Short Answer: Yes. Aside from a new notable exceptions, “any verse of Qur’an or hadith that textually mentions the words ikhwan or ikhwah means the Muslim “brotherhood”, and includes both male and female Muslims.” That particular verse is referencing the sense of community and kind compassion people will feel for one another in Paradise after Allah has removed all hatred and rancor from their hearts. It has nothing to do with gender.
Asalaamu alaykum, and thank you for sending in your question to our website.
In general, any blessings of the Hereafter that are mentioned in the Qur’an and hadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are meant for both genders.
The men and the women whom Allah is pleased with, will receive and enjoy them all, unless it is specifically stated that certain blessings are for one particular gender.
There are certain blessings mentioned specifically for men, such as hoor al ayn, virgin maidens created specifically for the sexual pleasure of its male inhabitants.
Nevertheless, women will generally enjoy the same rewards as the men that Allah has mentioned in the Qur’an and hadith.
Meaning of Quran 15:47
About verse 15:47, Tafsir Ibn Kathir states:
Al-Qasim narrated that Abu Umamah said: ‘The people of Paradise will enter Paradise with whatever enmity is left in their hearts from this world. Then, when they come together, Allah will remove whatever hatred the world has left in their hearts.’ Then he recited the above verse.
The exegesis, using the word “people of paradise” (not “men in paradise”) clearly implies that female believers will also be included among those people who are purified before being admitted to Paradise.
This is because the people of Paradise will include both men and women, and both the genders, being human, could have harbored rancor for each other during the life of this world.
The Arabic word “Ikhwan” & “Ikhwah”
In verse 15:47 of the Qur’an that you have mentioned, the Arabic word used for indicating the pure feelings of love and brotherhood between the Muslims who will be seated on thrones in the Hereafter, is “ikhwan”.
This word is the plural of the word “akh”, explained further below.
The use of this word here is supposed to highlight the mutual feelings of love for each other that will be harbored by these Muslims, once Allah has removed any remnant of rancor or bitterness from their hearts.
When Allah mentions that they will be “like brothers”, this also includes women.
In their case, of course, the word “ikhwan” would be understood to imply the love and warmth of companionable sisterhood that exists between female Muslims.
There is another Arabic word of a similar form, “ikhwah”, which is also the plural of “akh”.
It also means brotherhood/sisterhood, and is used repeatedly in authentic scriptural texts of Islam.
Its meanings indicate the global, unified, timeless bond of brotherhood that should ideally exist between all Muslims, which includes both men and women.
As an example, a famous sahih hadith recorded in Bukhari and Muslim mentions that “a Muslim is the brother of another Muslim…”, using this Arabic word, “akh”.
This word is the singular form of both plurals “ikhwan” and “ikhwah”.
It literally means “brother” (a male sibling), but nevertheless, it also implies the meaning of “friend, companion, associate, or fellow”.
The meaning of the word “ikhwah” in the hadith, therefore, also includes the bond of compassionate sisterhood that exists between female Muslims.
To conclude, any verse of Qur’an or hadith that textually mentions the words ikhwan or ikhwah means the Muslim “brotherhood”, and includes both male and female Muslims.
As an example, Allah says:
The believers are but a single Brotherhood, so make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear Allah, that you may receive mercy. [Quran 49:10]
The meaning implies both, brother or sister, depending on the gender of the Muslim who wants to act upon the message.
The entire body of the Muslims, spanning across multiple centuries and generations, and including both males and females, is generally and jurisprudentially referred to in Islamic texts as “ikhwat-ul-iman” — the brotherhood of faith.
And Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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