Al-jawab billahi at-taufeeq (the answer with Allah’s guidance)
Can a Female Lead a Purely Female Congregation?
Hanafi Madhab: If a lady leads the Salah of a purely female congregation, then Salah will be correct. It is however Makrooh Tahrimi for women to form their own congregation. (Hidayah vl.1,pg.305; Bada’i-us Sanai vl.1,pg.157)
Malaki Madhab: A lady can in no circumstance be the Imam even if the congregation be entirely female. The Salah of even a lady behind a female Imam is invalid. (Bulghatus Salik vl.1, pg.146; Ashalul Madarik, vl.1,pg.241)
Shafi Madhab: A lady can be the imam of a purely female congregation. In fact it is Mustahab for them to form their own congregation. (Al Mughni vl.12,pg.199; Bada-i vl.1,pg. 157)
Hanbali Madhab: The Salah of a lady behind a lady imam is permissible. There is however, difference of opinion regarding women forming their own congregation (behind a female imam). (Al Mughni l.12, pg.199)
The Shafi and Hambali scholars substantiate their opinion with the Hadith of Umme Waraqah (RA).
It is similarly narrated that Hazrat Umme Salmah (RA) and Hazrat Aisha (RA) used to lead the women in Salah. (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah vl.2, pg.88-89)
While it is narrated from Hazrat Ali (RA) that “a lady cannot be an imam”(Ibid) and from Nafi (RA) that: “I do not know that a lady can lead the women in Salah”(Ibid), Hanafi Scholars also explain that when a lady does lead a purely female Jamat, she has one of two options:
1. She stands in front of the first row (just as a male imam would do). This is however Makrooh because it is contrary to the spirit of Hijab.
2. She could stand in the middle of the first row (as Hazrat Aisha and Hazrat Umme Salmah did). This however is also Makrooh because it is Wajib (necessary) in a congregational Salah that the Imam stands a little in front of the first row. (Fathul Qadeer vl.1, pg.306)
Hanafi Fuqaha therefore explain the Ahadith of Umme Waraqah, Aisha and Umme Salmah (RA) as Mansukh (abrogated). Although Sheikh Kamal Ibn Humam has after critically discussing the possibility of abrogation concluded that purely female congregations are Makrooh-e-Tanzihi, the general body of Fuqaha-e-Ahnaf regard it as Makrooh-e-Tahrimi. The fatwa (preferred verdict) is also on Tahreem (prohibition).”And a purely female congregation is Makrooh-e-Tahrimi, even though in Taraweeh.”(Durrul Mukhtar, vl.1, pg. 528)
And Only Allah Ta’ala Knows Best.
Moulana Qamruz Zaman