Women’s Equality in the Mosque: [Answering the latest fatwa from England. Br. Shoaib knew this thinking way back.]
How to explain Hadith which seem to discourage Women’s Participation in the Masjid?
by Kaukab Siddique
Br. Shoaib, a well-read, thoughtful and thought provoking Muslim, active in the Muslim community in the London, England area has asked how one can explain hadith which seem to create an impression that it is better for women to pray at home and not go to the mosque. Here is my response:
The Qur’an gives the broad principle about the kind of people who should be in charge of mosques:
“The mosques of Allah shall be visited and maintained by such as believe in Allah and the Last Day, establish regular prayers, and pay the zakat, and fear none (at all) except Allah. It is they who are expected to be on true guidance.” [9:18]
Obviously 9:18 includes all believers, men and women, who have the given qualities, as those who are entitled to visit and maintain mosques. As Yusuf Ali’s commentary points out (p.502), “ya’amuru” (roughly translated as ‘visited and maintained’) includes all mosque activities, four of which he lists:
1. To build or repair.
2. to maintain in fitting dignity
3. to visit for purposes of devotion.
4. fill with light and life and activity.
The concept of “masjid” or mosque as taught by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is so broad and comprehensive that there is no question of keeping anyone out of it who means well:
“Abu Huraira (r.a.) narrates that the messenger of Allah, pbuh, said: The ENTIRE earth has been made for me pure and a masjid.” [Literally: place of prostration in worship.] Hadith, Sahih Muslim, kitabus salat, Tirmizey Sunan, kitabus siir, Ibn Maja’s Sunan, kitabut taharah.
In the pre-Islamic ethos, women were given a secondary position in places of worship. In pagan temples, as in the Hindu religion, they were sent into places of worship to be made into servants of men and sources of entertainment. Pagan men often thought that women should bring enjoyment for men in places of worship. Islam rejected pagan use of women for entertainment. Hence the new entrants into Islam were very sensitive to the idea of women visiting places of worship. They did not want mosques to go the way of pagan temples. [This fear was similar to the one related to rituals of Hajj which the pagans had corrupted. The Qur’an, for instance, taught Muslims that they should run up and down the hills of Safa and Marwa and not stay away just because they had seen the pagans going there. Islam was reclaiming the original worship for those who had cast paganism aside.]
Hence the Prophet (pbuh) commanded:
[From Nafi’, who narrates from Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (r.a.): The Prophet, pbuh, said]: Do not stop the maid servants of Allah from the mosques of Allah. (Hadith, Muwatta of Imam Malik, compiled late in the first century of Islam, published in the second.)
Then there was the element of lawlessness because Madina was under attack and the streets of the city were not lighted. In spite of the element of danger, the Prophet, pbuh, insisted:
[From ‘Amash, from Mujahid from Ibn ‘Umar] The messenger of Allah, pbuh, said: “Do not stop women from going to the mosque at NIGHT.” [Hadith, Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmizy, kitabus salat.]
Imam Abu Hanifa, who began his hadith studies in the first century of Islam, and completed his work in the first half of the second century compiled this specific hadith about women’s participation in the mosque prayers at the difficult times of morning, before sun rise, and at night:
“Abu Hanifa narrates from Hammad from Ibrahim from Sha’abi from Ibn ‘Umar (r.a.): The Prophet, pbuh, permitted women to go forth and participate in fajr and ‘Isha. (Musnad of Imam Abu Hanifa, under the heading: The benefit of participation in Fajr and Isha prayers.]
Hazrat ‘Ayesha narrates the ongoing process of women coming for collective [jamaat] prayers in the mosque so early that it was pitch dark and the women could not be recognized:
“From the Mother of the believers, ‘Ayesha (r.a.): After the messenger of Allah completed the fajr prayer, the women, wrapped in their outer garments, returned home. It used to be so dark that they could not be recognized.” [Hadith, Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Nasai, kitabus salat.]
IT APPEARS THAT NOT ONLY WOMEN PARTICIPATED WITH THE PROPHET (pbuh) in the PRAYERS, with male sahaba, companions of the Prophet, the women also HELD THEIR OWN COLLECTIVE PRAYERS IN THE MASJID:
Tamima, the daughter of Salama, narrates that the Mother of the Believers, ‘Ayesha (r.a.) led the women as their imam in Maghrib prayers. She stood in the center (of the first line) and recited loudly. [Darqutni, with reference to the musannaf of Abdur Razzaq, 3:141]
Hujaira, the daughter of Husaain, narrates: Umm Salama, mother of the believers, led us in Asr prayer and stood in the middle (of the first row). [Compiled by Ibn Saad in his Tabaqat, vol.8, p.356. Darqutni has collected this narration from Ibn Abi Shaiba, Abdur Razzaq and Imam Shafi’i.]
Taus narrates that the mother of the believers, ‘Ayesha Siddiqa, (r.a.) used to call the adhan and the iqama (before leading prayers). (The musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaiba, 1:223)
Nearly 99.9% of hadith collected by the scholars of Islam are authentic. There are a very few, however, which are defective or out of context. There are even a couple of fabrications which managed to survive the intense scrutiny of scholars; hence the hadith is put second to the Qur’an, and not equal to it, as the source of Islamic knowledge.
Related to the issue of women’s equal participation in mosques, here is a discouraging hadith which opponents of women’s rights in the mosque, use:
“From Ibn ‘Umar (r.a.): The Prophet (pbuh) said: Do not stop your women from going to the mosque and their homes are better for them.” [Hakim in his Mustadrak vol.1, p.209.]
It is also related in Abu Daw’ud’s Sunan under the heading: “Collective prayer and its blessings.”
As we noticed above, there are hadith with excellent chains of narration from Ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) accepted by the imams of Hadith, Bukhari and Muslim, in which the Prophet (pbuh) commands: Do not stop women from going to the mosque. So why the contradiction in this hadith attributed to Ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) himself?
My understanding is that this hadith is narrating two pieces of narration and has left out what went on between them. It is narrated that when ‘Ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) narrated the Prophet’s (pbuh) command not to stop women, Ibn ‘Umar’s son objected and said their homes are better for them and that people will use the hadith permitting women to go “to weave the webs of deception.” His son insisted that he would stop his wife. At this ‘Ibn ‘Umar was extremely upset. He said to his son: “I am telling you what the Prophet said and you are saying you will stop your wife!” (Musnad of Abu Hanifa) Other narratives say that ‘Ibn ‘Umar cursed his son for opposing the Prophet’s command. Some even say that he thereafter refused to talk to his son.(Musnad of Ahmed)
My understanding is that the words “their homes are better for them” are a fragment from the bitter words between father and son and have been inserted along with the Prophet’s command into the collections of Hakim and Abu Dawud. [Note that Ibn ‘Umar’s son was not a sahabi and his opinion does not count as a religious text.]
Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim left the fragment “their homes are better for them” out of their collections which are universally accepted as the most authentic of Hadith collections.
Opponents of women in the mosques also bring a narration which says:
“Abdul Hamid bin al-Mundhir Ansari narrated from his grandmother or his mother’s aunt, not clear which, Umm Humaid, as follows: The Prophet, pbuh, said, your prayer in your home, is better than the one you pray with me” (in masjid nabawi): (Ahmed in his Musnad, vol.6, p.371)
This has a number of variations, one of which appears in Ibn Khuzaima’s collection to the effect that “it is better for a woman to pray in the inner little room of her house than to pray in the main room of the house, better to pray in the local mosque than in the main mosque …” (Attributed to hazrat ‘Ayesha in Baihaqi’s Sunan.)
Abdul Hamid al-Mundhir’s narration is not acceptable because the scholars of Hadith say that he is MAJHUL. No one knows who he was. The narrations which support women’s rights have well known, in fact famous, narrators at every level of narration.
The narration attributed to hazrat ‘Ayesha (r.a.), if taken at face value, contradicts the numerous narrations which assert that women used to pray in the mosque in the time of the Prophet (pbuh) and in the caliphate of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, Usman and Ali (Allah be pleased with them). In fact ‘Umar and Ali (Allah be pleased with them), leaders, along with ‘Ayesha (r.a) of Islamic thought, took extra efforts to appoint imams to lead women in prayers in the main masjid, especially when the crowds were big in Ramadan and the main imam could not be heard by the women.
‘Ayesha the exalted (r.a.) not only prayed in the masjid BUT LED PRAYERS in masjide nabawi.
I have been trying to trace the cause behind this narration from ‘Ayesha (r.a.) given by Baihaqi. It appears that there was a woman who was so poverty stricken that she did not have enough clothes to cover herself to travel from her home on the outskirts of Madina to the mosque of the Prophet (pbuh). At the same time she was too self-respecting to accept charity. The Prophet (pbuh) understood her dilemma and her modesty. He gave her a blessing that if she prayed in the innermost closet room of her home, she would get the same rewards as if she was praying in the mosque of the Prophet (pbuh). [Allahu Akbar wa lillahil hamd.] This it was not an effort by the Prophet (pbuh) to curtail the participation of women in the mosques, which would have contradicted his entire mission, but to give special blessings to a woman’s vibrant faith and sincerity.
It would be extremely CONTRADICTORY for all those women to be going to the masjid at FAJR and ‘ISHA (as quoted in sahih hadith above) if they could have just stayed at home and gotten more rewards for praying at home. I don’t think the opponents of women’s rights have a case here.
Finally there are some narrations which claim that ‘Umar (r.a.) did not like his wife to go to the masjid. [Perhaps he remembered how women were used as sources of corruption in the pagan forms of worship even in the most sacred of places, the Ka’aba.] However, remembering the command of the Prophet (pbuh) he never actually stopped his wife. In fact the relevant narration is very instructive about the tension created by the emergence of the new revolutionary Islamic community coming out of a background of jahiliyya and exploitation of women:
“Mu’ammar narrates from Zuhri that ‘Atika, the daughter of Zaid ibn’Umru bin Nufail, was marrried to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (r.a.). She used to pray regularly in the masjid. ‘Umar used to say to her: By Allah! You know that I don’t like this. She would reply: I will not stop until you actually forbid me. ‘Umar would say:, No, I will not forbid you. The day ‘Umar (r.a.) was assassinated, ‘Atika was in the mosque.” (Abdur Razzaq’s collection, vol.3:148)
Ibn Hazm has a superb comment on this situation. He says, ‘Umar (r.a.) could have said that ‘Atika you are doing something inferior (praying in the masjid) as opposed to praying at home which according to the narration we discussed above is superior. Also, I, as husband, disapprove of it. How could a sahabia (‘Atika, r.a.) continue to act in a way which was inferior in worship and aroused the displeasure of her husband, and a husband who was a great Muslim, a great teacher of Islam and the greatest Khalifa the Muslims have ever had. Obviously both ‘Umar (r.a.) and ‘Atika (r.a.) knew that ‘Umar was simply expressing his gut feeling and not an Islamic edict. She was torn by the assassination of ‘Umar (r.a.); she loved him beyond herself. All the women of Madina respected him as their older brother. Their mourning knew no bounds when he was assassinated. He is the one who got down from the mimbar in humility when a woman of Madina objected to a point he had made in his khutba in MASJIDE NABAWI. [I have referenced this incident elsewhere in my writings.]
In ‘Umar’s armies there were thousands of Islamic women, both married and unmarried, who went forth to topple the empires of Rome and Persia. I have documented this fact in a critique I wrote of Fatima Mernissi who was ignorant of basic facts about ‘Umar (r.a.) and made some false statements about this great servant of Allah, great leader and mujtahid.
Amazing Message for Women from Prophet Muhammad, pbuh.
by Kaukab Siddique
One of the greatest female companions of the Prophet, pbuh, was Umm Hurum bint Milhan.
She was his foster aunt and was always in the forefront of the Islamic struggle. Often he would go and rest in her home after a long day of preaching and teaching.
Once when he was asleep in her home, he awoke laughing happily and said that he had seen the Muslims advancing forth on the ocean. She appealed to him to pray to Allah that she be one of them. He went back to sleep and again awoke and laughed happily and talked about the Muslims going forth on the oceans. Umm Hurum again asked him to pray that she be one of them. He prophesied to her:
“You will be among the first of them, not the last of them.” Then he blessed the mujahideen who would go forth on the oceans:
“The first force which will go forth to fight on the oceans is promised paradise. Again Umm Hurum asked: O messenger of Allah, will I be one of them. He said: Yes, you will be among them.” [Sahih Bukhari kitab al-Jihad].
The prophesy was fulfilled years later during the caliphate of Usman, r.a., the third rightly guided Caliph of Islam. When the united naval fleets of Europe approached Muslim lands, Usman, r.a., sent forth an Islamic naval fleet to stop the European forces. In the battle which followed, the ENTIRE European armada was destroyed in one day.
The illustrious commander of the fleet appointed by Usman, r.a., was Muawiyya, r.a. Umm Hurum, r.a., and Muawiyya’s wife Fakhta were part of the naval warriors.
Later the Muslims pursued the Europeans to the island of Cyprus where in an accident Umm Hurum died. Her grave in Cyprus is visited by both Christians and Muslims. The Christians call it “the grave of the Good Woman” and some even seek blessings by visiting there.
[We do not know if the grave has survived into our times.]
All Sahaba were human and thus fallible to human weaknesses. Ali RA who is revered by all muslims but sometimes placed in an unnaturally high position by Shias was just as fallible as any other human being.
At one point he threatened the peace of his home by considering marrying someone hostile to Fatima R.A. and Prophet Muhammad pbuh. It is one of the only known times that Prophet Muhammad pbuh reprimanded a Sahabi from the pulpit…… Here is the rest of the article:
Keeping The Religion Pure
Some Shias claim that Ali, r.a., could commit no Wrong and was superior to all Sahaba, r.a.
We Muslims take ONLY Muhammad, pbuh, as the perfect Example. Not Ali, r.a. nor any other human being. Here is one reason.
Ali, r.a., was a great Muslim as were other sahaba, r.a. They were all humans and with their greatness they had imperfections. Only angels have no faults.
For Ali, r.a., it is well known that he did not treat Fatima, r.a., well. He even wanted to bring an enemy of Islam, Abu Jahal’s daughter, into the community of Islam as his wife. That would have been a disaster for the community.
Fatima, r.a. complained to the Prophet, pbuh. Coming from such a gentle woman, those were harsh words she used for Ali, r.a. . She called him “This Ali….”
Here is the reprimand of Ali by the Prophet, pbuh.. I will select only one narrative. A scholar can surely find others:
” The Prophet, pbuh, said from the mimbar of the masjid:: “The People of Hisham ibn Mughira have asked my permission to marry their daughter to Ali ibn Abi Talib. I DO NOT PERMIT IT. AGAIN, I DO NOT PERMIT IT. and AGAIN I DO NOT PERMIT IT. Of course, if Ali divorces my daughter and marries their daughter, he has the right. My daughter is part of myself. Whoever harms her, harms me. Whatever hurts her hurts me.” [Sahih Bukhari, kitab-un-nikah]
Thus Ali, r.a., was reprimanded THREE TIMES, in one speech by the Prophet, pbuh, and that too from the mimbar of the mosque. He did not reprimand any other sahabi like that.
So, I say to Ismailis and extremist Shias: Remember, we are followers of ALLAH, not of Ali.
Our leader is MUHAMMAD, pbuh, not Ali.
Keep Ali, r.a. within his human limits and respect him as such as a Sahabi.
How the Qur’an was Transmitted. Every verse was connected to Hadith.
Answering the Fitna of Rejection of Hadith.
The following is a segment of the Juma Khutba given by Dr. Kaukab Siddique in Baltimore on October 25:
1. The Book called the Qur’an was with Allah and was revealed to Muhammad, pbuh, over a period of 23 years.
2. Each time it was revealed, it was a WAHI or revelation on his heart and soul, NEVER IN WRITING.
3. He would be helped by the Angel to memorize it. Then he would recite it to one of few Companions who could write and the sahabi would write. The Prophet, pbuh, himself could NEITHER READ nor WRITE.
4. When the Prophet, pbuh, would tell a Companion what had been revealed and ask him to write, that was Hadithe Muhammad, pbuh. Thus EVERY VERSE in the Qur’an was transmitted by hadith.
5. In Madina, the Prophet, pbuh, instituted writing as a skill among the converts to Islam. Thus as longer and longer suras were revealed, there were more and more katibs [scribes] to write them down.
6. The Book was with Allah and was gradually revealed VERBALLY, not in writing, to the Prophet, pbuh. This should be clear to all.
6. Thus when the world IQRA is translated as read or recite, it meant that Allah was going to educate the Prophet, pbuh, to be able to recite the Book coming down [nazil] from heaven.
7. When the Qur’an says, “Book”, it is not implying that the whole book had been revealed right away. The whole Book was with Allah.
8. As time went on, the Prophet, pbuh, through Allah’s Guidance told the sahaba [his Companions] which Sura to place where. Thus the first revelation, Alaq or Iqra became sura 96.
9. Again all this arrangement of the Qur’an was through Hadith, the Prophet’s directions to the sahaba,
10. Sometimes, a few words were placed by the Prophet, pbuh, within an entire sura which had already been revealed. Again, this is Hadith in action. The Qur’an thus is UNTHINKABLE without hadith. There is no Islam without Muhammad, pbuh.
The Qur’an uses the term RECITE in various forms, such as YATLU, TATLU, ATLU, YATALA. The role of the Prophet’s, pbuh, hadith, is best defined thus in Sura 2 verse 151:
“Allah has conferred a great favor on the believers, sending among them a messenger from among themselves, who RECITES [YATLU] unto them the Signs of Allah, and purifies them and INSTRUCTS them in the Book and Wisdom.”
The whole process was verbal, not in writing:
“Do not move your tongue concerning the Qur’an to make haste therewith. It is for us to collect it [in your heart], so you may recite it [quranu’hu], and when We have recited it, follow its recital [quranuhu] Nay, more, it is for US to expound it [through your tongue.” [75:16-19]
So, dear Muslims, the Prophet, pbuh, was not carrying a written Book around with him. It was all verbal and became WRITING when the Sahaba, r.a., wrote it down and memorized it.
So, bless the Sahaba, r.a., after you bless the prophet, pbuh, among them the great compiler of the entire revelation, Usman r.a., ibn Affan.
Thus those who say “Qur’an only” or that hadith was produced in the 3rd century are playing into the hands of the Zionists and the Rand Corporation.
EVERY WORD of the Qur’an was transmitted through hadith.
I conclude with this beautiful Hadith:
Fatima Zahra, r.a., narrates: “The Prophet informed me secretly, ‘Jibril used to recite the Qur’an to me and I to him once a year, but this year he has recited the entire Qur’an with me twice. I do not think but that my death is approaching.’ ” [Sahih Bukhari, Fadail al-Qur’an.]
Kaukab Siddique, PhD
Chairperson, Department of Languages and Literature, Interim
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