Women Leading Salaah

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by


1. A few days, a former Imam said that he sees nothing wrong in a woman leading the Jummah salat once permission is given by the Imam (male) and that there is nothing in Quran and Hadith preventing her from doing so.

2. He went on to say that a woman can also lead Janazah prayers on the basis that Imam Shafi requested Sayyida Nafiza to “lead” his janazah.

Can you clarify? Any references will also be helpful.

Jazak Allah.


Assalaamu Alaikum,

A woman leading Jumua Salat or any other Salat has never been allowed in Islam since this is the well established Shariah ruling in this issue.

In the Holy Quran, many great women were spoken about. These were such women with whom and from whom miracles occurred, yet, none of them was appointed by Allah to be a leader in the community or to lead the people in prayer. Maryam’s (A.S) elevated position was highlighted. The wife of Pharoah was spoken about. The mother of Yahya (A.S) was mentioned – all of these were great women of the whole world, but none was deputed or appointed as a leader of the people or a leader in prayer. Instead of these great souls, Allah appointed righteous men who were at times less virtuous than these women, to lead the people in prayer/worship and to be their official leader.

At the time of the Prophet (S.A.S) many of the ladies were known to be very pious and knowledgeable. Even after the death of the Prophet (S.A.S), they continued to be well known as pious, intelligent and knowledgeable ladies. In fact, some of them were more learned than companions of the Prophet (S.A.S) who lived at their times. Notwithstanding this, none of these pious women was appointed/deputed to lead the people in salat at the time of the Prophet (S.A.S) or after his demise. Instead, the Prophet (S.A.S) gave a clear order when he said, ‘And a woman must not lead a man in Salat’. (Musnad Abd Ibn Humaid from the narration of Jabir bin Abdullah (R.A) Pt. 1 pg. 344; Sunnan Ibn Majah Pt.1 Pg.343 Hadith #1081).

The above authentic hadith stands as a solid proof to show that a woman cannot lead a man in salat. These are from the sacred teachings of the Prophet (S.A.S) which Allah has ordered us to follow.

It is in regards to total adherence to the Prophet (S.A.W), Allah Has commanded the believers by saying :-

‘Say, obey Allah and His Messenger, but if they turn their backs, Allah loves not the Unbelievers’ (Surah Ali Imran V: 32)

‘O those who believe, obey Allah and the Messenger and those in authority among you’ (Surah Nisa V: 59)

‘And whatever the Messenger gives you accept it, and whatever he forbids for you, abstain from it’ (Sura Hashr V: 7)

‘And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has gone astray in Manifest error’ (Surah Ahzab V: 36)

All these verses make it abundantly clear to all believers that they must follow the teachings of the Prophet (S.A.S). Therefore, the teachings of the Prophet (S.A.S) regarding who can lead the salah and who cannot, must also be adhered to.

It is on account of this clear directive from the Prophet (S.A.S), we find that there has been Ijma (unanimous agreement/concensus) of the Sahabahs on this matter that a woman cannot lead a man in Salah. There has also been Ijma of the Tabi’een (2nd generation) Muslims and also the At ba’ut Tabi’een. In this way, in all generations of Muslims, over the period of 1400 years until today, there has been Ijma of the Muslims that women cannot lead men in Salat.

The four Imams of Fiqh, as well as the great Scholars at their times and before them, have all ruled that it is not permissible for women to lead men in Salat. This refers to all types of Salah, whether, Fardh, Nafl (optional), Janazah, Juma, Taraweeh or Eid. In all cases, it is not permissible.

In the famous and well renowned book on Hanafi Fiqh, Al Hidayah, it states, ‘And it is not permissible for men to be led by a woman in Salah’ (Hidaya Vol.1 pg. 209).

In the famous book of Shafi Fiqh, Minhaj by Allama Nawawi, it states, ‘And a male being led by a woman in Salah is not permissible’. (Minhaj Vol.1 pg. 241).

In the Maliki Fiqh, it is stated, ‘Salah will not be correct/sound behind a woman’. (Bulghah As Salik – Allama Sawi Vol.1 pg. 146).

In the Mazhab of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, it states, ‘It is not permissible in the opinion of the general Fuqaha (jurists) for a man to follow a woman in Salah’. (Al Mughini – Ibn Qudamah Vol.2 pg. 199)

With respect to the statement that Imam Shafi requested Sayyida Nafisa to ‘lead’ his Janaza’, this is totally wrong. Imam Shafi did not do this. The truth is that Imam Al Buwaiti lead the Janazah prayer, and Sayyida Nafisa followed him in performing Janaza Salaah for Imam Shafi.

Sayyida Nafisa bint Hassan was of the most venerable erudites and pious women of the second century Hijrah. She was from the direct descendants of the Prophet (s.a.w) being the great grand daughter of Imam Hassan (R.A) the son of Ali (R.A) and Fatima (R.A), (the daughter of Rasulullah (s.a.w)). She was a very pious woman and a great worshipper of Allah. She was also a very great scholar of hadith and an ascetic. Imam Shafi was her contemporary, who learnt a great deal of Hadith from her. On account of her great piety and righteousness, Imam Shafi used to seek her duas. It was owing to this, Imam Shafi (A.R) had made a will that his funeral procession may be taken along the front of Sayyida Nafisah’s house, where she could also pray for him. Hence, when Imam Shafi (A.R) died, his procession passed in front of her house, and she prayed the funeral prayer while at home following Imam Al Buwaiti. (Mir’at Al Jinan by Yaafi – Al Muhaddithat – The women scholars in Islam by Muhammad Akram Nadwi pg. 268 – Interface Publications Oxford London 2007; Leading Ladies Pg. 128 – Idara Talefate – Ashrafia Multan Pakistan 2001).

So, from the details given, it is clear that Sayyida Nafisa did not lead the Janaza Salaah of Imam Shafi. Nor did the Imam gave any such instruction.

And Allah Knows Best.

Mufti Waseem Khan.


This answer was collected from, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.

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