Saturday, 25 December 2010

Women in the Masjid

The Evidence from Sahih Muslim, with commentary by Sheikh al-Islam Yahya an-Nawawi

(#440) Zuheir bin Harb related [1] to us, Jarir bin Suheil related to us, from his father, from Abu Huraira, who said: ‘The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said: “The best row for the men is the first, and the worst of them is the last. The best row for the women is the last, and the worst of them is the first.”

Imam an-Nawawi: Regarding the rows of the men, generally speaking, the best is always the first and the worst is always the last. As for the rows of the women, this hadith is referring to the rows of the women that pray with the men. If [the women] pray by themselves, without the men, then they become like men in the sense that their best row would be the first and the worst one would be the last. What is meant by ‘the worst row’ for men and women is the row that has the least reward and virtue, and is the furthest from what is sought by legislation. The best row is the opposite. The only virtue of the last row of the women, who pray with the men, is their distance from mixing with the men, seeing them and their hearts being attached to them upon seeing their movement and hearing their speech and so forth. The dispraise of the first row is the opposite of that, and Allah knows best.

(#441) Abu Bakr bin Abi Shaibah related to us, Waki’ related to us from Sufyan from Abu Hazim, from Sahl bin Sa’d, who said: ‘ I saw the men tying their lower garments around their necks, like children, because of the shortage of cloth, behind the Prophet may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, so someone said: “ O women! Don’t raise your heads until the men have gotten up.”

Imam an-Nawawi: (‘I saw the men tying their lower garments’). This means that they tied them because of their inadequacy, so that none of their nakedness would be revealed. This is a caution to cover nakedness and to be firm in maintaining that cover.

(‘O women! Don’t raise your heads until the men have gotten up’). This is so that no woman would see the nakedness of any of the men being revealed, and so forth.

(#442) ‘Amr an-Naqid and Zuheir bin Harb related to me, and both of them from Ibn ‘Uyainah. Zuheir said: ‘Sufyan bin ‘Uyainah related to us, from az-Zuhri, that he heard Salim narrate from his father. The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, came to him and said: “If any of your women should seek permission to go to the masjid then don’t prevent them.”

Harmala bin Yahya has told me, Ibn Wahb has informed [2] us. Yunus has informed me from Ibn Shihab, who said: ‘Salim bin ‘Abdullah has informed me that ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar said: “ I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, saying: “ Don’t prevent your women from going to the masjids if they seek your permission.”

He [Salim bin ‘Abdullah] also said that Bilal bin ‘Abdullah said: ‘I swear by Allah! I will prevent them!’ ‘Abdullah [his father] turned to him and chastised him severely. I had never heard such a severe chastisement. He said: ‘I’m narrating from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah's prayers and peace be upon him, and you’re saying: “I swear by Allah! I will prevent them!”’

Imam an-Nawawi: In another narration: ‘He scolded him.’ And in another narration: ‘He struck him on his chest.”

Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah bin Numair related to us, my father has related to us and Ibn Idris, saying: ‘‘Ubaid Allah has told us, from Nafi’, from Ibn ‘Umar, that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said: “Do not hinder the handmaidens of Allah from the masjids of Allah.”

Imam an-Nawawi
: (Do not hinder the handmaidens of Allah from the masjids of Allah). This and what resembles it from the hadiths in this chapter clearly indicate that a woman should not be hindered from the masjid, but the scholars have mentioned conditions that are taken from the hadiths. They are that she should not be scented, nor beautified and she should not be wearing anklets that make noise. She should not be one who mixes with men, or a youth [3], or anyone who may cause temptation, and finally that there is nothing in the street that one fears could cause harm. This prohibition of preventing women from going out is predicated on kirahatu at-tanzih [reprehensible but closer to permissibility (mubah)] if the woman has a husband or master, and the aforementioned conditions are fulfilled. If the woman has no husband or master then it is impermissible to prevent her if the conditions are met.

Abu Kuraib related to us. Abu Mu’awiyah related to us, from al-‘Amash, from Mujahid, from Ibn ‘Umar who said: ‘The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said: “Do not prevent the women from going to the masjids at night.”’ One of Ibn ‘Umar’s sons said: ‘We will not let them go out so as to prevent them from being corrupted.’ [4] Ibn ‘Umar then scolded him and said: ‘I say: “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said …” and you say: “We will not let them!”’

Muhammad bin Hatim and Ibn Rafi’ related to us, saying: ‘Shababah has told us: “ Warqa has told me from ‘Amr, from Mujahid, from Ibn ‘Umar who said: “ The Messenger of Allah, may Allah's prayers and peace be upon him, said: “ Let the women go to the masjids at night.” One of [Ibn ‘Umar’s] sons, called Waqid, said: “They may be corrupted.” [Ibn ‘Umar] then struck him on the chest and said: “I narrate something to you from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah's prayers and peace be upon him, and you say: “No!””

Haarun bin ‘Abdullah related to us. ‘Abdullah bin Yazid al-Muqari related to us. S’aeed (Ibn Abi Ayyub) related to us. Ka’b bin ‘Alqama related to us from Bilal bin ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar, from his father who said: ‘The Messenger of Allah, may Allah's prayers and peace be upon him, said: “Don’t deny women the fortune of going to the masjids, if they seek your permission.” Bilal said: ‘I swear by Allah! We will prevent them!’ Abdullah [Ibn ‘Umar] said to him: ‘I say: “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah's prayers and peace be upon him, said…” and you say: “We will prevent them!”’

Imam an-Nawawi: His saying, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him: (Don’t deny women the fortune of going to the masjids, if they seek your permission) Likewise this occurs … [5] They [the women] are treated like men because of their demand to go out to the gatherings of dhikr, and Allah knows best.

Haarun bin Sa’eed al-Aiylee related to us. Ibn Wahb related to us. Makhrama has told me from his father, from Busr bin Sa’eed, that Zainab ath-Thaqafiyyah was narrating to us from the Messenger of Allah may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, that he said: "If any of you [women] attend the ‘Isha prayer then do not perfume yourselves that night."

Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaiybah related to us, Yahya bin Sa’eed al-Qatan related to us, from Muhammad bin ‘Ajlan: ‘Bukair bin ‘Abdullah bin al-Ashaj has told me, from Busr bin Sa’eed, from Zainab the wife of ‘Abdullah, who said: “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah's prayers and peace be upon him, said to us: “If any of you attend the masjid then don’t touch any perfume.””’

Imam an-Nawawi
: His saying, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him (If any of you [women] attend the ‘Isha prayer, then do not perfume yourselves that night). This means that if a woman wants to attend. If she has already attended [‘Isha prayer] and returned to her house then do not stop her from perfuming herself. This also applies to his saying, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him: (If any of you attend the masjid then don’t touch any perfume), meaning ‘if you want to attend.’

Yahya bin Yahya related to us, and Ishaq bin Ibrahim. Yahya said: ‘ ‘Abdullah bin Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah bin Abi Farwata informed us, from Yazid bin Khusaifah, from Busr bin Sa’eed, from Abu Huraira, who said: “ The Messenger of Allah, may Allah's prayers and peace be upon him, said: “If any woman applies scent [to herself], then she should not pray the last night [al-‘isha al-aakhirah] prayer with us.””’

Imam an-Nawawi: In this is evidence of the permissibility for one to say ‘al-‘isha al-aakhirah’. As for what is transmitted from al-’Asm’ai that he said: ‘There is no reason for saying ‘al-isha al-aakhirah’, because we only have one isha, so don’t describe it as al-aakhirah [the last].’ That opinion is mistaken because of this hadith, and it has been established in Sahih Muslim from groups of Companions who described it as ‘al-isha al-akhir’.

‘Abdullah bin Maslama bin Qa’nab related to us. Sulaiman (ibn Bilal) has related to us, from Yahya (and he is ibn Sa’eed), from ‘Amra bint AbdurRahman, that she heard ‘Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah's prayers and peace be upon him, saying: ‘If the Messenger of Allah, may Allah's prayers and peace be upon him, had seen what the women have innovated he would have prevented them from the masjid, as the women of the Children of Israel were prevented.’ He [Yahya] said: ‘I said to ‘Amra: “Were the women of the Children of Israel prevented from the masjid?” She replied: “Yes.”’’[6]

Imam an-Nawawi: As for her saying (If the Messenger of Allah, may Allah's prayers and peace be upon him, had seen what the women have innovated he would have prevented them from the masjid), this is referring to beautification, perfuming and attractive clothing, and Allah knows best.

[Translated from Sahih Muslim bi Sharh an-Nawawi v.4 p.133-37]

Notes:

[1] Haddathana in Arabic. This can refer to relation by both book and speech.
[2] Akhbarana in Arabic. This usually refers to relation by book.
[3] Shaabbah in Arabic. This refers to a youth who may wear attractive clothing and draw attention.
[4] Is this not the same argument that many Muslims use today?
[5] The Imam discusses a grammar point here that is of little benefit to the non-Arabic speaker.
[6] The women of Children of Israel have been forbidden from the temple compound for the past 3000 years. One can see a startling similarity between Orthodox Judaism and what some Muslims are doing in the UK and USA today. There are three poignant similarities:
1) Women are either behind a curtain, on another floor or on the other side of the building where they’re neither seen nor heard and not consulted for advice or allowed to ask questions. 2) There is a startling lack of religious resources in the so-called ‘sisters’ sections’, such as a copy of the Qur’an (for Muslim women) or the Chumash (for Jewish women). 3) There is an open or implicit disapproval for their being there, based on protecting them from corruption. One can see disturbing trends with regards to the treatment of Muslim women in this age when comparing it to that of Jewish women when one looks at the almost identical layout of synagogues, such as Chabad House, Temple Dehirsh Sinai and Monachim Schneerson’s congregation, whose status in the synagogue is hauntingly familiar to that of many imams in today’s masjids, i.e. they are never questioned about what they say or do.

2 comments:

Abu Layth said...

Salamu 'alaykum,

This is a wonderful piece by Sidina Imam An Nawawi.

What do you think of placing it on Shafiifiqh.com?

was-salam,
Abu Layth

Mahdi Lock said...

Assalaam alaykum Abu Layth,

Jazakum Allah khayran for the message.

Please go ahead and make a copy for Shafiifiqh.com, and with Allah alone is every success.

Assalaam alaykum,

Mahdi