Why, oh why? [Women and Masjid (Pakistani Perspective)]

Growing up in a family like mine, I never realy felt any biases against myself due to my gender. I had the same curfew time and went to the same educational institutes like my brother. I learned to drive pretty much the same time and interesting both of us were taught to offer salah by our grandfather too. In fact, a lot of the times it was my brother who thought I always got the advantage, being a girl, and got away with a lot of things and now wen I think back, I cant really deny that completely 😛

But as I grew older and started going to Pakistan more often (and then later lived there), I realized, things were ‘culturally’ very different from what I had been taught at home and from what I had learned from books. I am not saying that Islam really differs too much between the two genders, but the difference is way too visible in the predominantly so-called Islamic State. You know, as it is said, if you want to understand Islam, look at Islam itself and not Muslims. This saying started to become a reality for me.

Soon, I found out there is not a single masjid nearby where women could go to pray if they wanted to. Funny. Yes, I am a Hanafi and I always knew that Prophet Mohammed (SAW) encouraged women to pray at home but did that mean women are not allowed into the masjid at all? I started digging for answers and interestingly, I found a hadith which says:

Hazrat Abdullah bin Omar (RA) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Do not prevent your women from attending the masjid, even though their houses are better for them” [Sunan Abu Dawood]

Not bad at all! This was all very logical…something I knew already but just didnt know from where it came. Praying at home is better for women but Islamically, men could not prevent women from praying at the masjid. The meaning was straightforward: a masjid is supposd to provide proper facilities for women at masjid and then it is upto the women whether they want to go or not.

Now, talking about fiqh. Hanafis are usually the most strict wen it comes to women praying at the masjid and as it is the predominant fiqh in Pakistan, I really needed to know whether it is something cultural or Hanafis really believe that going to masjid is, in fact, haram for women. I found the following:

Hazrat Aisha (RA) has been reported to have said, “If the Messenger of Allah (SAW) was alive to see what women are doing now, he would surely have prevented them from entering the masjid for prayer just as women of Banu Israel were prevented” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

Now the above is simply an opinion by Hazrat Aisha (RA), not a ruling. It is also of common knowledge that Hazrat Omar (RA) prevented women from attending masjid for prayer as part of the law during his reign without making it part of the religion itself. Futher, the fatwa on this matter must be scrutinized far more carefully:

“It is disliked for women to attend congregational prayers in the masjid even for Eid and Juma prayers, and even for old women attending night prayers, according to the more reliable position in Hanafi School, due to the corruption of time.” [Imam al-Haskafi, Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr, 1/566]

So, again, it is disliked and not considered haram as the common misconception in Pakistan. Further, if you look at the Hanafi rules, you will in fact find various laws regarding how a woman should behave in a masjid if she is having her periods. Now , if according to Pakistani jurists, women are not allowed in the masjid at all, why do we need to talk about wat a women should do if her periods start when she is in the masjid?

And then at times I think, if women are allowed to go freely to markets, lawn exhibitions, fashion shows and social gatherings where men and women intermingle, often (not always obviously) in the most un-Islamic manner, then how can going to masjid be considered haram? Sadly, in a country like Pakistan, even the most religious women often have to miss their prayers because they were either stuck in a traffic jam or were buying essentials at a market. You would be shocked to know that most shopping malls in Pakistan do not even have a prayer room for women and interestingly, most shops remain closed till around 1 in the afternoon.

So what are women supposed to do?

Well, I guess just wat they have been doing so far…prayers can wait!

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7 thoughts on “Why, oh why? [Women and Masjid (Pakistani Perspective)]

  1. yeah a big problem, as i’ve to change my timings for going out sumwhr so as not to miss my prayers.. Few months back my aunt came from Kuwait n she was appreciating their system of having proper prayers n child sitting area in shopping malls

  2. No matter how many excuses/arguments Zakir Naek can give, still God did not disallow women from saying prayers in His house.

    Woman are a distraction during prayers? well of course they are! and so is everything else! Your job, home issues, children etc.. everything is a distraction and thats why the concept of prayer… focus on one thing. You and God alone. Woman in mosque should not matter to the one who is praying to God – unless of course his desires are his god.

  3. @ shermeen
    its a shame because even masjids in non muslim countries have proper facilities for women and pakistan being a muslim country, with more women than men does not consider that prayers for women are equally important. i guess its just a ‘cultural’ thing….people in pakistan would generally want women to just stay at home and hence no excuse for missing the prayers

    @ postman
    women are a distraction only if they are praying in front of men or right beside them…not f they are praying behind men or in a completely separate portion of the masjid so i guess it just boils down to proviidng proper facilities

  4. i dont get why pakistanis (in pakistan) have such an issue with women in masjids.

    if she’s got her period – she’ll stay home. she knows what to do, DONT WORRY ABOUT IT!

    everywhere else has women sections in masjids… brunei, singapore, australia.. i mean. what is the issue?

  5. I must say it’s easy being a young muslim woman in a secular country like Singapore… But I must say Alhamdulillah, I am able to not only do prayers in a mosque, but conduct activities for youths alike in the mosque for both the benefit of both genders.

    At the same time, I think you should at least be thankful that you can put on your hijab freely anywhere, everywhere…

    These little challenges are only God’s way of trying us. Have faith and Allah will be with you, insyAllah!

  6. @ somethingtobe
    oh well i just think that Pakistanis take the idea that Pakistan was made in the name of Islam too seriously…everyone has to pretend to know a bit too much and also pass fatwas all along especially if it is related to women 😛

    @lyemoon
    i must say that many secular countries are infact more islamic than the muslim countries and as for singapore….everyone here from the government to the ordinary people are just so amazingly considerate towards muslims that its nearly unbelievable until u actually see it wid ur own eyes

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