Do Muslim Women Lead Mass Prayers?
Prohibiting muslim women from leading mass prayers leads to a heated debate as some agree and others disagree on the same issue. Nonetheless, this restriction emanates from individual opinions, which should be clarified through the hadith or Quran and as per the religious rights of the Islam religion. Therefore, discussing the different views associated with women-led prayers and how the Quran or hadiths handle this issue is imperative.
In the two Sharia books, the hadiths and the Quran, no reliable or tangible information restricts women from leading in prayers (Alrawiya 1). In fact, no verse in the Quran prohibits women from initiating prayers at the places of worship. Particularly, the Quran mandates any individual to lead in prayers but does not assign this duty to any particular gender (Elewa and Silvers 154). On the other hand, the hadith somehow clarifies this issue by providing that women can lead in both the obligatory prayers and those of Ramadan as commanded by Prophet Muhamed (RLG 204 Week 11 24). Therefore, the issue of women and prayers can be said as that of perception and not based on the scriptures.
In 2005, when a woman led Friday prayers in New York, many critics cited that women are restricted from doing so and labeled her actions as an atrocity that had never occurred in all Islamic history. According to this scholar, a woman led prayers are said to compromise on the modesty of the female gender (Elewa and Silvers 148). Therefore, when women stand in front of men with the intentions of teaching or leading in the daily prayers, they distract them with their feminine physic, thus leading them towards immorality instead of the required spiritual path. As noted, opponents provide that voluptuous garment can hide their body shapes, but the female voices are associated with nudity, which leads men to sexual temptations during a holy session. In essence, it has become a norm in many places that only men are allowed to lead in prayers, especially in the Mosques.
The Wadud Prayer of 2005 also elicited positive reactions from scholars who maintained that no crime is committed when women lead in petitions as the hadiths allow them to conduct spiritual matters right from their households (Elewa and Silvers 152). For that reason, proponents of this practice refute categorically praying as individual opinions of anti-feminist whose claims are weak, unreliable, feeble, and pathetic (Alrawiya 1). Moreover, advocate scholars continue to indicate that the hadiths allow people to refute that which is doubted and lacks enough evidence, as in the case of women-led prayers (RLG 204 Week 11 21). Therefore, those who agree with the prayers led by women continue to insist that as the Islamic religion embraces the wealthy and poor, thus women should also be allowed to lead in such rituals that are of great importance to the Islam believers.
The issue of a female-led prayer divides scholars into two grounds. In fact, there are those fighting against the secularization of the Islamic religion and those pushing for Muslim women empowerment starting from the enacted spiritual platforms. Those who contest alongside women leading in prayers provide their fear as one that is related to the secularization of the Islamic doctrines. According to these individuals, westernization may end up damaging their ritual practices with their women acting contrary to the required expectations (Elewa and Silvers 147). On the other hand, those fighting for female-led prayers maintain that allowing women to undertake such responsibilities opens up opportunities for female empowerment. Therefore, empowering women reaffirms their authoritative abilities and improves their social conditions, which are immensely disregarded in this religion.
Apparently, the above discussion has agreed that women can also lead in prayers within the Islamic faith. The reason being that allowing the female gender into the ritual is justified as the Islamic religion is based on equality. In fact, Prophet Mohamed mandates women to lead in prayers from their homes to other bigger audiences. Moreover, supporting women-led prayers is an excellent opportunity to empower women within their cultural beliefs and the rest of the world.
Alrawiya. “Can Women Lead Salah?” YouTube, uploaded by Rawiya Think, Act and Believe, 30 Jan 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkHPOtp7GN0. Retrieved 19 Nov 2016.
Elewa A and Silvers, L. “‘I am one of the people’: A Survey and Analysis of Legal Arguments on Woman-Led Prayer in Islam.” Journal of Law and Religion, vol. 26, no.1, 2011, pp. 140-171.
RLG 204 Week 11. “Introduction to Islamic Law: Part One.” 2016, pp. 1-34.