In the ḥadīth, “Make it a point to take this advice and be good to women, for indeed women were created from a bent rib bone, and indeed, the most bent part of the rib bone is the most raised part,” to the end of the ḥadīth, [could you please] explain the meaning of the ḥadīth with a clarification of the meaning of [the phrase]: “the most bent part of the rib bone is its most raised part”?
Answer by Shaikh Ibn Bāz, May Allāh Have Mercy on Him
This ḥadīth is ṣaḥīḥ [authentic]: the two shaikhs [Al-Bukhārī and Muslim] narrated it in the two Ṣaḥīḥs from the Prophet ﷺ from the ḥadīth of Abū Hurairah, may Allāh be pleased with him. He ﷺ said:
Make it a point to take this advice and be good to women, for indeed women were created from a bent rib bone, and indeed, the most bent part of the ribs is the most raised part, so make it a point to take this advice and be good to women.
[That’s where the ḥadīth] ends. This is a command to husbands, fathers, brothers, and others that they make it a point to take this advice and treat women well, to be good and kind to them, to not wrong [or oppress] them, to give them their rights, and to direct them to all that’s good. This is an obligation upon everyone due to his ﷺ having said: “Make it a point to take this advice and be good to women.”
And what’s required is that [nothing] of that [good treatment] be stopped [just because a woman] might on occasion be bad to her husband [or] relatives with her tongue or actions since they were created from a bent rib bone, as the Prophet ﷺ said: “[A]nd indeed, the most bent part of the rib bone is the most raised part.”
And it’s known that its most raised part [stems] from what’s next to the starting point of the rib; no doubt, ribs have a bend and curvature in them—this is well-known. So the meaning is that there has to be something of unevenness and diminishment in her character and manners.
And it’s to this [meaning], it’s mentioned in another ḥadīth in the two Ṣaḥīḥs: “I have not seen from those of diminished intellect and understanding [anyone] more able to make a man of resolve lose his intellect and understanding than one of you [of the female sex].”
The intent [behind mentioning this] is that this is [from] the authority of the Prophet ﷺ, and it’s [authentically] established in the two Ṣaḥīḥs from the ḥadīth of Abū Saʿīd Al-Khudrī, may Allāh be pleased with him. And the meaning of [a woman having] diminished intellect is as the Prophet ﷺ said [in another ḥadīth], that the testimony of two women is equivalent to the testimony of one man; as for [her practice of] religion being diminished, it’s as the Prophet ﷺ said, that she stops and waits for days and nights, not praying—that being due to menstruation cycles and, similarly, postpartum bleeding. This diminishment [of hers, at any rate], is what Allāh has ordained for her—there’s no sin in it upon her.
So she ought to recognize that in the manner that the Prophet ﷺ has directed her to, even if she were a woman of knowledge and piety, because the Prophet ﷺ does not speak from [his] desires; that is nothing but divine inspiration from him that Allāh sends to him of inspiration so that he may convey it to all the people [he was sent to], as He, Almighty and Majestic, says:
وَالنَّجْمِ إِذَا هَوَىٰ (١) مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ وَمَا غَوَىٰ (٢) وَمَا يَنْطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ (٣) إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَىٰ (٤)
(1) By the stars when they set. (2) Your companion [Muḥammad ﷺ] has not deviated [from the path of truth], nor has he left what’s right and correct. (3) And he never speaks out of his [own] desires. (4) [Neither the Qurʾān nor the Sunnah] are anything but divine inspiration that he has received [from Allāh]. (Al-Najm, 1-4)
Majmūʿ Fatāwá wa Maqālāt Al-Shaikh Ibn Bāz, vol. 5, pp. 300-01.