In Allah’s Home At Last

Written by P.K. Surendran | Published on: April 22, 2016
the level of Muslim girl's education.
 
Whatever the reasons, there is a very low percentage of education generally and for girls in particular among Indian muslims.
 
‘This could be misused by Hindu communalists’: Saeed Ahmed, Editor, Urdu Times
I would not like to comment on the issue at this moment. It is a controversial issue which could be misused by Hindus communalists:
 
‘It can lead to evil social practices’: Abdussattar Yusuf Shaikh, Secretary, All India Muslim Personal Law Board
I will not call the practice of women praying in mosques un- Islamic. But I think it is much better if women stay in purdah and pray in their homes instead of coming to mosques and praying in the company of men. A woman who prays at home is worthy of greater reward from Allah than when she prays in a mosque.
 
Whether in co-educational institutes or in mosques, when men and women mix together, there is always the possibility of social evils creeping in. This is exactly what happened during the rule of the second Caliph of Islam, Hazrat Umar. Many companions of the Prophet complained to him that a number of undesirable things had started happening because both men and women used to pray in the mosque.
 
So, the Caliph declared that it is better for a woman, and for society, if she stayed inside her home and prayed to Allah. In fact, he told them that before Allah there is greater virtue in her praying at home than praying in a mosque. It is not right to argue that because women can pray at the two most sacred mosques of Islam in Mecca and Medina, the same thing should apply in the case of all mosques. An exception has to be made in case of these mosques because one prayer in the Haram Sharif (Mecca mosque) is equal to one lakh prayers and praying at Masjid-e-Nabvi (Medina mosque) is equal to 50,000 prayers in any other mosque anywhere in the world.



 
‘My gut reaction is that the Palayam Maulavi is right’ : Dr. Rafiq Zakaria, Politician, Islamic scholar
My gut reaction is that the Maulavi Saheb of the Palayam mosque is right. But I would like to find out when and why it happened in Islam that women were stopped praying in mosques.
Many years ago, at the Idd namaaz organised by the Anjuman-e-Islam in Bombay, separate arrangements were made for women to join in the mass prayers. But for some reason, the practice was been discontinued.
 
Unfortunately, change and reform is a difficult process in which the fundamentalists or the traditionalists often have an upper hand while the vast majority remains indifferent.As poet Iqbal wrote, “Being afraid of the new, sticking to the old, this is the most difficult challenge in the life of any community.
 
 'Those who raise objections should be ashamed of doing so': Anees Syed, Professor of History, Mumbai
Not only did women pray in mosques during the lifetime of the Prophet, they participated in every department of day-to day life. One should not forget that the first wife of the Prophet was a leading businesswoman of Arabia.
 
Whatever restrictions were imposed or changes brought about subsequently in Saudi Arabia or other Muslim societies to women's detriment are the result of dominant male opinion. That is very different from what is permissible in the Quran and what was the actual practice during the lifetime of the Prophet.
 
Anyone who says that if women come to pray in mosques it will jeopardise the moral environment should be ashamed of saying so.  Women come to the mosque to pray just like men and they have every right to do so. Besides, where in the Quran does it say that Muslim women should not be well-dressed, or look presentable?
 
The real problem is not women but the thinking process of men, be they maulvis or others. In fact, in my view, there is no need for any segregation between men and women in mosque. Segregation is no guarantee against the social ills and problems that so exercise the minds of our men. In so far as any problem is anticipated, it is not women so much as men who need to be taught to behave.
 
Islam was the first religion to talk about masawat (equality) between the sexes. Anyone who opposes this violates a very basic principle of Islam.
 
'There is no hard and fast rule in lslam on this issue':  Haroon Rashid, Editor: Inquilab Daily
I support the idea of women praying in mosques if the right social atmosphere exists. There is no hard and fast rule on the subject in Islam.
                                 
If, for example, women are teased or harassed by men who come to mosques, then it may not be advisable for women to go there. But it is the responsibility of men to create the right social atmosphere. If a conducive atmosphere does not exist for women to come to mosques, men are to blame.
 
Historically, in the Indian subcontinent, there has not been the tradition of women praying in mosques but this was not the case everywhere. During the time of the Prophet, women did pray in mosques but this practice was discontinued by the second Caliph due to certain social problems that started cropping up. So, as I said, there is no hard and fast rule in Islam on this issue.
 
‘A very welcome step, but...’ :  Uzma Naheed, Islamic (woman) theologian,
It is a very good step, an Islamic step. In many countries of the Muslim world this right already exists for Muslim women. In Kashmir, too, I have seem women praying in mosques regularly.
 
But one thing I must mention while welcoming this step. Many maulvis desist from issuing fatwas on this issue and other Issues related to some key questions in India because the level of education generally and also deeni taleem (religious education and knowledge) within our community is so low. Because there is a this lack of knowledge, if for instance women exercise this right without the true spirit of ibaadat (prayer), it destroys the very purpose of praying.
 
This has happened in some jamaats in India where this right already exists. Women come to pray decked up with jewelry and full make-up. Often boys and girls decide their future (on whom to or not to marry) here. Surely, that's not the purpose of this right.
 
Hence, even while welcoming this step. I'd say that separate intezaam (arrangements) should be made for women to pray inside the mosque. For instance, a separate floor, a separate entrance, women praying in the back rows, etc.  Once these precautions are taken, it is crucial that women be permitted to pray in mosques. This will enable women to participate in crucial affairs of the community, to personally witness and hear the khutba (weekly sermon) so that they are not out of touch with the concerns of the community. They can play a very positive role in the life of the community.
 
If these steps are taken, and some sort of segregation inside the mosque is maintained - maybe a chaddar separating men and women - then there's nothing like it, I'd say. I definitely welcome it.
 
 'Dawoodi Bohra women were always allowed entry in mosques':  Yusuf Muchhala, Senior advocate
As far as the Fatima (Islmaili Shia sect) are concerned, for example, the Dawoodi Bohras, this right was always permitted to ladies. There are two sections inside a Dawoodi Bohra mosque for women and men to pray. The only restriction is during the menstruation period and that is for hygienic reasons.
 
I think, therefore, that it is a welcome gesture because Islam does not permit discrimination between men and women.  It is particularly welcome because in Islam praying in the masjid has been accorded greater religious merit. It is thus important or women to enjoy this right. A great psychological barrier could be lifted for the women if this path to the attainment of spirituality is on par for women.Some sects may spell out some prohibitions or restrictions based on either an interpretation of the scriptures or the hadiths but, personally, I don't see any objection.