Will There Be More Men or Women in Paradise?
(Extracted From: Al-Jannah Wa An-Naar of Umar Sulaiman Al Ashqar)
Men and women engaged in this dispute when the Sahaabah were still alive.
Muslim reports from Ibn Sireen:
“Men and women disputed as to which of them would form the majority in Paradise. According to another report, either they were competing, or they were discussing, whether there would be more men or women in Paradise. They consulted Abu Hurayrah, who said that women would form the majority, on the basis of the words of the Prophet (saw): “The first group to enter Paradise will be as beautiful as the full moon, and the group that follows them will be like the brightest shining stars in the sky: each man of them will have two wives, the marrow of whose leg-bones will be visible through the flesh because of their extreme beauty. There will be no one who is unmarried in Paradise”” [Sahih Muslim, Kitaab al-Jannah, Baab awwal zumrah tadhkul al-Jannah, 4/2179, hadith no. 2834]
This hadith clearly indicates that there will be more women than men in Paradise. Some others thought that there would be more men, because of the hadith, “I saw that they [women] formed the majority of the people of Hell”. The response to this is the fact that women will form the majority of the inhabitants of Hell does not necessarily mean that they will be a minority in Paradise, as Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalaani said [Fath al-Baari 6/325]
The two hadiths may be reconciled by stating that women will be in the majority in both paradise and Hell, just as there are more women than men in this world. We could say that the hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah indicates that the total number of women in paradise, including women of this world and al-Hoor al-‘Eeyn will outnumber men. The question then is, who will be greater in number in Paradise: the men of this world or the women?
al-Qurtubee reconciled between these two hadiths by suggesting that women will form the majority of the inhabitants of Hell before the Shafaa’ah [intercession], when the sinners from amongst the muwwahideen will be brought out of Hell. Thereafter women will form the majority of the people of Paradise. [at-Tadhkirah, al-Qurtubee, p. 475]
The small number of women in Paradise is indicated in a report narrated by Ahmad and Abu Ya’laa from ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas who said, “Whilst we were with the Messenger of Allaah (saw) on this mountain path, he said, “Look, can you see anything?” We said, “We see crows, and one of them stands out because its beak and feet are red”. The Messenger of Allaah (saw) said, “No women will enter Paradise except those who are as rare among them as this crow is among the others”” [Silsilat al-Hadith as-Saheehah, 4/466, no. 1851]