What do the pious and expert scholars of Islam say about The Right of women to attend the Masjid?
Considering Prophetic traditions the Masjid is known as the ‘house of Allah’ as it symbolises the place where God is worshipped. This is the place of devotion and proclamation of his Greatness and Majesty. Although the Prophet r declared that ‘the entire earth has been made a masjid for me’ in other words we can pray anywhere. However, the Masjid has a special place in the Muslim society. The masjid is: the house of Allah, the best place on earth and it is a fortress. Whoever visits the Masjid is indeed Allah’s 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 masjid exclusively for men? Do women have no share in this wonderful spiritual place?
I will present evidence that women have full right to attend the Masjid. The prophet did not make it compulsory for them to visit the masjid but as we will see he kept telling men not to stop them.
Abu Haraira t narrates the Messenger of Allah r as saying, “Shall I not tell you about that which will obliterate your mistakes and bring your near to Allah?” They replied, “Yes surely O Messenger.” He said, “it is to perform the ablution properly in difficult circumstances. A lot of footsteps to the mosque and waiting for the next prayer after performing one that is Ribat. That indeed is Ribat” (Muslim
The Prophet said: “The group prayer is twenty-seven times superior than the individual prayer” (Muslim).
The congregational prayer has many benefits such as; fostering love and compassion for fellow Muslims, thus strengthening the bounds of brotherhood, equality, since everyone stands humbly together before their Lord.
Abdullah ibn Umar narrates the messenger r 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:
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 husband’s permission, 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)
In light of what evidence, we have given above its obvious that women can attend the Masjid, the masjid management should make appropriate arrangements for them. This would include separate entrance, separate hall, wudu place and baby facilities.
And Allah knows best.
Dr Musharraf Hussain Al-Azhari
Director of British Fatwa Council