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Should Women Limit Their Knowledge of the Deen?

08 November, 2018
Q I have seen some sheikhs on Twitter claiming that a woman should not be allowed to study the deen past the point of basic knowledge, for fear she will use her knowledge against her husband. Is this true?


Short Answer: There is nowhere that puts a cap on the allowable or even the advisable amount of knowledge that any person can attain, much less women specifically.


Salam and thank you for this very important and relevant question.

Although with a basic understanding of Islam, it seems like the answer should be self-evident, it does seem that there is a growing number of men who think in this way and propagate these ideas.

Let us first examine what history shows us.

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The Mothers of the Believers

Going all the way back to the source: ummahat al-mu’mineen, the Mothers of the Believers.

It is common knowledge that A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) was extremely knowledgeable in deen.

There are over two thousand Hadiths attributed to her on a wide variety of topics.

Three of the Prophet’s wives had the Quran memorized in its entirety. They were and still are renowned for their knowledge of Islam.

After the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) people would often seek their advice.

The Prophet’s wives are not the only women to be highly educated in issues of Islam. Through the centuries, many women of note have become aalimah – women of great religious knowledge.

Always Ask for Proof

The next pertinent question is: where is the proof?

When a person makes such a claim as women being disallowed from attaining an excess of Islamic knowledge (if there could ever be such a thing), the burden of proof is on him.

But when pressed for proof, men who claim such things as this have little of substance to say.

They offer answers that appeal to their target audience: “You know how women are, brother!”

They make claims with nothing but anecdote to back it up: “This happened to a brother I know!”

Even building themselves credibility by attempting to sound scientific: “It is known how a woman’s nature is.”

But where is the proof?

Where in the Quran or Sunnah does it warn against women becoming too knowledgeable in the deen?

Where does it limit women’s knowledge?

There is nowhere that I have ever read that puts a cap on the allowable or even the advisable amount of knowledge that any person can attain, much less women specifically.

To the contrary, Allah (SWT) commands us in the Qur’an to make a supplication to increase us in knowledge:

… and say: My Lord increase me in knowledge” (20:114)

He does not restrict this supplication to men only.

Tempting though it may be to fall into a belief that demonizes women and relieves men of responsibility, there is no Islamic basis for it.

Using Knowledge Against Husbands?

This leads me directly to my third and most important point:

What does that even mean?

How can a woman “use Islam against” her husband?

Does this mean she is insisting upon her rights?

Does this mean she understands the limits of her husband’s rights and that she knows that she is to be treated as a person of high esteem and not like a maid?

If these are the concerns of such “scholars” when they say these things, then that isn’t using the religion against anyone. That is using the religion as it has been intended.

Allah did not grant women specific rights for the purpose of them being ignored by her husband.

Allah granted women those rights. And if they are from Allah, who is any man to deny them?

Men who say such things are only concerned with themselves. They would rather keep women down than give us our rights.

They are more concerned with maintaining the status quo of their creature comforts than doing the work to practice their religion correctly.

If that is women “using the religion against” their husbands, then that can only be good.

I hope that this answers your question.

Salam. Please stay in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Women’s Access to Mosques: What Is the Deal?

Are Men Better Than Women in Islam?

Equal Rights for Women?

What Islam Really Says About Women (TED Talk)

6 Facts Will Challenge Your Views on Women in Islam

About Leah Mallery
Leah is a Muslim convert of almost a decade. She has two kids, an intercultural marriage, and half of a French degree in her back pocket, looking to switch gears to science and medicine. She has lived abroad for over a decade, having just recently become reacquainted with her roots in America. She currently lives in Michigan near her family and – masha’Allah – a sizeable Muslim community.