What is the meaning of the hadith women are entrusted to you by Allah?

Details of the Question

- In what sense is the word “trust (amanah)” used in the hadith women are entrusted to you by Allah?
- Some people skew the word trust. What does the Prophet mean and what message does he want to give us with the hadith women are entrusted to you by Allah?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

One of the narrations clarifying the issue in the best way is as follows:

During Farewell Hajj, a Companion called Anjasha sang some songs, which made the camels, walk faster. When the Prophet (pbuh) saw that the camels started to walk so fast as to disturb the women in the caravan, he addressed Anjasha:

“Oh Anjasha! Be careful! Act slowly. Do not disturb the brilliants and crystals.” (Bukhari, Adab, 90, 95, 111)

In our religion, the life, honor and rights of women are untouchable; they are entrusted.

The word amanah (entrusted thing) derived from the word amn in Arabic meaning “to trust, to be free from fear and worry” is used as a noun as the opposite of betrayal as well as a verb in the sense of “being reliable”. (see Mufradat, Lisanul-Arab, “amn” item)

According to Allah’s order "Nor should ye treat them (women) with harshness." (an-Nisa, 4/19), it is necessary to talk to them softly and treat them very well. According to the criterion established by the Prophet (pbuh), the best person is the one who treats his family members in the best way and gets on well with them.

In order to strengthen this criterion, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "I am the one who treats his family members in the best way". (Tirmidhi, Manaqib 63)

In the hadiths, it is stated that the following are things entrusted to us:

- promises that are made,
- words spoken in private meetings,
- secrets told to us,
- women married to us
- family privacy
. (see Wensinck, al-Muʿjam, “amn” item)

“When the power or authority comes in the hands of unfit persons, then wait for the Hour”. (Bukhari, Ilm 2) This hadith tells us that spread of breach of trust and elimination of trust are a social disaster.

Observing trust are mentioned among the main traits of believers in the Quran. (al-Muminun 23/8; al-Maarij 70/32)

The Prophet (pbuh) mentions being dishonest when one is entrusted something among the signs of hypocrites (munafiqs) (Bukhari, Iman, 24) but he prohibits taking reprisals against a person who breaches trust. (Abu Dawud, Buyu, 79)

The Prophet (pbuh) described women as trusts of Allah and entrusted them to his ummah like that in his Farewell Sermon, in which he summarized the messages of his prophethood that lasted twenty-three years and addressed more than one hundred thousand people in particular and the whole humanity, in general:

"O people!

I advise you to protect the rights of women and to fear Allah regarding this issue.

You have taken women as trusts of Allah.

You have taken them as your wives by promising to protect their honor and chastity on behalf of Allah.

You have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you..."

It means women are trusts of Allah, not any other person, to us. They are entrusted to us by Allah Almighty.

How should a man who takes this fact into consideration treat the woman entrusted to him by Allah? Can a believer man who is aware of this fact insult and beat the woman entrusted to him, dismiss her out of his house, drag her from her hair, shoot her, stab her or deprive her from the rights of mahr and inheritance by usurping her?

When humanity correctly understands and fulfills the criteria of Islam, everybody will have their rights and find peace. Otherwise, the oppressors and the oppressed, the exploiters and the exploited, the tormentors and the tormented will continue to exist.

In fact, trust includes man’s responsibility toward his Lord, soul and community:

He is responsible toward his Lord to accept Him as One, to worship Him without associating any partners with Him and to act as if he always sees Him.

He is responsible toward his soul to use it in the way that Allah orders, to keep away from prohibitions and to keep it away from the dangers in the world and in the hereafter.  

He is responsible toward the community to be careful about the rights of the community, not to deceive people, not to harm things and not to harm others’ rights.

To sum up, amanah (trust) means to be in safety and security and to show respect to others’ rights. It means to be conscious of the duties that one is responsible to fulfill.

In this respect, all of the material and spiritual values and all of the responsibilities that we have are within the scope of trust.

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