Women Praying in Masjids (Mosques)

women praying in masjidsSometime back we had a discussion about sisters in the masjid (mosque) at ummah.com forum. It was an interesting discussion with brothers and sisters from different areas expressing their views. This blog post is a result of that discussion plus some information from a little research.

Strange as it may seem to many, women praying in Masjids is nothing new to Islam. In the early days of Islam masjids were just as open to women as it was for men because the masjid is for Muslims, men and women, to worship our Creator. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Do not stop the maid servants of Allah from going to the masjid of Allah.” (Muwatta of Imam Malik) and, “When the wife of one of you asks about going to the masjid, do not stop her.” (Bukhari). So it’s perfectly okay for women to attend prayers in the masjid if they wish to.

Today, owing to various reasons in many Muslim communities it has become the custom for only men go to the Masjid and women to pray at home, (except on special occasions such as Ramadan ‘Tarawee’ prayers and Eid festival prayers.) This may have being fine until recently. But inline with Prophet’s Sunnah, due to the following reasons we need to make our masjids (mosques) accessible to women.

  1. The most important reason is for the convenience of women who are traveling or working and are away from home and unable to get back home in time for prayers.
  2. Secondly, it allows beneficial activities like Islamic classes, tajweed classes etc. to be setup for women. The modern world is so tantalizing it’s very easy to forget the hereafter and get engrossed in this temporary worldly life. So in this environment it is vital our Muslim women and in turn our children are fully included in our masjids to ensure that our next generation understands and follows Islam.
  3. It’s also important to make our masjids women friendly because it’s very helpful for dawah activities and helps new convert sisters to learn to pray and practice Islam.
  4. It also helps new convert sisters and new Muslim families to the area to get to know the local Muslim community.
  5. Making masjids women friendly also helps change negative stereotypes non-Muslims have about Islam.

muslim women in masjids mosquesNow, one might think we need to rebuild masjids. Actually for women to pray in the masjid they don’t even have to have their own section. The only separation between men and women in the masjid is during prayers when women must stand behind the men. In Prophet’s masjid women occupied the back rows and could be seen and heard by the rest of the congregation. Ibn Abaas (ra) reports that, “Once the Prophet came out (for the ‘Eid prayers) as if I were just observing him waving to the people to sit down. He then, accompanied by Bilal, came crossing the rows till he reached the women. He recited verse 12 of chapter 60 to them and asked: ‘O ladies, are you fulfilling your covenant?’ None except one woman said ‘Yes’. The Prophet then said: ‘Then give sadaqah.’ Bilal (ra) then spread his garment and said ‘Keep on giving alms’. (Bukhari)

The Prophet’s open main space masjid will be the ideal but I think due to privacy and other concerns it’s best to have a women’s area or at least some sort of a covering separating part of the praying area of the masjid for women.

Today in non-Muslim countries a masjid must definitely accommodate women, preferably with a women’s prayer area and other facilities like washroom, toilets etc. However many masjids in these countries are small and converted properties so it is understandable if a women’s area is not provided immediately for obviously maximizing the space for men is important because unlike women it’s mandatory for men to attend Friday prayers (though at other times a movable curtain or panel would allow women to use the masjid). But a purpose built masjid must definitely include a women’s area.

masjid womens prayer areaFortunately many masjids, especially in western countries have begun to address this need. However I hear in some cases they are tiny rooms and basements with a leaky roof and a bad smell! I know this is not the case everywhere but this type of situations should never occur. For men or women the masjid should be a place of refuge where your mind can be at ease from worldly affairs. If a Masjid has or plans to have a women’s area it need not be as big as men’s area but every step should be taken to ensure it is equal in facilities and other aspects to the rest of the Masjid and maintained accordingly. Getting the opinions of women in that community and making sure their requirements are met will also ensure pleasant and practical facilities are provided for women.

And when building a new masjid or making arrangements for a women’s prayer area, it’s important to have women’s participation. This will make sure the best possible is available to women and avoid many difficulties and complaints later on. Also women must ask for masjid access and facilities and programs for women if they are not provided. Because sometimes it is unlikely anything will be provided unless there is a demand.

So if anyone knows of any masjid being built in their area or nearby, get involved with it (e.g. like helping raise funds etc.) This is a great rewardable action and at the same time puts you in a position to influence the decisions and push for a women’s area. For existing masjids it would certainly help to discuss with the management and create awareness in the community for a suitable arrangement for women.

See Also
* Why Your Mosque Should be Woman Friendly
* Women in Mosques
* Women in mosques – No curtains, no walls, no partitions!
* Denying women access to the ‘Main Space’

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21 Responses to Women Praying in Masjids (Mosques)

  1. el muslim says:

    the answer is simple. Did Muhammad PBUH do it? Yes. Do you beleive in the Quran? Yes. Allah SWT ordered us to forbid what he has allowed. Fear Him and do not disobey Him. End.

  2. el muslim says:

    *not to forbid what he has allowed

  3. shahid says:

    Jazakallah khair!!

    I love this blog and the posts in it.

  4. shahid says:

    sorry I dont like all the posts in this blog especially the one like shia.

    Im strictly against them and dont believe them to be Muslim at all.

  5. bisma says:

    i want to go masjid but i can’t b/c in my pakistan in larkana there is no masjid for woman so i request to gov: plz creat a masjid for woman in larkana plzz

    • Sister, most masjids/mosques around the world are built and run by local Muslim people who live around that area. So if you really want to affect a change and make arrangements for women salah areas in your masjid, talk about this with your local Masjid authorities/boards/ and explain your liking as well as the needs to allow women to pray in the masjid.

  6. sohailmahar says:

    For the information for readers, mostly the mosques of Salafis also called Ahl-e-Hadith or Wahabis, there is provision for Muslim sisters to say prayers.

    In Pakistan usually every Salafi mosque has this provision.

  7. wahid says:

    Absolutely no way should women be allowed into Masjid. Are you carazy. Women distrract from the beauty of god. You misunderstand Bukhari …. get an education and learn from the context … you are picking and choosing to for your selfish politics

    • Lihan says:

      You know what would be nice? If you want to share your opinions that you would do so without being rude! Aside from that I absolutely disagree with you!!! …. As far as being a distraction, women come fully dressed to the Masjid. If men cannot concentrate during their prayer when they literally can not see the women because they are standing behind them for their beauty and when the women are dressed modestly men are still getting distracted… I have no words…. That, my friend is an issue purely of man and when they themselves cannot concentrate despite all these things then women cannot stay in their homes all day “in order to not distract them”.If men cannot concentrate during their prayer then there is no point in praying and the slightest thing could end up distracting them. We all go to the Masjid to make sajda to Allah and that is the only thing that should matter. One should not pay attention to who is standing in front of them, behind them, next to them or anything because the only thing that should matter is the prayer. If you can argue that women can’t pray by men because of their beauty then Khudanakhaste I can even imagine people separating masjids into “rich” vs. “poor” masjids, “dark” vs. “a little lighter skin.” NONE of these things should create disruptance in prayer because that is just the work of the Satan to distract you weather it is the clothes of the man standing in front of you or the hardly visible women standing behind you. May Allah guide me, you, and everyone else in making the correct decisions for our future communities InshAllah. Ya Allah Guide us all!

  8. Ainsley says:

    I am very glad I found your website on bing. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my sister were just preparing to do some research about this. I am very glad to see such good information being shared for free out there.
    Regards,
    Cloten from Hayward city

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  10. Mrs Farooq says:

    Ofcourse women should be allowed to pray in the Masjid,but I can understand why some Masjids do not have this provision.
    Just like women have a right to pray there,they have some duties as well,which most sisters do not realise.They don’t dress properly ie, in loose fitting and properly covered clothing.They apply strong perfumes which is not allowed.Many sit wherever they feel like,not giving any heed to the Saff(row).Most of the sisters don’t know how to stand in a row or how to join the Jama’a if they come late.They bring children and leave them to run around and make noise,disturbing other sisters,while they themselves pray.After they finish their Salah,they sit and talk so loudly,that even announcements on the microphone can’t be heard,so you can imagine what a tough time other sisters have in concentrating in their Salah.
    These are a few of my personal observations during Friday prayers and in Taraweeh ,some might not like them but these are all true.Just like all public places,there are etiquettes to be followed in the Masjid and in praying in congregation,otherwise one becomes a cause of distracting others.
    I request all who know the proper etiquettes for sisters praying in congregation(jama’a),to have them written down and boldly displayed in the sisters’ area,in their Masjid.They will be doing a big favor to many.Jazakumullahu khair.May Allah give all of us the wisdom to follow our deen as it should be followed,aameen.

    • good ideas. jazakallah for sharing them here sister.

    • Lihan says:

      Yes, no doubt some sisters have an issue with this but the brothers are equally responsible for all these things. In the masjid I go to, right after prayer the men get up and start talking and there is no way to see the imam. And as you said women talk loudly. Men also bring their kids to the Masjid but as soon as they make a noise, they send them to the women’s section. No wonder its always so loud in the women’s section. Agreed that some sisters may dress in a way that others do not appreciate but a lot of times even a sister wearing a hijab and loose fit clothing with jeans seems Astagfurullah to people. As far as not standing straight in lines, the brothers section get told for that more frequently. This of course may be because the imam can see them better though. If there is an issue of the sort, the imam should take care to mention everyone in a while where to place their feet and how it would be preferred everyone stand. i.e. shoulder to shoulder. As far as I am understanding, the rules and guidelines you mention should be put up in both the women’s section as well as the men’s section.

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  13. Mikdad says:

    Which is better place for wmn to perform prayer masjid or her home ? Why dont u give complete hadeeth from bukhari?
    What is openion of rasool salawathullahi alaihi about best place for prayer in the cause women?
    Where she make prayer to get mor reward?
    Bukhari book of friday prayer hadeeth number 4 what is ur openion?
    If u wish to learn more.

    • Shahid Nauman says:

      ofcourse masjid is the best place, and from Allah more reward is in masjid, (all the msjids in the country city are the same rewardable) no any choosen masjid is better than other except Masjid Haram, Masjid Nabavi and Masjid Aqsa) because these have best rewards if we travel towards these masjids Allah give us more reward, but no other in the world can be more reward and it is sin to say (going far from home just because praying in that masjid have more reward)
      As this is practical , women can not go to masjid 5 times in pakistan, so they can say regular prayers in home, but juma and special occasions in masjid, as this article mentioned above.
      Remember: not everything is found in hadees, sometimes we need to use a brain, if have one.

      Thank you very mcuh.

  14. Niyas says:

    Due to the small Knoweldge about Islam at India till not allowed to women Pray at Mosque Even Friday Prayer , also i noticed that when Performing Umrah , in Makkah Lot of Indians are Not to pray with Immam.

    • Mohammed says:

      Niyas,
      Which part of India you are talking about? Also who is not following Imam? Except “ultra conservatives” all other groups have space in masjid for women in India, especially in south india like Kerala.

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