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Woman Leading an All Women Congregational Islamic Ritual Prayer Service

Answered by Shaykh Omar Subedar


Are women allowed to pray in congregation (with only women)? Whilst all the women stand in a straight line together (in the same line with no one ahead) and one woman prays out loud and the others follow?


By studying various narrations we find that this was an accepted practice among the wives of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم;

  • `Atā reported that `Ā’isha رضى الله عنها would call the adhān and iqāma and would lead women in prayer and (while doing so) she would stand in the middle of them’.[Mustadrak: 731, Sunan Al Bayhaqī: 5356]

  • `Ammār Al Duhanī reported that a woman from his tribe named Hajīra said, “Umm Salama رضى الله عنها led them (i.e. the women) in prayer and stood in the middle (of the row).” [Sunan Al Bayhaqë: 5357]

Although certain scholars argue that this is a disapproved practice (makruh) and some go to the extent to assert that it is an abrogated one, the truth is that this practice is acceptable however one that is not overly promoted. There is no narration that confirms explicitly or implicitly that this practice is abrogated. Imam Muḥammad ibn Al Ḥasan Al Shaybāni [d.189] writes, “We are not pleased by women leading the prayer however if they do so they should stand in the middle of the row among women just as `Ā’isha رضى الله عنها did. This is the view of Imam Abū Ḥanīfa.” [Kitāb Al Aathār]

Imam Abu Jā’far Al Tahāwī has stated, “Our companions/ scholars and Imam Mālik dislike this [practice]. Our companions/ scholars say, “If a woman leads them in prayer she shall stand in the middle of the row. It is more beloved to me to have them lead one another rather than having them pray individually.”  [Mukhtasar Ikhtilāf Al `Ulama]

And Allāh Knows Best

This answer was collected from Mathabah.org. It’s an Islamic educational institute based in Canada. The questions are generally answered by Sheikh Yusuf Badat and Sheikh Omar Subedar.

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