The Islamic Basis for Female-Led Prayer
Praise be to God, Who has sent
down the book to His servant, and has allowed therein no
crookedness (Qur'an 18:1)
By Nevin Reda
Nevin Reda is a
student at the University of Toronto and an active member of
the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.
Friday, March 18, 2005, Dr. Amina Wadud, professor of
Islamic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, will be
the first woman to lead a public, mixed-gender Friday prayer
in the modern day. She will also deliver the Friday sermon.
Dr. Wadud, the author of the groundbreaking book Qur'an
and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's
Perspective, is an esteemed scholar of Islam who affirms
the right of Muslim women to be prayer leaders.
It is a generally held view in
the Muslim world and among many in the North American Muslim
community that women cannot lead mixed-gender prayer. This
custom is pervasive and goes unchallenged. Yet, research
from the Qur'an and the customs of Prophet Muhammad
demonstrate that there is no prohibition precluding women
from leading mixed-gender prayer and, further, that Prophet
Muhammad approved the practice of women leading mixed-gender
However, over the centuries,
Muslim women have lost their place as intellectual and
The March 18 event is an
excellent opportunity to outline the evidence in support of
women’s position as spiritual equals and leaders, as well as
responses to some of the most commonly used arguments
against women leading congregational prayers. This
theological discussion is based on a dialogue that started
last October in the Muslim community of Toronto when a young
woman participated in a sermon as part of the Eid-ul-Fitr
prayer at the United Muslim Association (UMA) mosque in
Etobicoke. The Canadian Council of Muslim Women, Peel
chapter, led the dialogue and the CCMW national board kindly
supported and published the resulting paper on the CCMW
Evidence for Women Leading
1. The Prophet (peace be upon
him) commanded Umm Waraqah, a woman who had collected the
Qur’an, to lead the people of her area in prayer. She had
her own mu’adhdhin (person who performs the call to
2. The above Prophetic tradition
(hadith) is the reason why several medieval Muslim
scholars supported female leadership. These include Tabari
(d.310/923), author of the famous tafsir: Jami‘ al-bayan
‘an ta’wil ay al-Qur’an and Tarikh al-Rusul wal
Muluk, Muzani, Abu Thawr and Abu Sulayman Dawud ibn
Khalaf al-Isfahani (d.270/884), founder of the Zahirite
3. God affirmed the suitability
of women in major leadership roles as seen in the example of
the queen of Sheba in Surat al-Naml (27:23-44). In the
category of non-Prophets, she is the Qur’anic role model for
a positive leader. Her method of leadership included
transparency, public consultation, and putting the welfare
of her people first. Pharaoh, a man, is the Qur’anic role
model for negative leadership. Compare his words in verse
79:24— “I’m the big boss.” Thus gender is no guarantee for a
successful leader, but women can be successful leaders as
Men should not forbid what God
But say not - for any false thing
that your tongues may put forth, "This is lawful, and this
is forbidden," so as to ascribe false things to God. For
those who ascribe false things to God, will never prosper.
4. God similarly affirmed the
suitability of women in major religious roles as can be
noted in the Qur’anic presentation of Mary as a Nazirite
(Qur’an 3:35). Ancient Israelite Nazirites had access to the
highest religious positions in the land, as can be noted in
the case of Samuel and Samson. They had access to the Holy
of Holies (mihrab), which contained the ark of the
covenant, and to which only the religious elite could enter.
Whereas Mary’s mother expected a boy, God willed her to
deliver a girl, thereby affirming the suitability of women
for major religious roles (Qur’an 2:36).
5. God addresses gender
discrimination from the moment a baby girl is born in the
When news is brought to one of
them of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens,
suppressing his anger. He hides himself from the people,
because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain it in
abasement, or bury it in the dust? Bad is what they judge!
Preventing female Muslims from
major leadership positions, such as giving sermons or
leading congregational prayers is gender discrimination and
a way of abasing female Muslims.
6. God has commanded justice as
can be seen in Surat al-Ma’ida 5:8 and elsewhere (See also
O you who believe! Stand up
firmly for God, as witnesses to fairness, and let not the
hatred of others make you swerve to wrong and depart from
justice. Be just: that is next to God consciousness: and be
conscious of God, for God knows well what you do. (5:8)
7. Men need to hear what women
have to say in enjoining good and forbidding harm. Friday
and Eid sermons are an excellent opportunity for them to do
The male believers and the female
believers are each others allies, they enjoin good and
forbid harm, they establish prayers, practise charity, and
obey God and His Messenger. On them will God have mercy, for
God is Exalted in power, Wise.(9:71)
1. Since Umm Waraqah sought
permission from the Prophet, any other woman would need to
do the same.
The entries in the Tabaqat of Ibn
Sa’d on Umm Waraqah and Al-Fath al-Rabbani state that the
Prophet “commanded” her to lead the people of her area in
prayer and that Umm Waraqah “sought permission” to go into
battle: “she said to him (i.e. the Prophet): Do you give me
permission to go out with you to give medicine to the
wounded and nurse the sick, it may be that God will grant me
When the Prophet commanded war,
people did not usually individually seek permission to
accompany him into battle, but followed his command.
Individual permission was sought when wishing to be relieved
from their duty and stay behind. Umm Waraqah’s unusual
request is explained in the text, which states that the
Prophet had ordered her to lead the people of her dar
(area) in prayer. The text explicitly states: “kana
an-nabiyyu salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallama qad amaraha.”
This means: “The Prophet (pbuh)
had ordered her” and not “then the Prophet ordered her” or
“she sought permission” as some Muslims are mistranslating
it. Thus Umm Waraqah wished to be relieved from this duty in
order to accompany the Prophet into battle. The text clearly
distinguishes between “seeking permission” and “commanding.”
Umm Waraqah “sought permission” when wishing to go to
battle, but the Prophet “commanded” her to lead prayers.
The need for a second mosque in
Medina can perhaps be explained by the remoteness between
the homes of some of the inhabitants of Medina, the
Ansar, and the Prophet’s home, which also served as
mosque for the community. The distance motivated some of
them to attempt to move their homes to the vicinity of the
Prophet’s mosque, but the Prophet dissuaded them from it.
 The text states that Umm Waraqah was from the
Ansar. The Prophet’s choice of Umm Waraqah is also
explained in the text by the fact that she had collected the
It is hard to imagine that
anybody living in Medina at that time, whether man or woman,
would presume to set up their own mosque, complete with
mu’adhdhin, without either the Prophet’s express command
or permission. Today, all who lead congregational prayers or
perform the adhan (call to prayers) do so without the
Prophet’s express permission, since the Prophet has long
passed away. His express permission is neither possible nor
required, whether for men or women.
In light of the above, when the
need for a second mosque arose, the Prophet chose a woman to
act as the imam. His statement indicates his position
when it comes to women leading men in prayer. We should not
be stating that he did not allow it and thereby present a
false and misogynistic image of the Prophet. It is only fair
that those wishing to present opinions contrary to the
Prophet’s should not ascribe them to the Prophet, but should
attribute their opinions to themselves.
2. Some argue that the Prophet
denied Umm Waraqah permission to go to the battle of Badr,
commanding her to stay at home and that she would be granted
It was not uncommon for women to
go to war, nursing the sick and wounded and even
participating in defense activities. Nusaybah, Umm ‘Ammarah,
was one such heroine, known for defending the Prophet at a
critical moment during the battle of Uhud.
 If indeed the Prophet refused Umm Waraqah permission
to accompany him into battle, then this serves to accentuate
the importance the Prophet placed on the service she was
performing to the community in leading prayers.
It is not unusual that Umm
Waraqah used her home as a mosque for congregational
prayers. The Prophet, similarly, did not build a separate
building to function as his mosque, but used the courtyard
of his home. There does not appear to be a separate
architectural form for a mosque in the earliest architecture
in Medina. It is also not unusual that she had a
mu’adhdhin to perform the call for prayers, instead of
performing it herself. The Prophet similarly had a
mu’adhdhin whose name was Bilal.
3. Another objection commonly
presented is that the term dar (translated as “area” above)
refers to her individual home, which housed at the most
three people: herself and her two servants.
The Arabic term dar can be
used to describe areas ranging from an individual home, to
the whole territory of Islam (Dar al-Islam). Often it
was used to denote the housing or area where a particular
clan lived. Homes in the Prophet’s day were not as large as
contemporary homes, and usually consisted of small rooms
surrounding a courtyard. Clans and tribes lived clustered
together. We do not know how many persons lived in Umm
Waraqah’s individual home or clustered next to her. However,
since people generally lived closely clustered together with
their individual clans and tribe and since Umm Waraqah was
from the Ansarit is safe to assume she had at least a
clan to live among, if not a whole tribe.
The biographies in the Tabaqatliterature
generally consisted of short entries containing some of the
most memorable actions associated with the person, and did
not list the person’s entire family and neighbours. From her
kunya name, we can assume Umm Waraqah had a son
called Waraqah, however he is not mentioned in her
The only reason why her two
servants are mentioned (a man and a woman) is because they
murdered her. 'Umar had them crucified for their deed, and
they thus became the first persons crucified in Medina.
Thus we cannot assume that Umm Waraqah’s immediate household
consisted of only three persons, or that she was isolated
from family and neighbors.
In the context of the Umm Waraqah
tradition, it is not sound to assume that dar meant
her individual home, since this would be at odds with the
need for a mu’adhdhin. She would not have needed the
mu’adhdhin to call together three persons to prayer.
Thus, in this context it is sound
to conclude that dar is a larger geographical area,
which needed the services of a mu’adhdhin. The text
specifically says “there was a mu’dhdhin for her,”
which means that the mu’dhdhin was to call people to
come and pray with her.
4. The basis on which some
medieval and contemporary Muslim scholars prohibited female
leadership in major matters such as acting as Imam
 , leading congregational prayers, giving Eid and
Friday sermons, and acting as judge, is a tradition ascribed
to the Prophet. This hadith was transmitted on the testimony
of Abu Bakrah and states that a people will not prosper who
give the ordering of their affairs to a woman.
Both the reliability of Abu
Bakrah and the contents of the hadith are
unacceptable on the basis of the Qur’an. Abu Bakrah was
known to have accused a Muslim man and woman of adultery
without the necessary testimonies and was whipped eighty
lashes during the reign of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab.
 He was also known never to have repented.
 Compare the following Qur’anic verse:
And those who slander chaste
women and do not produce four witnesses: flog them eighty
lashes and reject their evidence ever after: these are the
Compare also the contents of the
hadith with the Qur’anic verses on the Queen of Sheba
27:23-44. She led her people to Islam: thus her people
prospered. It is up to us Muslims to choose whether we wish
to follow the guidance of the Qur’an or whether we wish to
put it aside and follow Abu Bakrah and the traditions of
some of our ancestors:
When it is said to them: "Follow
what God has revealed:" They say: "No! We shall follow the
ways of our ancestors;" even if their ancestors were not
rational and not guided? (2:170)
5. Some argue that Bukhari’s
judgment on the reliability of Prophetic traditions is
Undoubtedly medieval Muslim
scholars, including Bukhari, developed brilliant criteria
and methods for rating and identifying the reliability of
traditions. It remains a monument to the outstanding
scholarship and superb critical thinking demonstrated by
medieval Muslims. Bukhari’s criteria are among the most
stringent when it comes to the inner coherence of the
individual chains of transmissions and the tradents
occurring in them. Whereas Bukhari only admitted tradents on
whose veracity and reliability there was full agreement, Abu
Dawood, for example, was satisfied with transmitters as long
as they were not universally condemned. However, it would be
incorrect to assume that there are no mistakes among the
thousands of hadith collected by Bukhari. We Muslims
need to differentiate between the divine and the human and
not attribute divine perfection to human beings. Bukhari was
a human being and is therefore not perfect and can make
mistakes. Whereas medieval Muslims had no problems
scrutinizing even Bukhari’s collection and identified
mistakes, some contemporary Muslims are less willing to use
their thinking skills today:
There are people who take equals
and venerate them as the veneration of God, but the ones who
believe venerate God more. If only the unjust could see,
then they would see the torment, that to God belongs all
power, and that God will strongly enforce the torment.
6. Another objection commonly
presented is the hadith “Verily! The woman is not an Imam
This hadith has been
addressed by scholars before and refuted. The chain of
transmission contains ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Tamimi, who
is considered unreliable and a forger of hadith.
 This is why Muslims do not generally accept it.
Thus, what is found in the reliable Prophetic tradition
confirms women’s leadership of men in congregational
prayers. Moreover, there is no reliable hadith that
prohibits women from leading men in prayers.
7. Tabari was an isolated case
and should be ignored.
Tabari’s position that women
could be Imams over men was by no means a solitary one.
Although he started as a Shafi‘i, Tabari’s views developed
into a distinct school of law (madhhab), with
followers who included many leading scholars of the age. Abu
Isma’il ibn Yahya al-Muzani (d.264) and Abu Thawr Ibrahim
ibn Khalid ibn Abi al-Yaman al-Kalbi (d.240) similarly
started out within the Shafi‘i school and then developed
their own school of law with adherents in various parts of
the Islamic world. The Zahirite school was also a respected
school of law with many adherents. Therefore historically,
there were at least four schools within Sunnism that
permitted women to lead men in prayers. In addition, the
Kharijites also permitted women to lead. Thus, in medieval
Islam, many men supported the leadership of women. It is
difficult to determine the opinions of women on the issue,
since they have not been recorded. Whether the majority of
the Muslim population supported women’s leadership or not is
difficult to determine.
Interestingly, in an era
conspicuous for its misogyny, the leadership of women was
discussed within Islam and supported by many leading
scholars of the age. Today, in an age and a country
recognized for the promotion of human rights, the leadership
of women is met with great resistance by some members of the
8. Another objection was that the
four surviving schools of Sunni jurisprudence prohibit women
leading men in prayers. Therefore there is a “consensus of a
It is important to note that
Muslims who relied on consensus to derive law, distinguished
between “consensus” and “majority.” None considered
consensus to mean majority, but understood it as the
agreement of every individual within a group. The Shafi‘ite
Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, for example, understood it to mean the
agreement of all qualified scholars at any moment of time
 , Malik used the consensus of the people of Medina,
the renowned Zahirite Ibn Hazm and the Hanbalite Ibn
Taymiyya limited it to either the consensus the rightly
guided caliphs or to the first generation of Muslims
 , Shafi’i understood it to mean the consensus of
the entire Muslim nation
 , whereas the Mu‘tazilite ‘Abd al-Jabbar excluded
groups that denied the authoritativeness of consensus
 . Whichever way one chooses to define it, the legal
requirements of consensus in the case of the prohibition of
females from leading congregational prayers are not met,
even if one should exclude the Kharijites, since there are
still four leading scholars and their following to contend
with. A “consensus of a majority” is an interesting notion
in light of the great pains of Muslim scholars to
distinguish between “consensus” and “majority,” but it does
not pose a valid legal argument.
9. Some translate the meaning of
qawwamun in verse 4:34 to mean authority: “Men are providers
for women (ar-rijalu qawwammuna ‘ala’n-nisa’i)” (4:34)
The Arabic meaning of qawwamun
in verse 4:34 is “providers.” Extending the meaning to
“authority” is a mistranslation and a misinterpretation.
Scholars of the Arabic language such as Ibn Manzur, author
of Lisan al-‘Arab, explains it as ma’in which
means providing sustenance and financial provisions
 . Thus the verse outlines the financial rights of
women over men, but does not prohibit women from leading
congregational prayers in any way.
10. Those advocating the
permissibility of female imams are falling into the “western
It is unfortunate that Muslim
women, arguing for women’s rights, are written off as
“western” and “feminist” as if Islam were equivalent to the
oppression of women carried out in some parts of the Muslim
world today. Every respect and appreciation is due for
western feminists and what they have accomplished for women.
However, the arguments in this article are based on the
Qur’an and to a lesser extent on the Prophetic tradition,
and not on western feminist writings. The arguments in this
paper are inspired by a fundamentally Islamic belief. It is
about time some of us Muslims realized that Islam, not just
western feminism, gives women rights and inspires women’s
The Qur’an provides the example
of one such woman activist, who argued with the Prophet
himself in an effort to see justice done. The Qur’an also
provides the example of the Prophet, who did not put her
down, but listened to her and discussed the issue with her.
God heard her and responded to her. Her effort led to the
alleviation of an injustice that had been committed against
her and other women (58: 1-6).
11. Those advocating female imams
have no formal training in Arabic or Islamic studies.
This is a red herring. Many who
favor female imams (as I do) do in fact have formal training
in Islamic and Arabic Studies. However, this is irrelevant,
since we Muslims are required to look at the substance of
what is said, not the credentials of the speaker”
The ones who listen to what is
said and follow the best of it: those are the ones whom God
has guided, and those are the ones with minds. (39:18)
12. Dealing with issues of
Islamic law, such as permission and prohibition (halal and
haram), is the privilege of a male scholarly elite,
considered authoritative experts in the field. Non-experts
are required to follow what the experts say, uncritically.
The delegating of religious
authority to a scholarly elite over the non-scholarly,
especially in issues of Islamic law such as permission and
prohibition, goes against the very grain of Islamic
monotheism. Islamic monotheism, as expounded in the Qur’an,
is distinctive in its attribution of religious authority to
God and God alone. Consider the following verses:
Say: "O People of the Book! Come
to common terms between us and you: That we worship none but
God; that we associate no partners with him; that we do not
take up, from among ourselves, religious authorities (arbab)
other than God. If then they turn back, say: "Bear witness
that we (at least) are Muslims. (3:64)
The above verse defines, in very
broad terms, what it is to be a Muslim. It precludes the
taking up of religious authorities (arbab), other
than God. The term arbab can also be translated as
lords, masters, chiefs, dignitaries, leaders, owners,
Rabbis, scholars or elite. The arbab are not images
or secondary deities, but are human beings “from among
ourselves”. The singular is rabb and is the cognate
of the Hebrew rabb. The addressees are the People of
the Book, so in order to properly understand arbab it
would be helpful to keep the role and function of the Hebrew
rabb/Rabbi in mind.
A Rabbi is a Jew qualified to
expound and apply the halakhah and other Jewish Law.
They are highly educated experts, many of whom have devoted
their lives to the pursuit of knowledge and the service of
their community. However in Islam, religious authority
especially the authority to produce religious law, belongs
only to God and should not be given to humans, no matter how
learned they are.
The above meaning is further
expounded in the following verse:
They take their scribes and their
monks to be their religious authorities (arbab) other
than God and (they take as their religious authority) Christ
the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but one
god, there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far
is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).
Ibn Kathir recounts an incident
associated with the above verse. ‘Adi ibn Hatim al-Ta’i, who
was a Christian in the pre-Islamic period, entered upon the
Prophet as he was reciting the verse and said to him: “They
did not worship them.” The Prophet responded saying: “No,
they prohibited what was lawful, and they made lawful what
was prohibited, and they followed them. That is their
worship of them.”
Thus, it is the responsibility of
all Muslims to educate themselves as best they can in
religious matters, rather than lie back and leave religious
knowledge only for an elite. Although the seeking of
knowledge and people with knowledge are highly regarded in
the Qur’an, when it comes to the authority to religiously
prohibit or permit, the Qur’an indicates egalitarianism
between Muslims, where all Muslims have the right and the
responsibility to question the rulings of others.
13. Abu Hurayrah reprted that the
Prophet said: "The best rows of men are the front rows and
the worst [rows of men] are the back rows, and the best rows
of women are the back rows and the worst [rows of women] are
the front rows". This explicitly states that if women are in
the front they are in the worst position to pray. So how can
a woman be making Khutba facing the worshipers and then pray
ahead of even the first front row?
Abu Hurayrah’s hadith
needs to be evaluated with the rest of the evidence, both
hadith and Qur’an, in order to ascertain whether gender
segregation was instituted in the Prophet’s lifetime. This
has been done with the conclusion that there was no gender
segregation in congregational prayers in the Prophet’s
lifetime, but that it was introduced later.
 The word for “rows” used in the above hadith
is “saff” in Arabic. The word “saff” does not
appear in the Qur’an in connection with prayers, but with
battle rows (See for example 61: 4). Nothing in the text of
the above hadith connects the above arrangement with
prayers. It is possible that a tradition, which originally
arose in the context of battle, was later applied to prayer.
14. Some argue that a woman
cannot lead prayers, since they are susceptible to
menstruation, and that menstruating woman are prohibited
The Qur’an does not support
women’s exemption from praying when in their period. On the
contrary, God describes believers as “constant in their
prayers.” A woman cannot be constant in her prayers if she
misses out on a whole week from every month.
The hadith evidence is mixed.
Whereas some hadith support women praying during their
period, stating that the Prophet’s wives used to do so,
others prohibited women from praying during their period.
The contradictory nature of the hadith evidence indicates
that women’s menstruation was a debated issue early within
the Muslim community. Those who supported women praying were
more in line with the Qur’an, whereas those who were against
it were more in line with pre-Islamic customs and religious
Medieval scholars attempted to
harmonize between the two groups of hadith. They constructed
a distinction between two types of blood: menstruation (hayd)
and pseudo-menstruation (istihada). Any blood that
was outside the normal period was considered
pseudo-menstruation. Thus, if a woman’s normal period was a
week, and for some reason it suddenly became two weeks, she
would be exempted one week and pray the other. However, this
distinction is artificial: there is no difference in the
substance, color, or odor of the blood of
pseudo-menstruation and menstruation. The exemption of women
from prayers needs reevaluation.
15. A woman praying in front of
men is fitnah, i.e. temptation into sin, based on a hadith
in which the Prophet supposedly referred to women as
constituting man’s greatest fitnah in life.
It has been convincingly argued
that this hadith is unreliable.
 Moreover, of the numerous occurrences in the Qur’an
of fitnah or its derivatives, none apply to women.
Among the conveyers of fitnah mentioned in the Qur’an
are wealth and children (64:15), the two angels Harut and
Marut (2:102), number of angels (74:31), visions (17:60),
persons persecuting Muslims (85:10), a camel (54:27), and
even God (29:2). Fitnah is portrayed similar to a
testing of the faith, which all must undergo (29:2).
The Prophet recognized that
attraction may occur between men and women and offered the
following solutions. If a man should feel attracted to a
woman, the Prophet advised him to have relations with his
wife stating that that will do away with what came over him.
 If young people should be unmarried, the Prophet
recommended they marry.
 If they were unable to marry, then the Prophet
counseled them to fast.
 Either way, the Prophet’s solution was not to
introduce gender segregation. The solutions the prophet
offered, all lead only to good. Thus, the “fitnah” or
“attractiveness” of women is not harmful, but leads to
marriage, marital relations or fasting.
Why Muslims Need to Have Women
We need women Imams because it is
an act of la ilaha illa allah /there is no God but
We need to make a choice as to
who it is we hold Supreme. Is it God, or is it some of our
scholars and ancestral traditions. From the above evidence
it is abundantly clear that Qur’anic and hadith evidence is
overwhelmingly in favor of woman imams. The prohibition
against women leading congregational prayers was a later
development and is not supported by the primary sources.
We need to recognize that
although many of our scholars and ancestors were brilliant
individuals and accomplished great things, they were human
and subject to human failings. Only God is perfect, and only
God does not make mistakes. As Muslim monotheists, we should
not deify human beings in any way by attributing Divine
qualities to them.
The word Islam is usually
translated as “submission,” which does not reproduce the
Arabic meaning accurately and when translated back into the
Arabic gives another word “istislam.” “Submission” is
actually a translation for “istislam,” not Islam.
Both Islam and istislam are infinitives (masdar),
derived from the same root (s-l-m). Grammatically,
istislam is in the tenth form, which gives the word a
passive meaning: agency is transferred to someone else.
Islam is in the fourth form, which is not only active,
but is even causative. Since the basic infinitive is
Salam and can be translated as “peace,” “well-being,”
“safety,” then a better translation for Islam is
“peace-making” “well-being-making” and “safety-making.”
Agency is retained. The fourth form “aslama” is not
used in connection with any except God, which describes the
unique act of “submitting”/”making peace” with God. By
“submitting”/”making peace” with God, Muslims are
automatically empowered, rather than disempowered, as in the
case when submitting to an individual. Some of this agency
can be noted in the way God characterizes a true believer in
the Qur’an: a true believer is described as alive: seeing
hearing and thinking.
The person who goes astray is
described in the Qur’an by the tenth form “istawqada:”
he relied on others to light up a fire for him, and when it
lit up and lighted up his surroundings, God took away their
light, leaving them in darkness (Qur’an 2: 16-17).
We need to become better “Muslims,”
as opposed to “Mustaslims.” We need to develop our
seeing, hearing and thinking independently, and not depend
on others to do it for us.
Perhaps the secret for the great
successes of Muslims in the past is that they were better
Muslims: they used their critical thinking skills in order
to discern right from wrong, as opposed to relying on others
to do it for them. We similarly need to develop our own
skills and accomplish our own successes. We need to
recognize that whatever our ancestors accomplished
constitutes part of their deeds, not ours. We will not be
questioned regarding their deeds and thoughts, but rather
Islam led Muslims in the past to
success. Today we are no longer successful, but are met with
failure after failure. God will not change our situation
unless we change what is in our hearts. We need to stay away
from ancestor veneration and scholar veneration and remain
faithful to the one true God.
 See Ahmad ‘Abd al-Rahman Al-Banna, Al-Fath
al-Rabbani li Tartib Musnad al-Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal
al-Shaybani ma'a Sharhihi Bulugh al-Amani (Bayrut: Dar
Ihya’ al-Turath al- ‘Arabi, n.d.) vol.5, 3:1375; Muhammad
ibn Sa‘d , Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir (Bayrut: Dar
Sadir, 1958) vol.8, p.457.
 Banna, op.cit.
 Nevin Reda “Women in the Mosque: Historical
Perspectives on Segregation” AJISS Vol.21 No.2 (2004)
 ‘Amad al-Din Abu al-Fida’ Isma‘il ibn Kathir
al-Qurashi al-Dimashqi, Tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Azim
(al-Qahira: Dar Ihya’ al-Kutub al- ‘Arabiyya, n.d.) vol.3,
 Izz al-Din ibn al-Athir, Asad al-Ghabah fi
Ma’rifatal-Sahabah eds. 'Ali Muhammad Mu'awwid,
et.al. (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyya, 2003),Vol. 7, pp.
 See Abd al-Rahman al-Jaziri, al-Sayyid Muhammad
al-Gharawi and al-Shaykh Yasir Mazih, Kitab al-Fiqh ‘ala
al-Madhahib al-Arba‘a wa Madhhab Ahl al-Bayt (Bayrut:
Dar al-Thaqalayn, 1998) vol.5 pp.616-618.
 Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Fath al-Bari bi Sharh
Sahih al-Bukhari (al-Qahira: Dar al-Rayyan, 1988) vol.13
, Kitab al-Fitan 92:7099, p.58.
 ] ‘Izz al-Din Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghaba fi
Ma‘rifat al-Sahaba, (al-Qahira: al-Maktabah
al-Ta‘awuniya, 1964) p.39 and Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyya,
Tafsir Surat al-Nur (Bayrut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiya,
 Banna, al-Fath al-Rabbani , vol.5, 3:1375, p.234.
 Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, al-Mustasfa min ‘ilm al-usul
(Bayrut: Mu’assasat al-Risala, 1997).
 See also Sirajul Haqq, “Ibn Taimiyya’s conception
of analogy and consensus” Islamic Culture, 17 (1943),
 Muhammad ibn Idris al- Shafi ‘i, al-risala
ed. Ahmad Muhammad Shakir (Cairo, 1309 A.H.). Shafi‘i also
discusses Malik’s views.
 al-Qadi Abi al-Hassan ‘Abd al-Jabbar al-Asadabadi,
Al-Mughni fi abwab al-tawhid wal-‘adl, ed. Amin al-Khuli
, vol. XVII (Cairo, al-Mu’assasa al-Misriya al- ‘Amma,1963)
 Abu al-Fadl Jamal al-Din Muhammad ibn Makram ibn
Manzur al-Ifriqi al-Misri, Lisan al-‚Arab (Bayrut:
Dar Sadir, 1990) vol. 12, p.503.
 ‘Amad al-Din Abu al-Fida’ Isma‘il ibn Kathir al-Qurashi
al-Dimashqi, Tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Azim (al-Qahira:
Dar Ihya’ al-Kutub al- ‘Arabiyya, n.d.) vol.2, p.348-9.
 Nevin Reda “Women in the Mosque: Historical
Perspectives on Segregation” AJISS Vol.21 No.2 (2004)
 G.H.A. Juynboll, “Some isnad-analytical methods
illustrated on the basis of several woman-demeaning sayings
from hadith literature” Al-Qantara: Revista de
Estudios Árabes, No. 10 (1989) pp. 343-384.
 Abu l-Husayn Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj al-Qushyri,
Sahih Muslim biSharh al-Nawawi (al-Qahirah: Mu’assasat
Qurtuba, 1991) Vol.9, 16-Kitab al-Nikah, No.10, p. 253.
 ‘Asqalani, op.cit. Vol. 9, 67-Kitab al-Nikah,
 ibid, p.14.
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