Can women attend the masjid to pray in congregation?


In our masjid we have evening Qur’an classes where boys and girls come to learn Islam. When 12/13-year-old girls come to join the jama’ah some men complain about the females in the Masjid. What do the scholars say about this? A concerned brother, Nottingham


The permission for women to pray behind men in congregation is established through authentic ahadith and the practices of the early righteous Muslims. Some of the evidence provided includes:

  1. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “If your women ask permission to go to the mosque at night, allow them.” (Sahih Bukhari: 865) Hafiz Ibn Abdul Barr said: This hadith makes it permissible for women to go to the mosque at night for ‘Isha prayer, and therefore includes every prayer. (Al-Tamheed, Vol. 24, p. 281)
  2. Umm al-Muminin ‘Aisha narrated that during the time of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, when women finished the obligatory prayer, they would stand up. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and the men remained seated. When the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ stood up, the men would also stand up to complete the prayers or to leave. (Sahih Bukhari: 866) So, women were allowed to leave first.
  3. Umm al-Muminin ‘Aisha narrated that when the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used to lead the morning prayer, women would wrap themselves in their garments, and they were not recognized in the darkness. (Sahih Bukhari: 867)
  4. The mother of the believers ‘Aisha said that “the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “Do not stop women from going to mosques. They should go out of their homes without applying perfume.” Sayyidah ‘Aisha then added: “If you see the condition of today’s women, you will stop them.” (Musnad Ahmad: 6/69)
  5. In another narration Umm al-Muminin ‘Aisha said that if the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ saw something done by women, he would prohibit them from it, just as the women of Bani Israel were prohibited. (Sahih Bukhari: 869) This hadith is saying that if women were to use perfume or dress immodestly, they would be stopped from attending the Masjid.
  6. Abu Qatadah Al-Ansari reported, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “I stand for prayer and wish to make it longer, but on hearing the cries of a child, I shorten the prayer lest I cause hardship to the mother.” (Sahih Bukhari: 868)

It’s clear from these ahadith that during the era of the Prophet ﷺ the Mosque were welcoming places for both men and women.

Women at that time routinely performed their five daily prayers, the Friday Jumu’ah prayer, Ramadan tarawih prayers, as part of their mosque congregation. They also took on full roles in educating and defending their communities.

Therefore, in keeping with Islamic tradition, Muslims must work to develop more welcoming and accessible spaces for the women in their congregations, within the boundaries of shari’ah.

Women shouldn’t only participate in prayer, but we also need to create spaces where they are driving the activities for sisters and young people in our communities. It is permissible for women to offer prayers in mosques. In fact, we should be encouraging young women to attend the Masjid this is most sacred place where one can be and stopping them from attending the house of Allah is tantamount to depriving them of divine care. Having a dynamic masjid with women participants does not necessarily mean intermixing galore, much has to do with the way the administration organizes things and what they provide.

Masjid Nabawi – the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, was a community gathering space, a place of education and identity. That’s the model that we should follow in Britain. When women are deliberately disconnected from these spaces, they are naturally going to feel isolated from the community and distanced from opportunities to strengthen their faith.

The Mosques should try to accommodate, wherever physically possible, and not turn women away to shops and even streets to pray. British Fatwa Council welcomes the changes being made in many mosques around the country to accommodate and welcome women in Mosques, but more must be done.

Allah ﷻ knows best

This fatwa is written by Dr. Musharraf Hussain al-Azhari and Qari Muhammad Asim

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