The following is a piece published in defense of Amina Wadud leading prayer. It is written by Abdennur Prado, a Spanish convert to Islam.
In March, a group of American Muslims announced that Amina Wadud Muhsin would lead the jum’a prayers on Friday 18th of March in New York, delivering the khutba and leading the collective prayer.
The reaction of the official communities of New York has been negative. The prayer was summoned at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery. A bomb threat forced the organizers to cancel the act. Finally, the yum’a prayer took place on the foreseen day, in a room provided by the Anglican Church. More than a hundred men and women attended the prayer, which took place among strict security measures.
1. There is no ayat of Qur’an or Tradition of the Profet (saws) that states that a woman cannot lead men and women in prayer, or that denies their right to deliver the khutba.
2. The Qur’an affirms women’s capacity to direct a community, in the political and spiritual realms, even to the degree of prophecy.
3. The conditions required to deliver the khutba are: knowledge of the Qur’an and of the Sunna and teachings of islam, and the person’s interior condition (their imam or trust in God). None of these are gender related.
4. There is a hadith where it is said that the prophet Muhámmad (saws) chose a woman to direct the collective prayers of his community.
This should be enough to close any debate. We should treat the prayer of the 18th as a historical event, as a recovery of genuine islam, and a break from the macho islam which has nothing to do with the Prophet’s teachings, peace and blessings be upon him. An event that encourages us to discern between genuine islam and historic or cultural influences, and to recover islam as a message of universal liberation.
The hadith he refers to is one where the Prophet (pbuh) allowed Umm Waraqah to lead the members of her “dar” in prayer. One or more of these members were male. Some have translated “dar” as house and some as area – so it either means she was allowed to lead her family members in prayer, or her community.
This was the reaction to Wadud from Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the most popular Islamic scholars today (his TV show is watched by 40 million).
Throughout Muslim history it is unheard of that a woman has ever led the Friday Prayer or delivered the khutba… It is established that leadership in Prayer in Islam is for men only… Prayer in Islam is an act that involves different movements of the body… Hence, it does not befit a woman, whose physique naturally arouses instincts in men, to lead them in Prayer and stand in front of them, as this might divert their attention and concentration, and disturb the required spiritual atmosphere.
My advice to the sister referred to in the question [Amina Wadud] is that she should revert to her Lord and religion and extinguish this unnecessary strife. I also advise my Muslim brothers and sisters in the United States not to answer this stirring call and to stand as one before the trials and conspiracies woven around them.
I love how Qaradawi points out that a woman’s body will distract men but that there is nothing wrong or unusual about that. It is also interesting that he does not go into detail about anything, he just says that it is established that leadership is for men.
What do you think?