New Age Islam
Wed Jun 19 2024, 01:25 PM

Urdu Section ( 15 Sept 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Women Leading the Prayers: Why So Much Friction?

By Asad Mufti

(Translated from Urdu by Arman Neyazi,

According to an important news agency channel Islamic scholar and Saudi Alima Mohtarma Alima Muzawee al Tishlan led a Taraweeh prayer of women in an open Hall of a big building of the capital Riyadh. Before the prayer a major Iftaar party was organised by the Alim Ta’aruf Islam Council which was attended by Saudi Princess Al Unood bint Abdul Rahman bin Ahmad, wife of Kuwait Ambassador Nawala Kheel, wife of Pakistan ambassador, wife of Commercial attaché of Japan and other respected ladies. On this very place Taraweeh prayer was organised by Saudi Alema Muzawee.

It can be mentioned here, with great pleasure, that it is for the first time in Saudi Arabia that a prayer was headed by a lady. Earlier, in Holland, a mosque, only for ladies, was inaugurated by Alima and litterateur Nool al Sa’dwee of Egypt with much pomp and show. She had delivered a speech from the Me’mber (the place where Khutba of Friday prayer is recited) of the mosque. She declared, speaking on the equal rights of men and women that any woman of substance can lead a prayer and that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself had appointed ladies for the Imamat during his Nabuwat. She said that men and women both used to say their prayers under the leadership (Imamat) of ladies.

In American state of Virginia an African woman, Ameena Wadood a Professor of Islamiyat made her way to history by leading a Friday prayer in a beautiful mosque of Amerdom Revenue, Upper Manhattan, New York in 2008. Ameena Wadood, author of “Islam and Women” said, she did not get any instance of women being prohibited to lead a prayer, in an interview to British newspaper Guardian. She further adds, she has got the various instances of women being appointed as Imams by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself. Ameena Wadood further in that interview says “today’s man teaches a woman the ways of living although he has never been a woman.”

Canadian intellectual and Islamic author Raheel Raaz also had led a prayer of men and women in the spacious Hall of Oxford University Islamic Centre. This was widely criticised in the Islamic world. Men used to challenge the Imamat of women saying that it is the duty of men and that a woman cannot lead a man in prayers. Now with the blessings of the government of Saudi Arabia a woman is performing the duties of Imamat in Taraweeh and Isha prayers. This is the first incident of a woman leading a prayer there.

According to a correspondent of Pakistan, the Islamic Republic, a woman if she is a Hafiza can lead a womens Taraweeh prayer. This is not rare in Pakistan and other Islamic countries.

Mufti Aazam Ali Juma a great scholar of Egypt says, “If the people offering prayer wish they can offer their prayer under the Imamat of a woman. Shaikh Ali Juma said “Although there is no unanimity on the Imamat of women among ‘Fuquha’ (knowers of Islamic jurisprudence) there is a space for the woman to be appointed an Imam. He told Al-Arabia TV that according to Imam Tibrani and Imam al Arabi, leadership of a woman in prayer is right.

On the other side, Egyptian scholar and philosopher Dr. Yusuf al Quarzawi has criticised it. He says that it is against the principles of Islamic teachings. According to him, it is a refusal of the orders of Allah.

I think consciously or unconsciously religion has completed a journey where a woman’s role has been socially, politically and religiously accepted. If a Muslim woman can become an MP, participate in co education, TV programmes with their male counterparts, deliver speeches among the men, become an Editor , in a Shariah coded dresses according to self made Ulema, why can they not lead prayers.

What is a Shariah coded dress for the women?

I know our Fuquha and Ulema have not agreed on this issue for centuries and the situation stands the same even today. Every book written and every sermon delivered on this issue by our Ulema on this issue goes against women participating in political and religious matters.  Their home has been fixed as their world even their voices have to be limited under the four walls of their houses. If we will keep our women out of this practical world we will hand over the management to the un-Islamic elements. This will not be a wise step. Even in a state of denial these respected Ulema and Fuquha are accepting the social demands, sitting on a pile of Fatwas.

Fatwas of the past have proved to be a sign of our lack of education. I think we should always keep striving to get rid of this weakness.

I have read somewhere that Kafir is not the name of a religion or a man, rather it is a sign of character. No Muslim woman or man can be judged on the basis of his/her way of prayer. Had it been so Shaitan, the devil, would not have been the greatest ‘Ibadat Guzar’, one who is always in remembrance of God.

Right use of wisdom is Imaan and not using ones intellect or its wrong use is “Kufr”

Here I mention my own couplet:

Agar paida kiya hai yeh jahan mere liye usne

To phir kyon mujh ko apne taur per jeene nahien deta

(If He has created this world for me, why He does not let me live as I wish)