Women & Masajids in Asian Muslim Countries
February 13, 2009 § 20 Comments
This was an issue that I was meaning to write about in the past few days. An issue I think that needs to be dealt with.
Two years ago, when I was visiting Pakistan [Karachi], after quite an interval I was a bit surpised to realise none of the Women went to the Mosques. Not for Jumuah prayers or Eid. Then I also found out, most Masajids do not even have a space for Women.
I go the Friday Prayers regularly and it is normal for me to do so. As it is for a lot of Women who attend Jumuah prayers. So let’s just say, I was a tad bit disappointed. Although I still go to go as the Mosque my Grandfather goes to has space for Women. [Its tiny!]
After doing a bit of research, I realised there were several reasons for this.
Firstly, most of the Sub-Continent Muslim Countries are followers of the Hanafi Madhab. [For those of you who do not know what I’m talking about, google it].
The Hanafi Madhab is the madhab of Imam Abu Hanfiah [rahimullah] and in some cases highly discourages Women to go into Masajids to pray. However, in Islam there is no actual prevention for Women to go to pray in Mosques but the reward for Women to pray in their houses is better.
There is a difference here. What people have done is, they’ve taken the ‘discouraged’ part and have made it ‘haram’. I’ve heard in some places in India where Women are physically stopped and absolutely forbidden to go to the Mosques. This is not Islam. The houses of Allah are for both Men and Women.
Yes, for a Woman it is more rewarding that she prays in her house, but there is no prohibition for them to go to the Mosques.
Abdullah Bin Mas’ud reported the Prophet (pbuh) as saying: It is more excellent for a woman to pray in her house than in her courtyard, and more excellent for her to pray in her private chamber than in her house. [Sunan Abu Dawood Vol.1 Chapter 204 Hadith No.570]
In fact, in some cases the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasallam asked that the Women go to the Mosque [For example: Eid Prayers] and certain Ulema also, especially in our times say Women should go to the Masajids when they are not getting Islamic knowledge at home.
Let us go into the time of the Prophet Muhammad sallalahu alayhi wasallam. The Women were very much active in all parts of the religion. Ayesha radi Allahu anh is ranked as one of the greatest scholars of ahadith. They were teachers, Mothers, Nurses. They were seekers of knowledge. A Woman once argued with Umar Ibn Al Khattab radi Allahu anh and won. Umar – who was one of the greatest and strongest Man of that time, one of the four righteous Caliphs and a close companion of the Prophet SAWs. And yet, a Woman won an arguement with him on a religious issue.
There are clear narrations that Women too would sometimes go to pray in congregation in the Mosques. When Umar Ibn Al Khattab [Radi Allahu Anh] was martyred, his wife was praying in congregation behind him. There is no case or incident that has been narrated that the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasallam actually stopped Women from coming into the Masajids.
In fact, he did quite the opposite:
The Prophet (pbuh) said, ‘Do not prevent the female servants of Allah from going to the mosque of Allah.’ [Sahih Muslim Vol.1 Chapter 177 Hadith No.886]
“If the wife of any one of you asks permission (to go to the mosque) do not forbid her.” (Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book of Salaah, Chapter 80, Hadith No. 832)
I’m not advocating that Women go for every Salaah to the Masjid, what I’m advocating though is that Women should not be prevented from the Mosques and should be active members in their community.
I feel the need for this is now more than before. And the reasons why I think so is because:
- In our times I’ve notices a certain amount of jahilliya [lack of knowledge] among Women when it comes to religious knowledge.The Mosque provides the alternative for this, attending a Friday prayer and listening to a Khutbah helps in attaining knowledge.
- I find it exceptionally hypocritical that Women in these socieites are allowed to do all sorts of things. Like going to the Mall, Cinemas, for Food, Shopping, Universities, Work – but when it comes to going to the Masjid, for religious and spiritual knowledge – its ‘Astagfirullah!’.
- Women are the Mothers of each generation. They are the teachers of their children and their houses. If Women are not active in the religion, then who will teach the children, generation after generation? [And I’m not talking about secular education here…]
- With Women not being allowed to go to Masajids and in some cases, no section of place being alotted for Women whatsoever a huge probem arises. We need to accept that fact that Women in our times do not always stay home, regardless how religious they are. There are a hundred and one things that need to be dealt with – and what if she is out and about shopping and the time for Salaah comes? There will be no place for her to pray! A prayer missed without a reason, regardless of how much you make it up, is not the same.
I don’t have anything against the Hanafi Madhab per se [Incase I start getting hate comments :P] but I am against how somethings are being [mis] interpreted and how blind following should not be how we shoud be following our religion.
We need to go back to the authentic sources of the Qurán and Sunnah and give each other our rights.