OnIslam.net

Women and Going to Mosques

Question and answer details
Sara
2002/06/14
My question is can Muslim women attend the mosque prayers and activities with other sisters? Because I have friends who tell me that women should not go to mosque, when I ask them if the Qur'an says so, they say that their parents tell them that. Based on the Qur'an and sunnah should women go to mosque or not? And what makes the Muslim Ummah better? 
Amani Aboul Fadl Farag
Answer
Salam, Sara.

Thank you for writing to us.

Your first question asks if sisters can go to mosques for Prayers and other activities, and states that you have heard from some friends' parents that this is not permissible in Islam.

 

Allow me to start with this statement. In fact, Sara, the real problem is the way we gain our knowledge of Islamic law. Most of us depend on what we hear from unqualified people. Thus, at the end we only have fragmented pieces of knowledge that can never lead us to successfully developing our Islamic identity.

Actually, the scarcity of sources is no longer a problem; the Quran, books of explanation of the Quran, Hadith (sayings of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), fiqh (detailed Islamic understanding), sirah (biography of the Prophet), Islamic history…etc. are all available now in most languages.

 

Islamic web sites are rich in information as well. We can directly access such sources, in order to obtain genuine knowledge. If something is too vague for us to understand on our own, the scholars are now more reachable through the specialized fatwa (religious rulings) sections online.

Allah says what means:


*{…ask those who have knowledge, if you do not know.}* (An-Nahl 16:43)

 

Yet, in saying that, Sara, I don't mean of course to diminish the value of our parents' opinions. They are the major source of knowledge from experience in our life, and they should always be very much appreciated. Nevertheless, the nature of Islamic knowledge is quite different, as it always needs qualified scholars to deal with, in order to avoid some of the intellectual chaos that is spreading nowadays in the Islamic world.

 

This has taken place as a result of having amateurs involving themselves in the process of giving religious rulings and mixing their personal attitudes with the rules of religion.

As for your demand to know a proof for the permissibility of women going to mosques, the Prophet said: "If your women ask permission to go to the mosque at night, allow them" (Al-Bukhari).

 

He also said: "Do not prevent the maid- servants of Allah from going to the mosques" (Muslim).

 

Again it was narrated by Ibn Umar that the Prophet said: "Do not prevent women from going to the mosques at night." A boy said to Ibn Umar: "We would never let them go out, that they may not be caught in evil." Ibn Umar reprimanded him and said: "I am saying that the messenger of Allah said this and you say: no, we will not allow it?" (Muslim).

Actually, the regulations that do not permit women to wear perfumes on their way to mosques and that instruct women to pray in the back rows behind men are in themselves evidence of the permissibility of their praying in mosques.

A similar funny situation was that the Prophet asked women not to precede men in lifting their heads from prostration (sujud), as some men at that time were too poor to have clothes to cover themselves properly. Thus, when men made prostration, parts of their bodies became visible. This did not make the Prophet prevent women from praying behind men to solve the problem.

 

What he did instead, was that he said, "O womenfolk, do not lift your heads till men are raised" (Muslim). What is wonderful about his incident is that he trusted them not to betray.

The Prophet used to encourage women to witness Eid Prayer (the prayer at annual celebrations such as at the end of Ramadan). In fact, this was repetitively mentioned in Hadith. Ibn Abbas said: "The Prophet would take his wives and daughters to the two Eid Prayers" (Ibn Majah and Al-Baihaqi).

He further reported that after the Prophet had prayed and given the prayer's speech, he went to the women and admonished them, reminded them of Allah, and ordered them to give charity" (Al-Bukhari).

 

Not only did the prophet allow women to go for prayers, but he also encouraged them to go to public religious teaching circles. Some women requested the Prophet to fix a day for them, as men were taking up all his time. On that, he promised them a day for religious lessons and commandments (Al-Bukhari).

The question here is: how would Islam deprive half the society from tasting the sweetness and rewards of congregational prayers, whether in prayers itself or through listening to the useful teachings that are accompany them? What is made useful for men is necessarily useful for women, being men's partners in the same rights and duties either in this life or the life to come.

The misunderstanding, Sara, arises from the misinterpretation of a hadith that says: "a woman's prayer in the hall of her house is better than her payer in the mosque and her prayer in her bedroom is better than her prayer in the hall of her house." This hadith means to show that the congregational prayer is not obligatory on women as it is on men. Women are not asked to perform the five daily prayers in the mosques and still, they will have the same rewards if they do them at home.

As for your second question: "what can make our Ummah better?" This is a question that needs volumes to answer. The problem is not a lack of ideas as there are many, but it is in the sincerity and truthfulness that we need in our hearts in order to make this dream come true. We are more responsible for the realization of this aim as individuals than those in the levels of authority. Allah, says what means:


*{Verily, never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.}* (Ar-Rad 13:11)

This means, that when we are in a bad situation as an Ummah we are instructed to focus on changing ourselves. We should develop our piety and become aware of God - both in public and in secret, in worship and in communication with others, we should control our behavior, increase our knowledge of Islam and help others to increase theirs as well.

 

I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.

 

Salam.

 

Useful Links:

 

"House Arrest" for Muslim Women?

 

The Role of the Mosque in Islam

 

The Mosque: A Center for Peace, or War?

 

Women Praying in Mosques(External Link)

 

About Rules of Praying in Mosques

 

Men & Women: Is Interaction a Crime?

 

Equal Rights for Women


The Status of Women

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