There is a myth around us that the women are created from the curved rib of the men, and this characteristic is shared between the spouses. What make this myth believable are the scriptural description, amazing reasoning stories, analogies, prophet’s sayings and explanation, and even misinterpretation of certain verses of the Quran. However, this study may help us to find the truth to get rid of this myth from the detailed below like many other myths around us:
Woman was created from Man’s Rib
According to the Old Testament God formed man of the dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life to become the living creature, Adam. Then He caused a deep sleep to Adam when He took one of his ribs. And the rib, which God had taken from man, made a woman and brought her unto the man, and she shall be called Woman as stated in the verses of the Hebrew Bible (Torah) given to Jewish prophets:
[Genesis 2:7] Then the LORD God formed man of the dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.
[Genesis 2:8] And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there he put the man whom he had formed.
[Genesis 2:9] And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
[Genesis 2:10] A river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from thence it was parted, and became into four rivers.
[Genesis 2:11] The name of the first is the Pison. That is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.
[Genesis 2:12] And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and the onyx stone.
[Genesis 2:13] And the name of the second river is the Gihon: the same is it that compasseth of Ethiopia.
[Genesis 2:14] And the name of the third river is the Hiddekel: that is it which goes toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
[Genesis 2:15] The LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
[Genesis 2:16] And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat;
[Genesis 2:17] but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
[Genesis 2:18] And the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.”
[Genesis 2:19] And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
[Genesis 2:20] And Adam gave names to all cattle and to the fowl of the air and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a help meet for him.
[Genesis 2:21] And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: he took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh instead thereof.
[Genesis 2:22] And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman and brought her unto the man.
[Genesis 2:23] And Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
[Genesis 2:24] Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.
[Genesis 2:25] And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Why God created woman from man’s rib?
Around the description in the Old Testament there has been developed amazing story of how God made man, and so beautiful how He made woman! Why did God create Woman from Man’s rib, when He could have simply created her from dust, as He did Man? This is a story that puts a beautiful touch on the reasoning:
“When I created the heavens and the earth, I spoke them into being. When I created man, I formed him from the dust of the Earth and breathed life into his nostrils. But you, woman, I fashioned after I breathed the breath of life into man because your nostrils are too delicate. I allowed a deep sleep to come over him so I could patiently and perfectly fashion you. Man was put to sleep so that he could not interfere with the creativity. From one bone I fashioned you. I chose the bone that protects man’s life. I chose the rib, which protects his heart and lungs and supports him, as you are meant to do.”
“Around this one bone I shaped you. I modeled you. I created you perfectly and beautifully. our characteristics are as the rib, strong yet delicate and fragile. You provide protection for the most delicate organ in man, his heart. His heart is the center of his being; his lungs hold the breath of life. The rib cage will allow itself to be broken before it will allow damage to the heart. Support man as the rib cage supports the body.”
“You were not taken from his feet, to be under him, nor were you taken from his head, to be above him. You were taken from his side, to stand beside him and be held close to his side. You are my perfect angel. You are my beautiful little girl. You have grown to be a splendid woman of excellence, and my eyes fill when I see the virtue in your heart. Your eyes: don’t change them. Your lips: how lovely when they part in prayer. Your nose so perfect in form, your hands so gentle to touch. I’ve caressed your face in your deepest sleep; I’ve held your heart close to mine. Of all that lives and breathes, you are the most like me.”
“Adam walked with me in the cool of the day and yet he was lonely. He could not see me or touch me. He could only feel me. So everything I wanted Adam to share and experience with me, I fashioned in you: my holiness, my strength, my purity, my love, my protection and support. You are special because you are the extension of me.”
“Man represents My image, woman My emotions. Together, you represent the totality of God. So man: treat woman well. Love her, respect her, for she is fragile. In hurting her, you hurt Me. What you do to her, you do to Me. In crushing her, you only damage your own heart, the heart of your Father and the heart of her Father. Woman, support man. In humility, show him the power of emotion I have given you. In gentle quietness show your strength. In love, show him that you are the rib that protects his inner self.”
Hadiths with explanation of creating women from a bent rib of men
Some scholars have said the Hadith means Allah Almighty first created Adam and then created Eve from his rib. While other scholars have interpreted the Hadith differently stating that the example of a woman is like a rib which appears to be crooked/bent but the real beauty of it is in being crooked. If one tries to straighten it, it will break and then one will have to put it back together, it would not return to its original beautiful state. However, here is a couple of prophet’s Hadiths with explanation of scholars with their views, even supported by an interesting story:
(1) Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “And I command you to take care of the women in a good manner for they are created from a rib and the most crooked portion of the rib is its upper part; if you try to straighten it, you will break it, and if you leave it, it will remain crooked, so I command you to take care of the women in a good manner.”
(2) Narrated by Abu Hurairah, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “The woman is like a rib; if you try to straighten her, you will break her. So if you want to get benefit from her, do so while she still has some crookedness.
Here the Prophet has described the thing using a very strange yet full of wisdom simile that woman’s true self and beauty is in her natural bent state and if she is straightened she will break and suffer. Some people use this parable to mock or condemn woman that she has been created from a bent rib and her nature is bent (or crooked), however, the statement of the Prophet does not at all mean this.
Allah Almighty has created man with some qualities and women with other qualities. There is difference in the nature of both. Due to the differences, man thinks that a woman is different from his nature and qualities but this is not a weakness of the woman rather it is her nature. It is similar to the bent rib example; to think that the rib is bent does not mean it is not the way it should be or is against nature. This is the reason why the Prophet (peace be upon him) instructed men not to condemn women if they find them different from themselves but to consider the difference as the nature of women. If one tries to straighten the rib or, in this case, modify the woman’s nature, he will hurt her.
Through Hadith, the Prophet is explaining that being straight or crooked/bent is relative. If you look at one thing from one angle, you will find it bent and if you look at it from a different angle, you will find it straight. If you look at the road from the window, you might find the road bent but if you see the road from the road itself, you will find it straight. It is the perception that makes it so. Anyhow, what was intended from the hadith is that since the nature of a man is different from that of a woman, the woman would appear strange or different to him whereas in reality it is her true nature. This is the reason why the Prophet instructed not to make an attempt at changing her as it would break her.
There is also a story of a king’s eagle from the book of Mufīd aṭ-Ṭālibīn that flew and came to an old woman’s place. The old woman started to take care of it. When she saw that the eagle’s beak is crooked and its claws are also bent, she felt pity for it and thought that the poor bird would have much difficulty eating due to bent beak and would have difficulty walking due to bent claws. She thought to ease the trouble of the eagle by cutting its break and the claws and thus injured it leading to profuse bleeding. The bird then lost the ability to walk as it used to before. This story has been mentioned as an example of a fool’s love. The old woman did it out of her compassion and love for the eagle but without using her mind. She did not realize that the crookedness and bent of the beak and claws is actually the part of its nature and as such the source of its beauty. Without these crooked parts of body it is not eagle. Thus, a woman is different to a man and one should not try to change what is her nature.
Quran’s verses referring to Eve’s creation from Adam’s rib
There are those who say that it refers to Eve’s creation from Adam’s rib from (Quran 4:1) “O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate.” They say “from it” (مِنْهَا) refers to Adam while there are others who say that in the Quran 4:1 the pronoun in the Arabic phrase “from it” is a reference to humankind as a genre and not an individual. And it is known that what is in the nature is pristine according to the “best shape” in (Quran 95:4). As for “created from rib” argument it can be understood like the ayah (خُلِقَ الْإِنْسَانُ مِنْ عَجَلٍ) “Man has been created of haste” (Quran 21:37) where it does not mean hastiness was a substance used in the creation of human, rather it mentions a quality in his nature.
How many ribs do humans have?
The vast majority of people are born with 12 pairs of ribs, for a total of 24, no matter of their sex. The exception to this anatomy rule is found in people born with specific genetic anomalies. These can take the form of too many ribs (supernumerary ribs) or too few (agenesis of ribs). While it is a commonly held falsehood that men have one less rib than women. This myth may have its roots in the Bible and the creation story about Eve being made from one of Adam’s ribs. This myth is exactly that: an unproven, untrue belief. It’s no longer held as fact by religious leaders of any denomination. However, the ribs partially enclose and protect the chest cavity, where many vital organs (including the heart and the lungs) are located. The rib cage is collectively made up of long, curved individual bones with joint-connections to the spinal vertebrae. Thus, the human rib cage is made up of 12 paired rib bones; each are symmetrically paired on a right and left side. Of all 24 ribs, the first seven pairs are often labeled as ‘true.’ These bones are connected to the costal cartilage, while the five other ‘false’ sets are not. Three of those connect to non-costal cartilage, and two are deemed to be ‘floating,’ which means they only connect to the spine.
Creation of man and woman from a single soul
Quran confirms that God has perfected everything what He created and has created the human from clay. He blew into him when He shaped him from clay giving a best shape. He provided him with the hearing, the eyesight and the hearts to become thankful to Him as detailed in the following verses of the Quran:
[15:26] And certainly, we created the human being from a hardened clay of black altered mud.
[15:28] And when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed Me, a Creator of human from a hardened clay of black altered mud.
[15:33] He (Satan) said, “I am not to prostrate to a human being, whom You (God) created from a hardened clay of black altered mud.”
[21:37] The human is made of haste. I will show you My signs, so you are not to ask Me to hasten.
[32:7] He is the One who has made perfect everything He created, and started the creation of the human from clay.
[32:9] Then He shaped him and blew into him from His spirit. And He gave you the hearing, the eyesight, and the hearts; rarely are you thankful.
[38:71] When your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed Me, is a Creator of human from a clay.”
[38:76] He (Satan) said, “I am better than he (human); You created me from fire, and You created him from clay.”
[55:14] He created the human from hardened clay like a baked earth.
[95:4] Certainly, we created the human in best shape.
Moreover, Quran has also confirmed that God has created the human from a single soul and has made male and female from it. Thus, He has made spouses from amongst ourselves and has placed love and mercy between spouses. He has multiplied and has made children and grandchildren as reflected in the following verses:
[4:1] O people, you shall fear your Lord the One who created you from a single soul and created from it its mate and sent forth from them many men and women. You shall fear God whom you ask about it and the wombs. Indeed, God is a Watcher over you.
[7:189] He created all of you from a single soul and made from it its mate that he may incline to her. As when she carries a light burden so she continues with it. Then when it grows heavy, they both have implored God their Lord: “If You give us a good one, we will surely be of the thankful.”
[16:72] And God has made for you spouses from amongst yourselves, and He has made from your spouses children and grandchildren, and He has provided you from the good provisions. Then in the falsehood do they believe, while in God’s favor they disbelieve?
[30:21] And of His signs is that He created for you spouses from yourselves that you may incline to them, and He placed between you love and mercy. Indeed, in that there are signs for a people who reflect.
[35:11] And God created you from dust, then from a tiny drop, as He made you pairs. And no female conceives nor does give birth without His knowledge. No person’s life is extended, nor is shortened from his life except as in a record. Indeed, that is easy for God.
[42:11] Initiator of the heavens and the earth. He made for you from yourselves spouses, and from the livestock spouses, He multiplies you through it. There is nothing like Him, and He is the Hearer, the Seer.
[43:12] And He is the One who created the pairs of all of them, and He made for you of the ships and the livestock that you can ride.
[49:13] O people, we created you of a male and female, and we made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, most honorable of you near God are most righteous of you. Indeed, God is Knower, Cognizant.
[51:49] And of everything we created pairs that you may reflect.
Here is an excerpt from the book of “The Bible, the Quran, and Science” by Dr. Maurice Bucaille, a renowned French gastroenterologist may be considered to understand the inconsistency in the Hebrew Bible that woman was created from man’s rib is a myth: “The Old Testament represents a vast number of literary works written over a period of roughly nine hundred years. It forms a highly disparate mosaic whose pieces have, in the course of centuries, been changed by man. Some parts were added to what already existed, so that today it is sometimes very difficult indeed to identify where they came from originally.”
To God belongs the religion, is not philosophy rather than a set of rules and practices specified and confirmed by Him to believe and practice to achieve His nearness. Thus, developing any amazing stories or listening to them about its beliefs and practices based on reasoning are direct violations of God’s teachings and laws being Satan’s tricks is misguidance for making us losers.
Those who look at these hadiths are suspicious to them considering them sexist hadiths, like the famous hadith that says that women was created from a bent rib and if you try to straighten her out you’ll break her. So you have to enjoy her as she is, if you try to straighten her out and break her you’ll be divorced from her. Why don’t we stop and say maybe the Prophet actually has teachings, has wisdom to offer us? And maybe it’s actually talking to men in this case and telling men that they have to change the way that they look at their marriages and their relationships. While others have justified that the hadith does not say “Eve was created from rib” it talks about the womankind as a whole or the wording of hadith is “the woman is like a rib” even we all should know that Hadiths are false doctrines as the prophet did not recite anything other than the Quran, which was his only duty and to follow it to lead a righteous life to receive recompense from God.
We do not see any exception of the anatomy rule except in medical deformities that the human rib cage is made up of 12 paired rib bones; each are symmetrically paired on a right and left side. Of all 24 ribs, the first seven pairs are often labeled as ‘true.’ These bones are connected to the costal cartilage, while the five other ‘false’ sets are not. Three of those connect to non-costal cartilage, and two are deemed to be ‘floating,’ which means they only connect to the spine.
Quran has given us a very general description of the creation of the universe and man, i.e., mankind including man and woman as we see God has perfected everything what He created and has created the human from clay. He blew into him when He shaped him from clay giving a best shape. He provided him with the hearing, the eyesight and the hearts to become thankful to Him to reflect why we are sent down to the earth. Quran has also confirmed that God has created the human from a single soul, which means He has made male and female from it. While there is a clear indication that He has made spouses from amongst ourselves and has placed love and mercy between spouses. He has multiplied us and has made children and grandchildren from us. Thus, the Quran has eliminated any doubt of creating women from men referring to a single soul being Adam except a myth originated from the Bible.
Here is another excerpt from the book of “The Bible, the Quran, and Science” by Dr. Maurice Bucaille, a renowned French gastroenterologist may be considered to understand the consistency of the statements in the Quran with science in the creation of human: “In view of the level of knowledge in Muhammad’s day, it is inconceivable that many of the statements in the Quran which are connected with science could have been the work of a man. It is, moreover, perfectly legitimate, not only to regard the Quran as the expression of a Revelation, but also to award it a very special place, on account of the guarantee of authenticity it provides and the presence in it of scientific statements which, when studied today, appear as a challenge to explanation in human terms.” However, the Quran has emphasized why we are created over how we are created to avoid all myths including woman was created from the rib of man, and the Arabic word “al-insaan” may not confuse us being masculine according to the Arabic grammar.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless. Tafazzal (11/1/2019).