Are Women Allowed To Be Part of Mosques Executive Committees?

19 November, 2020
Q I am a member of the Executive Committee at our mosque in Davis, CA. We are in the middle of revising our By-Laws. The previous By-Laws state that only men are allowed to hold positions on the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees. Some of the community members are requesting to amend the Bylaws by allowing women to be part of the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees. I would appreciate it if you could clarify the ruling on this subject.

Answer

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

1- There is no proof to prevent women from being a member of the Board of Trustees or Executive Committee of a mosque.

2- During the meetings, men and women should be at some reasonable distance from each other, and to avoid facing one another.

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3- The meetings should also be respectful to the first priority of Muslim women, namely being care takers of their homes, families, and children.


In responding to your question, Dr. Hatem Al-Hajj, Dean of the College of Islamic Studies at Mishkah University and a member of the Permanent Fatwa Committee for the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA), states;

Men and women are mosque maintainers

There is no proof to bar women from such positions, as being on the Board of Trustees or Executive Committee of a mosque. None of these positions is like the position of the head of state. 

So, I would add that there is a need for some women to manage the affairs that pertain to them. The mosque is the house of Allah, and both men and women are entitled to being its maintainers.

Here is a quote from a resolution on intermixing by AMJA’s Sixth Annual Conference about the participation of women in virtuous activities:

“…It is mandatory to safeguard the Islamic values of virtuosity, abstention (from all vice), concealment, and reservation, while acknowledging the need for men and women to share in the fields of good actions and cooperation upon righteousness and piety, dawah and reform.”

Three Conditions

Having said that, I must caution against:

1- Imposing a quota whereby women, regardless of their fittingness, are given those positions for the mere conformity to social expectations and pressures.

2- Improper mixing between the two genders.

In our mosques, we should maintain the highest standard of propriety regarding the etiquettes of mixing.

According to AMJA’s (Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America) Sixth Annual Conference resolutions:

“If what is intended by it [mixing] is the basic gathering of men and women in public places to take part in shared acts of religious or worldly affairs – along the consideration of the Shariah etiquettes of hijab, lowering the gaze, organizing the gathering with what aids that, then there is no harm in it.”

The meetings of those bodies should respect the need for men and women to be at some reasonable distance from each other, and to avoid facing one another.

Allah instructed us to lower our gaze:

{Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and protect their private parts. That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do.} (An-Nur 24:30)

So, no one should look at an awrah, nor should he look with desire, nor repeat a coincidental glance, without need.

There is also a legal maxim that says:

“The act necessary to fulfill an obligation is obligatory; and that which must be avoided for harm to be avoided is mandatory to avoid.”

Also the seating arrangement should be such that a man and a woman won’t need to be facing one another for hours. How is that conducive to lowering one’s gaze?

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3- The meetings should also be respectful to the first priority of Muslim women, namely being care takers of their homes, families, and children. Appropriate adjustments should be made to the times and places of such meetings to accommodate our sisters.

Almighty Allah knows best.

Source: www.amjaonline.org