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Question 632: Assalamu Alaikum! Can someone explain this to me? In Nahjul-Balagha #234 it is written, “The Best of women’s attributes are the men’s worst; self-conceit, cowardice and miserliness. So if a women is self-conceit, she will not let one approach her in (in bed). If she is miserliness, shesafe gaurds her wealth and that of her husband. And if she is a coward, she is scared of anything displayed before her. So, is this saying Sahih that The Best Traits of Women are the Worst Traits of Men?

Answer 632: Amir al-Mu’minin (peace be upon him) said: The best traits of women are those which are the worst traits of men. These attributes are as follows: Vanity, Cowardice and Miserliness. Thus, since the woman is vain, she will not allow anyone access to herself; since she is miserly, she will preserve her own property and the property of her husband; and since she is weak-hearted, she will be frightened with everything that befalls her.[1]

The Arabic version of this Hadith:

خِيَارُ خِصَالِ النِّسَاءِ شِرَارُ خِصَالِ الرِّجَالِ: الزَّهْوُ وَالْجُبْنُ وَالْبُخْلُ، فَإذَا كَانَتِ الْمَرْأَةُ مَزْهُوَّةً لَمْ تُمَكِّنْ مِنْ نَفْسِهَا، وَإِذَا كَانَتْ بِخِيلَةً حَفِظَتْ مَالَهَا وَمَالَ بَعْلِهَا، وَإِذَا كَانَتْ جَبَانَةً فَرِقَتْ مِنْ كُلِّ شِيْءٍ يَعْرِضُ لَهَا.[2]

Interpretation

Vanity: In this Hadith Imam Ali (as) doesn’t say that it is better for women to be absolutely arrogant toward her brother, sister, father, mother or other women. He says that she is supposed to behave haughtily toward non-Mahram. It is difference between behaving haughtily and showing pride. This means that she is recommended to be magnanimous toward others. In other words, it is not good for her to behave toward non-Mahram in a way she behaves toward other women.

Cowardice: The fear mentioned in this hadith refers to the chastity of women. Meanings that a woman must be cautious toward non-Mahram especially with everything that befalls her.

Miserliness: In this hadith the meaning of miserliness is not about personal property. It means that a woman is a trustee for her husband’s property. So, she is supposed to protect it, however this attribute is not only specialized for women as it is good for everyone to be trustee.[3]

As a result, a woman is supposed to have such attributes toward her close relative and be cautious toward non-Mahram.

For further information on this matter, please read the following answers:

Index: Rights and Duties of Women in Islam: Reasons why men chat with non-Mahram, answer 641.

Index: Looking at non-Mahram Body for Marriage, answer 611.

Index: Good women are for good men / Types of Family in Quran, answer 512.

Index: Essential Requirements of a Successful Marriage in Islam, answer 515.

[1] . Nahjul Balaghah, Qisar 226, Faydul Islam; Nahjul Balaghah, H. 234.

[2] . Nahjul Balaghah (Subhi Saleh), Pg. 510; Sharh-e Nahjul Balaghah, Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Vol. 19, Pg. 65.

[3] . Shahid Morteza Motahhari, Taalim wa Tarbiyat dar Islam (Training & Education in Islam), Pg. 160-180.

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