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Can Muslim Women Be Imams?

Answered by Ustadh Farid Dingle

Question: assalam alaykum, I´m from Italy and here some people think that Islam is for man and the woman have a second place in Islam. I see a program on tv, about women can be Imam, and they say this is a revolution inside Islam. So my question are: woman can be Imam in a community? She can be Imam for women and men? Where in the Holy Qur’an say that woman can’t be Imam for the Ummah?

Answer: Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Gender equality in Islam

Allah looks at everyone equally and everyone is welcomed to draw near to Him in sincerity, dedication, fear and hope. Whoever excels another in these is greater in Allah’s eyes, regardless of race or gender.

Allah Most High says, ‘Verily, Muslim men and Muslim women, believing men and believing women, worshipful men and worshipful women, true men and true women, patient men and patient women, humbled men and humbled women, men and women who give in charity, men who fast and women who fast, men who protect their chastity and women, and men who remember Allah much and women, Allah has prepared for them [indescribable] forgiveness and a tremendous reward.’ [33: 35]

So All men and women are equal before Allah, irrespective of gender.

That said, Allah has also told us in the Quran that He has not given everyone in this life the same provision, and rights and responsibilities:

´It is We who have divided up each person’s livelihood in the Lower Life, and we have raised some over other whole categories such that some should be subject to others. And your Lord’s mercy is better than that which they amass’ [43: 32]

Some people are rich, and that gives them the right to buy things that others can’t; that also gives them the responsibility to support others. Some people are strong and healthy, and that gives them the right to enjoy their health, and the responsibility to defend the weak. Some people are really intelligent and have the ability and therefore the responsibility to fulfill certain communal obligations, such as being a brain surgeon or a mufti. Some others do not have such capabilities, such opportunities, etc., and this is all from the wisdom and mercy of Allah.

None of this “favouritism” reflects how Allah looks at His slaves: they are all equal and their true and ultimate rank is how they are morally.

And one such way that Allah has apportioned and organised temporal life in this “Lower Life” is that He has not made men and women the same, and has not given them the same rights and responsibilities.

Allah has said in the Quran, ‘Men are in charge of women because We have given more to some than others.’ [4: 34]

Men are not women, and women are not men. Allah has made two genders to compliment one another, and has put one in charge of the other in this life, even though they are equal before Allah’s eyes in the next.

Well, to what degree are men in charge of women?

Generally speaking, no man has any control or say in what another man or woman does. However the general tack in Islam is that men are in charge of leadership roles, such as being the caliph, judgeship, leading the household, and leading the Eid and Friday prayers.

Woman can be and do many things: they can be politicians, muftis, CEOs, millionaires, writers, revolutionists, mothers, astronauts, you name it! But there is a general hierarchy in things that touch the structure and performance of the Muslim community.

This responsibility, dictates that one follow the other, and the other show mercy, consideration, stewardship to the other in light of the grave responsibility that rests on his shoulders. This hierarchy is for everyone’s benefit: emotionally, physically, financially, politically, economically …

Responsibility means answerability: so men, or women, who abuse their rights and do not fulfill their what is required of them, must provide an answer for their transgressions before a Sharia court in this life, and Allah’s court in the next.

For more details on Women’s active role in the authority, please see: Do the Hadiths Say Women Can’t Be Leaders?

Can women lead the prayer

Please see: How a Female Imam Should Lead a Congregation of Women in Prayer? [Shafi’i School]

An Explanation of the Hanafi School’s Position on Women’s Congregational Prayer

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid Dingle

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to crafts lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

Ibtihaj Muhammad: How A Champ Trains In Ramadan

*Originally posted on 2016/06/17

Muslim American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad says she spends up to seven hours training on an average day. Right now, during Ramadan, that means seven hours of intense physical exercise without any food or water between sunrise and sunset.

“My faith is first and foremost to me. It’s a priority,” Muhammad told The Huffington Post. “So it was never a question of whether I would fast and train. I’ve had to fast and train for as long as I’ve been competing at this level. The only difference for me this go around is that I’m in the middle of training for the Olympics.”

Read the rest on Huffington Post. Follow Ibtihaj on twitter.

Ramadan Guide For Menstruating Women

Although we all know that it’s really the inward that matters, sometimes the outward helps us get there. But when we lose certain acts of worship in Ramadan, it doesn’t mean we have to lose out. Here is a handy resource list for menstruating women to get the best out of Ramadan.

Menstruation Is Not A Punishment

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said about menstruation, “Verily this is a matter Allah has written upon the girls of Prophet Adam [peace be upon him].” (Bukhari)
Those who claim that menstruation is like a punishment because one cannot perform acts of worship are severely mistaken. On the contrary, there are many forms of worship that a woman can do while menstruating aside from what is legally prohibited.
Allah says in the Quran, “He who obeys Allah and His messenger, and fears Allah, and keeps duty [unto Him]: such indeed are the victorious.” (Sura al Nur 52)
Allah Most High has commanded menstruating women and women in a state of lochia (post-natal bleeding) to refrain from the ritual prayer and ritual fasting.

Thus, if a menstruating woman fulfills this command with the intention to submit to Allah’s order, she is actually worshiping Allah the entire time that she refrains from the ritual prayer and ritual fasting.

It has been said, “Her praying while pure is worship (ibada) and her refraining from prayer while menstruating is worship. All of it is worship.”
Therefore, there’s nothing dreadful or awful about menstruation or lochia (post-natal bleeding), rather it is a person’s attitude towards it that matters.

Suggested Acts of Worship

  1. Listen to the Quran
  2. Make remembrance (Dhikr) of Allah (see: Selected Supplications)
  3. Send blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) (see: Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long)
  4. Give generously in charity (see: How Much Should I Give In Charity?)
  5. Be kind to others, including spouses & family members (see: Prophetic Guidance: On Forbearance, Patience and Kindness)
  6. Make Dua for the Ummah (see: Remembering the Ummah in Prayers)
  7. Make much repentance (see: Chapter on Repentance-Imam Nawawi)
  8. Feed fasting people (see: Feed the People – Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said)
  9.  Carry out any righteous deed (see: Easy Good Deeds by Mufti Taqi Usmani)
  10. Gain Islamic knowledge (see: 10 On-Demand Courses for Ramadan)
  11. Babysit to help mothers worship (see: Making the Prophet Real for Children)

 

Can Women Be Part of a Mosque Committee?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

Recently, I have been involving myself in the mosque committee having pushed for a separate female committee that can have a voice alongside the mens’ committee. However, this has been met with much disapproval from older members of the community who believe that women should not be involved in serving the masjid.

My intention is to sincerely work to do good and follow the sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). Is it from the sunnah for women to take an active role in the mosque (any hadiths etc.) and what should the role of the mosque entail in today’s society?

Also, on open days the mosque is so full that women and men cannot be segregated in separate rooms (unless of course for prayer) and as everyone acts in a respectful manner would this be deemed as Islamically acceptable?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam, I pray you’re well.

There is no issue with women serving on a mosque committee nor any other panel. Indeed, it is becoming more necessary to have women’s voices heard in places such as mosques and schools, as women form such an integral part of the Muslim community and are increasingly involved in every sphere of modern society.

We need to provide and support platforms for voices and contributions of neglected groups in our communities, such as women and youth, so as to be inclusive not exclusive and ensure that our Islamic guidance reaches everyone, not just the few. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) consulted his wives and sought their opinions in various matters.

Mosque Committees

Women often talk about the uphill struggle they face when working in conventionally male-dominated occupations, and typical mosque committees probably propose the biggest challenge!

Be sincere in your intentions, diplomatic in your dealings, always be respectful in your differences, but also stay inspired, resolute, and purposeful in your goal. Let your work and integrity win people over. Of course, make lots of du’a to Allah for guidance and help, and ensure all your plans and ideas are in accordance to the shariah.

You may have to choose your battles with the committee, by prioritizing which projects are most pressing and serve the community best. When you have successes and feedback, write them down and present them at committee meetings to show the importance of such outreach work. Perhaps over time they will realize the importance of your work and the benefit it has on the wider community.

Open Days and Gatherings

It is not impermissible for a group men and women to be in the same room, particular if it is a general open day for people to come and find out about Islam and Muslims. However, I would say the following in regards these gatherings:

1. If the committee strongly oppose the open days at the mosque on the grounds of gender mixing, then it may be better you arrange such events elsewhere such as a community center.

2. Unless for general talks addressed to all, where possible and in a very natural way, arrange for women to engage and talk to the female guests and men to male guests. There’s no need to be excessively strict, but some general guidelines and strategic floor planning would be a good idea. Don’t forget, it’s not only the male and female non-Muslims and Muslims in the room, but it’s also Muslim males and Muslim females in the same room as well. The latter actually requiring more thought and precaution, especially if young.

3. If the cross-faith gatherings are in more relaxed settings, such as coffee mornings etc., it should be gender separated, ideally in separate rooms, or at least one room divided into two separate and distinct areas.

4. Any gathering must ensure that there is a) no unnecessary intermingling (above what is needed for the general purpose of the gathering), b) everyone is respectful and modest in behaviour and dress, and c) it is free from unlawful speech.

And Allah knows best.

Please also refer to these previous related answers:

Do the Hadiths Say Women Can’t Be Leaders?

Mixed Gatherings: A Detailed Response Regarding Gender Interaction

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

Regarding the Women of the People of Lut.

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I was wondering about the people of Lut. Since the men of the people of lut engaged in homosexuality and such and were destroyed for it, it made me wonder if the women in that society were destroyed too? And if so why?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam, thank you for your question.

Yes, the men and women among Sayyidna Lut’s people were all destroyed including Sayyidna Lut’s wife who was among the evil doers.

The apparent sense of the verses mentioning the people of Lut is that both the men and women of the town were corrupt and sinful, either actively involved or assisting in their heinous crimes. The exception was the righteous among Sayyidna Lut’s family, in the same way the righteous among Sayyidna Nuh’s family were saved while the rest of his people, included family members, drowned in the Great Flood.

[Tafsir al Sawi, Safwat al Tafasir]

And Allah knows best.

Warmest salams,

[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath. 

Support “The Mother” – Help Us Raise $200,000 to Support Women’s Islamic Scholarship Now (Zakat-Eligible)

Give your zakat and charity, urgently, to raise $200,000 to support deserving and needy women scholars and students of Islamic knowledge around the world.

Our goal is to raise $200,000 USD in a Zakat friendly campaign in order to support six female seekers of knowledge: two students and four female scholars. It is imperative that we support female scholarly voices who are experts on dealing with women’s issues in Fiqh, Islamic social sciences, and more.

“The Mother”

As a professional in frontline Health Sciences, she worked on the ground with patients who needed immediate support. She began to take classes at SeekersHub and yearned to learn far more deeply. She felt the benefits in her own life from the free courses she had the privilege to learn from. Learning gave her the personal and spiritual growth that Mothers often sacrifice because of their devotion to their families.
While studying with leading scholars in her community and online, she has also started teaching youth and mentoring students. She is an expert in physical healing and believes in the importance of spiritual health. Her commitment to learning and imparting that knowledge is unparalleled.

 

Your charity and Zakat donations can help as follows:

  • Helper – $30 can help buy groceries
  • Supporter – $50 can help buy study materials
  • Sponsor – $250 can buy key reference books
  • Champion – $500 can help pay for tuition and tutoring
  • Companion – $1,000 can help pay for essential family expenditure
  • Protector – $5,000 can help pay rent for more than one month
  • Leader – $10,000 can help provide long term security

Donate today: Help Us Raise $200,000 to Support Women’s Islamic Scholarship Now (Zakat-Eligible)

Support Women's Islamic Scholarship

Fatima al-Fihri–15 Centuries of Female Scholarship

In this series, Shaykha Tamara Gray narrates the stories of great Muslim women through the centuries, who excelled in fields of Islamic knowledge, science, and philanthropy. This segment features Fatima al-Fihri from the 3rd century.

Fatima al-Fihri was a great visionary, living in modern-day Morocco. After receiving a large sum of money through inheritance, she planned and built the Al-Qarawiyyin university and mosque.

She did her work in phases, beginning in the month of Ramadan. Firstly, she built a well for the future construction workers, showing that she had a good sense of labour justice and ethical work. After the well was built, she moved on to building the rest.

The project took two to three years. After Ramadan ended, Fatima continued fasting every day, saying that she had begun the project fasting, and wanted to complete it while fasting.

Al-Qarawiyyin University still runs today, thanks to Fatima’s hard work, organisational skills, and insightful planning. It remains the oldest degree-granting university in the world, which laid the groundwork for modern-day institutions. Every time we come across a university or similar educational institution, we should remember Fatima al-Fihri and her dedication.


With gratitude to Shaykha Tamara Gray and Rabata.


Resources for Seekers

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari on Women of the Qur’an: The One Who Complained

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, in partnership with Muslimah Media, speaks in a 6-part series about women who are documented in the Quran.

Khowla, the Woman who Complained

One of the interesting stories that come to us in the Qur’an, is of the Woman Who Complained. It is the name of the 58th chapter of the Qur’an. It refers to the story of Khowla bint Tha’labah, a strong and brave woman who was a Companion of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace.
Khowla was married to a man with a hot temper. One day, her husband came home and they got into an argument. Her husband lapsed into a pre-Islamic practice, and said a particularly insulting phrase, referred to as Dhihar. Dhihar was done when a man told his wife that his relationship with her was the same as his relationship with his mother. Although this practice may seem strange in today’s world, it was a very extreme thing to say during that time. Moreover, it was not a phrase that could be forgotten. In that society, it was actually a type of divorce.

Her Dialogue

Khowla resented her husband’s action, as she did not want to be stuck in a bad situation because of his behaviour. After he had calmed down, he returned and wanted to be intimate with her. Khowla told him, “You won’t touch me until Allah and His Messenger decide the matter for us.” She left her house and went to the Prophet, explaining her situation and asking that something be done. However, nothing had been revealed pertaining to the pronouncement of Dhihar, so initially there was nothing that could be done. However, Khowla was determined to find a solution.

Before long, the Prophet received the following revelation.

“Allah has certainly heard the speech of the one who argues with you, [O Muhammad], concerning her husband and directs her complaint to Allah. And Allah hears your dialogue; indeed, Allah is Hearing and Seeing. Those who pronounce Dhihar among you [to separate] from their wives – they are not their mothers. Their mothers are none but those who gave birth to them. And indeed, they are saying an objectionable statement and a falsehood.” Al-Mujadilah

Setting a Precedent

The verses condemned the practice of Dhihar as an odious practice. Allah also set a heavy penalty on the men who pronounced Dhihar on their wives.

Because of Khowla’s persistence and initiative, she not only fixed her own situation, but also helped the other women who had been affected by the practice of Dhihar. She was so respected that other male companions spoke very highly of her. However, what makes her so amazing, is the fact that her struggle was documented in the Qur’an.


Resources for Seekers

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari on Women of the Qur’an: Bilkees, Queen of Sheba

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, in partnership with Muslimah Media, speaks in a 6-part series about women who are documented in the Quran.

Bilkees, Queen of Sheba

The Queen Bilkees is another woman mentioned in the Qur”an with a fascinating story. So fascinating, in fact, that scholars wondered whether she was, in fact, a human, or whether she was something more.

However, Bilkees was a human woman, who ruled over present-day Yemen. She had a vast kingdom, and she lived during the time of the Prophet Sulaiman. She was a female ruler who ruled with no consort, and she was also very wise. She had appointed a group of advisors whom she would consult, although the practice was that the king would rule alone.

The Prophet Sulaiman heard about her when one of his servants, the Hoopoe bird, returned from a prolonged absence. The bird spoke about her great kingdom and wealth, and about her magnificent throne.

The Prophet Sulaiman sent her a message, telling her about Islam. In her wisdom, she did not want to provoke conflict, and took the way of diplomacy. Eventually, she was invited to visit Sulaiman’s palace. There, she found her own throne, which Sulaiman had miraculously been able to summon. He also showed her the miracles in his palace, including a floor of glass which ran over a river.

A Deeply Spiritual Woman

When she realized that the way she had following was wrong, and that Prophet Sulaiman was teaching the true religion, she said, “Verily I have oppressed myself.” Thus, when she realized her previous mistakes, she as astute enough to admit them and change her ways. She knew that it wasn’t because he was a man and she was a woman, but rather it was a case of him being a Prophet of Allah.

She accepted Islam, and some day that she married Prophet Sulaiman as well. Regardless, she is documented in the Qur’an in her own right, as a wise, strong, and pious woman.


Resources for Seekers

Who Must Fast Ramadan? – Ustadh Abdul Muhaymin

In this video, Ustadh Abdul Muhaymin of Tayba Foundation, discusses the types of people who are obliged to fast Ramadan.

 

He mentions that fasting Ramadan is obligatory on all Muslims, and tells us when we know that a child has reached puberty.

He takes us over the common misconceptions that we may have about people who are fasting. For example, it is not true that all elderly, sick, or pregnant/nursing mothers are not required to fast. Rather, they are only absolved from fasting if there is reasonable fear that they will be harmed.

He also clarifies the misconception that young children should be prevented form fasting. Rather, they should be encouraged to as much as they are able.

In the end, it’s important to remember that fasting is a command from Allah, and has many spiritual benefits. Once we realize that, it becomes much easier to answer these types of questions.


With Gratitude to Tayba Foundation