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Muslim women not permitted to enter into Mosque

Posted on: September 29, 2007

Muatta Imam Maalik the following narration appears: “Yahya Ibn Saeed narrates from Umrah Binti Abdur Rahman that Aishah (radhiallahu anha) said: ‘If Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had observed that which women have now introduced (i.e. after the demise of Rasulullah), he would most certainly have prevented them from attending the Musjid just as the women of Bani Israeel were prevented.” Yahya enquired: ‘What, were the women of Bani Israeel prevented from the Musaajid?’ Umrah replied. ‘Yes.’

When Ameerul Mu’mineen Hadhrat Umar (radhiallahu anhu) finally enacted the prohibition to prevent women from g going to the Musjid, they complained to Aishah (radhiallahu anha). Answering their complaint, Hadhrat Aishah (radhiallahu anha) said: “If Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had known what Umar now knows (of the condition of women), he would not have granted you permission to emerge (i.e. to leave your homes and come to the Musjid for Salaat).” (Jaamiur Rumooz)

It is, thus, abundantly clear that Hadhrat Aishah (radhiallahu anha) did not recognize women to have any undeniable right to attend the Musjid. A permissible act restricted by numerous conditions–a permissible act which is discouraged even by the one who grants the permission- cannot be interpreted as an undeniable right. If it was an undeniable right, the Sahaabah would have been the very first people who would have recognized the right. If women had enjoyed any such inviolable right as the modernist asserts, the Sahaabah would never have prohibited women from the Musjid. The very fact that such a prohibition was enacted by the Sahaabah—by the most senior Sahaa bah— in the very age described as the noblest of ages by Rasulullah {sallallahu alayhi wasallam)

 There is no denying fact that during the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) women were allowed to visit the Musjid for Salaat. However, this permission was accompanied by a number of very strict conditions which are all non-existent in our times. Again, although there was this initial permission, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasaIlam) discouraged women from availing themselves of this permission. His exhortation that women perform Salaat at home paved the way for the prohibition which came into effect later by the authority of the Sahaabah and the Fuqaha.


 (1) Attractive garments were forbidden. Women who came to the Musjid were not permitted to do fine and attractive clothing. It was declared that they had to dress shabbily and unattractively Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (radhiallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: ” …………. but, they should emerge while they are shabbily dressed.”

 In Ibn Majah it is narrated that once while Rasulullah (sallallahu alay hi wasallam) was seated in the Musjid, a woman dressed and adorned in her finery entered and walked proudly in the Musjid. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) then proclaimed:

 “0 people! Prohibit your women from wearing beautiful garments and from showing off in the Musjid, for verily, Bani Israeel were not cursed until their women started to wear beautiful garments and show off inside the Musjid.”

Ibn Arabi in his Sharhut Tirmizi commenting on the type of dress which women should wear according to the Hadith which permits them to come to the Musjid, says:

 “When she emerges to go to the Musjid, she should come out dressed in dirty and shabby garb as it has been reported in the Ahadith.”

(2) Perfume was forbidden. Women who came to Musjid in the early days were not permitted to apply perfume. In this regard Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:

 “Any woman who applies perfume and passes by a gathering is like an adultress.” (Tirmizi)

 “The woman who applies perfume must not be present with us for Isha.” (Muatta Imaam Maalik)

 Since it is not permissible for women to emerge from the house with perfume applied, be it night or day, the reference to Isha in this Hadith should not be understood to be confined to only Ishaa Salaat. The word Ishaa appears in the Hadith in view of the greater danger of mischief and evil during the night time. The Ahadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) clearly brands a woman as immoral for applying perfume and passing by a gathering.

 (3) The Jilbaab or outer -covering. When women emerged in those days, they were thoroughly concealed in their jilbaabs which were very large outer garments or sheets of unattractive colour. The sheets were so big that normally two women could be wrapped up in a single jilbaab. The jilbaab was not merely flung over the shoulders. It covered the entire head and the face as well. The jilbaab which the ladies wo re during the time of Rasululllah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was not a stylish garment with a decorative niqaab (face-veil). It was not designed for beauty as are some of the burqahs of modern times. The jiIbaab covered every part of t he body, the head and face included. It had to be left slightly open to enable the women to see where they were walking. In other words they had to peep through an opening to see their way. Such garments will not be worn by women of today. About these outer-garments, Hadhrat Aishah (radhiallahu anha) narrates:

 “After Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had made the morning Salaat, the women would return thoroughly wrapped in their sheets. So thoroughly were they wrapped that they could not be distin-guished from the dark ness (The cloth persumably being black as the darkness).” (Bukhaari)

 (4) The women would leave immediately after the Fardh Salaat. The following narration in Bukhaari explains the practice which was adopted to ensure absolutely no contact with any of the men in the Musjid:

 “Hind Bintul Haarith said that Umm-e-Salmah (radhi- allahu anha), the wife of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), informed her that during the lifetime of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) the women would get up after the Salaam of the Fardh Salaat while Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the menfolk who made Salaat with him remained seated After Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)stood up, the men would do likewise.”

Commenting on this procedure adopted in the early days, Imaam Zuhri (rahmatullah alayh) states:

 “The reason for Rasulullah’s delay in rising after the Fardh Salaat was to give the women the opportunity of leaving the Musjid before the men. (This prevented intermingling).”

 (5) Intermingling was prohibited even outside the Musjid, in a narration in Abu Dawood, the Sahaabi, Abu Usaid Ansaari (radhiallahu anhu) says that once outside the Musjid men and women had mixed. Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) then said:

 “(O Women!) Move back! Verily, it is not permissible for you to spread in the road. The edges of the road are compulsory on you.”

The Sahaabi narrating this Hadith says: “As a result the women would walk so close to the sides that their clothing would brush against the walls (of the houses).”

 The introduction of these conditions is not possible in this day. After the demise of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), even the Sahaabah discerned the difficulty in enforcing the strict or the exceptionally high degree of piety which had prevailed during the presence of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). They did not therefore concern themselves with remedial measures. On the con trary, they banned the practice of women coming to the Musjid. Their high degree of Deeni intelligence and insight convinced them that if women are not prevented from the Musaajid, the situation will deteriorate.

 Hujjatul Islam (i.e. Imaam Ghazaali) states in the Ihyaa: Rasul ullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) did permit women to attend the Musjid. But, the correct view now is prohibition excepting old women. In fact, the prohibition has become established since the age of the Sahaabah (radhiallahu anhum). Thus, Aishah (radhi allahu anha) said …………… and he narrated what had transpired in this regard with her… “It is obligatory to prohibit women from attending the Musjid for Salaat and gatherings of Thikr when there is the danger of fitnah with them.”

 “When the fear of fitnah is attendant to their emergence from the home, then it (emergence) is undoubtedly haraam. . . .The meaning of fitnah is zina and its introductory acts such as looking at the opposite sex, privacy (with the opposite sex), touching, etc…”

 Dirmaani (rahmatullah alayh} says:

 “The Hadith: ‘Do not prevent the female servants of Allah from the Musjids.’, is applicable to night times (i.e. the permission was only for night times). Furthermore, the permission exists only in the absence of fitnah against women or by women. During the life time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) absence of fitnah was dominant.”

Allahmah Aini (rahmatullah alayh) says; “During our age mischief and evil are rampant.”

Allamah Aini (rahmatullah alayh) was among the Fuqaha of the eighth century of the Islamic era. The author of Lamiud Duraari asks:

 “When this (rampant fitnah and mischief) was the situation during the time of Allamah Aini (rahmatullah alayh) who died in the year 855 Hijri, then what do you think of the present age saturated with vice and fitnah?”

 Ibn Hajar (rahmatullah alayh) says:

 “The summary of the discussion of Nawawi and Zarkashi is that when intermingling of the sexes prevails whether in the Musjid or on the roads or there is the danger of mischief because of women’s adornment and exhibition of beauty, then it is forbidden for them to come out. . . . It is incumbent on the Imaam or his representative to prevent women from emerging.” (Laamiud Duraari)

 Hadhrat Hasan Basri (rahmatullah alayh) was asked about a woman who took an oath to the effect that if her husband was released from prison she would, as a measure of thanks unto Allah, perform two raka’ts Salaat in every Mus|id of the city of Basra where Salaat is performed in Jamaa’. Hadhrat Hasan Basri (rahmatullah alayh) commented:

 “If Umar was here, he would have smashed her head.”

Imaam Taimi (rahmatullah alayh) says:

 “The Hadith of Aishah (radhiallahu anha) contains the substantiation for the view that it is not proper for women to emerge (from their homes) to attend the Musjids when mischief has come into existence.”

Allah Most High says:

 “And stay in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former times of ignorance; and establish regular Prayer, and give regular Charity; and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, O members of the Family, and to make you pure and spotless.” (Surah al-Ahzab, V: 33)

 Similarly, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) in many Hadiths encouraged women to offer their prayers at home:

 Sayyida Umm Salama (Allah be pleased with her) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “The best Mosque for a woman is the inner part of her home.” (Musnad Ahmad & Tabrani)

 Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Do not prevent your womenfolk from attending the Mosque, even though their houses are better for them.” (Sunan Abu Dawud)

 Sayyida Umm Salama (Allah be pleased with her) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “A woman’s prayer in her inner room is better than her prayer in the outside room, and her prayer in the outside room is better than her prayer in the courtyard, and her prayer in the courtyard is better than her prayer in the Mosque.” (Mu’jam of Imam Tabrani)

 Indeed, women in the time of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) did attend congregational prayers in the Mosque, and they were not prevented from doing so. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) himself advised against preventing women from attending congregational prayers, for example:

 Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “If your wives seek permission from you to go to the Mosque at night, let them.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no: 827)


 Salim narrates from his father that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “If the wife of any one of you seeks permission to go to the Mosque, he may not prevent her.” (Sahih Muslim, no: 442)

However, the understanding of the various classical and contemporary Hanafi Fuqaha is that women in the time of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) had the unique opportunity of praying behind the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) himself- an act that cannot be paralleled today. Secondly, they used to observe all the requirements of Shariah including those of proper covering (hijab), hence they were not prohibited from attending the congregational prayers. Despite this, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) still advised and encouraged them to pray in their homes.

 Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) in his time felt that the concession given to women for attending the congregational prayers in the Mosque is sometimes being misused and could be misused even more in the future. He felt that women were no longer taking care of the Shariah requirements as they used to in the time of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), and he was also aware of the fact that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) advised women to offer their prayers at home. Hence, keeping all of the above in mind, he issued a verdict that women should no longer attend congregational prayers in the Masjid, and this decision of his was collectively accepted by the other Companions.

 Similarly, Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) used to refuse women entry to the Mosque for Friday prayers and would say: “Go, your homes are better for you.”

 Sayyida A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) said:

 “If the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) was alive to see what women are doing now (in A’isha’s time), he would surely have prevented them from attending the prayers in the Mosque just as the women of Banu Isra’il were prevented.” (Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

The renowned Hadith scholar and Hanafi jurist, Imam Badr al-Din al-Ayni (Allah have mercy on him) states whilst commentating on the above statement of Sayyida A’isha:

 “Had A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) witnessed what women are involved in the various types of innovations and wrongdoings these days, she would have been even more extreme in her preventing women from entering the Mosques……Also the fact that there had not been a long time between her statement and the demise of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), and also the fact that women in her time were not involved in even one portion of a thousand of what women are up to these days.” (Umdat al-Qari, 3/230)

Imam al-Kasani (Allah have mercy on him) states:

 “It will not be permitted for young women to go to the Mosque for congregational prayers due to the fact that Sayyiduna Umar (Allah be pleased with him) prevented women from doing so. Moreover, women’s going to the Masjid is a cause of mischief (between men and women) and mischief (fitna) is Haram, and that which leads to something Haram will also be unlawful.” (Bada’i al-Sana’i, 1/157)

Numerous similar statements and rulings of the authorities in the Books of the Shariah proclaim explicitly the prohibition on women attending the Musjid for Salaat or for listening to lectures. Each and every one of these Fuqahaa who spoke on this question was fully cognizant with the initial permission which applied during the age of Rasulullah (sallallahu alay hi wasallam). Nevertheless, they issued the verdict of prohibition on the basis of the Fatwa of Hadhrat Umar, Hadhrat Aisha and other Sahaabah (radhiallahu annum) as well as on the grounds of the prevalence of fitnah which undoubtedly did not predominate the scene as we find in our age.
(Abu Dawood)


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