Friday, March 18, 2005

USA: First Muslim woman on record to lead mixed-gender prayer

16/03/2005: On Friday 18th March 2005, Dr Amina Wadud will lead Jumah/Muslim Friday Prayer. (Muslim WakeUp!)

Dr. Amina Wadud, professor of Islamic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, will be the first woman to lead a public, mixed-gender Friday prayer. She will also deliver the Friday sermon.

Dr. Wadud, the author of the groundbreaking book Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective, is an esteemed scholar of Islam who affirms the right of Muslim women to be prayer leaders. It is a generally held view in the Muslim world and in the American Muslim community that women cannot lead mixed-gender prayer. This custom is pervasive and goes unchallenged.

Research from the Qur'an and the customs of Prophet Muhammad demonstrate that there is no prohibition precluding women from leading mixed-gender prayer and, further, that Prophet Muhammad approved the practice of women leading mixed-gender prayer. Over the centuries, Muslim women have lost their place as intellectual and spiritual leaders.

On March 18, 2005 Muslim women will reclaim their right to be spiritual equals and leaders. Women will move from the space tradition has relegated them in the back of the mosque and pray in the front rows.

Our effort will be part of a broader campaign to create communities in that rise to the highest principles of Islam's teachings on tolerance, justice, equity, and compassion. In the 7th century, the Prophet Muhammad built a model community in the city of Medina, earning it a place in history as "the City of Illumination" because of its progressive values. In the 21st century, we are committed to creating modern day "Cities of Light" in that value inclusion and women's rights.

About Dr. Amina Wadud

Amina Wadud is an Islamic studies professor in the department of philosophy and religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is nationally and internationally known for her ground breaking book Qur'an and Women: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective, the first interpretive reading of the Qur'an by a woman. Dr. Wadud seeks to validate the female voice in the Qur'an and bring it out of the shadows. Dr. Wadud will deliver the sermon and lead the prayer.

Event Venue:

The Sundaram Tagore Gallery was established in 2000 and is devoted to examining the confluence of Western and non-Western cultures. They focus on developing exhibitions of intellectual rigor and showcasing artists who are engaged in spiritual, social and aesthetic dialogues with traditions other than their own. Their interest in cross-cultural dialogue extends beyond the visual arts into many other disciplines, including poetry, literature, performance art, film and music. They host non-profit events that stimulate the exchange of ideas and push the envelope of artistic, intellectual and cultural boundaries.

Background:

The Muslim Women's Freedom Tour educates and empowers Muslim women to reclaim their God-given right to lead self-determined lives.

In 2004, we took on the issue of Muslim women gaining access to space and voice in American mosques where they have traditionally been banned or relegated to isolated areas of the mosque. On June 4, 2004, a group of seven Muslim women marched to the mosque in Morgantown, W.V., to reclaim the right of women to use the front door and the main hall of mosques; as in many mosques in the United States, women had been told to take a back door and pray in a secluded balcony. Our historic march was the shot heard around the world. Images and reports from the march swept across the globe, and we have documented a positive shift in the participation of Muslim women in mosques and communities globally as a result of the march and the dialogue it sparked.

This year we are affirming the right of women to be spiritual leaders, including imams, or prayer leaders. In a historic Friday prayer on March 18, 2005, in New York City, women will go from the back of the mosque to the front of the mosque.

Jumah Agenda

1:00 pm
-- 1st Call to Prayer, Welcome, Zikr, Worship
-- 2nd Call to Prayer
-- Jumah Sermon (Dr. Wadud)
-- Jumah Prayer (Dr. Wadud)
-- Solitary Prayer/Meditation
-- Fellowship with reception

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Are women allowed to lead men in Salaat? Is there any foundation for
this in Islamic law? Ustadh Abdullah provides a detailed and vigorous
response to this controversial issue with clear proofs!! Do you have a
question for about Islam? Send them to Ustadh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali!
Please join us at:
Courtesy of: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Tariqul-Islam

Was-Salaam


Question:
Why can't muslims get with the modern times and allow women to lead in
prayer? Dr. Amina Wadud, professor of Islamic studies at Virginia
Commonwealth University, will be the first woman to lead a public,
mixed-gender Friday prayer in the modern day. Is there any possible objection
you can have to this historic event?


Shaykh Abdullah's Response:

Can a Woman Lead Men in Salat?

Let's get right to the point.

The first problem with this scheduled event is that the theme is
`Muslim Women Reclaim Right to Lead Prayer,' while it should read `Muslim
Women Claim Right to Lead Prayer,' since there is no basis for the belief
that it was ever a right for women to lead a mixed-group prayer. And
there are no explicit accounts of women ever leading a mixed-group of men
and women in prayer.

Three of the four Sunni Schools of law (Hanafis, Shafi'is, and
Hanbalis) permit for a woman to lead other women in prayer except that the one
leading is not to stand out in front of the row.[1] Rather, she is to
remain aligned in a single row with the other women, so as not to appear
to be leading as a man would. They base this on the following reports:

1- Imam Baihaqi, Daraqutni, and Ibn Abi Shayba report from Ra'ita
Al-Hanafiyya that she said: "'Aisha led us. And she stood between us during
the obligatory prayer."

2- Ibn Abi Shayba and `Abdur-Razzaq Al-San'ani report by way of Hujayra
bint Husayn that she said: "Umm Salama led us in Salatul-`Asr. And she
stood between us."[2]

Imam Al-Nawawwi says about these two hadiths, Daraqutni and Baihaqi
related them with sahih chains.[3]

As for Imam Malik and the popular view held in the Maliki School, any
prayer that a woman leads others in – whether women, men, or mixed – is
invalid. Ali ibn Abi Talib is reported to have said, "The woman is not
to lead (Salat)."[4] This was also the view of Sulaiman ibn Yasar and
Al-Hasan Al-Basari.[5]

As for the other three schools, their position in general[6] was that
it is permitted for women to lead other women in Salat.

As for the cause of this disagreement, we can reasonably say that it is
the direct result of the different views of the Sahaba, in so much as
that 3 of the Imams adopted the views of Umm Salama and `Aisha who were
both wives of the Prophet – while Imam Malik and those who held the
same view accepted the report of `Ali ibn Abi Talib -.

If we were Hanafis, it would be easy to resolve this matter by just
having everyone follow the particular Companion's opinion we deem most
worthy of following.

If one is a Maliki, it would similarly seem easy to resolve by just
ascertaining that there was a consensus found among the scholars of
Medinah during Malik's time that went contrary to these hadiths supported by
the majority.

But if a Muslim is one who champions the hadith of the Prophet and
doesn't place anything over it – as is the view of Shafi'i and Ahmad, the
solution would seem easy to resolve by simply relying on the most
authentic report found that demonstrates what the Prophet's sunnah was in
this regard, since it is possible that some Sahaba heard what others may
have not.

So after searching, we find that the strongest report found that goes
back to the Prophet is the following:

Abu Dawud reports that Umm Waraqa y said, "I said: "O Messenger of
Allah! Permit for me to participate in the raid with you. I'll nurse your
sick. Perhaps Allah will grant me martyrdom." He said: "Remain in your
house. For verily Allah I will grant you martyrdom." And she asked his
permission to take a muadhdhin in her home. And he allowed her."

In another version Abu Dawud reports: "The Messenger of Allah e used to
visit her in her house. And he assigned to her a muadhdhin who would
make the summons to prayer (adhan) for her. And he ordered her to lead
the inhabitants of her home."

The hadith was reported by Baihaqi, Daraqutni, and Hakim. And Hakim
said, "Muslim advanced Al-Walid ibn Jami' (one of the narrators) as being
authoritative.[7] But this is a hadith with a single chain of narration
(sunnah ghariba). I don't know of any hadith with a connected chain to
the Prophet (musnad) in this chapter other than this one." And Imam
Dhahabi concurred with his findings[8].

Al-Mundhiri said, "Al-Walid ibn Jami' is the subject of dispute (fihi
maqal). And Muslim has reported through him." Ibn Al-Qattan said,
"Al-Walid's state isn't known."[9] Ibn Hibban mentioned him in (his book)
Al-Thiqat (Trustworthy Narrators).[10] And Ibn Hajar said, "In its chain
is `Abdur-Rahman ibn Khallad (a second questionable narrator). And his
status is unknown (fihi jahala)."

If this is true in that this report has two suspect narrators, Al-Walid
ibn Jami' and `Abdur-Rahman ibn Khallad, then this hadith can't really
have much if any authority.

And if it had not been for its weakness, it could be used by those who
argue for the right of women leading men in prayer to support their
argument even though the indications in the hadith are very subtle. That
is, the fact that it states that the Prophet – assigned a muadhdhin for
her and then ordered her to lead those in her house in prayer, gives
the impression that she led at least one man in prayer who was likely a
bondsman or unmarriageable relative of hers, since she would only be
allowed to keep the company of a bondsman or
a male relative, and men are usually those who make the call to prayer.

One could just as well assume that the muadhdhin appointed byAllah's
Messenger e while presuming the hadith is authentic – was another woman,
and that Umm Waraqa led a group of women in prayer as the other
authentic reports make clear.[11]

But all of this is overshadowed by the weakness of the hadith. So it
falls as a basis for argument.

Another important point is that Imam Abu Ja'far Ibn Jarir Al-Tabari
(died 310 AH) held the view that a woman could lead Salat in spite of it
being a view never accepted by the Ummah, and it has never been
witnessed in all of Islamic history.[12]

Imam Al-Tabari was an absolute mujtahid and is known as the Imam of the
Exegetes (Mufassirin). But his school didn't thrive and it didn't last
as the 4 surviving schools did. So his view is extremely ancient and
contradicts what the Ummah later unanimously agreed upon in that a woman
cannot lead a man in prayer.

Add to that, it would difficult to know what exactly Imam Al-Tabari
based his ijtihad on today, since his school hasn't been preserved with an
unbroken chain as the 4 schools have. So are we to accept his opinion
just because it was an opinion without proper scrutiny and research?

Furthermore, what lends to the understanding that a woman's proper
place is not leading a man in prayer are the following:

- If it was permissible, it would have been reported from the Salaf us
Saliheen.

- Since the Sunnah for women in prayer is for them to be behind the
men, it is known from that that it is not permitted for them to be in
front of them. For Abdullah bin Mas'ud said: "Put them back to where Allah
put them back." Al-San'ani and Tabarani reported it. It is also
mentioned in Majma' Al-Zawa'id. And for that reason, some of the allowed them
to lead other women, since they are all to align straight in one row.

- The Prophet also said, "The best ranks of the men are those at the
front. And the worst of them are those at the back. And the best ranks of
the women are those at the back. And the worst of them are those at the
front."

And if the Messenger – had intended any other arrangement for women in
Salat, then we would have found him at least on one occasion allow the
women to pray directly behind him or for a woman to lead the men in
Salat.

So we are to understand that this is from the divinely inspired
direction of the Creator. And to contravene it would be to question His
wisdom. And to question His wisdom, would be to follow in the footsteps on
Satan. And to follow in the footsteps of Satan, one is surely to be
damned as he is.

So it becomes clear that such people who insist on the permissibility
of a woman leading men in prayer have nothing firm to rely on in their
position other than the following of their fancies and what their lusts
dictate to them.


The Issue of Apostasy

The next important question would be, are such people Muslims who
contravene the consensus of the Ummah, which upholds that a woman leading
men in prayer is prohibited?

The short answer is, no! But that `no' is a `no' that doesn't remove
the danger from being damned by the Almighty One.

In other words, the decisive consensus for Sunnis cannot be violated.
Were one to contravene that consensus, he/she would be considered an
apostate from Islam.

But this consensus is one that occurred after a well-known disagreement
due to the view of Al-Tabari and Abu Thawr. And scholars have differed
about whether or not contravening this kind of consensus is enough to
expel a person beyond the pale of Islam. [13]


One can also reply that the Shiites do not consider consensus to have
the same authority that Sunnis do. And they do not accept it.

But we can reply that in spite of that Shiites do not allow for women
to lead men in prayer. So even though they may not consider it to be a
valid source of law, their practice shows that they share with Sunnis in
their traditional belief that a woman may not lead the Jumu'a prayer or
any other prayer for that matter unless it be a woman leading other
women in a prayer that is not Jumu'a.

So even if Shiites don't accept scholarly consensus as a valid source
of law, they do accept that Allah says in the Qur'an,

"Whoever splits from the Messenger after guidance has become clear to
him, and then follows other than the way of the believers, We will turn
him to what he has turned, and enter him into Hell. And how evil a
destination!" [4:115]

And it is the way of the believers that from the time of the Prophet
until now that no woman has ever been reported leading the Jumu'a Prayer,
Eid Prayer, or any other prayer when those being led were a mix of men
and women.

In the end, I seriously doubt that many people will be in attendance at
this event, at least not many real men or women.

We know that the enemies of Islam have many tactics they use in trying
to get a misdirected and emotional response out of the Muslims. And
perhaps they do that in order to produce a situation where they can
justify taking action against those they label as extremists, radicals,
terrorists, and fundamentalists.

I think that if people want to make up their own religion, let them do
as they like. We just ask them to give us a little respect and not call
it Islam, and don't call themselves Muslims. That's all.
Was Salam

Abdullah bin Hamid Ali

Ustadh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali is the first American to attend and
graduate from the University of Al- Qarawiyeen's Faculty of Shariah The
focus of his study was the understanding of the science of fiqh, Usool
Al-Fiqh, and`Aqeedah. He has studied under some of the top scholars of
Islam including Dr Abdullah Ghaazeewee, Professor of Usool Al-Fiqh, Sheikh
Muhammad At-Ta'weel, Muftee, Scholar, and Professor of Usool Al-Fiqh,
Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghaazee Husainee, Grand Muftee of Morocco and
Professor of Al-Fiqh Al-Muqaaran, Sheikh Ahmad Zweetin, Professor of
Fiqhul-Hadeeth and many others!

Please visit us at http://www.lamppostproductions.org for more
interesting articles from a variety of Islamic scholars!

Footnotes:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] This was also the view of Imams Awza'i and Thawri.

[2] Ibn Abi Shayba also reports from Umm Al-Hasan that she saw Umm
Salama lead the women. And she would stand with them in their rank.

[3] Al-Majmu' li al-Nawawwi: 4/173.

[4] Imam Sahnun reported it in Al-Mudawwana Al-Kubra from Ibn Wahb from
Ibn Abi Dhi'b from a client of Banu Hashim from `Ali ibn Abi Talib that
he said: "The women is not to lead." [Al-Mudawwana: 1/85]

[5] Al-Majmu' li Al-Nawawwi: 4/173.

[6] Abu Hanifa's view was that it was permitted but with dislike
[Al-Majmu': 4/173].

[7] Just because Imam Muslim relates a hadith on the authority of a
suspect narrator doesn't automatically make that narrator's reports
acceptable in other places, because Imam Muslim merely relates a report from
such a narrator when there are other versions of the same report that
strengthen it.

[8] Imam Hakim Al-Nisapuri has a book he wrote entitled `Al-Mustadrak',
which contains a number of hadiths that fulfill the conditions of the
Sahihs of Imams Bukhari and Muslim that neither of them reported in
their two books. But after the scholars had a close look at Al-Mustadrak
they found that many of the claims made by Imam Hakim weren't true. For
that reason, his claims of the hadiths reported in that book are usually
not accepted unless Imam Dhahabi concurs with his findings.

[9] To be unknown (majhul) is of two kinds according to the scholars of
hadith. 1) To be an unknown person altogether (majhul al-`ayn), and 2)
to be of unknown status (majhul al-hal) such that a person may be known
but his character and memory will be unknown. Refer to the books
related to the science of hadith like Suyuti's Tadrib Al-Rawi Sharh Taqrib
Al-Nawawi.

[10] Simply to be mentioned in a book dedicated to trustworthy
narrators doesn't render a narrator to be trustworthy, because many times the
author will mention a kind of narrator whose mention wasn't the original
intent of the work. Add to that, a hadith isn't authenticated just
because its narrators are trustworthy.

[11] One might respond that the word used in the hadith was muadhdhin –
for the male – not `muadhdhinah' – for the female. So it is clear that
it was a male. If someone says this, we can respond by saying two
things: 1) Sometimes the male is used and the female is intended as in most
of the verses of the Qur'an and the hadiths, for example, the hadith
that states, "None of you will believe until he loves for his brother
what he loves for his self." Are we to assume this hadith doesn't apply to
women? 2) is that even if we accept that the muadhdhin was male, the
hadith is still not clear in that
he participated in the prayer, since it is possible that all he did was
call the adhan and then leave the room or the house.

[12] Bidaya al-Mujtahid: 1/206. Abu Thaur also held this view.

[13] Refer to Tuhfat Al-Murid Sharh Jaw

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