Muslimas should not lead Muslim men in prayers?
Amina Wadud has created a furor in the Muslim world by leading, for the
first time in Muslim history, male and female worshippers in a mosque of
New York in their last Friday prayer. To the chagrin of many Muslim men,
she also delivered the customary Friday sermon before her congregation,
though what she might have said in her sermon is not known.
“enlightened” Muslims see no wrong in Dr. Wadud’s action. They claim
that since Allah treats both the Muslim men and women equally, women have
every right to lead the male worshippers in prayers. But the number of the
enlightened Muslims is negligible, hence we should not pay any attention
to what they claim is the true face of Islam.
this connection, Dr. Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi tells us the following.
Muslim history it has never been heard of a woman leading the Friday
Prayer or delivering the Friday sermon, even during the era when a woman,
Shagarat Ad-Durr, was ruling the Muslims in
during the Mamluk period. It is established that leadership in Prayer in
Islam is to be for men. People praying behind an imam are to follow him in
the movements of prayer bowing, prostrating, etc., and listen attentively
to him reciting the Qurân in Prayer.
Prayer in Islam is an act that involves different movements of the body;
it does not consist merely of saying supplications as it is the case with
prayer in Christianity.
it requires concentration of the mind, humility, and complete submission
of the heart to Almighty Allah. Hence, it does not befit a woman, whose
structure of physique naturally arouses instincts in men, to lead men in
Prayer and stand in front of them, for this may divert the men’s
attention from concentrating in the Prayer and the spiritual atmosphere
Islam is a religion that takes into account the different aspects,
material or spiritual, of man’s character. It does not treat people as
super angels; it admits that they are humans with instincts and desires.
So it is wise of Islam to lay down for them the rulings that avert them
succumbing to their desires, especially during acts of worship where
spiritual uplifting is required.
Hence, it is to avoid the stirring the instincts of men that the Shari`ah
dictates that only men can call for Prayer and lead people in the Prayer,
and that women’s rows in Prayer be behind the men. The Prophet (peace
and blessings be upon him) was reported to have said, “The women’s
best rows (in Prayer) are the last ones, and the worst of theirs are the
first ones, while the men’s best rows (in Prayer) are the first ones and
the worst of theirs are the last ones.”
Rulings pertaining to leadership in Prayer are established by evidence of
authentic hadiths as well as the scholarly unanimity of Muslims. They are
based on religious teachings, not on social customs as it has been
The different juristic schools agree that it is not permissible for women
to lead men in the obligatory Prayer, though some scholars voice the
opinion that the woman who is well-versed in the Qurân may lead the
members of her family, including men, in Prayer on the basis that there is
no room for stirring instincts in this case.
However, there is no single Muslim jurist ever heard to have agreed to the
woman’s leading people in the Friday Prayer or delivering its sermon,
though if we review the religious texts pertaining to the rulings of
Prayer, we will not find a text that states pointblank that women are not
permitted to lead people in Prayer or deliver the Friday sermon.
There is only one hadith, which is not well-authenticated, reported by Ibn
Majah on the authority of Jabir ibn `Abdullah in this connection; it is to
the effect that “A woman may not lead a man in Prayer, nor may a
Bedouin lead a believer of the Muhajirun or a corrupt person lead a
committed Muslim in Prayer.” The eminent scholars of Hadith say that
the chain of reporters of this hadith is extremely weak, and hence, it is
not to be taken as evidence in the question in hand.
Furthermore, there is another hadith that contradicts this one. It is
reported by Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and others on the authority of Umm
Waraqah, who said that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)
appointed a muezzin for her, and ordered her to lead the members of her
household (who included both men and women) in Prayer.” Unquote
Dr. Qaradawi’s position on women’s role as the leader of a
congregational prayer of Muslim men and women, Imam Shaker El-Sayed,
former general secretary of the Muslim American Society tells the Muslim
women: “There is an established historic consensus among all Muslim
scholars that a woman may lead other women in prayer, but she should not
lead men in prayer.
is not because she is a woman,” he said, “but because of the
awkwardness of the position we Muslims take when we prostrate in prayer.
These positions would make both women and men uncomfortable when a woman
bows down and prostrates in front of men.”
may lecture to men, but she may not lead the prayers and consequently she
cannot deliver the sermon, because the sermon is traditionally offered by
the imam who leads the prayers” (Arab News, March 19, 2005).
the Scholars of Islam have made it abundantly clear that Muslim women
should not lead their men in prayers because of the awkwardness of the positions both Muslim men and women take
during their prayers. The fact that Muslim females are also required to
bow down and prostrate, these two positions are good enough to arouse the
sexual desires of men; hence it is in their own interest not to stand
“before” men, and lead them in prayers, lest they get raped in the
the light of the Muslim scholars thought on postures women must adopt
during their prayers, one may ask: Why should women do something that is
likely to make them victim of rape? Also, why should Allah require them to
adopt those postures, which create sexual desire in men?
Muslim women have an ounce of self-respect and dignity that could
have prevented them from following a religion that not only degrades them
through its Scriptures, it also encourages its male followers to make them
the object of their sexual gratification, even at a sacred place they call
not Muslim men’s bowing down equally an attraction for the homosexuals?
If female postures are a cause for male arousal, is not Muslim men’s
awkward position, with their backs rising over their heads, enough to
subject them to rape by homosexual rapists?