By Abu Amina Elias at FaithinAllah.
I read that Islam teaches that women are the majority in Hellfire. Is this true?
It is true that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said he saw a majority of women in the Hellfire; however, some scholars believe that this is because women are the majority of human beings in general, so they will also be a majority in Paradise.
Imran ibn Hussein reported: The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:
اطَّلَعْتُ فِي الْجَنَّةِ فَرَأَيْتُ أَكْثَرَ أَهْلِهَا الْفُقَرَاءَ وَاطَّلَعْتُ فِي النَّارِ فَرَأَيْتُ أَكْثَرَ أَهْلِهَا النِّسَاءَ
I looked in Paradise and I found that the majority of its people were the poor; and I looked in Hellfire and I saw that the majority of its people were women.
[Sahih Bukhari, Book 54, Number 464]
This narration informs us that the Prophet saw most of the people of Hellfire to be women, but another narration informs us that women are also a majority in Paradise.
Muhammad ibn Sireen reported: Some people were boasting and they mentioned whether men or women would be a majority in Paradise. Abu Huraira said: I heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, say:
إِنَّ أَوَّلَ زُمْرَةٍ تَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ عَلَى صُورَةِ الْقَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْرِ وَالَّتِي تَلِيهَا عَلَى أَضْوَإِ كَوْكَبٍ دُرِّيٍّ فِي السَّمَاءِ لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مِنْهُمْ زَوْجَتَانِ اثْنَتَانِ يُرَى مُخُّ سُوقِهِمَا مِنْ وَرَاءِ اللَّحْمِ وَمَا فِي الْجَنَّةِ أَعْزَبُ
Verily, the first group to enter Paradise will have faces as bright as the full moon at night; and the next group will have faces as bright as shining stars in the sky; and every man will have two wives and the marrow of their shanks would glimmer beneath their skin and there will be no one in Paradise without a wife.
[Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6793]
First, this narration discourages Muslims from boasting about men or women being the majority in Paradise. The people of Paradise are distinguished by their virtuous qualities, not their gender.
Second, the saying “every man will have two wives,” has been used as a proof by some scholars that women will be a majority in Paradise. Al-Qadi Iyad said:
ظَاهِرُ هَذَا الْحَدِيثِ أَنَّ النِّسَاءَ أَكْثَرُ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ وَفِي الْحَدِيثِ الْآخَرِ أَنَّهُنَّ أَكْثَرُ أَهْلِ النَّارِ قَالَ فَيَخْرُجُ مِنْ مَجْمُوعِ هَذَا أَنَّ النِّسَاءَ أَكْثَرُ وَلَدِ آدَمَ
This narration demonstrates that women are the majority of the people of Paradise, and in the other narration that they are a majority of the people of Hellfire; what can be understood from them together is that women are the majority of the children of Adam.
[An-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim]
Thus, women will be a majority in Hellfire and in Paradise because there are more women than men overall. This seems to be confirmed in some other authentic traditions.
Anas ibn Malik reported: Regarding the signs of the Hour, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:
وَتَكْثُرَ النِّسَاءُ وَيَقِلَّ الرِّجَالُ حَتَّى يَكُونَ لِخَمْسِينَ امْرَأَةً الْقَيِّمُ الْوَاحِدُ
Women will increase and men will decrease until a single man must care for fifty women.
[Sahih Bukhari, Book 3, Number 81]
In another narration, the Prophet said:
وَيُرَى الرَّجُلُ الْوَاحِدُ يَتْبَعُهُ أَرْبَعُونَ امْرَأَةً يَلُذْنَ بِهِ مِنْ قِلَّةِ الرِّجَالِ وَكَثْرَةِ النِّسَاءِ
…a man will be followed by forty women seeking refuge with him due to the scarcity of males and abundance of females.
[Sahih Muslim, Book 5, Number 2207]
Therefore, we should not think from these traditions that Allah is unfair to women, or that women are more evil than men, or any other misguided ideas.
Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.