Prayers behind men
bin Umar (ra) said:
The Prophet said: 'The prayer of a woman in her room is better than the
prayer in her house, and her prayer in a dark closet is better than her
prayer in a room'
[Ibn Qayyim, Awn al-Mabud, vol 2 p 277; Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari vol 2 p 350]
The same message is then conveyed but this time through the involvement of a
woman who reportedly goes to the Prophet to tell him that she loves to pray
in the mosque with him but gives her the same advice as above. As a result
the woman went home and prayed in the most isolated part of her house until
the day she died.
[al-Hindi, Kanzul Ammal vol 16 p 415; al-Ghazali, Ihya, vol 2 pp 57-59]
The authenticity of these (above) hadith have been questioned by the
[al-Jurjani, al-Kamil fi al-Duafa vol 5 p 297]
These reports co-exist with other traditions that assert that THE MOSQUE OF
THE PROPHET WAS FULL OF ROWS OF WOMEN lining up for prayer. At times, men
arriving late for prayer would pray behind women - men would be in the front
rows followed by women, followed by rows of men who arrived late. Yet, the
late prayers of the men who prayed behind the women were considered valid.
[Ibn Qudmah, al-Mughni, vol 2 p 44; Abu Shuqqah, Tahrir al-Marah vol 2 p
195-202; al-Qayrawi, al-Nawadir wa al-Ziyadat vol 1 p 296; Sahnun,
al-Mudawwanah vol 1 p 195]
These reports also note that after completing the prayer the Prophet would
delay a bit, presumably to give the last rows the opportunity to leave the
[Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, vol 2 pp 350-351]
There are reports that some women would stay (in the mosque) for long
periods and even sleep in the mosque.
[Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, vol 2 pp 101-102; Abu Shuqqah, Tahrir
al-Mudawwanah vol 2 pp 181-194]
The early jurist Imam Malik bin Anas (d.179/796) held that it is PREFERABLE
for a woman to perform itikaaf prayers in the mosque and NOT in her home.
[Sahnun, al-Mutanawwanah, vol 1 p 295]
Several reports stated that women attended itikaaf prayer with the Prophet
in the mosque, and did so during menstruation.
[Ibn Qayyim, Ilam al-Muwaqqin vol 3 p 26; Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari vol 4 p
Based on the above evidence one would have to conclude that all these women
who used to pray in the mosque ignored the Prophet's advice to pray in a
The more I read about Islam, the more I see how information about the early
Muslims is controlled, hadiths are selectively used to promote certain view
points, while ignoring the rest. May Allah guide those who control knowledge
of Islam, to be more representative of what really happened - in so far as
they are able, ameen.
Women, the other half of humanity were once part of the Islamic Society, it
is about time we start following the example of the early Muslims, and
provide facilities for as well as encourage women to attend prayers in the
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