Men and Women: A Serious Study

There are several kinds of actions to be taken when women commit disobedience: 

1-Disobedience in sexual relationships due to the woman's physical problems. In this case, the only solution is seeking medical help.

2-Seeking revenge and crushing the man's character during sexual relationship. Such disobedience can be divided into two types:

a)Those that can be solved and moderated personally: here, the man can use logical and affectionate understanding, conscientious advice in bed and maybe even a very slight beating – that would lead to the least physical trouble for the woman – to eliminate the woman's obedience and bring peace and happiness back to their relationship. 

How do we interpret by "beating" in the above verse? It refers to a very slight beating, like with a toothbrush. Imam Baqer also has a hadith on this , and no jurisprudential scholar has advised beyond that. In fact, it is not a beating at all; it is merely a warning reminding the woman to fulfill her duty.

What is the beating for? It serves the benefits of the man and the woman both, rather than providing revenge or quenching grudges. As Shahid-e-thani, the great jurisprudential scholar has said, "Beating a woman is religiously forbidden if it only serves to avenge grudges or satiate selfishness, and has no benefit for the couple's relationship."

If the man's beating harms or injures the woman physically or mentally, the man has committed a crime. As all Islamic jurisprudential scholars have emphasized, "the beating should lead to absolutely no bleeding or suffering for the woman."  

b)Those unable to be solved and moderated personally: in such cases, the man must not use force; instead, he is to seek legal help from a judge, who will decide based upon the couple's mental situation and what is best for their relationship. Sometimes the judge may advise proper, logical solutions to which both the man and the woman should adhere, for the three different ways the above verse provides to solve problems are only to be used when it really helps the couple; they should not rush to a judge as soon as a small, personal problem arises – instead, they should try to solve it through intriguing affections, providing the possible guidance and slight warnings, which as the above verse and jurisprudential interpretations depict, refers to very light beating.

The woman's disobedience from her legal responsibilities: Again, maybe the couple can solve the problem here by means of mutual understanding, affection and logic; this is where the guidance, warning against wrongdoing and advising to do good, a must in Islamic rules, comes in. 

Three Issues Concerning the Differences between Men and Women

In the Nahj-ul-balaghah, three points of difference has pointed out between men and women: imperfect faith, imperfect intelligence and different inheritance. 

معاشر الناس ان النساء نواقص الايمان نواقص الحظوظ نواقص العقول. فاما نقصان ايمانهن فقعودهن عن الصلوة والصيام فی ايام حيضهن و اما نقصان عقولهن فشهادة امر اتين کشهادة الرجل الواحد و اما نقصان حظوظهن فمواريثهن علی الانصاف من مواريث الرجال 

"O people, women have imperfect faith, imperfect inheritance and imperfect intelligence. The reason for their imperfect faith is that they miss a great deal of prayers and fasting when they menstruate. Their intelligence is imperfect because the testimonies given by two women is equal to one man's testimony. The third imperfection is because women inherit half of what men do."

Let us discuss these points:

1-Imperfect faith: Women's faith is incomplete, for they cannot fast or say their prayers during their menstruation periods. This does not mean that their contact with God is imperfect; the point is merely their deprivation of their mandatory fasting and praying. Women can call God's name during these periods, and keep their contact with God. Their inability to pray or fast is just a passing, exceptional physical inhibition.

2-Imperfect intelligence: Here, again we are not implying imperfection in values. As we know, intellectual activity consists of correctly thinking about choosing the means for reaching the desired goals. Thus, all human beings have intellect and reason in common. They differ in how familiar they are with the units and theorems used for reaching their goals. Mental and intellectual activities are highly diverse. They include abstraction, generalization, and combining issues. Theoretical wisdom functions with logic. It has nothing to do with values; it only adjusts the preliminaries and arrangement of the means.

 Purely theoretical wisdom is a tool for arranging and adjusting units regarded as correct in order to reach desired goals. It is not the absolute ruler of the facts and values of human knowledge of nature and what is proper for man.

Men and women differ in theoretical wisdom, though this difference does not mean that one sex has more value than the other, either. In practical wisdom, however, men and women are the same. Practical wisdom conveys what is proper, and how to achieve it. Some thinkers, like Kant, have considered practical wisdom as higher and more elegant than theoretical wisdom. What men are stronger in – theoretical wisdom – has no value alone; it can go no further than forming and arranging units and theorems. What really causes superiority is practical wisdom, which is equal in both sexes.

If women gain complete educational and developmental factors, we can claim that the development of the human character is as feasible in women as it is in men, for women have a crucial role in creation, they get a taste of  real life and have the supreme emotions and the possibility to elevate their raw emotions to supreme ones; women are better at that than men. 

Inequality of Men and Woman Testifying

This again lies in women's natural limitation and their lack of resistance against various events. Men are curious enough to mentally dig inside the roots of events, and are more capable and theoretically more accurate than women, so if a man is left far away from the ups and downs of life, his judgment will find fault, and his testimonies will also lose value. In affairs which only women can comment on, their testimonies are as valuable as men's. 

3-Imperfect inheritance: Men and women inherit differently. As the Holy Koran says:

لوصيکم الله فی اولادکم للذکر مثل حظ الانثيين

"About your offspring, God advises you to give men twice as much as women."(Women, 4:11)

This law, however, does not apply to all issues of patrimony. If someone dies and has a mother, and a few brothers or sisters, for instance, his mother inherits as much as his brothers and sisters.

The reason why men inherit twice as much as women is that men are responsible for providing the family's living, but women do not have such a responsibility. Furthermore, women are entitled to a marriage settlement that makes up for the difference in what they benefit after their parents' death.

As a general conclusion, we can say that all three imperfections mentioned about women are accountable and justifiable. Imam Ali has referred to superficial differences between men and women; he does not consider them to be truly different in character. 


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