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One woman leading others in salah

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There is a hadith in Tabarani and Musnad Ahmad that says ” there is no good in women’s congregation” what’s the status of this hadith?

There is also a report from Ali saying a woman can never be an imam,

but hadiths in Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah said Aishah and Umm Salamah (radiyallahu’anhuma) called adhan and led prayers. Are these sahih?


Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said,

‘There is no good in the congregation of females except in the main Masjid (with men) or in Janazah.’

(Musnad Ahmad, vol.6 pg.66 & Tabrani – see I’laus-Sunan vol.4 pg.242)

This chain is weak but well supported by the statement of Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radiyallahu’anhu) below, as well as other similar hadiths. See Majma’uz Zawaid, vol.3 pg.26, vol.2 pg.330 & vol.10 pg.77. In all these hadiths, the words: ‘There is no good in the congregation of females..’ appear.

Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu) is also authentically reported to have prohibited women from being imams in salah.

(Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, hadith: 4994. Authenticated by Muhaddith Zafar Ahmad Thanwi -rahimahullah- in I’laus-Sunan, vol.4 pg.242).

The Fuqaha have ruled that it is Makruh (disliked) for women to perform Salah in a congregation of females only, even in Tarawih Salah. (Shami vol.1 pg.565)

The words of the hadith above: “There is no good…” are severe, and definitely denote disapproval.

The Conflict

The report of Sayyidatuna Aaishah and Sayyidatuna Umm Salamah (radiyallahu ‘anhuma) leading some women in congregation is in contradiction with the hadith of Rasulullah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) quoted at above.

(Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, hadith: 4988-4991.)

Note: There is no mention of them calling the adhan in this reference.

The following is a brief synopsis of how the scholars have tackled this contradiction:

1. The action of Sayyidatuna Aishah and Sayyidatuna Umm Salamah (radiyallahu ‘anhuma) proves permissibility, whilst the hadith shows disapproval (Karahah). An act could be permissible, but at the same time Makruh, e.g. to stand and urinate, etc.

2. It is also possible that Sayyidatuna Aishah and Sayyidatuna Umm Salamah (radiyallahu ‘anhuma) had done so occasionally for the purpose of teaching those women the method of Salah. At times, a makruh (disliked) deed is tolerated for the motive of educating the people.

3. This has not been proven as their habit or as the habit of the general females of that golden era. In fact, a narration of Bukhari mentions that Sayyidatuna Aishah’s (Radiyallahu Anha) slave use to lead her in Tarawih. This further supports this point. (Sahih Bukhari vol.1 pg.96; Qadimi)

4. Lastly, Muhaddith Zafar Ahmad Thanwi (rahimahullah) has mentioned that the hadith that proves disapproval (Karahah) will be preferred over the actions of Sayyidatuna Aishah (radiyallahu ‘anha) which proves permissibility (Ibahah) based on the principle that whenever two proofs contradict each other, the one that proves impermissibility will be preferred.

(I’laus-sunan vol.4 pg.242-245)

And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,

Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar

Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar

This answer was collected from HadithAnswers.com. The answers were either answered or checked by Moulana Haroon Abasoomar (rahimahullah) who was a Shaykhul Hadith in South Africa, or by his son, Moulana Muhammad Abasoomer (hafizahullah), who is a Hadith specialist. 

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