The eminent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states the following: There are two facts which should be stated clearly and frankly:
First, the saying of Allah Almighty or His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) can exactly represent the Islamic position regarding any issue. Any sayings other than those of Allah or His Messenger can be accepted or rejected. In other words, the Glorious Qur’an and the Prophet’s authentic Sunnah are the only two infallible sources of knowledge in Islam, and mistakes result from the misunderstanding of one or both of these sources.
Second, it is well-known to scholars of Hadith and critics of narrations that many of the sayings included in the book Nahj Al-Balaghah and ascribed to `Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) are not really his. Critics introduce many proofs and much evidence to substantiate this conclusion. Moreover, any critic or even any attentive reader can perceive that there are many sermons and sayings in Nahj Al-Balaghah which could never be said in the age during which Imam `Ali lived, either in terms of the words of those sermons and sayings or the style used in them. Thus, none should maintain that all the narrations reported in Nahj Al-Balaghah are of Imam `Ali (may Allah be pleased with him).
In addition to the above, in Islamic sciences, none should ascribe any saying to someone except through a valid and continuous chain of transmission. This valid and continuous chain of transmission must also be free from eccentricity and blemish, which is not the case in Nahj Al-Balaghah. Therefore, none can decide that Imam `Ali said such things. Further, even if this saying is really related from Imam `Ali with an authentic chain of transmission and through narrators known for their uprightness and exactitude, it must be rejected, for its meaning contradicts Islamic rules and legal texts. This, in fact, is a strong blemish which entails rejecting any saying even if its chain of transmission is as clear as day.
Furthermore, how could we imagine that `Ali ibn Abi Talib said such a thing while he read the Qur’an in which Allah Almighty states that man and woman are equal in terms of the origin they were created from, the obligations they are charged with, and the retribution they receive. Allah Almighty says, (O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women) (An-Nisaa’ 4:1). Allah Almighty also says, (Lo! Men who surrender unto Allah, and women who surrender, and men who believe and women who believe, and men who obey and women who obey, and men who speak the truth and women who speak the truth, and men who persevere (in righteousness) and women who persevere, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their modesty and women who guard (their modesty), and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Allah hath prepared for them forgiveness and a vast reward) (Al-Ahzab 33:35).
In another verse, Almighty Allah states: (And their Lord hath heard them (and He saith): Lo! I suffer not the work of any worker, male or female, to be lost. Ye proceed one from another) (Aal `Imran 3:195).
Referring to wives, Allah says: (They are raiment for you and ye are raiment for them) (Al-Baqarah 2:187) and (And of His signs is this: He created for you helpmeets from yourselves that ye might find rest in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are portents for folk who reflect) (Ar-Rum 30:21).
In addition, Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Women are counterparts of men.” And said in another hadith, “The whole world is a provision, and the best thing of benefit in the world is the pious woman” (Muslim, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah). The Prophet further said, “Among the (reasons of) happiness of the son of Adam are the righteous woman, the good house, and the good ride (means of transportation)” (Ahmad through a good chain of transmission). In another hadith, the Prophet stated, “Whomever Allah bestows a righteous woman, Allah has thus helped him in half of his religion, so let him fear Allah concerning the other half” (At-Tabarani, and Al-Hakim, who has stated that the hadith has a good chain of transmission). Furthermore, Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “There are four things whoever is bestowed them has really granted the good of this world and that of the Hereafter…” Among these four things, the Prophet mentioned “a righteous woman who does not wish to cause him any harm concerning herself or his property” (At-Tabarani in Al-Mu`jam Al-Kabir and Al-Mu`jam Al-Awsat; one of the chains of transmission through which the hadith is narrated is a good chain of transmission as stated in Al-Mundhiri’s At-Targhib wat-Tarhib).
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) even said about himself, “Women and perfume have been endeared to me from among (the things of) the worldly life of yours, and Prayer has been made the delight of my eye.” So how could we imagine that `Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) contradicted all these and other legal texts by saying that woman is an absolute evil?
If this saying was really reported from `Ali, we can ask him “What is your opinion concerning your wife Fatimah, the chief of all women and the mother of your sons—who are the grandsons of the Prophet—who will be the chiefs of the youth in Paradise?” Does Imam `Ali accept or do Muslims accept his saying that she is “an absolute evil”?
Needless to say that the woman’s nature is not different from the man’s, as both of them are liable to do good or evil, and both may be guided or led astray. Allah Almighty says in this concern: (And a soul and Him who perfected it. And inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and (what is) right for it. He is indeed successful who causeth it to purify. And he is indeed a failure who corrupteth it) (Ash-Shams 91:7–10). In fact, it is inconceivable that the woman is an absolute evil but still indispensable, for how could Allah Almighty create an absolute evil, then push people to it under the pressure of necessity?
On the contrary, when one contemplates all the universe, one finds that good is the original, while the evil we see is relative and concealed under the absolute good. Such evil, in fact, is one of the requirements of good, by which good is distinguished. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to supplicate Allah Almighty saying, “… and evil is not to be ascribed to You.” Moreover, the Almighty says: (In Thy hand is the good. Lo! Thou art Able to do all things) (Aal `Imran 3:26).
Still, there is a point which should be clarified here, which is warning against the trial of women, such as what was stated by the Prophet in a hadith: “I have not left, after me, any trial more harmful to men than women” (Al-Bukhari). I really believe that the warning against something does not mean that it is an absolute evil, but it only means that such a thing has a great influence on one and so it may divert one from observing Allah’s rights and thinking about the Hereafter. Hence, the Almighty has recurrently warned against being influenced with the trial of wealth and children. Examples of this are (Your wealth and your children are only a temptation, whereas Allah! With Him is an immense reward) (At-Taghabun 64:15) and (O ye who believe! Let not your wealth nor your children distract you from remembrance of Allah. Those who do so, they are the losers) (Al-Munafiqun 63:9). Allah has warned us against money though, in many other Qur’anic verses, He has called wealth “good” and has considered children a blessing which He bestows upon whomever He wants. The Almighty says: (He bestoweth female (offspring) upon whom He willeth, and bestoweth male (offspring) upon whom He willeth) (Ash-Shura 42:49). In other contexts, the Almighty reminds His servants of the favors of children and offspring as well as the good provision He grants them. Allah says, (And Allah hath given you wives of your own kind, and hath given you, from your wives, sons and grandsons, and hath made provision of good things for you) (An-Nahl 16:72).
Thus, warning against woman’s trial is like warning against the trial of wealth and children, and this does not mean that such blessings are evil, an absolute evil. This, rather, is a warning against adhering to such things excessively to the extent of being tempted and distracted from remembering Allah. None can deny that most men lose the power of resistance before woman’s charm and attractiveness, especially when the woman intends temptation and seduction, as the woman’s scheme is greater than that of the man. For that reason, men should be on their guard against such a danger in order not to be led by their desires and wild sexual motives.
Finally, it is worth stating that the trial of woman has reached a degree that exceeds anything in the previous ages or even what could come to the minds of the people of such ages. Nowadays, destructionists use woman, in the name of progress, as a means to demolish virtues and traditions. In opposition to that, the Muslim woman must be conscious of such plots and be far above being used as a means of destruction in the hands of the enemies of Islam. The Muslim woman should turn to the morals of women in the best generations (namely, in the Prophet’s lifetime and the generations directly following him). She should assume the morals of the polite girl, the pious wife, the kind mother, and the good-doer righteous woman (each according to her status), for the sake of her religion and nation. If woman truly observes such morals, she will certainly gain the rewards and the pleasures of this world and those of the Hereafter.