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Last Updated: 2010/11/21
Summary of question
In regards to the words of Imam Ali (a) as recorded in the Nahjul Balagha, which considers women as being deficient in terms of faith and intellect, can prayer and fasting alone be considered the criterion for measuring a person’s faith?
question
In regards to the words of Imam Ali (a) as recorded in the Nahjul Balagha, which considers women as being deficient in terms of faith and intellect, can prayer and fasting alone be considered the criterion for measuring a person’s faith?
Concise answer

In regards to the words of Imam Ali (a) as recorded in the Nahjul Balagha, which considers women as being deficient in terms of faith and intellect, can prayer and fasting alone, be considered the criterion for measuring a person’s faith? Can we consider this so, when many men do not fulfill their obligations in this regard? What does Imam Ali (a) consider the essence of faith in this statement? I am curious as to how this is while women make up their days of fasting (which they could not perform due to the menstrual cycle) and not praying during that period is the command of Allah (swt) Himself. What is the description of intellect in Islam and can giving testimony be used alone as the criterion for measuring a woman’s intellect (or even for a general human being)? If what is meant is the emotions of women, then is this a reasonable way of judging her? In the Arabic original of this sermon, the word ‘Naqs’ has been used…please mention its various meanings and contextual uses. If Imam Ali (a) directed these words towards Ayesha, then why is it directed towards women in general?

Detailed Answer

 According to instructions from the Infallible Imams (a), we must compare all traditions to the logic of the Quran, and in the case of nonconformity and contradiction, we must not act upon the surface meaning of the tradition. Therefore, when looking at the Holy Quran, we do not see any verse, which gives the rule that women are deficient in intellect and faith, and so according to the criterions set in the science of traditions, we cannot accept this narration in its surface meaning. At the same time, we cannot say with 100% certainty that this is a fabricated tradition and that Imam Ali (a) did not say it. Either we have to find an alternative meaning to its surface meaning or find its true interpretation. From another angle, sometimes the Prophets (a) or the Imams (a) did certain actions or said certain words which appeared to mean something else (without the context of history), while in reality they held a completely different meaning and interpretation; it is very possible that this speech, which is attributed to Imam Ali (a), can be counted i

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