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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
Question

My wife is a new convert to Islam, she is a
English woman and I'm doing my best to help
her understand Islam with the little
knowledge that I know hoping that God
accepts from me. Upon hearing that a
Muslim woman is going to lead the Friday
prayer for men and women in some US
mosque, encouraged by the voices of some
associations that fight for the equality of the
sexes. I had a discussion with her regarding
this matter and as I was myself confused I
did not know how to convince her about
what's religiously acceptable and what's not.
Please help with advice and feedback.

Fatwa:
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the
Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of
worship except Allah, and that Muhammad
is His slave and Messenger.

The position of the Islamic Law about a
woman leading a man or men in prayer is
clear that it is forbidden and it is not
accepted for her to lead (them) in prayer. If
a woman leads a man in prayer, his prayer is
void and he has to make it up. This is a
matter which is agreed upon among the
jurists, may Allah have mercy on them, with
the exception of those who deviated from
the correct opinion.

The evidence that a woman cannot lead a
man in prayer is the saying of the Prophet
: "The best rows for women are the
last rows and the worst rows for them
are the first rows [behind men] and the
best rows for men are the first rows, and
the worst rows are the last
rows." [Muslim] Since the Prophet
described the first rows of women behind
men as the worst rows, it is not permissible
for a woman to be in front of men and lead
the prayer!
Another evidence for the invalidity of a
woman leading men in prayers is the
narration of Ibn ‘Umar may Allah be pleased
with him, that the Prophet said: "Do
not deprive your women from attending
the houses of Allah (i.e. the mosques),
but their homes are better (i.e. more
rewarding) for them." [Abu Daawood and
Ahmad]

When explaining this narration, Imaam As-
Sindi stated: 'The saying of the
Prophet : "…their homes are better
(i.e. more rewarding) for them" means
that they will receive a greater reward
for praying at home than if they were to
pray in the mosque. This is due to them
being further from temptation by
remaining at home. This becomes even
more apparent and established by the
fact that women have begun to adorn
themselves and are leaving their homes
in a manner which did not exist at the
time of the Prophet . This
phenomenon caused ‘Aa’ishah, may Allah
be pleased with her, to state that women
must be obliged to pray at home.” [End of
quote] If they were commanded to distant
themselves from men during prayer and the
worse rows of women were those closest to
men's, how can it be permissible for women
to lead men in prayers?
One more evidence is the story of Anas may
Allah be pleased with him, which is that once
his grandmother, Mulaykah invited the
Prophet to eat food that she had
prepared for him. After eating it, he
said: "Stand up so that I can lead you in
prayer." Anas may Allah be pleased with
him, narrated: "I brought a plastic rug of
ours which was stained, and so I washed
it with water, then the Prophet stood
up to pray. I lined up behind him along
with an orphan who was with us, and the
old woman (i.e. his grandmother) stood
behind us; the Prophet then prayed
two Rak’ahs." [Muslim]

If this old woman stood behind the boys and
not next to them, despite the fact that Anas
may Allah be pleased with him, was her
grandson, then how can women be allowed
to stand in front of a group of men and lead
them during prayer? Imaam As-Sindi
said: 'This narration is evidence that it is
not permissible for a woman to lead men
during prayers. Moreover, the fact that
she (i.e., the woman mentioned in the
narration) was not allowed to line up with
the men during this prayer means that it
is even more prohibited for her to stand
ahead of them.' [End of quote]
The following is yet another proof for the
impermissibility of women to lead men
during prayers is the statement of the
Prophet addressing the companions,
may Allah be pleased with them: "Never will
they succeed, those who make a woman
in charge of their affairs." [Al-Bukhari]
The narration of Sahl ibn Sa`d As-Sa`idi may
Allah be pleased with him, furthers proves
this point, and it is that the Prophet
said: "If the Imaam makes a mistake in
the course of prayer, men should say,
'Subhaanallaah' (i.e. Glory be to Allah);
this is bound to attract the attention of
the Imaam, and women should only
clap." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] If a woman is
prohibited from uttering 'Subhaanallaah' (i.e.
Glory be to Allah) during the congregational
prayer whilst standing behind men, then how
can anyone claim it is permissible for her to
ascend the pulpit, deliver the Khutbah, and
lead men during prayers?

The practice of the Muslims, for the past
fourteen centuries, is that women never led
men in prayer. Some wives of the Prophet
and some female companions, may Allah
be pleased with them, were more
knowledgeable than the male companions,
like 'Aa'ishah and Um Salamah may Allah be
pleased with them, despite this, it is not
reported that one of them led men in prayer.
Sound mind and sound natural disposition of
men do not accept that a woman would be in
front of men as she is a cause of temptation
and incites men's desires, standing in front
of him bowing down and prostrating, and
reciting the Qur'an in an act of worship
which is the most important and greatest act
of worship. How can men humble themselves
in prayer behind her? No sane person would
ever say this.

Our advice to the dear questioner is that he
should teach his wife that the religion of
Islam is based on submission to Allah's
Decree and the ruling of His Prophet . So
it is not permissible to contradict the Ruling
of Allah and the Sunnah just because of
following one's desires. Allah says (what
means): {It is not for a believing man or a
believing woman, when Allah and His
Messenger have decided a matter, that
they should [thereafter] have any choice
about their affair. And whoever disobeys
Allah and His Messenger has certainly
strayed into clear error.} [Qur'an 33:36].
Allah also says (what means): {O you who
have believed, do not put [yourselves]
before Allah and His Messenger but fear
Allah. Indeed, Allah is All-Hearing and All-
Knowing.} [Qur'an 49:1]. Allah further says
(what means): {But no, by your Lord, they
will not [truly] believe until they make
you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning
that over which they dispute among
themselves and then find within
themselves no discomfort from what you
have judged and submit in [full, willing]
submission.} [Qur'an 4:65].
So what is forbidden is what Allah has
forbidden in His Book, or what the Prophet
has forbidden, or what the Islamic
nation agreed in a consensus is forbidden.
To know what is forbidden from what is not,
we have to resort to the Book of Allah and
the Sunnah of the Prophet .

Moreover, your wife has to know that Islam
honoured a woman and gave her the highest
position that suits her, Islam honoured her
as a mother, as a daughter, as a sister, and
as a wife. The punishment and reward applies
for both men and women equally, she has
the same rights as him but she has
obligations and duties that correspond with
her natural predisposition. The man has also
rights that suit his strength, his skin, his
physique and his natural disposition, he is
her guardian, he protects her with his
strength, and spends on her from his
earnings. Allah says (which means): {And
they (women) have rights (over their
husbands as regards living expenses,
etc.) similar (to those of their husbands)
over them (as regards obedience and
respect, etc.) to what is reasonable, but
men have a degree (of responsibility)
over them.} [Qur'an 2:228]. This degree is
that of responsibility and protection, and the
husband does not exceed its limits to
torment, humiliate her or spoil her right. It
is confirmed that the Prophet said:
"Women are similar to men in relation to
rulings [rights and obligations]." [Ahmad
and Abu Daawood]

Islam gave the woman her right to spend her
wealth as she wishes, and deal in
transactions like buying and selling, the right
of ownership and the like. Allah says (what
means): {For men is a share of what they
have earned, and for women is a share of
what they have earned.} [Qur'an 4:32].
Islam has also specified their right in
inheritance according to their social
situation, Allah says (what means): {For men
is a share of what the parents and close
relatives leave, and for women is a share
of what the parents and close relatives
leave, be it little or much-an obligatory
share.} [Qur'an 4:7]. In addition to this,
there is in the Qur'an a chapter entitled
"The Women" and there is no chapter
entitled "The Men" . And women have status
and rights that we have not mentioned.
So when Islam forbade the woman to lead
men in prayer, it does not mean that she is
demeaned and has fewer rights, but she has
rights that are in conformity with her and
her physique. The wisdom behind the
limitations in matters that Islam has placed
upon her are to protect her and repel the
difficulties of life from her so that she will
be as a preserved pearl, honoured and
dignified, is served and not a servant, or a
cheap object as the people who pretend to
call for her freedom want her to be.

Allah Knows best.

www.islamweb.net/en/article/147159/confused-about-women-leading-the-prayer

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