Moyra Dales discusses the role of hadith in shaping the lives of Muslim women, highlighting both positive and negative traditions, the process of authenticating hadith, and Muslim women’s efforts to challenge and critique certain traditions.


 Here starts the auto-generated transcription of Moyra Dale Lecture: Muslim Women in the Hadith


Last time we looked at women in the Quran, what the Quran actually said about women. But as well as the Quran in Islam, there’s a whole body of hadith or traditions that unpack what’s said in the Quran in the lives of everyday Muslims. So today we wanna look at a few of the more common traditions about Muslim women and maybe how they deal with some of the more perhaps problematic ones. I wonder what traditions you’ve heard. What are the ones that are most commonly out there or that are quoted?


Perhaps one of the most common and one of the most disturbing traditions about Muslim women is the one that talks about how Mohammed was on his way to prayer, and he passed by a group of women. And he said, women, give alms because I’ve seen that the majority of the dwellers in hellfire were you women. The majority were 910ths. The women asked, why is it so, Alois apostle? He replied, you curse frequently.


You’re ungrateful to your husbands. I haven’t seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. Well, that’s a pretty discouraging tradition about women. A more positive one is paradise is under the feet of women. A slightly more difficult one is those who entrust their affairs to a woman, have her as ruler, will never know prosperity.


One that’s maybe a bit more hopeful for some Muslim women is the one that says, of all things that are permissible, the one that’s most displeasing to God is divorce. There’s such a huge body of traditions that it’s actually quite possible to find material from whatever angle you want to focus on, positive or negative. And the traditions I find are quoted very often with little regard for their authenticity, for how, how well regarded they are. For example, one that’s quoted often is Muhammad saying about, I should take half your religion from this little redhead. I hear that frequently, but when you look into it, it’s actually not at all supported.


Not many people think it’s authentic. So where did the hadith come from? Where did the traditions even begin? After Muhammad died, people were wanting to say, what should we do? What shouldn’t we do?


How do we find out what’s right for Muslims to do? What’s proper? What’s improper? And the answer is, basically, the words and actions of Mohammed and his companions are what Muslims do, and anything you can’t find there is wrong. So out of that developed a huge literature about all the things that Muhammad said and did.


And innovation or heresy in Islam is anything that contradicts Mohammed’s example. Well, when we look at the whole science of traditions, because there was a plethora of flowering of different traditions and they started to analyze what was right, what was wrong, we find there’s 2 sections, and that’s on the diagram in your workbook. The first is the or the collection of reporters, and then the or the actual text. So our traditional or train of reporters might be something like Homaeda Abdallah bin al Zubayr narrated to us that Sufayan told us, that Yahya bin Said al Ansari told us, that Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Taymah told us he’d heard he heard Al Qama bin Waqas Al Laythi saying, I heard Umar bin Al Khattab say that Mohammed, may god be pleased with him and grant him salvation, said that, and that’s a fairly standard tradition. So how do you classify traditions?


One is the number of reporters involved at each stage and how trustworthy they are. But I want to focus on number 5 in the diagram, the reliability and the memory of the reporters. If it’s sound or, every reporter is trustworthy and known to be truthful. Hassan, the source is known and the reporters are unambiguous. It’s getting a bit dodgy.


Maybe some reporters are a bit disparaged. They tell lies. They make mistakes. There’s other reports that are more authentic that opposed to it. And then if it’s totally forged or made up, it’s.


And as the hadith proliferated, Muslims spent a lot of time checking them. And there’s a table in your book of 4 or 5 of the most major collections, so well reported. Al Bukhari, who lived about 200 years after Mohammed, looked at 3 to 600000 traditions. He accepted 7000 without repetitions, about 2 and a half 1000. So how do Muslim women challenge a hadith if they’re unhappy with it?


Well, Munisi looked at the tradition, those who trust their affairs to a woman will never know prosperity. And she did quite a stunning critique of the main narrator, Abu Bakr. She basically said it’s likely he had political reasons that would make him want to bring up a hadith like that to protect himself. And also we know he’d once lied, and therefore, he couldn’t really be trusted. But to do that kind of work demands lots of time, lots of access to fairly difficult to get hold of sources to track down.


What about more ordinary people? Well, the woman I studied under talked about the tradition of Mohammed which says the majority of people in hellfire are women because you curse frequently. You’re ungrateful to your husbands. I haven’t seen anyone more deficient in intelligence than you. And the woman said, why?


He said, well, isn’t the evidence of 2 women equal to 1 man? And they said, yes. That’s in the Quran. He said, well, they’re lacking in intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can’t pray or fast when she’s menstruating?


He said yes. And he she said, Mohammed said, well, they’re obviously lacking in religion. So Hud al Habash took this tradition, and she said, well, if it’s a real tradition, just putting out a little bit of caution there, maybe it is, maybe it’s not. Perhaps he was only talking to a specific group of women. Those women who he passed to were actually ones who cursed a lot and ungrateful to their husbands.


It didn’t include all the women. Witness of 2 women equal to 1 man, well, that might have been true in his time, but when women and men get equal education, that’s no longer true. It shouldn’t still apply. And also we know that Muhammad on a couple of times had taken the advice of women in what to do, So we can’t interpret this to understand that he meant that all women are lacking in intelligence because he obviously trusted some. So women like Hudah al Habash use context, use different ways of unpacking it to make sense of these hadith.


Women’s daily lives are shaped by the Quran and by the traditions. So I wonder how some of the women you know deal with some of the more troubling verses and hadith. And I wonder too what Bible story you might like to bring up and tell in a conversation about some of these texts.