Women are the greatest number of the offspring of Adam."

This makes sense, because if there were more men than women then their number in hell would be greater because there are more of them.


قال القرطبي تعليقا على قوله : { رأيتكن أكثر أهل النار } : يحتمل أن يكون هذا في وقت كون النساء في النار وأما بعد خروجهن في الشفاعة ورحمة الله تعالى حتى لا يبقى فيها أحد ممن قال: لا إله إلا الله فالنساء في الجنة أكثر


Al-Qurtabi (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "I saw you [using female first person plural pronoun] as most of the inhabitants of hell." It means that is how it was at that time. Yet later they came out with the intercession and mercy of Allah (the Exalted) until none of them remained who said there is no deity except Allah then women will be the greatest [number of] heaven."



قال العيني ـ رحمه الله ـ في بيان فوائد هذا الحديث: منها: تحريم كفران الحقوق والنعم، إذ لا يدخل النار إلا بارتكاب حرام


Al-'Ayni (may Allah be pleased with him) said explaining the benefits of this hadith, "The forbidding of rejecting [or denying] rights and blessings; no one enters the fire except those who commit major sins."



ابن حجر العسقلاني ، فيكون الجمع بين الحديثين أن النساء أكثر أهل النار وأكثر أهل الجنة ، وبذلك يكن أكثر من الرجال وجودا في الخلق. ويمكن أن يقال : إن حديث أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه يدل على أن نوع النساء في الجنة


Ibn Hajjar Al-Asqalani (may Allah show him mercy) said, "Combining between the hadiths that women are most of the inhabitants of paradise and most of the inhabitants of paradise. Therefore they are greater number in creation than men."



وقال النووي: توعده على كفران العشير وكفران الإحسان بالنار يدل على أنهما من الكبائر


Al-Nawawi (may Allah show him mercy) said, "It warns that rejecting the family and rejecting blessing [is punishable] by the fire is a major sin."



 وقال ابن بطال: فيه دليل على أن العبد يعذب على جحد الإحسان والفضل وشكر النعم، قال وقد قيل إن شكر المنعم واجب.


Ibn Battal (may Allah show him mercy) said, "It contains proof that the servant is punished if he denies goodness, virtues and being ungrateful for blessings." He said, "Being grateful for blessings is mandatory."





Imam Al-Suyuti said his commentary of Imam Muslim hadith collection, 'Most means that they [women] will be more than men..." The Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said,


يا معشر النساء تصدقن فاني رأيتكن أكثر أهل النار

"O women folk, give charity because I saw you [women] as most the inhabitants of hell." There would be no point in the command to give charity if they were to remain in hell forever. This indicates they are not to remain there forever. They will enter the fire for their sins and be released from the fire after a time, to marry one of the residents of paradise."

1/6 الديباج على صحيح مسلم بن الحجاج




Combining all the points


To further illustrate the opinions of the rich tradition of scholarship of Islam I want to combine all the points mentioned.


1. The hadiths occurred when the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) saw paradise and hell. This was the blessed event of the Miraj/heavenly ascension. So if he looked into hell at that point how many Muslims had died at that point in history? Very few because the miraj occurred in the year in 621 when the Muslims numbered in the hundreds. So how could it be that most of the hell was made up of women? At what point in history was hell seen? So this is why it was most of the women from previous nations, not those currently alive or yet to be born. As it would be unjust for people who were not yet born to be everlasting torment when they had done nothing. So this could only apply to those who had died without faith and were dead at that time, thus in hell. This does not apply to those who have faith. It only applies to those without.


2. Is being ungrateful to ones husband such a great sin to endure in hell forever? No sin will mean that they stay in hell forever, apart from disbelief. So female believers will be freed from hell with intercession or those who have the least bit of faith. So the hadith must be taken as a warning. Only the sin of kufr or shirk will cause perpetual torment in hell. All other sins will be removed by the torment of hell and then they will enter paradise based on faith. This is a problem when we take a single evidence in isolation. Being ungrateful to Allah (the Exalted) is a sin. Being ungrateful to ones husband is a sin but not as great to cause one to enter hell. This hadith has to be taken as a warning because if it was a major sin then would be more than just a few hadith on it. There should be so many hadith that would leave all doubt.   


3. If we also consider that men will have more than one wife in paradise therefore we must conclude that there are more women in paradise! Yet there are no men complaining about being the least gender in paradise.


What does most mean? In hanafi fiqh most meanings 51% or more. If it is 51% percent then it nothing to be concerned about especially if there are more women than men. 


In the Quran Allah (the Exalted) praised women, "The Muslim men, the Muslim women, the believing men, the believing women, the obedient men, the obedient women, the truthful men, the truthful women, the patient men, the patient women, the fearful men, the fearful women, the men who give charity, the women who give charity, the fasting men, the fasting women, and the men and women who guard their private areas, and those men and women who remember Allah much; Allah prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward." (Quran: Al-Ahzab 33:35)


So Allah (the Exalted) praises women here and do not think otherwise. If you want to see how the Quran views women please see previous article on that. Also see previous see womens reward in paradise too.


The encouragement to give charity was to increase their good actions and this has to be seen in a positive manner.


The second hadith states that there is a certain type of women who is ungrateful towards here husband for seeing one bad trait in him. This is true when people argue they forget all the good you did to them. I did translate kafar as deny but it can mean ungratefulness here. As its two main translation is disbelief and ungratefulness. Here I translated it as deny.


Finally, these hadiths should not be used by men to scare women into thinking that they are going to be in hell in greater numbers. This type of misogynistic retelling of Islam is not wanted and it belies the original tradition.


Wives must be aware of being ungrateful to Allah (the Exalted) as much as men. One has to be careful when reading hadith without, the largely untapped, commentary of our scholars. Find a scholar to ask a question and be safe. 


The main point is that hell is filled with those without faith, regardless of gender. 


Important links

How the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) treated women click here



Treatment of women click here


Women's reward in paradise click here


Hijab in the modern context click here 

Can women visit graves? click here

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