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Are Women Welcome to Mosque? (Part 2)

Did the Prophet (PBUH) Discourage Women’s Visits to Mosque?

Hadith of `A’ishah: Precautionary measure for a temporary consideration

Despite the authenticity and soundness of these proofs, as well as their general nature, scholars preventing women from going to mosques introduce counter arguments which they deem absolute, relating to the alleged temptation resulting from women’s visiting mosques.

They report two Hadiths in support of their view:

– The first is the Hadith narrated by lady `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that reads, “If the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) had seen what new things the women have introduced (in their way of life) he would have definitely prevented them from going to the mosque, as the women of Banu Isra ‘il were prevented.[5]

– The second Hadith is that narrated by `Abdullah ibn Suwayd Al-Ansary, from his paternal aunt, the wife of Abu Humayd As-Sa`idy, that she approached the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and said, “O Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), I like to pray with you!”

He (peace and blessings be upon him) replied,

I already know that you like to pray with me, but your prayer in your room is better for you than your prayer in your hall and your prayer in your hall is better for you than your praying in your house, and your prayer in your house is better for you than your prayer in the mosque of your people, and your prayer in the mosque of your people is better for you than your prayer in my mosque.”

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So she ordered that a prayer place be prepared for her in the furthest and darkest part of her house, and she used to pray there until she met Allah (i.e. died).[6]

Did `A’ishah reject the default rule?

As for the Hadith narrated by of lady `A’ishah, it does not involve her rejection of the default rule, but she rather acted according to the principle defined by Usul scholars as “Sad Adh-Dhara’i` [Blocking the means to evil]”, in response to an emergent case at her time. It seems that women then were negligent in observing legal rules of frequenting the Mosque.

So, she did not mean cancelling default permissibility or recommendation at all, or to “abrogate” it, in the sense that was perceived by some jurists.

No luminary jurist in Madinah or any other town, or even over history, deemed that lady `A’ishah’s statement indicated changing the default ruling. When asked about preventing women from frequenting the Mosque, the Imam of Madinah, Imam Malik (whose time was just a few decades after lady `A’ishah), said, “(Women) should not be prevented from going out to the Mosques.[7]

Ibn Hajar also said:

Some [scholars] held on to lady `A’ishah’s (may Allah be pleased with her) prevention of women’s frequenting the Mosque as absolute, though it is debatable. For, it does not entail a change in the ruling since she made it contingent on a non-existent condition, that is her supposition, as she said, “If he had seen … he would have prevented…” The counter argument, however, is that he (peace and blessings be upon him) neither saw it nor prevented that.

Besides, new things are introduced only by a few – not all – women, so if prevention becomes obligatory, it would apply only to the few who introduce such new things. It is also more entitling to consider the things that could cause temptation or mischief and avoid it, knowing that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) forbade wearing perfume and adornment.[8]

Ibn Hazm also has a similar argument, as he said,

“Introducing new things is undoubtedly done by some women only, and it is impossible to prevent goodness for those who do not do such things because of those who commit them.[9]

Ibn Qudamah also said,

“The Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) Sunnah is more entitled to be followed, and `A’ishah’s (may Allah be pleased with her) statement is limited only to those who introduce new things, knowing that going out is reprehensible for those who introduce new things.[10]

Restriction should be lifted to obtain interest

In this age, restrictions should be lifted, ways should be facilitated and obstacles hindering women from frequenting the Mosque should be removed.

Nowadays, women should be encouraged to go to the Mosque since this brings about the objectives behind existence of Mosques in Islam, which is remembering Allah, acquiring knowledge, acquainting with other Muslim women who frequent the Mosque and participating in public activities in a way that benefits the woman, her family, her community and her religion.

Sheikh `Abdul Halim Abu Shukkah (may Allah be merciful to him) commented on this Hadith to the same effect, as he said,

Had `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) had seen what the women of our time have introduced, of frequenting places of entertainment and sporting and their susceptibility to vicious media invasion that controls and manipulates their minds and hearts, and that the only place they do not go to is the Mosque, would she have uttered her statement?

Or she would have said, “Had the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) seen what women have done, he would have made it obligatory for them to frequent the Mosque!”

She would have encouraged ladies to frequent mosques the same way she meant to deter them before, so that women would avoid the ambience of temptation and get used to decency.[11]

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