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۔
The best traits of women are those which are the worst traits of men, namely: 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.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #234)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all worlds. Peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.
In this profound hadith, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) highlights the contrasting traits between men and women. He states that the best traits of women are the worst traits of men, namely vanity, cowardice, and miserliness. Let us delve deeper into the meanings of these traits and their implications, drawing insights from the Quran.
The first trait mentioned is vanity or "zahw" in Arabic. Vanity refers to excessive pride in one's appearance or abilities. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) explains that a woman's vanity leads her to not allow anyone access to herself. This can be understood as a protective mechanism, where a woman values her modesty and guards her dignity. The Quran emphasizes the importance of modesty for both men and women in Surah Al-A'raf (7:26),
O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness - that is best.
The second trait mentioned is cowardice or "jubn" in Arabic. Cowardice refers to a lack of courage or bravery. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) explains that a woman's cowardice leads her to be frightened by everything that befalls her. This can be understood as a natural inclination towards caution and self-preservation. The Quran encourages believers to be courageous and steadfast in the face of adversity in Surah Al-Imran (3:175),
It is only Satan that suggests to you the fear of his allies. So fear them not, but fear Me, if you are [indeed] believers.
The third trait mentioned is miserliness or "bukhl" in Arabic. Miserliness refers to a reluctance to spend or share one's wealth. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) explains that a woman's miserliness leads her to preserve her own property and the property of her husband. This can be understood as a sense of responsibility and financial prudence. The Quran encourages believers to spend in the way of Allah and be generous in Surah Al-Baqarah (2:195),
And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) highlights these traits not to belittle women, but to emphasize the unique qualities they possess. These traits are not inherently negative, but rather have positive aspects when understood in the right context. It is important to note that these traits are not exclusive to women, as men can also possess them to varying degrees.
This hadith serves as a reminder for both men and women to reflect on their own traits and strive for balance. Men can learn from women's modesty, caution, and financial prudence, while women can learn from men's confidence, bravery, and generosity. By recognizing and appreciating the strengths and weaknesses of both genders, we can foster harmony and complementarity within society.
In conclusion, this hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) sheds light on the contrasting traits between men and women. It encourages us to reflect on these traits and their implications, drawing insights from the Quran. By understanding and appreciating the unique qualities of both genders, we can strive for balance and harmony in our personal lives and society as a whole. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the wisdom to understand and apply these teachings in our lives.
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