In some parts of the world it is a common misconception that women are to be kept at home restrained from going out. In other parts, the misconception takes a different form; the mosques are for men, and women should not be seen there. Both these ideas are alien to Islam, which permitted women to go out for her necessities, and made the mosques a place of worship, not just for men, but for women also. Though it is more rewarding for a woman to pray in her house, it is perfectly acceptable for her to offer her prayers in the mosque and benefit from the activities that go on there.
Sadly, the misconception stated above results in many mosques being erected without any consideration for the female slaves of Allah. Such mosque committees wonder at the affairs of the muslim women when the see them astray and trolling the streets, yet they neither seek to educate them, nor accommodate for them.
To top it off, some women agree with this notion, and resort to ignorance of the Sunnah of permitting women to attend the mosques, and ignorance of the etiquettes of the mosque under the pretext that they do not attend the mosques. My sisters, this is not an excuse for ignorance. Rise above and learn, for seeking knowledge is an obligation in our religion.
Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Do not prevent your women from going to the mosques, although their houses are better for them.” (Abu Dawud, Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 515)
In fact, women are permitted to go to the mosques, and their menfolk cannot prohibit them.
It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say: “When your womenfolk ask you for permission to go to the mosque, give them permission.”
According to another version, “Do not forbid women their share of the mosques if they ask you for permission.” Bilaal – a son of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar – said, “By Allah, we will stop them.” ‘Abdullah ibn Umar said to him, “I say ‘The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said…’ and you say, ‘We will stop them’?!” (Muslim)
Thus the command of the Prophet to give the women permission, has a higher status than anyone else’s opinion. For he was the Messenger of Allah, and spoke not of his own whims.
A’ishah, the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said: “If the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had seen the way the women are behaving, he would have forbidden them to go to the mosque as the women of the Children of Israel were forbidden.”
Yet, the women were not forbidden. Nonetheless, the muslim woman should be cautious about her behaviour and dress when attending the mosque. There are guidelines to follow:
In his book Hiraasat al-Fadeelah (p. 86), Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd listed the conditions for women to go out to the mosque. He said:
“Women are allowed to go out to the mosque according to the following rulings:
1- That there is no risk of them tempting others or being tempted
2- That their attendance will not lead to anything that is forbidden according to sharee’ah
3- That they do not jostle with men in the street or in the mosque
4- That they should go out not wearing perfume
5- That they should go out wearing full hijab, not making a wanton display of their adornment
6- A door should be set aside in the mosque just for women to enter and exit, as mentioned in the hadeeth narrated in Sunan Abi Dawood and elsewhere.
7- The women’s rows should be behind the men
8- The best rows for women are those at the back behind the men, unlike the case for men
9- If the imam makes any mistake in his prayer, men should say “Subhan Allaah!” and women should clap
10-The women should leave the mosque before the men, and the men should wait until the women have dispersed to their homes, as mentioned in the hadeeth of Umm Salamah in Saheeh Al-Bukhari and elsewhere.”
When a woman attends the mosque, she should do so seeking the pleasure of Allah, to earn His rewards and to boost her iman. To go to the mosque for the sake of socialising, and causing other such commotions only incurs the wrath of Allah, of which we should be wary.
Thus, I encourage our sisters to attend the mosques to benefit from the halaqas and classes, but I also advise that they should follow the Sunnah in doing so and should not become a fitna for others.
May Allah aid us in attaining His pleasure.