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Are women the majority in the Hellfire?

November 10, 2012

Sahih Muslim 01

By Abu Amina Elias at FaithinAllah.org

Question:

Does Islam teach that women are the majority in Hellfire?

Answer:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

It is true that the Prophet said he saw a majority of women in the Hellfire. However, some scholars believe that this is because women are the majority of human beings in general, so they will also be a majority in Paradise.

Imran ibn Hussein reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

اطَّلَعْتُ فِي الْجَنَّةِ فَرَأَيْتُ أَكْثَرَ أَهْلِهَا الْفُقَرَاءَ وَاطَّلَعْتُ فِي النَّارِ فَرَأَيْتُ أَكْثَرَ أَهْلِهَا النِّسَاءَ

I looked in Paradise and I found that the majority of its people were the poor, and I looked in Hellfire and I saw that the majority of its people were women.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 3069, Grade: Sahih

This narration informs us that the Prophet saw most of the people of Hellfire to be women, but another narration informs us that women are also a majority in Paradise.

Muhammad ibn Sireen reported: Some people were boasting and they mentioned whether men or women would be a majority in Paradise. Abu Huraira said: I heard the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, say:

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ زُمْرَةٍ تَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ عَلَى صُورَةِ الْقَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْرِ وَالَّتِي تَلِيهَا عَلَى أَضْوَإِ كَوْكَبٍ دُرِّيٍّ فِي السَّمَاءِ لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مِنْهُمْ زَوْجَتَانِ اثْنَتَانِ يُرَى مُخُّ سُوقِهِمَا مِنْ وَرَاءِ اللَّحْمِ وَمَا فِي الْجَنَّةِ أَعْزَبُ

Verily, the first group to enter Paradise will have faces as bright as the full moon at night; and the next group will have faces as bright as shining stars in the sky; and every man will have two wives and the marrow of their shanks would glimmer beneath their skin and there will be no one in Paradise without a wife.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2834, Grade: Sahih

First, this narration discourages Muslims from boasting about men or women being the majority in Paradise. The people of Paradise are distinguished by their virtuous qualities, not their gender.

Second, the saying “every man will have two wives,” has been used as a proof by some scholars that women will be a majority in Paradise. Al-Qadi Iyad said:

ظَاهِرُ هَذَا الْحَدِيثِ أَنَّ النِّسَاءَ أَكْثَرُ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ وَفِي الْحَدِيثِ الْآخَرِ أَنَّهُنَّ أَكْثَرُ أَهْلِ النَّارِ قَالَ فَيَخْرُجُ مِنْ مَجْمُوعِ هَذَا أَنَّ النِّسَاءَ أَكْثَرُ وَلَدِ آدَمَ

This narration demonstrates that women are the majority of the people of Paradise, and in the other narration that they are a majority of the people of Hellfire; what can be understood from them together is that women are the majority of the children of Adam.

Source: Sharh Sahih Muslim

Thus, women will be a majority in Hellfire and in Paradise because there are more women than men overall. This seems to be confirmed in some other authentic traditions.

Anas ibn Malik reported: Regarding the signs of the Hour, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

وَتَكْثُرَ النِّسَاءُ وَيَقِلَّ الرِّجَالُ حَتَّى يَكُونَ لِخَمْسِينَ امْرَأَةً الْقَيِّمُ الْوَاحِدُ

Women will increase and men will decrease until a single man must care for fifty women.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 81, Grade: Sahih

In another narration, the Prophet said:

وَيُرَى الرَّجُلُ الْوَاحِدُ يَتْبَعُهُ أَرْبَعُونَ امْرَأَةً يَلُذْنَ بِهِ مِنْ قِلَّةِ الرِّجَالِ وَكَثْرَةِ النِّسَاءِ

A man will be followed by forty women seeking refuge with him due to the scarcity of males and abundance of females.

Source: Sahih Muslim 1012, Grade: Sahih

Therefore, we should not think from these traditions that Allah is unfair to women, or that women are more evil than men.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.