Leaving Islam




Why Muslimas should not lead Muslim men in prayers?


By Mohammad Asghar

Dr. 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.  

Some “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.  

In this connection, Dr. Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi tells us the following. Quote:  

“Throughout 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 Egypt 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.  

Moreover, 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 required.

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 claimed.

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  

Supporting 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.  

“This 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.”  

“Women 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).  

Both 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 mosque.  

In 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?  

Don't 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 mosque?  

Is 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?

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