Amidst the ongoing general elections and controversial bans on politicians for violating remarks during their campaigns by the EC. Another controversial notice has been issued by the Hon’ble Supreme Court to the centre on the plea seeking for the entry of Muslim women in mosques for offering prayers.
Who is the respondent to this plea? With whom does the authority lie to decide the mere entrance of women in a masjid? Does it rest with the Muslim men or Muslim clerics or Muslim Law Boards of India? Or does this derive from the Holy Qur’an or Sahih Bukhari Ahadith?
Too many questions, and none relevant to the context of Islam.
Yes, you read that right. Being an Indian Muslim who has been born and raised in Saudi and pursuing law, I do receive endless queries on Mohammedan law and I’m asked about my views on it. Being a Muslim woman, I’m asked what’s my take on this issue is, and respecting the request, I have written this blog.
Firstly, let us know the ruling of performing Salah in the masjid for both women and men – which is listening to the Athan (the five calls for prayer) and reaching the masjid at the appointed time for the praying in the congregation (Jamat) which is mandatory if you are willing to pray at the masjid.
Secondly, are there any sources or findings where the Muslim women have been expressly denied worshipping in masjid? No, the Qur’an and neither does the Ahadith expressly or impliedly prohibits women from entering a masjid let alone performing Salat in it.
The Masjid al-Haram, Masjid al-Nabi and Masjid Al Aqsa have sections which are denoted for Nisa (women) and almost all the Masjids in Saudi Arabia or any gulf country has a partition for women to visit and perform their prayers in it and that is being stated from someone who has lived most of her life in Saudi Arabia where she had performed countless pilgrimages and visited almost all the historic and the holy masjids.
Coming to the southeast Asian countries specifically India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the rarety or non-existence of a ladies’ section in the masjid has been widely witnessed here – which has led to this implication that Islam is also one of the religion which discriminates on the basis of gender and only glorifies the male. This practice is another form of innovation (Biddah) in Islam, similar to instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat which had created headlines earlier not only in national dailies, but also globally.
Is Islam inconsiderate towards females? No, in fact, the Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) had advised the women to perform the Salah in their household in order to ease their religious obligations as they already have the burden of other domestic obligations which they might need to address immediately and frequently. In order to avoid the women to be exhausted, the exception of the appointed time of Salat and congregation is made flexible for the women in the permitted degree. A Muslim woman gets equal rewards for praying either in the masjid or the household similar to a man who prays in the congregation at the appointed time. Whereas the Muslim men who pray at the household gets a lesser reward.
So, how and when the Qur’an and Ahadith do not expressly forbid (Haram) the women’s entry in Masjid for Salah why is the vice-versa witnessed and practised here? It’s because of the cultural influence prevailing in the Indian society where a woman is prohibited to worship in any holy place either due to her gender or due to menstruation.
Who is at fault? Is it the mentality or the Muslims? It’s thus the mentality of the society which either glorifies men or denounces the women spiritually and not Islam.