Do You Have Female Prophets in Islam? And Is Eve Blamed for Adam’s Sin?

Name of Questioner: Lee

Date: 19-9-2019 01:55:04 AM

Consultant: Ask About Islam Editorial Team


Why is Maryam not counted as a prophet when she clearly is mentioned in the Surat al-Anbiyaa? In Arabic, when there is a plural mix for both masculine and feminine the masculine form of the word is applied, thus Surat al-Anbiyaa can indicate a mix of prophets from both genders. She is mentioned with the letter "wa" (and) before her name as are all the other prophets in that Surah. And was Eve a prophetess or the cause of Adam’s deviation?

Dear Lee,

Thank you for your question.

Answering your question, Dr. Jasser Auda, Professor and Al-Shatibi Chair of Maqasid Studies at the International Peace College South Africa, the Executive Director of the Maqasid Institute, states:

Some scholars say that there were never any female prophets and their reason is that a prophet is a "perfect" human being, while women – according to them – could never be perfect!

A typical such opinion is Imam Ibn Katheer's opinion in his Commentary on the Quran. (Ibn Katheer, Tafseer Ibn Katheer, vol. 2, p. 497)

Imam Al-Shawkani even claimed that there is "consensus" (Ijma`) amongst scholars over that opinion. (Al-Shawkani, Fath Al-Qadeer, vol. 4, p. 159)

However, these claims are simply not true. A number of renowned scholars had demonstrated that there were female prophets as there were male prophets, although they did have different opinions on whom to include and the related justification.

For example, Imam al-Qurtubi, in his famous Commentary, explained that, in principle, there is nothing against sending female prophets similar to sending male prophets. He based his opinion on numerous verses in the Quran that mentioned "wahy" (revelation) sent to women similar to the same word "wahy" that was used with revelation sent to men.

Imam al-Qurtubi cited the following verses, from the chapter in the Quran named after Maryam (Mary, the mother of Jesus, peace be upon him), to support his opinion: {And call to mind, through this divine writ, Mary. Lo! She withdrew from her family to an eastern place. She exclaimed: "Verily, 'I seek refuge from you with the Most Gracious! [Approach me not] if you are conscious of Him!" [The angel] answered: "I am but a messenger of your Sustainer, [who says,] 'I shall bestow upon you the gift of a son endowed with purity.'"} (Quran 19:17-19)

However, according to Imam al-Qurtubi's sources, he could only confirm Maryam's prophethood but had no confirmed evidence for the prophethood of any other woman. (Al-Qurtubi, Al-Tafseer, vol. 4, p. 83)

Nevertheless, several other scholars included other women in the rank of prophets and discussed differences among scholars regarding that. These women are: Asia (The Pharaoh's wife), Hawaa (Eve, Prophet Adam's wife), Sarah (Prophet Ibrahim's wife) and Yuhanz (Prophet Moses' mother).

In the Islamic version of the story of creation, Eve was not the cause of Adam’s sin. In fact the Quran blames Adam.

For more details given by scholars who supported this opinion, refer to Imam al-Razi, the famous Commentator of the Quran, in his, Al-durr Al-mukhtaar (vol. 5, p. 441),

Imam al-Suyuti, an authority in the Sciences of the Quran, in his, Al-Ashbaah wal-Naza'ir (vol. 1, p. 240), Imam al-Kamal Ibn al-Humaam, a principal Hanafi scholar (his opinion mentioned in Husn Al-Uswah, by Muhammad Siddiq Khan, vol. 1, p. 591), and Imam Al-Mubarkafuri, in his Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi, (vol. 5, p. 460), who actually cited the same verses from the chapter named, the Prophets (al-Anbiyaa'), which you referred to in your question.

Therefore, "consensus" claims that, in Islam, women cannot be prophets, are not true. And the claim that there could be no "perfect" woman, i.e., human perfection, is contrary to the general Islamic principles of equality between men and women, as well as the authentic hadith, in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "These women were 'perfect' (kamula min an-nisaa'): Maryam, Asia, Khadeejah, and Fatimah." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) By the way, this hadith was one of the principal evidences that Imam al-Qurtubi and others used to support their opinion regarding female prophets.

It is time to correct the general misperception that no single woman, however excellent she might be, could be equivalent to men in carrying major responsibilities and leading people in the way of good deeds. God Almighty said: {And for those who have attained to faith God has propounded a parable in [the story of] Pharaoh's wife as she prayed "O my Sustainer! Build You for me a mansion in the paradise [that is] with You, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me, from all evildoing folk! And [We have propounded yet another parable of God-consciousness in the story of] Mary, the daughter of Imran.} (Quran 66:11-12)


It is true that there are differences between women and men in the Islamic law. But these differences are not in principal rights and obligations. They are due to the distribution of responsibilities in the family according to men and women's natural roles, and other similar differences.

However, these rulings should not be interpreted to imply that Islam enforces a "natural" inferiority of women or that no single woman could be a capable leader, let alone, a prophet who receives divine revelation, even if God names a whole chapter in the glorious Quran after her and sets her as an example to all believers; men and women.

We hope this answers your question.

Keep in touch.