Why Was no Prophet Raised from Among Women?
God sent to every nation Messengers from among their own people. Without exception, these prophets were raised from among the men, never from among the women. The overwhelming consensus of scholars of the Law and Tradition among the Sunnis is that no woman has been sent as prophet. Except a questionable, even unreliable tradition that Mary and the wife of the Pharaoh, who, although married to one of the most cruel tyrants and obstinate unbelievers in human history, believed in God in utmost sincerity, there is no Qur’anic authority, nor any in Hadith, that a woman was sent to her people in the rank or role of a prophet. And certainly this is no argument that God’s revelation of religion for His human creatures has for that reason been lacking in some way or defective.
God the All-Mighty created all entities in pairs. Even things, the inanimate part of creation, function according to principles and forces in pairs—like positive and negative, for example. This is true of every creation, viewed as microcosm or macrocosm. If the minute particles which constitute atoms were not held apart by a subtle balance of paired, opposite charges, the nucleus would explode or implode. The human being, also constituted of atoms, is the balancing term between the micro and macrocosms. Man was created to be as the steward of this creation and is fitted to it: what is true of the universe is true of man, as well. In other words, human beings are also created in pairs, male and female, and there is complex relation between them of attraction and repulsion. While in one of them balance is towards softness, weakness and compassion; in the other the balance is towards strength, force and competitive toughness. It is so that they may come together and establish the harmony of the family unit—just as, in the micro and macro universe, there is a harmony between atoms and celestial bodies.
Today the issue of gender has been inflamed to such an extent that some people have gone beyond all bounds of sense and experience and refuse to acknowledge the very real differences between male and female; some even attempt to make out that men and women are in all respects alike and equal. The issue has therefore become vulnerable to ridicule, and when over-presented and over-stated, has become a source of much misery in individual lives. Where in the most ‘modern’ lifestyle, the woman has forsaken her real identity in order to imitate the characteristics and functions of the man, family life has completely eroded: children are sent out to nursing centers or boarding schools, the parents being now too preoccupied as ‘individuals’ in their own, separate self-indulgence to be parents. This violence against nature and culture has destroyed the home as a place of balance between authority and love, as a focus of security and peace.
God the Wise ordained some principles and law in the universe, and created human beings therein with an excellent and lofty nature. With regard to physical existence, the man is considerably stronger and more capable than the woman, and plainly constituted to strive and compete, without needing to, for physical reasons, withdraw from the struggle. The woman is plainly not so constituted. Because of the menstrual period (which can be difficult, even painful, and sometimes last up to 15 days), and the necessary confinement before and after childbirth, the woman cannot always pray and fast. Nor can she be continually available for public duties with the same degree of presence and commitment as can the man. How, if the woman is also a mother, can she, with a baby in her lap lead and administrate armies, make life and death decisions, sustain and prosecute a difficult strategy against an enemy? The role of a prophet is to give the lead to mankind in every aspect of social and religious life and to do so without pause or hesitation for as long as God wills. That is why prophethood is impossible for woman. If the man were the child-bearer prophethood would have been impossible for him too. The Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace, points to this fact when he describes women as those who cannot fulfil the religious obligations totally and cannot realize some of them (Sahih al-Bukhari, ‘Hayd,’ 6).
A prophet is an exemplar, a model for conduct, therefore a human being in every respect—so that people do not have the excuse that they are required to follow a way which is beyond the powers of human beings. As for the matters that relate exclusively to women, they are guided through the teaching of the women in the household of the prophets.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.