Women & Mosques: Misogyny to Misrepresentation


An excellent discussion by Shaykh Abu Aaliyah author, translator, teacher of Islam’s sacred sciences since the late 1980s, and director of the Jawziyyah Institute.

165661-mosque

Q. Is there any religious justification which forbids women from going to the mosque to attend congregational prayers? Or is this “forbiddance” just an Asian cultural thing that’s been grafted on to the religion? And is it also true the hadith that says the best place for women to pray is in their homes isn’t a general order, but was specific to a given situation and to a particular woman?

A. Alhamdulillah, wa’l-salatu wa’l-salamu ‘ala rasulillah. The issue is such that, on the one hand, women are being turned away from some mosques at prayer times, sometimes having to pray in carparks or other unbefitting places. And if they are grudgingly allowed into such mosques, they can often be met with very unwelcoming glances. On the other hand, there are growing accusations of misogyny being hurled against (almost invariably male) mosque committees, and even against scholars, as they believe they are following orthodox formulations of Islamic law on not letting women attend mosques. Given how the issue is now a battle ground of sorts; and given that some now allege certain classical juristic consensus on the issue are plainly wrong; and given also how ill-informed many men and women are about the evidences on the matter – often for every proof-text they may know, they are ignorant of at least five others – let me break it down for analysis into the following points:

1. Let’s [re]acquaint ourselves with some of the hadiths on the topic. One hadith says: ‘Do not prevent the female servants of God from the mosques of God.’1 In another hadith, we read: ‘When your women folk seek permission to go to the mosque, don’t prevent them.’2 The next hadith cautions believing women thus: ‘If any of you attends the mosque, do not touch perfume.’3 These, and other like-minded directives from our Prophet ﷺ, ostensibly demonstrate the shari‘ah permissibility of women attending congregational prayers in the mosque.

2. The above apparently being the case, it’s still only part of the story. Other hadiths tell us: ‘Do not prevent your wives from the mosques, but their houses are better for them.’4 And: ‘The prayer of a woman in her house is better than her prayer in her courtyard; and her prayer in her chamber (fi makhda‘iha) is better than her prayer in her house.’5 So the majoritarian view, taking both sets of hadiths into consideration, is that while it is lawful for women to attend mosques for congregational prayer, their prayer at home is better. As for the view of at least one contemporary shaykh, who claims the hadith about a woman’s prayer at home being better was said in a specific context for a particular woman and was not intended to apply to all women, that is addressed in point number thirteen.

3. At this point, we should also bring into play those hadiths that speak about women’s attendance being more particular to the night and pre-dawn prayer – times where, under the cover of dark, women can be better concealed from the male gaze and the male gaze will be better obscured from possible feminine allure. One such hadith says: ‘Prevent not your women from coming out to the mosques at night.’6 Another stipulates: ‘Permit your women to go to the mosques at night.’7 Based upon this, many early jurists understood the hadiths allowing women to attend mosques to be an unqualified (mutlaq) statement, which is qualified (muqayyad) by the “night” hadiths. In other words, women may attend mosques, but only for the fajr and isha’ prayers when it is dark; for the darkness will help conceal them. Hence Imam al-Bukhari’s chapter heading in his Sahih: ‘Chapter: Women going to mosques at night and at dusk.’8

4. As for the shades of grey in the madhhab rulings, they run like so: Maliki jurists hold that young women attending prayer in the mosque is khilaf al-awla – “contrary to what is preferred.” The Shafi‘i school particularises this allowance to elderly women, whereas the Hanbalis deem it offensive (makruh) for attractive women to attend congregational prayer in the mosque (putting aside the obvious question of who decides what woman is pretty or likely to entice some men to take more than a restrained, mindful glance).9 The cue for these legal restrictions is taken from the fact that the Prophet ﷺ forbade women who perfume themselves from going to the mosque. Similarly, argue the jurists, any lady who is likely to disturb the Islamic character of the public space by displaying her charms in a manner forbidden by Islam’s teachings can be stopped or discouraged from attending the mosque. Some hadiths actually state that a woman’s prayer in her houses is better, except for the ‘ajuz or “elderly.”10 Another insists: ‘Prohibit your women from wearing attractive clothes or perfume when attending the mosque.’11 As for the Hanafis, their stance shall be dealt with below.

5. There is a social context and behavioural factors behind the above legal nuances, that give rise to a certain reluctance to allow just any or every female to attend congregational prayers in mosques. The main two that often appear in our fiqh commentaries are: [i] the fear of temptation (fitnah) between the two sexes (hence an allowance for the elderly, but not those that are younger or who are in the prime of their femininity); and [ii] the reality, as unfortunate and deplorable as it is, of male harassment.12 A traditional Muslim public space, while allowing women to go out for their needs and their trade, was undoubtedly the preserve of men. And while the latter could linger or loiter without their honour or ‘ird necessarily being impinged, the former could not; would not; and usually did not.

6. Now for the slightly tricky fiqhi bit. Having meticulously scrutinised the entire gamut of proof-texts that bear upon this subject, Muslim jurists were able to identify the ‘illah, the “legal cause” or ratio legis, that allows women to go to the mosque. Most jurists held that the issue revolves around the ‘illah or legal causation of safety from fitnah (‘adm khawf al-fitnah/al-amn min al-fitnah). And although a few jurists held the ‘illah was the honour and prestige of praying behind the Prophet ﷺ, most jurists concurred with safety from fitnah as being that actual ‘illah. What they meant by fitnah in this context was women and men casually intermingling or socialising with one another, and women dressing or adorning themselves in ways that is likely to be tempting or enticing to men, and women being safe from general harm and male predatory harassment.

This being so, the ruling of allowing women to attends prayer in mosques must be judged in the light of a well-established juristic maxim: al-hukm yuduru ma‘a ‘illatihi wujudan wa ‘adaman – ‘The ruling revolves around the presence or absence of its legal causation.’ In other words, if the factor which gives rise to the ruling no longer exists, then the ruling no longer stands. Or to use a simplified version of this juristic maxim: intifa’ al-hukm li intifa’ ‘illatihi – ‘The ruling ends with the absence of its legal causation.’ When applied to the issue at hand, if safety from fitnah is absent – in that casual mixing will not be avoided, or women dress in alluring ways that don’t accord to shari‘ah teachings, or they are likely to be harmed or harassed – then the ruling, in general, of the allowance for such women no longer stands.

7. A more straightforward way of looking at the issue is in terms of the conditions (shurut) revelation insists must be fulfilled if women are to be permitted to go out in public. Again, analysing the evidences, scholars inferred the following conditions: [i] Wearing a shari‘ah-complient hijab (one which includes a khimar or “head covering” and an outer garment; a jilbab): And that they draw their head coverings over their chests. [Q.24:31] Also: O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters and the believing women to draw their outer garments around them. [Q.33:59] [ii] Not to reveal their beauty, except for the face and hands, provided there is no fear of temptation (or, as per the second view, not even the face or hands, due to the presumption it will cause a fitnah): And not to display their adornments, except for what is apparent. [Q.24:31] [iii] Not to wear perfume, nor alluring attire or make-up: And flaunt not your charms in the manner of the past Times of Ignorance. [Q.33:33] [iv] That the interaction with the opposite gender is respectable, kept to a courteous on-a-need-to-do-so basis, and wisely guarded: Be not soft of speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease aspires to you, but speak honourably. [Q.33:32] [v] Not to dress, speak or act in a manner that unduly solicits mens’ attention or incites their passions: And let them not strike their feet together so as to reveal their hidden adornments. [Q.24:31] Of course, when these rules of public decorum are not observed by women, then strictly speaking the textual proofs simply do not grant them permission to go out to the mosque.

8. Before elaborating the Hanafi position, here are a few hadiths regarding the prophetic concern for safeguarding decency and respectability in the public sphere. The hadith of al-Fadl b. ‘Abbas is interesting in this regard. His brother, ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abbas relates: ‘Al-Fadl b. ‘Abbas rode behind the Prophet ﷺ upon the back of his she-camel, on the Day of Sacrifice (yawm al-nahr); and al-Fadl was a handsome man. The Prophet ﷺ stopped to give people fatwas. Meanwhile, an attractive lady from the Khath‘am tribe came seeking a ruling from Allah’s Messenger ﷺ. Al-Fadl began staring at her, being enamoured of her beauty. The Prophet glanced behind while al-Fadl was still gazing at her. The Prophet ﷺ then extended his hand backward and turned al-Fadl’s cheek, so he would stop staring at her …’13 In another version, when he was asked why he turned the cheek of his cousin, he replied: ra’aytu shabban wa shabbatan falam aman al-shaytan ‘alayhima – ‘I saw a young man and woman who were not safe from [the influence of] Satan upon them.’14 Here we see that the Prophet ﷺ did not make a fuss or a hoo-ha about the situation: he gently did what needed to be done and politely said what needed to be said. It is also interesting to note how the Prophet ﷺ seemed to put the onus on al-Fadl averting his gaze, rather than sending the young lady away.

There are other hadiths which we moderns would do well not to ignore, and to figure out godly and intelligent ways to weave them into our public spaces and gender interactions. They include this saying of the Prophet ﷺ: ‘The woman is ‘awrah, when she leaves [her house] Satan beautifies her.’15 Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Hibban also recorded it in their respective Sahihs, but with this addition: ‘and the closest she is to the Face of her Lord is when she is in the depth of her home.’16 These, along with a volley of other narrations, lent themselves to the juristic inference that the overall idea for women was one of satr or “concealment”. Also there’s this next hadith, the implications of which don’t need much spelling out: ‘I have not left a fitnah after me as harmful to men, than women.’17 The cure for much of this temptation and over-sexualisation of society lies in the Quranic wisdom of ghadd al-basr – “lowering the gaze”. Jarir reported: I asked Allah’s Messenger ﷺ about the accidental glance, so he ordered me to avert my gaze.18 All-in-all, the believing man’s sense of public decency is in notions of respectability, lowering the gaze, and a mindful glance: Tell believing men to lower their gaze and guard their private parts; that is purer for them. [Q.24:30] As for a believing woman, it is rooted in principles like: And stay in your homes and flaunt not your charms in the manner of the past Times of Ignorance. [Q.33:33] They can, of course, go out for their needs or necessities (be they worldly, spiritual, social or psychological), but in a manner approved of by Allah and consistent with the rulings and aims of His Sacred Law. There is also no doubt that the ummah stands in dire need of womens’ active input and participation in terms of Islamic scholarship and teaching, and in Muslim social affairs; in general. How they square such circles, or overcome religiously unwarranted obstacles, is one of the most pressing challenges facing us Muslims. That said, this must be kept at the forefront of our minds lest we forget: Even the devil tempts to virtue, if it leads to a greater vice.

9. This brings us nicely on to the minority juristic view on the matter of women attending mosques; that of the Hanafi madhhab. Hanafis base their ruling on what the lady ‘A’ishah said: ‘If Allah’s Messenger ﷺ had seen what the women have introduced, he would have prevented them from the mosques, as the women of the Israelites were prevented.’19 For Hanafis, this pretty much tilts the balance against women attending prayer in mosques. In typical Hanafi legal reasoning, al-‘Ayni stated: ‘If ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, had seen what the women of these times have introduced, of all sorts of innovations and evils, her rebuke would have been even stronger.’20 So due to the changing [worsening] of the times (taghayyur al-zaman), Hanafis consider it to be makruh tahrimi – “prohibitively detested” – for women to attend mosques for prayers.21

10. To be clear, this is not a case of Hanafis opposing clear-cut hadiths, or mischievously ‘superseding the texts’. Rather, it’s a case of them identifying the conditions (shurut) and legal causation (‘illah) for the lawfulness of women attending mosques for prayers, or for other religious activities; then asking: Are these conditions being fulfilled? Or is the legal causation (safety from fitnah) still present? And have times changed such that the ruling may need tweaking or reevaluating? The answer to the first question is a “No! Conditions aren’t usually fulfilled” The second is also a “No!”. And the third is a “Yes” – the ruling of them going to mosques now changes from an allowance to a practical forbiddance. This, then, has been the legal reasoning of the Hanafi school since its outset.

11. It won’t come as a surprise when I say that the majority of scholars have a response, or rebuttal, to the Hanafi view. Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalāni wrote: ‘Some held ‘A’ishah’s prevention of women attending mosques as being absolute; but this is questionable. Since it doesn’t entail any change in the ruling, as she made it conditional on a non-existent condition; she said: “If he had seen … he would have prevented.” But he didn’t see, and nor did he prevent … Furthermore, these innovations were introduced by some women, not by all of them.’22 Ibn Qudamah stated: ‘The Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ is more deserving to be followed; the statement of ‘A’ishah is confined only to those women who introduced the innovations.’23 Another persuasive reason why ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, did not intend to alter or abrogate the default ruling of it being lawful for women to attend the mosque is that Imam Malik, and the other renowned jurists of Madinah before him, never understood her statement as a blanket, absolute prohibition. The point here is that the Madinan school was built on – amongst others – the juristic fatwas and legacy of the lady ‘A’ishah.

12. Fiqh isn’t the parroting or fossilising of classical juristic rulings formulated in Mamluk or Ottoman times … end of! It must be a living, vibrant enterprise culminating in practical and liveable law and guidance for our age. So as should be expected, some contemporary Hanafi scholars themselves are eager to revisit the issue, given that times have worsened even more. They, like jurists from other schools too, point out that the issue of taghayyur al-zaman can work both ways.24 On the one hand, they say, there’s the ever-diminishing reality of “safety from fitnah” at play between the genders (or within the genders too!). On the other hand, these Hanafi scholars argue, it appears that – on balance – there is a greater harm in not permitting women to go to the mosque in these times, for a variety of reasons. Thus they should not be prevented, provided they observe the basic decorum in terms of their attire and how they conduct themselves. One such reason is that in the prophetic era and long after, women’s primary role would be in and around the house, they wouldn’t really venture out except for necessities or a pressing need. This is unlike the complexities of the modern age, in which it’s the given norm for both men and women to be out and about in public for a whole host of reasons such as work, shopping, visiting others, or education. The reality is that they too need dedicated spaces to pray: mosques being open to them is part of such accessibility. Another reason is for women to be able to access scholarly talks and classes which often take place in mosques. To suppose that the internet or that YouTube can be an adequate substitute for gaining such knowledge is to be poorly informed about the adab required when seeking sacred knowledge, as well as the barakah or the psychology of being in the company of other [female] seekers. Female converts having a religious or social focal point is another vital reason why mosques need to be accessible to women. And then there’s the reality that mosques offer a far better sacred space where people can experience spiritual tranquility and connection than does a modern home in which some forms of haram or disapproved distractions from God have invariably taken root. Such are the arguments some Hanafi jurists use to insist that the classical madhhab view should be reviewed in favour of women’s attendance at mosques.

As to the very real issue of temptation, then if we’re to be perfectly honest, people have so many other avenues to indulge in such fitnah than while at their local mosque. Given the nature of social media, relatively-speaking, mosques are probably the least or last place today to be in that type of fitnah zone. Nevertheless, occasional healthy reminders about gender conduct, for both men and for women, wouldn’t go amiss. Or perhaps Allah will cause the environment of the mosque itself to be a gentle reminder of how a believer’s character must lend itself to modesty and respectability? For what better example could their be for wayward or weak souls than to see godliness and pious restraint in collective practice? Mosques might even be one of the rare times when some women put on some sense of hijab whatsoever. Of course, the larger the mosque complex, in that the more social, cultural and educational activities it holds under its roof for young people and the wider community, the more mindful everyone needs to be in terms of gender decorum.

13. One last matter before I conclude. It’s been claimed that the view that it is better for women to pray at home is actually an erroneous one. This claim asserts that it’s equally preferable for women to pray in a mosque, as it is for men. The reason for this error, it is alleged, lies in a faulty understanding concerning the hadith about Umm Humayd. Umm Humayd, wife of Abu Humayd al-Sa‘di narrated: She came to Allah’s Messenger ﷺ and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah ﷺ, I love to pray with you.’ He replied: ‘I know that you love to pray with me. However, praying in your house is better for you than praying in your courtyard; and praying in your courtyard is better for you than praying in the mosque of your people; and praying in the mosque of your people is better for you than praying in my mosque.’ So she ordered a prayer-place be built for her in the darkest part of her home, and she always prayed there till she met Allah.25 They say that this hadith has a context that can be found in a few other versions of the same incident. The claim is that other hadiths show that the reason the Prophet ﷺ said what he said to Umm Humayd is that, according to at least one contemporary author, the Prophet ﷺ ‘intended to resolve a martial disagreement’ between her and her husband, ‘which was about the long distance she had to walk five times a day to pray behind him in the mosque.’26

The reply to this somewhat bizarre juristic claim comes from a few angles: Firstly, it is true that Abu Humayd, the husband, objected to his wife going to the Prophet’s mosque (in all likelihood, due to how far it was from their home); the wording of two supporting reports substantiate this. In one, it states Umm Humayd as lamenting: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Our husbands prevent us praying with you, but we love to pray with you …’27 And in another: ‘O Messenger of Allah, we love to pray with you, but our husbands object.’28 However, to infer from this that there was a marital dispute which required reconciliation – and so the Prophet ﷺ alledgedly inverted the default ruling of it being recommended for women to pray congregational prayers in the mosque, as it is for men, and instead made it particular to Umm Humayd for it to be better to pray at home – is reading into the hadiths something that just is not there. This view simply doesn’t hold up to textual or legal scrutiny. Or, if we were to fall into line with our “post-truth era” of “alternative facts”, it could even be said that such a view is fake-fiqh! 

Secondly, even if we were to concede that such was the case just for Umm Humayd, what about the previous authentic hadiths quoted in Point.2; the hadith of the Prophet’s wife, Umm Salamah: ‘A woman’s prayer in her house is better than her prayer in her courtyard, and her prayer in her closet is better than in her house.’29 And the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar: ‘Do not prevent your wives from the mosques, but their houses are better for them.’30 Are we to infer from these two different hadiths that they too were said in the context of some marital spat? Obviously not! Rather, the ruling about the preferability of women praying in their homes is applicable to women, in general; and mosques, in general. In another hadith, again related by Umm Salamah, we read: ‘The best places of prayer for women are the inner parts of their homes.’31

Thirdly, the above is something that is borne out by at least one salaf-report, or athar: The sahabi-scholar Ibn Mas‘ud stated: ‘A woman does not pray a prayer more beloved to Allah than one prayed in her home, save if it be the Sacred Mosque or the Prophet’s mosque.’32

Fourthly, Although it is true that Ibn Hazm considered the hadiths about the afdaliyyah, or preferability, of women praying at home to all be weak and inauthentic, his view simply goes against the established proofs. A number of hadith scholars have affirmed that some of the hadiths mentioning this preferability are authentic. Such hadith scholars include: Ibn Khuzaymah, al-Hakim, Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id, al-Nawawi, al-Dhahabi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani and al-Shawkani; more contemporary scholars include: Ahmad Shakir, al-Albani and Shu‘ayb al-Arna’ut. Between such hadith experts, they have directly and indirectly rebutted the seemingly hasty judgements of Ibn Hazm on certain narrators in these hadiths, demonstrating how many of these hadiths are actually sahih or hasan. As for those who have used Ibn Hazm’s erroneous claim to oppose the agreement of the four madhhabs (especially in our age), they have, in all likelihood, uncritically and blindly followed him in this blunder of his.

To conclude: Based upon the textual proofs, there are four issues that the classical jurists generally agreed to in terms of women and mosques: [i] Women’s attendance at mosques and their participation in congregational prayers isn’t forbidden in and of itself, nor is it obligatory or even recommended. [ii] Their attendance is permitted, but only with certain qualification and restrictions. [iii] A woman’s prayer at home is better than her prayer in a mosque with men. [iv] Fear of temptation (fitnah) and the moral deterioration of society has a bearing on whether women should attend mosques.

However, one simply cannot or must not ignore the fact that times have changed. Today, there are many female converts who have no Islamic environment to take refuge or solace in, other than mosques. The home environment of most Muslim woman (with their usual modern distractions and prevalent harams) make it nigh on impossible to grow in sacred knowledge and iman: local mosques are probably the best bet for such woman to now and again have the chance to be in some godly atmosphere and sacred space. Then there’s the practicality of the modern work-shop life, and the need for woman to have other than a cramped changing room or some similar inconvenient spot to offer the obligatory prayer, if there is a local mosque nearby. For these reasons and others, the following should be considered by the mosque-funding and mosque-attending communities:

Where they can, mosques should have a good, designated space to accommodate women. Women should also be encouraged to participate in study circles, classes or talks held in the mosque, and that are given by qualified scholars. And whilst it seems that some men need to learn basic adab in terms of how not to give women attending the mosque cold or unwelcoming looks, some women need to learn the adab of seeking sacred knowledge by not chatting among themselves while others are trying to listen to the actual talk! Without doubt, being able to see the person delivering the talk would greatly help women be more focused and attentive.

When seeking women’s rights that are related to the mosque, advice must be given to the committee in good faith. Rights should be sought with the desire to venerate Allah’s laws and uphold the ways of the Lord, in contrast to cherrypicking what religious obligation to accept and thereby play fast and loose with the shari‘ah. Of course, women being part of mosques committees (not for the sake of some quota, or to tick the gender equality boxes; but from a conviction that they will add value, piety and professionalism to the currently dull, dim and lowbrow all-male mosque committees that have for too long tribally ruled the roost) is to be welcomed and encouraged. Perhaps then we may see more Islamically enlightened activities, or some fairness and inclusiveness from most of our local mosques. I suspect that most Muslims in 21st century Britain, especially those born and raised here, are not interested in mosques that offer belongingness primarily on the basis of a pride of Panjabis, a brethren of Bengalis, or a gang of Gujratis.

Now I offer the following with some tentative reservation. But it seems that many of those who seek to empower Muslim women are selling Muslim women short! For while much has been made about whether woman can lead men in congregational prayer or not, little energy has gone into helping women become actual scholars or muftis. The simple truth is that leading prayer is of little merit in Islam compared to the honour and distinguished rank of being a scholar. Again, whilst much has been made about a woman’s conditional rights to go to the mosque, little emphasis has been put on creating a sacred space in the home for a woman to pray, learn, or quietly remember her Lord.

And finally, while it is commendable that Muslim women are actively and wisely seeking out their religiously given rights – not waiting upon Muslim men to help them secure such rights, which in all likelihood would be an insufferably slow process – they must also call women’s attention to the actual conditions required to make it Islamically lawful for them to go to the mosque (as per points nos.6 & 7, above). Contrary to some people’s thinking, the shari‘ah allowance isn’t carte blanche. If, in the spirit of sincere sisterhood, Muslim women aren’t the ones to advise or instruct one another what Islamically is godliness and the good in such matters, then men are left to step into this vacuum. For while in a secular worldview it may not be right for a man to advise a woman what she should be wearing (unless, of course, its telling her not to wear a face veil, or increasingly even a headscarf: for secular hypocrisy is accepted where it concerns Islam), in the Islamic worldview men can remind women of dress codes and sartorial obligations that Revelation instates; and visa-versa: The believer, men and women, are allies to each other; they enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, they establish the prayer and pay the zakat, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On these, Allah will have mercy. Allah is August, Wise. [Q.9:71]

We ask Allah to guide and protect us; and where we’re wrong, to correct us.

1. Al-Bukhari, no.4152; Muslim, no.442.

2. Muslim, no.442.

3. Muslim, no.443.

4. Abu Dawud, Sunan, no.567. The hadith, with its supporting chains, was declared sahih by al-Munawi, Fayd al-Qadir (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2001), 6:544, no.9869; al-Albani, Irwa’ al-Ghalil (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1979), 2:293-94, no.515; al-Nawawi, al-Majmu‘ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab (Jeddah: Maktabah al-Irshad, n.d.), 4:92.

5. Abu Dawud, no.570, from Ibn Mas‘ud; Hakim, Mustadrak, no.852, from Umm Salamah. In Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1980), 3:94; no.1688, al-Albani stated that its chain is hasan.

6. Muslim, no.138.

7. Al-Bukhari, no.899.

8. Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Adhan, chapter no.162.

9. See: al-Zuhayli, Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu (Damascus: Dar al-Fikr, 1984), 2:153-155.

10. As in al-Bayhaqi, al-Sunan al-Kabir, no.5430; Ibn Abi Shaybah, Musannaf, no.7696; al-Tabarani, Mu‘jam al-Kabir, no.9471.

11. Ibn Majah, no.4001. Although the hadith is weak (da‘if) – as per al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Da‘ifah wa’l-Mawdu‘ah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 2002), no.4821 – it (and the report above) may be used as supporting evidence for the general principle about the fitnah of temptation.

12. Consult: Ibn al-Humam, Fath al-Qadir (Cairo, Sharikat wa-Matba’at Mustafa al-Babi al-Halabi wa-Awladihi bi-Misr, 1970), 1:365-366.

13. Al-Bukhari, no.6228.

14. Al-Tirmidhi, no.885, who said it is a hasan sahih hadith.

15. Al-Tirmidhi, no.1173, where he said: ‘The hadith is hasan sahih gharib.’

16. Ibn Khuzaymah, no.1685. Al-Albani graded its chain as sahih in his critical edition of Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah, 3:93. In his Irwa’ al-Ghalil, no.273, al-Albani holds that the hadith, with its supporting chains, yields a final grading of sahih. Also see his: Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 1996), no.2688.

17. Al-Bukhari, no.4808; Muslim, no.2740.

18. Muslim, no.2159.

19. Al-Bukhari, no.869; Muslim, no.445, and the wording is his.

20. ‘Umdat al-Qari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2001), 6:227.

21. See: al-Zuhayli, Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu, 2:154.

22. Fath al-Bari bi Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari (Egypt: Dar al-‘Alamiyyah, 2013), 3:110.

23. Al-Mughni (Riyadh: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 2007), 3:265.

24. In Islamic legal theory (usul al-fiqh), the principle of taghayyur al-zaman can have two areas of application. Firstly, in terms of those rulings related to custom or convention (‘urf, ‘adah); when they change, the ruling can change; as per: ‘Rulings change with the change of times’. I’ve discussed this issue here on the blog, in parts V & VI. Secondly, which is the one that applies here, is when times worsen or decline. In some cases, rulings may alter to reflect such worsening of times.

25. Ahmad, Musnad, no.27090; Ibn Hibban, Sahih, no.2217. Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani stated: ‘The chain of Ahmad is hasan.’ See: Fath al-Bari, 3:110, under hadith no.869. Shu‘ayb al-Arna’ut concurred with this grading of hasan in his critical edition of the Musnad (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risalah 1416H), no.27090.

26. Jasser Auda, Reclaiming the Mosque: The Role of Women in Islam’s House of Worship (United Kingdom & United States: Claritas Books, 2017), 48.

27. Ibn Abi Shaybah, Musannaf, no.7702. Its chain contains Ibn Lahiy’ah, whose reliability as a reporter is questioned.

28. Al-Bayhaqi, al-Sunan al-Kubra, no.5437. It contains ‘Abd al-Mu’min b. ‘Abd Allah al-Kinani, whose status as a narrator is unknown (majhul).

29. Al-Hakim, no.852. The hadith is sahih, as per footnote no.5.

30. Abu Dawud, no.570. The hadith is hasan, as per ft.4.

31. Ibn Khuzaymah, Sahih, no.1683; al-Hakim, Mustadrak, no.857. Some scholars consider the hadith weak, due to Darraj, one of the narrators, who is held to be weak. However, the verifying scholars (muhaqqiqun) only consider him to be problematic when he specifically relates from Abu’l-Haytham; by way of Abu Sa‘id – which isn’t the cases here at all. Hence the chain is hasan, as per Shu‘ayb al-Arna’ut in his critical edition of Sunan Abu Dawud (Beirut: Risalah al-‘Alamiyyah, 2009), no.567.

32. Al-Bayhaqi, al-Sunan al-Kubra, no.5430; and its like is also related in Ibn Abi Shaybah, al-Musannaf, no.7696.



Categories: Islam

6 replies

  1. Muslim male : my home is my castle

    Muslim female: my home is my prison

    Like

  2. You are twisting my comment. War is deceit, like you said.

    If someone had called your prophet a scumbag you wouldn’t be calling for restraint would you?

    Like

  3. are women dumbos according to islam?

    Women’s testimony is equivalent to half that of one mans

    Addressing the erroneous presupposition that being a witness equates being of upper class, in court, one can be punished for being a false witness.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/JannahsForever/status/1147471220843171841

    So if anything, this is a benefit and an honourary position for women that if one forgets]due pressure or whatever], she has the luxury of having another woman by her side – as the ayah says – to remind her. It’s a means of protection & preservation for women, not degradation!

    If one made a mistake, the other can remind her, whereas, if a man makes a mistake in being a witness, he will be held accountable and be punished, for he/she he was being a witness against were to be punished for his false testimony.

    If the 1st non-erring woman testimony is accepted, then her testimony is equal to man. 2 men vs 1 man & 1 woman. Do you agree? Also, do you agree that in 24:6-9 not only woman’s testimony is equal but it overpowers man’s?

    These are not irrelevant but crucial data which establishes that Quran does not say woman’s testimony is half of man and due to being less intelligent. We are agreeing that according to Quran, female testimony is worth equal to man and can overpower man’s.

    Quran stipulated 2 witness for the contract and made them male as this was their normal socio economic engagement. If 2 acceptable male witnesses were unavailable only then unaccustomed females were included to support this contract. Why 2 female witness were stipulated,

    in my opinion, was due woman’s social interactions in the historical milieu where it wasn’t customary for them to engage directly in public commercial transactions. Due to unfamiliarity & complex nature of these transactions, there was room for error in recollecting the details

    later. Additional vulnerability of being pressurised to provide false testimony existed if she was the only female witness. She will have extra moral support to remind her of making true testimony and reduce the pressure burden. Neither witness nor scribe must suffer harm-

    that’s the task or problem of jurists. Not a problem of Quranic instruction. The discussion is about woman’s supposed inferiority in intelligence, not of jurists fatwa making. b) focus on the Quran first. Tafsir of Quran by quran takes precedence to any other tafsir

    In the same way, 2:282 is irrelevant because it doesn’t talk about her intelligence. It focuses on her credibility of not making mistake. Thus the provision for additional guarantor. Honesty and integrity is embedded in giving any testimony irrespective of gender roles. 1/

    Unintentional forgetfulness or intentional mistake is not necessarily linked with intelligence, or biology rather with sociological circumstances. Do you have majority of jurists agreeing with you that witnessing is linked with intelligence?

    3/ Was providing testimony in stillborn child linked with intelligence? Why is women’s testimony preferred over men’s here? S24: 4 demonstrates that testimony is neither linked with gender role, nor with intelligence.

    Even if 3 truthful male witnesses came forward against the accused female, their testimony is rejected. Is this rejection of testimony linked with men’s ‘superior’ intelligence or honesty? Neither. The extra witnesses are guarantors.

    Using your logic, 24: 6-9 husband’s testimony inferior than wife’s 24:4 3 men testimony inferior than 1 woman 24:4 says men are inferior at giving testimony, since they absolutely need 4 men against the testimony of 1 woman. They are just inferior for unexplained reasons.

    Your dismissal of critical scholarship is alarming. You would rather use faulty translations/interpretations of scholarly works to make your case. Is forgetfulness due to lack of intelligence? What does أن تضل mean? What does لتذكر mean?

    Allah says about Muhammad ﷺ, 93:7 ‘and He found you ضالا dallan (lost, not guided), so guided you’. Did Allah find him unintelligent and made him intelligent?

    32:10 ‘When we are dalalna ضللنا (lost) in the earth…’ Being lost in the earth has nothing to do with intelligence. 4:44. وَيُرِيدُونَ أَن تَضِلُّوا السَّبِيل they desire you to (an tadillu) go astray from the path.

    وَضَلَّ عَنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا يَفْتَرُونَ 6:12 and which they invented will (dalla) disappear from them. يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ أَن تَضِلُّوا 4:176 Allah makes it clear to you (masculine plural), so that you don’t err/forget/go astray.

    So are we all Inferior in intelligence because we would have made mistake otherwise? If it was linked with intelligence, the 2nd female won’t help with her inherent inferior intelligence either.

    The word ‘dalal’ (absence) meant turning from the right way, intentionally or otherwise. Hence it’s use here instead of limited in scope ‘’to forget” (nisyan) or “to err” (khata).

    تذكر Means to remind someone, make them remember from forgetfulness, it’s not about making them understand something which their intellect didn’t grasp earlier.

    Linking this turning from the right way/mistake with inferior intelligence is utter desperation and poor reasoning. If men made the mistakes and were reminded, it wouldn’t indicate they are inferior in intelligence.

    The only valid question that you raised is why are women mentioned with forgetting and reminding, excluding men? It’s precisely due to sociological reasons! There is a risk of ‘forgetting’ due to dealing with unfamiliarity outside their usual sphere.

    Some men could be unfamiliar too, as you point out, hence Qur’an advises to choose witness ‘who are acceptable to you’. The explicit condition for witness is وَأَشْهِدُواْ ذَوَى عَدْلٍ مّنكُمْ , 65:2 not intelligence but a just/upright character.

    Why didn’t the Qur’an say ‘bring 2 female witness to begin with instead of 2 men? Because they were usually not around for business. ‘If you can’t find 2 men’ implies they are usually around and on occasions you may not find the right witness to choose.

    Men mostly travelled and traded with caravans, not women. You are ignoring that exegetical principles can be wrongly applied or abused. A valid exegesis does justice to the text and context.

    The correct translation of بما فضل الله بعضهم على بعض is ‘with that Allah has made to excel SOME over others’. And this SOME here refers to not men in general but to HUSBANDS. So it has nothing to do with gender superiority in general.

    Protecting, maintaining, spending and some excelling over others does not prove female gender is inherently less intelligent or inferior. Excelling over others doesn’t mean you have more intelligence! You can excel someone in sports due to your physical capabilities alone.

    Now let me turn to Hadith. Part of the problem lies in inappropriate translation of ناقصات and نقصان . Additionally, ignoring the context of the Hadith, the nuances in language used, also added to the confusion. ناقصات and نقصان refers to reduction, not deficiency.

    This can be seen here: 13:41, 21:44. where the land is being *reduced* from its borders. So what is (نقصان عقل و دين) reduction in mind and religion? How can woman have a reduction in religion? Religion is not her biological makeup. It is what she follows

    Thus being relieved from fasting and praying is not a reduction in religion; it’s a reduction in religious *duties* or obligations. Likewise, there is a reduction via relief of mental functions/duties of testifying; it is not an inherent reduction of mind/reason/intellect itself.

    2/ Critics often claim based on 2:282 and a hadith in Bukhari that woman are inferior in intelligence due her testimony. This stems from a gross misunderstanding of the texts, and relies heavily on blind following (taqleed).

    3/ Why didn’t he Qur’an simply say ‘woman’s testimony is half that of men, and that due to inferior intelligence? The hadith on this is misunderstood and is explained here.

    4/ In Islam, testimony is not conditional on gender role or intelligence. It is based on 1) being just and truthful (ذَوَى عَدْلٍ مّنكُمْ). Honesty and integrity is embedded in giving any testimony irrespective of gender roles.

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    23/ Is forgetfulness due to lack of intelligence? What does أن تضل mean? What does لتذكر mean? Allah says about Muhammad S, 93:7 ‘and He found you ضالا dallan (lost, not guided), so guided you’. Did Allah find him unintelligent and made him intelligent?
    1
    6

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    24/ 32:10 ‘When we are dalalna ضللنا (lost) in the earth…’ Being lost in the earth has nothing to do with intelligence. 4:44. وَيُرِيدُونَ أَن تَضِلُّوا السَّبِيل they desire you to (an tadillu) go astray from the path.
    1
    6

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    25/ وَضَلَّ عَنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا يَفْتَرُونَ 6:12 and which they invented will (dalla) disappear from them. يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ أَن تَضِلُّوا 4:176 Allah makes it clear to you (masculine plural), so that you don’t err/forget/ go astray.
    1
    5

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    26/ We all are Inferior in intelligence?? If it was linked with intelligence, the 2nd female won’t help with her inherent inferior intelligence either
    1
    5

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    27/ The word ‘dalal’ (absence) meant turning from the right way, intentionally or otherwise. Hence it’s use here instead of limited in scope ‘’to forget” (nisyan) or “to err” (khata).
    1
    5

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    28/ تذكر Means to remind someone, make them remember from forgetfulness, it’s not about making them understand something which their intellect didn’t grasp earlier.
    1
    5

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    29/ Linking this turning from the right way/mistake with inferior intelligence is utter desperation and poor reasoning. If men made the mistakes and were reminded, it doesn’t indicate they are inferior in intelligence.
    1
    5

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    30/ The only valid question that can be raised is why are women mentioned about forgetting and reminding, excluding men? Precisely due to sociological reasons! There is a risk of ‘forgetting’ due to dealing with unfamiliarity outside their usual sphere.
    1
    5

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    31/ Some men could be unfamiliar too, hence Qur’an advises to choose witness ‘who are acceptable to you’. The explicit condition for witness is وَأَشْهِدُواْ ذَوَى عَدْلٍ مّنكُمْ , 65:2 not intelligence but a just/upright character.

    31/ Some men could be unfamiliar too, hence Qur’an advises to choose witness ‘who are acceptable to you’. The explicit condition for witness is وَأَشْهِدُواْ ذَوَى عَدْلٍ مّنكُمْ , 65:2 not intelligence but a just/upright character.
    1
    5

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    32/ Why didn’t the Qur’an say ‘bring 2 female witness to begin with instead of 2 men? Because they were usually not around for business. ‘If you can’t find 2 men’ implies they are usually around and on occasions you may not find the right witness to choose.
    1
    5

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    33/ Men mostly travelled and traded with caravans and went to war, not women.
    1
    5

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    34/ A closer look at the hadith: Part of the problem lies in incorrect translation of ناقصات and نقصان . Additionally, ignoring the context of the Hadith, the nuances in language used, also added to the confusion. ناقصات and نقصان refers to reduction, not deficiency.
    1
    5

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    35/ This can be seen here : 13:41, 21:44. where the land is being *reduced* from its borders. So what is (نقصان عقل و دين) reduction in mind and religion? How can woman have a reduction in religion? Religion is not her biological makeup. It is what she follows.
    1
    5

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    36/ Thus being relieved from fasting and praying is not a reduction in religion; it’s a reduction in religious *duties* or obligations.
    1
    5

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    37/ Likewise, there is a reduction via relief of mental functions/duties of testifying; it is not an inherent reduction of mind/reason/intellect itself. The prophets statement ‘worth half a testimony’ seems to be when both women are required when one does err.
    1
    5

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    38/ This is due to reduction of legal duty or responsibility. She doesn’t have to be a witness when two men are available.
    1
    6

    Mansur
    @MansurXAhmed

    ·
    3h
    39/ Just like the inheritance of a sister is half of that of a brother not because her worth as an intrinsic inferior personhood but rather due to reduction in financial duties, responsibilities and obligations.

    1/ Are woman inferior, equal or superior to man due to her testimony, in Qur’an and Hadith? Textual, contextual, linguistic and socio-historic critical enquiry. LONG Thread.

    2/ Critics often claim based on 2:282 and a hadith in Bukhari that woman are inferior in intelligence due her testimony. This stems from a gross misunderstanding of the texts, and relies heavily on blind following (taqleed).

    3/ Why didn’t he Qur’an simply say ‘woman’s testimony is half that of men, and that due to inferior intelligence? The hadith on this is misunderstood and is explained here.

    4/ In Islam, testimony is not conditional on gender role or intelligence. It is based on 1) being just and truthful (ذَوَى عَدْلٍ مّنكُمْ). Honesty and integrity is embedded in giving any testimony irrespective of gender roles.

    5/ and 2) knowledge of the matter being testified about. Circumstantial knowledge, the risk of error in the witness or to protect from vulnerability often demanded varying number of witnesses.

    6/ A single man’s testimony is never accepted even to the most trivial of financial transaction as per 2:282. Another man’s testimony confirms and removes any doubt. Why don’t the critics infer from this that men are inferior in intelligence than women?

    7/ Why don’t the critics opine that may be 1st male may err/forget and hence the need for the 2nd? In contrast, a single woman’s testimony is accepted even where it pertains to very serious matter of lineage and inheritance.

    8/ The prophet ﷺ accepted in matters more serious than a trivial financial issue, testimony of a sole female witness (a slave woman in fact). The prophet made a man to divorce his wife when he discovered she was his foster-sister, based on a single female testimony.

    9/ No female or male witness were required to corroborate her testimony. Sometimes, womens’ testimony is preferred over men.

    10/ All jurists are agreed upon when it pertains to childbirth, menstruation, virginity, nursing, termination of waiting period etc., According to Jurists, was providing testimony here linked with intelligence? Why is women’s testimony preferred over men’s here?

    11/ According to Qur’an, female testimony is also worth equal to man and can in fact overpower man’s.

    12/ One can easily argue that, 24: 6-9 husband’s testimony inferior than wife’s 24:4 3 men testimony inferior than 1 woman 24:4 says men are inferior at giving testimony, since they absolutely need 4 men against the testimony of 1 woman.

    13/ 24: 4 in fact, demonstrates that testimony is neither linked with gender role, nor with intelligence. Even if 3 truthful male witnesses came forward against the accused female, their testimony is rejected.

    14/ Is this rejection of testimony linked with men’s ‘superior’ intelligence? No. The extra witnesses are guarantors.

    15/ A closer look at 2:282: 2:282 doesn’t talk about women’s intelligence. It focuses on her credibility of not making mistake. Thus the provision for additional guarantor. If the 1st did not err, is her testimony accepted? Then her testimony is in par with man.

    16/ 2 men vs 1 man & 1 woman. Here, unintentional forgetfulness or intentional mistake is not necessarily linked with intelligence, or biology rather with sociological circumstances.

    17/ Qur’an stipulated 2 witness for the contract and made them male as this was their normal socio economic engagement. If 2 acceptable male witnesses were unavailable only then unaccustomed females were included to support this contract.

    18/ Why 2 female witness were stipulated, in my opinion, was due woman’s social interactions in the historical milieu where it wasn’t customary for them to engage directly in public commercial transactions.

    19/ Due to unfamiliarity & complex nature of these transactions, there was room for error in recollecting the details later. Additional vulnerability of being pressurised to provide false testimony existed if she was the only female witness.

    20/ She will have extra moral support to remind her of making true testimony and reduce the pressure burden. Neither witness nor scribe must suffer harm- Quran emphasises in the same ayah. Why didn’t the Qur’an say ‘bring 2 female witness to begin with instead of 2 men?

    21/ Because they were usually not around for business. ‘If you can’t find 2 men’ implies they are usually around and on occasions you may not find the right witness to choose. Quran provides evidence for sociological reasons.

    22/ The social sphere of men was the public sphere 62:10-11 eg., going about business after Jumma prayers. 2:282 doing business transactions. While social sphere of women was preferred home 33:33 Prophets wives taken as role models.

    23/ Is forgetfulness due to lack of intelligence? What does أن تضل mean? What does لتذكر mean? Allah says about Muhammad S, 93:7 ‘and He found you ضالا dallan (lost, not guided), so guided you’. Did Allah find him unintelligent and made him intelligent?

    24/ 32:10 ‘When we are dalalna ضللنا (lost) in the earth…’ Being lost in the earth has nothing to do with intelligence. 4:44. وَيُرِيدُونَ أَن تَضِلُّوا السَّبِيل they desire you to (an tadillu) go astray from the path.

    25/ وَضَلَّ عَنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا يَفْتَرُونَ 6:12 and which they invented will (dalla) disappear from them. يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ أَن تَضِلُّوا 4:176 Allah makes it clear to you (masculine plural), so that you don’t err/forget/ go astray.

    26/ We all are Inferior in intelligence?? If it was linked with intelligence, the 2nd female won’t help with her inherent inferior intelligence either

    27/ The word ‘dalal’ (absence) meant turning from the right way, intentionally or otherwise. Hence it’s use here instead of limited in scope ‘’to forget” (nisyan) or “to err” (khata).

    28/ تذكر Means to remind someone, make them remember from forgetfulness, it’s not about making them understand something which their intellect didn’t grasp earlier.

    29/ Linking this turning from the right way/mistake with inferior intelligence is utter desperation and poor reasoning. If men made the mistakes and were reminded, it doesn’t indicate they are inferior in intelligence.

    30/ The only valid question that can be raised is why are women mentioned about forgetting and reminding, excluding men? Precisely due to sociological reasons! There is a risk of ‘forgetting’ due to dealing with unfamiliarity outside their usual sphere.

    31/ Some men could be unfamiliar too, hence Qur’an advises to choose witness ‘who are acceptable to you’. The explicit condition for witness is وَأَشْهِدُواْ ذَوَى عَدْلٍ مّنكُمْ , 65:2 not intelligence but a just/upright character.

    32/ Why didn’t the Qur’an say ‘bring 2 female witness to begin with instead of 2 men? Because they were usually not around for business. ‘If you can’t find 2 men’ implies they are usually around and on occasions you may not find the right witness to choose.

    33/ Men mostly travelled and traded with caravans and went to war, not women.

    34/ A closer look at the hadith: Part of the problem lies in incorrect translation of ناقصات and نقصان . Additionally, ignoring the context of the Hadith, the nuances in language used, also added to the confusion. ناقصات and نقصان refers to reduction, not deficiency.

    35/ This can be seen here : 13:41, 21:44. where the land is being *reduced* from its borders. So what is (نقصان عقل و دين) reduction in mind and religion? How can woman have a reduction in religion? Religion is not her biological makeup. It is what she follows.

    36/ Thus being relieved from fasting and praying is not a reduction in religion; it’s a reduction in religious *duties* or obligations.

    37/ Likewise, there is a reduction via relief of mental functions/duties of testifying; it is not an inherent reduction of mind/reason/intellect itself. The prophets statement ‘worth half a testimony’ seems to be when both women are required when one does err.

    38/ This is due to reduction of legal duty or responsibility. She doesn’t have to be a witness when two men are available.

    39/ Just like the inheritance of a sister is half of that of a brother not because her worth as an intrinsic inferior personhood but rather due to reduction in financial duties, responsibilities and obligations.

    Like

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