The Women of Islam in The House of Allah
There is no doubt whatsoever that this essay is going to provoke both positive and negative responses from readers. But our purpose in writing it is to provoke enlightened responses from our intelligent readers — responses that would dispel complacency over (what this writer perceives as) unfortunate instances of misguided tradition. Let us at the outset remind the Muslim reader of the prophecy of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah Most High be upon him) concerning the Day of Judgment:
“Narrated Anas ibn Malik:
One day when the Messenger of Allahﷺ was sitting amongst us, he dozed off. He then raised his head, smiling. We asked: What makes you smile, Oh Messenger of Allahﷺ?
Heﷺ said: A Surah has just been revealed to me, and then recited: ‘In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Verily We have given thee al-Kawthar (fountain of abundance). Therefore turn to thy Lord for prayer and offer sacrifice, and surely thy enemy is cut off (from the good).’ Then heﷺ (the Holy Prophetﷺ) asked: Do you know what al-Kawthar is? We said: Allah and His Messengerﷺ know best. The Holy Prophetﷺ said: It (Kawthar) is a fountain (spring or river) which my Lord, the Exalted and Glorious, has promised me, and there is an abundance of good in it. It is a cistern and my people will come to it on the Day of Resurrection, and cups there (for drinking) would be equal to the number of stars. A servant will be turned away from (among those gathered there). Upon this I shall say: My Lord, he is one of my people. He (the Lord) will say: You do not know that he created new things (in Islam) after you. Ibn Hujr made this addition in the Hadith: “ Heﷺ (the Holy Prophetﷺ) was sitting amongst us in the mosque, and He (Allah) said: (You don’t know) what he innovated after you.” – (Sahih Muslim)
The implication of this Hadith is that those who change the religion that was left by Prophet Muhammadﷺ would pay a very bitter price for such misguided conduct. It should not be difficult for anyone to realize that the most dangerous place of all in which to effect any change in the religion of Islam as established by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah Most High be upon him) is in the House of Allah (Masjid).
Let us also recall another prophecy concerning the alarming extent to which Muslims would deviate from the original religion of Islam. The Prophet prophesied that Muslims could be divided into seventy-three sects and that in such an event all but one would enter into Hell:
“Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr: Allah’s Messengerﷺ said: There will befall my Ummah exactly (all those) evils which befell the people of Israel, so much so that if there was one amongst them who openly committed fornication with his mother, there will be among my Ummah one who will do that, and if the people of Israel were fragmented into seventy-two sects my Ummah would be fragmented into seventy-three sects. All of them will be in Hell-Fire except one sect. They (the Companions) said: Allah’s Messengerﷺ, which is that? Whereupon heﷺ said: It is one to which I and my companions belong.” – (Sunan Tirmidhi)
What should we do if we Muslims are to protect ourselves and our religion at that time of abandonment of the religion left by the blessed Prophet? He was very clear and precise in his response that we should hold fast to the Qur’an:
“Narrated Ali ibn Abi Talib: Al-Harith al-A’war: While passing through the Masjid I found the people engrossed in (prohibited) talk, so I went to Ali and told him. He asked if that was really so, and when I assured him that it was, he said: I heard Allah’s Messengerﷺ say, ‘Dissension will certainly come.’ I asked him what is the way out of it, to which he replied, “Allah’s Book is the way (out), for it contains information of what has happened before you, news of what will happen after you, and a decision regarding matters which occur among you. It is the distinguisher and is not jesting. If any overweening person abandons it Allah will break him, and if anyone seeks guidance elsewhere Allah will lead him astray. It is Allah’s strong cord, it is the wise reminder, it is the straight path, it is that by which the desires do not swerve nor the tongues become confused, and even the learned cannot grasp it completely. It does not become worn out by repetition and its wonders do not come to an end. It is that concerning which the Jinn did not hesitate to declare, when they heard it, We have heard a wonderful recital which guides to what is right, and we believe in it. He who utters it speaks the truth, he who acts according to it is rewarded, he who pronounces judgment according to it is just, and he who invites people to it guides to a straight path.’” – (Sunan Tirmidhi)
The Qur’an, in turn, has asked us to hold fast to the Sunnah (way) of the Prophetﷺ:
“You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah an excellent model (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the praise of Allah. – (Qur’an, al-Ahzab, 33:21)
And so, it is with the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messengerﷺ that we must respond to all trials. And this brings us to the subject of “the greatest of all trials that mankind would experience from the time of Adam to the Last Day”, i.e., the fitnah (trials) of Dajjal the false Messiah or Anti-Christ. It was in connection with that attack of Dajjal that the Prophetﷺ warned that “the last people to come out to Dajjal would be women, and that a man would have to return to his home and tie down his wife, sister and daughter to protect them from being seduced by Dajjal.” It is clear that Prophet Muhammadﷺ anticipated, in the above prophecy, the modern feminist revolution that has deceptively misled and corrupted so many women in the modern age. We write this essay to warn that the feminist revolution will exploit to its advantage every mistake that Muslims make concerning their women. And we direct attention to one grave mistake that has already been made, and which is likely to explode in the face of this Ummah with devastating effect in the not-too-distant future as Dajjal moves to exploit that mistake to his advantage. What is that mistake?
A DANGEROUS MISTAKE FOR WHICH WE WILL PAY DEARLY
Prophet Muhammadﷺ warned his followers: “Do not prevent women from coming to the Masjid (for prayer)”. If Allah Most High, or His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah Most High be upon him), were to give an order, then Muslims have a religious obligation to submit to that order and to obey it. No one has the authority to cancel an order which has come from Allah or His Messengerﷺ. An order can be suspended in consequence of an abnormal situation having arisen (such as a suspension of the divine law of cutting of the hand of the thief in consequence of an abnormal situation created by drought and famine). But neither can an order be cancelled, nor can it be permanently suspended.
And yet, despite the clear orders of the Prophetﷺ concerning the rights of Muslim women in the house of Allah it is a quite common sight around the world of Islam today to witness Masajid (plural of Masjid) from which women have been permanently excluded. Such a flagrant violation of women’s rights is sure to provoke a bitter response from the feminist revolution. Indeed we are eventually likely to witness that revolution so exploiting this matter as to eventually succeed in having women give the Juma Khutbah (sermon) from the Mimbar (pulpit) of the Masjid. Already one such profoundly misguided woman has blindly led the way in a New York City church that was used as a Masjid, to open the gates for that evil destructive storm.
But the deprivation of Muslim women’s rights is not limited to their exclusion from the House of Allah. Even when they are allowed to come to the Masjid they are often not allowed to pray in the same space with the men. Rather, a separate space is allocated to them. This can even be in a separate building, an annex, an upstairs gallery, a basement, etc. And finally, when they are allowed to pray on the same floor with the men, two separate spaces are created through the imposition of a barrier (of bricks, wood, cloth etc.) which has the effect of creating two separate spaces for prayer – one for men and the other for women. Sometimes the separate space created for women is at the back of the men; but sometimes, and alarmingly so, it is at the side of the men. In addition to creating a separate space for women, the barrier also has the effect of reducing women to praying congregational prayers with their ears alone, and not their eyes. Women cannot see the congregation (Jama’ah) at prayer. They can only hear!
But Prophet Muhammadﷺ very clearly placed men and women in the Masjid to pray ‘in the same space’ with women behind the men, and gave men and women the right to pray with both their ears and their eyes. Consider the following:
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophetﷺ said: “The best row for the men (in the Masjid) is the first (row) and the worst or most dangerous is the last; and the best row for woman (in the Masjid) is the last, and the worst (or most dangerous) is the first.” – (Sahih Muslim)
It is quite clear from the above Hadith that men are supposed to first fill the front row in the Masjid, and then proceed after that to fill row after row in the direction away from the Mimbar (pulpit). If and when women choose to attend Salat in the Masjid, they are supposed to first fill the last row, and then proceed after that to fill row after row in the direction towards the Mimbar (pulpit). As the Masjid fills up the back row of men would draw closer and yet closer to the front row of women. And it is that close physical proximity of men and women, with no barriers in between them, which creates the situation that is pregnant with danger. Among the dangers described by the Prophetﷺ himself was that a man may not have enough cloth to cover his private parts when he prostrates. And so the Prophetﷺ ordered women to keep their heads down on the ground in prostration (Sijdah) until the men (in front of them) had a chance to sit up:
“Narrated Asma’ daughter of Abu Bakr: I heard the Messenger of Allahﷺ say: One of you who believes in Allah and in the Last Day should not raise her head until the men raise their heads (after prostration) lest they should see the private parts of men.” – (Sunan Abu Daud)
The inescapable implication of both the above Ahadith is that women prayed in the Prophet’sﷺ Masjid in the same space with the men, but behind them, and that they prayed with both their ears and eyes since a woman who raised her head too soon could see the private parts of the man in front of her (if he was not adequately clothed). This possibility also indicated that there was no barrier in the Prophet’sﷺ Masjid between men and women as would obstruct women’s vision. If women choose to perform their Salat at home, on the grounds that such is preferable, it still would not solve the problem faced by those women who choose to visit the Masjid for Salat, and are denied rights mentioned above. Indeed they are forced into such situations of prayer (such as praying at the side, rather than behind the men) in which their Salat would be in manifest conflict with the Sunnah and hence of dubious validity.
The remedy for the present situation in which women are deprived of their rights, even in the house of Allah, is quite evident. It is that Muslims must now insist that women be allowed to come to the Masjid; that they be allowed to pray in the same space with the men but behind them; and that they be allowed to pray with both eyes and ears, and hence with no barrier between men and woman as would obstruct women’s vision of the men in front of them. Nothing less than that can save Muslims from the grave charge of having changed the religion left by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah Most High be upon him) even in the Masjid itself! And nothing less than that can save Muslims from the evil feminist storm that is sure to sweep the world of Islam in the not-too-distant future, and sure to exploit this mistake of the Ummah to reap evil capital from it.
By Imran Nazar Hosein