Meaning of woman being created from (crooked) rib
Fatwa No: 355756

  • Fatwa Date:26-12-2017 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 8, 1439
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Question

Assalaamu alaykum, Shaykh. Can you explain the following hadith please, because I do not want to misunderstand it.
"Treat women kindly. The woman has been created from a rib (the rib is crooked), and the most crooked part of the rib is in the upper region. If you try to make it straight, you will break it; and if you leave it as it is, it will remain curved. So treat women kindly." [Al-Bukhaari] Based on this hadith, can we assume that women are crooked and inherently evil in nature?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger. 

This hadeeth is agreed upon by Al-Bukhaari and Muslim, so it is at the highest level of authenticity.

As is clear, the hadeeth includes the advice to be kind to women, to be gentle with them, and to bear the shortcomings that they may exhibit. Then the hadeeth clarified the reason for this advice, which is the fact that the woman is created from a crooked rib. This crookedness means that there is a deficiency in her by creation, because the woman is usually very emotional; her temper changes, she gets angry, her condition worsens, and her mind is weakened for the slightest reason.

The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) pointed to this by his saying: “...If you have always been good (benevolent) to one of them (women) and then she sees something in you (not to her liking), she will say, ‘I have never received any good from you.’

What is meant is that she is like all other human beings: she has shortcomings, and she has emotions that affect her temper. Therefore, the husband should not ask her for perfection and assume that she is infallible and hold her accountable for the slightest error and blame her for every shortcoming, as this results in quarrels and disputes, and thus separation.

It is for this reason that in another narration, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, “The woman was created from a (crooked) rib, and she will never continue to be as you desire her to be (i.e. always obedient). If you enjoy her, you will do so while she still has that crookedness. If you try to straighten it, you will break her, and breaking her means divorcing her.

What is meant is not to diminish the status of the woman or that she is evil; rather, what is meant is that she is deficient in something upon which Allah has created her, and she has no control over it.

Perhaps the absence of this understanding is the reason for many problems, especially given that this may happen from a woman towards her husband when she requires him to be perfect, and she does not like to see any shortcoming in him; so she considers slight matters to be great, and as a result, disputes and dissension happen.

Allah knows best.

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