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Women attending the masjid

Question: What do the scholars of Shariah say about women’s right to attend the Masjid, pray the daily congregational prayers and Jumma?

Naureen Kareem, Forest fields, Nottingham

Answer

The Masjid is known as the ‘house of Allah’ as it symbolises the place where He ﷻ is worshipped. This is the place of devotion and proclamation of his Greatness. Though the Prophet ﷺ declared ‘the entire earth has been made a masjid for me’ so Muslims can pray anywhere. However, the Masjid has a special place in the society.

This plot of land chosen as the Masjid is “the best place on earth” (Hadith).

“The person who visits the Masjid is God’s guest who receives divine hospitality of forgiveness,” said the Prophet ﷺ.

The one who prays in congregation in the masjid gets his reward multiplied twenty-seven times (Hadith).

“Whoever waits in the Masjid for the next prayer is protected as he is in a Ribat- fortress which gives protection from the attacks of the Devil and one’s ego. (Hadith)

Whoever visits the Masjid is indeed Allah’s ﷻ guest, graced with Divine hospitality; he is honoured as a true believer. It is the place for enriching one’s spirituality and building social relations. Is this exclusively for men? Is it men’s club? Do women have no share in this wonderful spiritual place?

Women aren’t obliged to attend congregational prayer but its permissible

The Caring Messenger ﷺ did not make it compulsory for them to visit the masjid but as we will see told men not to stop them. Here are Ahadith narrated by Imam Bukhari with ibn Hajar’s  commentary (d. 761 AH).

The one who attends the mosque regularly has been praised by the Mustafa ﷺ in these words, “Whoever you see coming and going to and from the mosque you must give testimony of his faith being complete”. He then recited, “surely the one who builds the mosque is the one who has faith in Allah, the hereafter and fears no one except Him. They are the one who are rightly guided” (Tirmidhi). In another tradition narrated by Abu Huraira  the beloved Messenger ﷺ says, “Whoever attends the mosque, Allah prepares a special hospitality for him” (Muslim).

Chapter 162- women going to the Mosques at night and darkness

Abdullah ibn Umar narrates the Messenger ﷺ said “When your women seek your permission to attend the mosque at night then give them permission” (Hadith no. 865). Ibn Hajar Asqalami (d.761 AH) is perhaps one of the greatest commentators of Bukhari. Here is a summary of his commentary on this topic: (1) The permission to attend the mosque hints to the fact that it is not compulsory, since if it was there would be no need to seek husbands permission, (2) He quotes another Hadith from Muslim. Abdullah ibn Umar the messenger (saw) said “don’t stop women from getting their share of the Mosque when they seek your permission. Bilal (his son) said “By God we certainly will stop them”. According to Tabarani, Bilal said “I will let my wife and whoever wishes can let his wife do as she likes”. (3) According to the narration in Muslim, when Bilal said this to his father Abdullah ibn Umar, he was furious at him- he turned to him and cursed him three times. And thereafter never spoke to his son until he died. (4) Ibn Hajar comments on this “father and son fight” by saying that “Bilal saw mischief in some women of his time and that made him react in that way to protect his sense of honour and self-respect. And Abdullah disapproved because he was clearly opposing the Prophetic tradition

Chapter 164- women’s prayer standing behind men

Umm Salma said “when the Prophet (saw) finished his prayer by saying salaam the women would get up and leave. He would stay for a while in his place. This was done so that women could leave before men could see them”. Anas said, “ The Prophet r prayed in Umm Sulaim’s house, I and an orphan stood behind him and umm sulaim behind us”. (Hadith no.874) Chapter 165- the quick departure of women after Morning Prayer and their short stay in the Mosque Aisha (r.a) said “ the Prophet (saw) used to pray Morning Prayer in darkness, Muslim women used to come and go without being recognised in the dark”. (Hadith no. 872) Abdullah Ibn Umar said” There was a woman who used to attend the Morning and night prayer with the congregation in the mosque. It was said to her why do you come yet you know that Umar does not like that. She said he has not stopped me! He said the Prophet r said “Don’t stop God’s maids from attending the Mosques”. (Hadith no. 900) Commenting on these two Ahadith Ibn Hajar says “If they are permitted to attend mosques at night despite that night is time of suspicion, the permission during daytime is even foremost”.

And Allah ﷻ knows the best

This Fatwa is written by Dr Musharraf Husain Al-Azhari & Dr. Hafiz Muhammad Munir Al-Azhari