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Is it true that there is a hadith that states that a woman has 9 desires and only one intellect?


Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

A Woman has 9 desires, 1 Intellect?

We often hear the phrase that a woman has 9 desires and only 1 intellect in our society. Is this statement true?

There is a narration by Abi Muslim, where the Prophet PBUH said:

لشهوة عشرة أجزاءٍ: التسعة للنساء والعاشر للرجال

“Syahwat (desires) is of ten parts: nine of it is given to woman and one to man.”

(Adab al-Nisaa’, 1/183 by Abu Marwan Abdul Malik al-Salmi)

In another narration, the Prophet PBUH said:

وَجُعِلَتِ الشَّهْوَةُ عَلَى عَشَرَةِ أَجْزَاءٍ، وَجُعِلَتْ تِسْعَةُ أَجْزَاءٍ مِنْهَا فِي النِّسَاءِ، وَوَاحِدَةٌ فِي الرِّجَالِ

“And syahwat (desires) is made into ten parts, nine of it are for woman, and one for man.”

                                                          Narrated by Imam al-Tabarani in al-Mu’jam al-Awsat (567), and Ibnu Hajar al-Haithami in Majma’ al-Zawa’id (10/30)

The above narrations are considered as dhaif jiddan (very weak) by the ulama, because one of the narrators is Suwaid ibn Abd Aziz, and he is considered as matruk (where the narrator is accused of telling lies or making heresies). Furthermore, this narration is found in Shi’ite books and is narrated by al-Kulaini and al-Majlisi. (Refer Usul al-Kafi, 5/338 and Bihar al-Anwar, 100/244)

There is a narration regarding a dialogue between Imam al-Hasan al-Basri and a renowned sufi, Rabiatul Adawiyah. It is said that al-Hasan went to ask Rabiatul Adawiyah to marry him after her husband passed away. However, when he was asked several questions by Rabiatul Adawiyah, he is unable to provide the answers. When asked about the intellect, al-Hasan answered that a woman has nine desires and one rational mind. Thus, Rabiatul quickly refutes him saying: “If I have nine desires, how can I control them with one mind, while you have nine rational minds and cannot control your one desire?”. Thus, al-Hasan return home feeling ashamed by her answer.

This narration is written in Durrah an-Nasihin by Uthman al-Khaubawi and Abu al-Fidaa’ al-Istanbuli al-Hanafi (Refer Tafsir Ruh al-Bayan, 6/179). However, this story is doubtful, for al-Hasan al-Basri was born in 21H and died in 110H. While Rabiatul Adawiyah, according to the most accurate opinion, was born in 100H and died on 180H. This means that al-Hasan died when Rabiatul Adawiyah is just 10 years old, thus it is improbable for this dialogue to have happen.

Since the above statements is neither a Quranic verse nor a prophetic tradition, not the words of renowned scholars, and not even scientifically-proven fact, and the above story being doubtful; thus, in our opinion, this view on woman should neither be accepted nor associated to our religion.

A Woman is Lesser than Man?

On another hand, there is a hadith from the Prophet PBUH that states:

يَا مَعْشَرَ النِّسَاءِ تَصَدَّقْنَ وَأَكْثِرْنَ الاِسْتِغْفَارَ فَإِنِّي رَأَيْتُكُنَّ أَكْثَرَ أَهْلِ النَّارِ‏‏.‏ فَقَالَتِ امْرَأَةٌ مِنْهُنَّ جَزْلَةٌ وَمَا لَنَا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَكْثَرَ أَهْلِ النَّارِ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏ تُكْثِرْنَ اللَّعْنَ وَتَكْفُرْنَ الْعَشِيرَ وَمَا رَأَيْتُ مِنْ نَاقِصَاتِ عَقْلٍ وَدِينٍ أَغْلَبَ لِذِي لُبٍّ مِنْكُنَّ ‏‏.‏ قَالَتْ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَمَا نُقْصَانُ الْعَقْلِ وَالدِّينِ قَالَ أَمَّا نُقْصَانُ الْعَقْلِ فَشَهَادَةُ امْرَأَتَيْنِ تَعْدِلُ شَهَادَةَ رَجُلٍ فَهَذَا نُقْصَانُ الْعَقْلِ وَتَمْكُثُ اللَّيَالِيَ مَا تُصَلِّي وَتُفْطِرُ فِي رَمَضَانَ فَهَذَا نُقْصَانُ الدِّينِ

“O womenfolk, you should give charity and ask much forgiveness for I saw you in bulk amongst the dwellers of Hell. A wise lady among them said: Why is it, Messenger of Allah, that our folk is in bulk in Hell? Upon this the Prophet observed: You curse too much and are ungrateful to your spouses. I have seen none lacking in common sense and failing in religion but (at the same time) robbing the wisdom of the wise, besides you. Upon this the woman remarked: What is wrong with our common sense and with religion? He (the Holy Prophet) observed: Your lack of common sense (can be well judged from the fact) that the evidence of two women is equal to one man, that is a proof of the lack of common sense, and you spend some nights (and days) in which you do not offer prayer and in the month of Ramadan (during the days) you do not observe fast, that is a failing in religion.”

Sahih al-Bukhari (304), Sahih Muslim (79) and Sunan Ibn Majah (4003)

Imam al-Qasthalani explains that the phrase failing in religion mentioned in the above hadith is not necessarily due to sins but may be due to other natural things for women. (Refer Irsyad al-Sari, 1/347)

Whereas, for the lack of intellect, Muhammad al-Amin al-‘Alawi al-Harari narrates the opinion of Al-Maziri, where he said that women are less trusted in terms of accuracy and efficiency. The above hadith also supports a verse of the Quran:

فَتُذَكِّرَ إِحْدَاهُمَا الْأُخْرَى

“So that if one of the women errs, then the other can remind her.” 

Surah al-Baqarah (282)

(Refer Syarh al-Nawawi ‘ala Muslim, 2/67 and Al-Kaukab al-Wahhaj, 2/573)

The above hadith states the lack in religion as the quantity of worship and not the quality, and the limitation in terms of time for women to perform worship. However, there are only a handful of worships that are prohibited for women during their menstruation, such as prayer, fast, tawaf and reciting the Quran. Other worships such as zikrullah, doa and selawat (salutations) towards the Prophet PBUH, and other acts of worship for hajj except tawaf is permissible. Even fasting that is prohibited during menstruation can be replaced when they become pure again.

The limitations that woman experience is temporary in nature, not throughout her life. Menstruation only happens for a few days in a month and temporarily stops during pregnancy and completely stops after menopause.

As for the lack in intellect, it refers to women’s limited involvement of in public affairs compared to man. Thus, their knowledge and experience are less in certain fields, such as politics, economy and military.

Syeikh Mustafa al-Maraghi states that the need for two women witnesses is due to the factor of that women are less involved in public affairs such as politics and economy. Hence, their testimonies should be further reviewed before they are accepted. (Refer Tafsir al-Maraghi, 3/75)

What should be understood is, the reason that the testimony of two women equals to the testimony of one man is due to their less involvement in economy, trade and legislation, not because of women being inferior in terms of thoughts and memory. If women are less in terms of thoughts and memory, surely, they would have been rejected as narrators of the Prophet PBUH’s hadiths. However, none of Islamic scholars had set male gender as a requisite in determining the status of a hadith.

Moreover, Imam al-Zahabi, a scholar in hadith and narration once said that he never knew any female narrator that is accused as muttaham (a fabricator of a hadith) or are rejected for not being trustful (matruk). (Refer Mizan al-I’tidal, 4/604). This shows that women are able to be on the same level of men if they are given the same opportunities.

The limitations in women’s involvement in public affairs is not something set by syarak but depends on the custom of certain places and time. During the rule of Saidina Umar RA, he appointed a woman as an officer who are in charge of the supervision of trade in Medina. Saidatina Aisyah R.Anha herself lead the group to meet Caliph Ali bin Abi Tolib before the war of Jamal.

Nowadays, we are witnessing the increase of women’s involvement in public affairs. To date, there have been two women who has been appointed as Malaysia’s State Bank Governor. There is also an increase in the appointment of women as the Judge for state Syari’e courts in Malaysia.

This is the fairness of Islam in giving the same opportunities for both man and woman to contribute and both are rewarded according to their deeds:

لِّلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبُوا ۖ وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبْنَ ۚ

“For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned.”

Surah al-Nisaa’ (32)



As a conclusion, we are of the opinion that the statement that women have nine desires and one intellect is not supported by any evidence from Islam and should not be spread.

As for the hadith stating the failing of woman in religion, they are in terms of quantity of worship not quality, and the limitation they face in terms of the time they can perform their worship.

Whereas, for the lack of intellect meant they are less involved in public affairs compared to men, thus their knowledge and experience in certain fields such as politics, economy and military is less compared to men.

However, in our time, the increase in the involvement of women in various fields and them having the same opportunities of education has greatly increased women’s capability. Various important posts are now held by women and this proves that they are able to compete with men even when they are faced with more limitations.