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Ibn Hazm On
The Lawfulness of Women’s Prayer in The Mosque
Presented translated & annotated By
Mohammad Akram Nadwi
Paperback Booklet 32 Pages
Interface Publications, Oxford
The recent opening of the “Women Only Mosque” in the United States is but a reaction to the “Men Only Mosque” phenomenon that is common in the Muslim world, both in the East and as well as in the West, says Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi. In fact, the majority of mosques in the UK have no place for women. There are reports that on many occasions, travelling women have had to pray in a church building or neighbouring Hindu shop least they miss their prayers because the local mosque refused to allow them to enter and pray.
Why is it that some people are so vehemently opposed to women praying in the mosque when the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam himself declared that no one should stop women from praying in the mosque?
Ibn Hazm (d. 456/1064), the great Andalusian jurist, poet, and intellectual champion of the Zahiri school, discussed this issue comprehensively in his Muhalla. In the text translated, he asks and, after weighing the evidence, answers the following questions:
- Is it lawful for women to attend congregational prayers in the mosques? (Yes)
- Is it lawful for others to forbid this if, for some private or public reason, they happen to dislike it or disapprove of it? (No)
- Is the effort of attending the prayers with the congregation in the mosque more worthy for men than women? (No, it is the same)
- Is it lawful only for elderly women to attend the congregational prayers in the mosques? (No, it is equally lawful for old or young)
About Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi:
Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Sa`id ibn Hazm, Abu Muhammad al-Farisi al-Andalusi al-Qurtubi al-Yazidi (d. 465), praised by al-Dhahabi as ‘the peerless imam, the Ocean of sciences and disciplines, the jurist, hadith master, scholar of kalam, man of letters, Zahiri minister, and prolific author.’ He was born into a princely family of Cordova where his education first centered on Arabic poetry, philosophy, and kalam.
Ibn Hazm is well known for following the Zahiriyya (literalist) school devised originally by Dawud ibn al Isfahani (d.270 AH) and became it’s founding father in it’s developed form .
He was opposed by many scholars of his time in Cordoba and Valencia. Some of his books were publicly burned as a mark of punishment by the command of al-Mu’tamid ibn Abbas in Seville.
During the brief period he spend in Almeira he engaged in active debates with Jews and Christians, and was very much involved in the study of other religion.
However even his enemies and critics acknowledged that his learning was vast and deep.
Shaykh Mohammad Akram Nadwi is from the Indian city of Lucknow. He is a graduate of the world renowned Nadwatul ‘Ulama (India) where he studied and taught shari’ah.
Shaykh Akram is a Muhaddith of the highest calibre who has specialised in ‘Ilm ul Rijal [the study of the narrators of Hadith]. He has Ijaza (licenses) from many of the most renowned scholars of our time including Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Al-Nadwi, Shaykh Abdul-Fattah Abu Ghuddah and Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. He has a doctorate in Arabic Language and has authored and translated over 20 titles on Fiqh, Qur’an and Hadith including his monumental 40 volume work on the lives of female scholars of Hadith. His scholastic status is acknowledged internationally.
He is currently a research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford University.