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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Can a Muslim Woman Lead a Public Mixed-Gender Friday Prayer?

I hope the following Q & A Will answer your questions on recent events that have occurred in America - More to Follow....

*** Can a Muslim Woman Lead a Public Mixed-Gender Friday Prayer ? ***
*** Answered by World's most prominent Scholars of Islaam ***
*** Refutation of Dr. Amina Wadud and her 'Aqeedah ***

Question to
Al-'Allamah Abdul-Azeez Ibn Abdullaah Aal Shaykh
Grand Mufti of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Chairman of Council of Senior Scholars.
Chairman of Permanent committee of Islamic Research and Fatawaa

It was reported in Sharq-al-Ausat newspaper that next Friday there will be a Friday prayer with a mixed congregation of men and women, led by a woman. What are your comments on this?

By Allah, if the people have reached this level – if the people have lowered themselves to this level, this is evil upon evil. A woman is not permitted to lead a man in prayers. If a woman has reached a level where she desires to lead men and women in prayers, it should be known that her purpose and the purpose of her followers in doing this is not to bring good, rather it is to wage war against Allah and His Messenger. They have not established this Friday prayer except as a stubborn rejection of the truth, and an invitation to evil, and a deterrent from the teachings of Islam. It has not been recorded in Islamic history that a woman led men in prayers, and it was never done. So how can these people come and establish a Friday prayer with men and women mixed together, and a woman leading the prayer? This is in reality a most repulsive matter, and it is evil upon evil. The people who wish to establish this only want, as Allah mentioned:

(translation of the meaning) “And as for those who put up a mosque by way of harming and disbelief, and to disunite the believers, and as an outpost for those who warred against Allâh and His Messenger aforetime.� (At-Tawbah 9:107)

This Friday prayer is invalid, and it is not permissible for a Muslim to attend it.

Question to
Shaykh Saalih Fawzaan Al-Fawzan
Member of Council of Senior Scholars
Member of Lajnah Ad-Daaimah

It was reported in Al-Riyadh newspaper that a woman who claims to be a caller to Islam will lead men and women in prayer this Friday, as well as deliver the sermon, as part of the women’s liberation movement. This issue has received wide acceptance and support from ignorant people, specifically from outside these Muslim lands. What is the Islamic position on this, and has any one of the scholars of Fiqh allowed for a woman to lead a mixed congregation of men and women?

I do not know of anyone who allowed women to lead men in prayer. It is permissible for women to lead other women only. It was narrated in the Sunnah that Umm Waraqah led the women of her household by the command of the Prophet. As for women leading men, this has never been reported. A woman praying in congregation is required to stand behind the men’s rows, and it is not even permissible for her to stand at the same level of the men’s rows. So if it is not permissible for women even to stand in the men’s rows, then how can it be permissible for a woman to stand in front of the men’s rows during prayers?

Shaykh Saalih Ibn Muhammed Al-Luhaydaan
Member of Council of Senior Scholars
Member of Lajnah Ad-Daaimah

Q1. There is a woman among us, who is a professor of Islamic studies in one of the universities, who claims that there is no prohibition in Islam for a woman to lead men in the congregational prayer. This woman is planning to deliver a Friday sermon as well as lead the Friday prayers, for a congregation of men and women. This woman believes that women praying in the back rows of the mosque behind men has nothing to do with Islam, but rather it is the it is the result of following old customs and cultural practices. Due to this belief, this Friday she will place the women's rows in front, and the men will pray behind them. What is the Islamic position on this issue? And what is the ruling on men praying behind women?

A1. All Praise is due to Allah, and peace and blessings be on His Messenger who delivered the message, fulfilled the trust given to him, advised the nation, and left us on a clear path. Nobody deviates from this path except that he is religiously destroyed.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) explained to us what was revealed to him by Allah in the Quran. Allah revealed the Quran as a clarification for all things, and He ordered His prophet to explain to the people what has been revealed to them by their Lord. And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fulfilled this duty and clarified all issues. He never made a woman a leader of prayers for men. Allah says: (translation) "Men are the care-takers of women" And when He mentioned the relationship between men and women, He made clear that men are favored over women.

With regards to acts of worship, however, it is necessary for women to carry out the same obligations as men. For instance, women are required to observe all the daily prayers, just as men are. This obligation is never waived except if a woman is menstruating or in the period of post-childbirth bleeding.

It is not permissible for a woman to lead men in prayers, as it is not permissible for her to deliver a Friday sermon. A woman is not allowed to be a leader for men in obligatory or supererogatory prayers. She is only permitted to lead other women in prayers, and while she is doing this, she should stay in the middle of the first row of women she is leading, and she should not come in front of them.

What I have mentioned here is the opinion of the majority of Islamic scholars, past and present. And it is not proper for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to innovate into this religion what Allah and His Messenger have not allowed.

This professor you mentioned, perhaps intends to deliver a Friday sermon, or perhaps she would like to lead the people in the Friday prayer. This is a matter that is not permissible in Islamic law. No evidence can be found to support her position in the Quran, the Sunnah, the sayings of the companions and their followers, or the sayings of the people of knowledge. If this woman is Muslim, then it is obligatory for her to comply to the rulings set by Islam, and to follow the guidance of the Mothers of the Believers, and the women of the companions, may Allah be pleased with them all.

I do not know of anyone from any period of time who has allowed a woman to lead the people in Friday prayers or deliver a Friday sermon. This never occurred during the time of the rightly-guided caliphs, which was the peak of the Islamic nation, nor during the Umayyah or Abbasi dynasties. Actually, it never occurred during any time whatsoever. So there is no doubt that this is clear misguidance, and we ask Allah to guide that woman, and those who accept her position, to the truth.

Q2. This woman says that she disagrees with the Quranic ruling mandating cutting off the hand of a thief, because she believes that cutting off someone's hand is brutal behavior. Also, she does not submit to some of the Quranic rulings that pertain to Islamically prescribed punishments. What is the ruling on one who denies the permissibility of cutting off the hand of a thief?

A2. One who denies a ruling that is clearly stated in the Quran becomes a disbeliever, and leaves the fold of Islam. Allah says (translation) "The male and female thief -- cut off their hands." However, for this ruling to be carried out, certain conditions must be met. For instance it should be clear that the thief didn't mistakenly take money that he thought was his. Also, if a Muslim takes money from the Muslim public treasury, his hand is not to be cut off, rather he is to be punished in a way that will deter himself and others from committing this crime in the future.

When people start to deny the laws that the Quran has set, then they have actually started to leave Islam and remove it's companionship from their necks. And by doing so, there is a great evil and misguidance, its extent known only to Allah.

Q3. This professor says that if a Muslim finds difficulty or problems understanding some verses of the Quran, it is permissible to reject these verses and say "No" to the Quran. What is the ruling on such a statement?

A3. One who makes this statement has fallen into a dangerous situation. The Quran was revealed in the language of the Arabs, and it is completely understood in the language of the Arabs, except for the matters of the unseen, and this was explained by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). As for those who follow the unclear verses in the Quran, they are the people whose hearts have deviated from the straight path. In the Quran there are verses that are understandable to any Arab who can read and understand the Arabic language. There are other verses that deal with detailed rulings, and these have been explained by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Allah says (translation) "that you (O Prophet) explain to the people what has been revealed to them." The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fulfilled this duty and explained everything. Allah also mentioned about the Quran (translation) "In it are verses that are precise -- they are the foundation of the Book, and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation, the will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation (suitable to them)." These are the people of misguidance. As for those who have firm knowledge, they say "We believe in it, all of it is from our Lord." As for the idea of rejecting the verses of the Quran that one does not understand, it should be known that recitation of the Quran is an act of worship, even if the reciter does not understand what he is reading. If he is able to read and understand what he is reading, then he has been given a great blessing. Intentionally rejecting a verse from the Quran, and firmly resolving not to accept it, is actually firmly resolving to leave Islam. This is something that none of the people of knowledge have ever agreed to. The Quran was revealed as a clarification for all things, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) explained these things to us in his Sunnah. The Sunnah of the Prophet clarifies what is difficult to understand in the Quran. It limits, specifies, and clarifies certain rulings. Furthermore, the Quran cannot be understood by all people. A person with greater understanding of the Arabic language can comprehend the general verses of the Quran better than others. Whoever deviates from this understanding has deviated from the straight path, and taken the other paths that lead to misguidance. Allah says (translation): "And surely this is My straight path, so follow it, and do not follow the (other) ways, for you will be separated from His way." The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) once was with his companions, and he drew a straight line. He drew to the left and right many crooked lines. He then said that the straight line was the path of Allah, whereas the crooked lines were the other paths, with each one having a devil calling to it. Then he recited the previously mentioned verse: (translation) "And surely this is My straight path, so follow it, and do not follow the (other) ways, for you will be separated from His way." We ask Allah to protect us and keep us safe from this.

Q4. When this professor was asked about implementation of Islamic laws in Canada, she rejected this suggestion, but in the same lecture, she gave her support to same-sex marriages? What do you say about this?

A4. This statement does not even need to be discussed. Is this woman a Muslim? A Muslim would never make such a statement. It is impossible for a sane Muslim to make such a statement. She is not only allowing homosexuality, but encouraging and justifying it by suggesting that same-sex marriages should be recognized. On the other hand, she is rejecting the implementation of Islamic law. Is she a Muslim. No one from the fold of Islam would allow a man to marry a man and a woman to marry a woman. The only question is: Should a man who commits homosexuality be executed or not? Should it be carried out by stoning or not? Most of the companions were of the opinion that men who commit homosexuality should be executed. Shaykh-ul-Islam ibn Taymiyyah mentioned that the companions and the Tabi'een had a consensus on the issue of execution, but the difference of opinion was on how it should be carried out? Should they be stoned, or thrown off the highest structure in the land? The idea of legalizing homosexuality is filthy and evil, and could never be supported by a Muslim. We ask Allah to keep us safe.

Q5. This woman says that it is the right of women to sit with men in the main hall of the mosque, without any barrier, and it is the right of women to participate in all activities normally reserved for men, such as leading the prayers, etc... What is the correct position in this matter?

A5. Surely, this is from misguidance. Women have roles and jobs specific to them, and men have roles and jobs specific to them. Allah specified women to carry children and give birth. Also, Allah says: (translation) "Men are the care-takers of women." And when the Persians appointed the daughter of Kisra as the leader of their kingdom after his death, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said (translation): "A nation who appoints a woman as its leader will not be successful." Furthermore, even the testimony of a woman is not equal to that of a man. According to the Quran, the testimony of two women is equal to that of one man. As for crowds of men and women entering the mosque from the same door, and the issue of women and men sitting side by side without a barrier, this is something that is totally against the etiquettes of Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said (translation): “The best rows for the women are the last ones, and the worst ones are the front ones." And he said with regards to the prayer, which is the most important act of worship (translation): "If the wife of one of you asks for permission to go to the mosque, let him not prevent her, but their houses are better for them." He also said : (translation): the first trial that affected the Children of Israel was due to women." The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also informed us that he did not leave behind a more harmful trial for men than women. So we say: May Allah guide the men and women of the Muslims to hold fast to their religion and respect the rulings of Allah, and constrain their actions to comply with the Quran and the Sunnah and what the scholars have agreed upon. No nation has a methodology that addresses all situations of man and his personal life, as well as his business dealings, his relations with friends and enemies, his relations with his family and relatives, his relations with the rulers and subjects -- no nation has a methodology that deals with these relationships like the methodology of Islam. And whoever wants something other than Islam, wants to fall into clear misguidance. And help is sought with Allah.


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