WOMAN LEADING PRAYER

 

Sister Amina Wadood led the prayer in Jummah prayer in a New York mosque, which brought up the question: Should women be allowed to lead the Jummah prayer? Why not?

 

Quran repeatedly indicates that men and women have equal rights in Islam and they are from the same good essence. Although they are not similar physically, they have the same rights and responsibility in the sight of God.

 

Sunnat. Our beloved Prophet (PBUH) had the utmost respect for women. Khadijah (RA), his first wife, was the main financier for spreading Islam in the first few years. Anytime Fatima (RA), his daughter, would enter a room, Prophet (PBUH) would stand up, kiss her face and greet her with open arms.

 

During the war, women would act as nurses and take care of the wounded men. Although during the Prophet's (PBUH) time women did not lead any prayer, but there was no prohibition against it.

 

After Prophet's (PBUH) death, Fatima (RA) gave a fiery speech (Khotbah) in the mosque and blasted the government for confiscating her property in Fadak. After Yazid murdered Imam Hossein (RA) and 72 members of the Prophet's (PBUH) family in Ashura 61 A.H., Zaynab (RA), Imam Hossein's (RA) sister, gave a fiery speech in Yazid's court and blasted Yazid for his cruelty and corruption. Therefore, giving lecture (Khotbah) by women is not new in Islam.

 

Bowing. In the last 1400 years, in the man dominated world of Islam, men gave Khotbah, men led the prayer, men were in front of the room and women were in the back of the room because men were making the rules.

 

Women were not allowed to give Khotbah because they could not follow it by leading prayer. Women could not lead prayer because it was not nice for women to bow down or go to prostration while men were behind her because it is sexually stimulating for men when a woman bows down in front of them. We said but for years men bowed down in front of women and men's behind is stimulating for women too, but nobody cared. Our Momen brothers and sisters, during prayer do not look at the behind of men or women. They are concentrating on their prayer and Allah (SWT).

 

Therefore, our Fatwa is for the future:

1.  Every mosque must have two prayer rooms next to each other (both facing Ghiblah): one for men and one for women, connected by sound system. When the Imam is a male, he stands in front of the males in the room. And, when the Imam is a female, she stands in front of the females in the room, giving Khotbah and leading the prayer for both males and females. With modern technology, we can have video camera in both rooms to show the faces of the speakers.

2.  Meanwhile, to introduce the equality concept, we ask female scholars to give the lecture (Khotbah), and a male Imam to lead the prayer as usual until we build mosques with 2 prayer rooms next to each other: one for males and one for females.

3.  We can also divide the current prayer rooms by a curtain side by side (not in front and back) - that way equality is practiced and we prove to our sisters that we are not male chauvinists.

 

All Islamic questions must be answered based on revelation (Quran and Sunnat) and reason. Reason is collective reasoning, decisions made by group of Muslim scholars, male and female, who are free to research Quran and Sunnat and be able to debate the question and have power to make a free decision.

 

Imam dress code Both male and female Imams must have head cover, kufi hat for males and scarf for females. Both must have long loose, thick aba or manto; long sleeves; long aba above the ankle; and thick stocking for females.

Rosa Parks, a tiny Black lady in America, refused to go to the back of the bus 50 years ago because she was Black. She destroyed apartheid in America by her courageous act. Amina Wadood is our Rosa Parks. God bless her courage.

 

Please let us know your comments about this controversial issue written by Ali and Fatima from our center.