Significance of Al-Israa’ and Al-Mi`raj

Al-Aqsa Mosque

The Night Journey was a very effective morale booster for the Prophet.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was fully aware that he could no longer rely on his own clan, the Hashimites, for any measure of firm support.

He felt himself alone in the whole world. His few followers were no match for the forces opposing him. Yet he firmly believed in the truth of the message he was preaching. His faith in God did not waver.

At this point something unusual happened to him.

One night, as the Prophet was asleep in the home of his cousin Umm Hani in Makkah, the Angel Gabriel came and woke him up and took him by hand to the mosque, where he found an animal smaller than a mule but slightly bigger than a donkey. The animal, which was a quadruped, also had two wings and floated easily as he moved with unimaginable speed.

The Prophet’s own description of his movement was that “he put his foot at the furthest point to his side”. Together, the Prophet and Gabriel rode the animal, which was called Al-Buraq, a name derived from ‘Barq‘, meaning lightning. In no time at all they reached Jerusalem in Palestine .

There the Prophet met prophets Abraham, Moses, Jesus and other noble prophets. He led them all in Prayer. He was then brought three cups: one contained milk, another contained wine, and the third contained water. He drank the milk. When he had finished, Gabriel said, “You and your nation are rightly guided.”

When they had finished their business in Jerusalem, they flew up to heaven. The Prophet tells us that as they entered each of the seven heavens Gabriel would confirm to its guardian angel that Muhammad had already received his mission. In each heaven, he met one or other of the prophets who preached the message of God’s Oneness to mankind. Among those mentioned in the authentic accounts of this very special journey were Adam, Jesus, John, Joseph, Moses and Abraham (peace be upon them all).

He also saw examples of the suffering which would be endured by certain groups of people, as they would be condemned to hell in the hereafter. The description of these groups and their suffering is so vivid that one can almost see them in their plight, yet the suffering was so horrible that one would do anything to escape it.

Muhammad’s Encounter With Moses

The Prophet was then admitted into Paradise and saw examples of the happiness to be enjoyed by those who would seek God’s pleasure and do His bidding. Here the Prophet was delighted with what he saw and expressed his wish that all his followers would be able to partake of such enjoyments.

While he was in Paradise he was informed of the obligatory Prayers he and his followers were expected to offer. As he passed Moses on his way back, Moses asked him about this particular point of Prayer. When Prophet Muhammad informed him that Muslims would be required to pray 50 times each day, Moses counseled him to go back and pray God to reduce this requirement.

Moses explained by saying: “Prayers constitute a heavy burden and your nation is weak.” The Prophet acted on this advice, and God reduced this obligation to 40 prayers each day.

When he stopped by Moses again, Moses repeated the same advice. Again the Prophet acted on it. The whole procedure was repeated several times until the obligatory Prayers for Muslims were reduced to five daily. Moses still thought they were hard to observe and counseled the Prophet to request a further reduction. The Prophet, however, felt too shy to do that.

The Prophet then returned to Makkah, having been absent only for part of the night; he returned just before dawn. On this unique trip, he witnessed the expanse of the universe as well as the link between our life in this world and the greater and larger life of the other world. God also wanted him to see other signs and symbols which filled his blessed heart with unshakeable faith.

Since he was taken on that unique journey from the house of his cousin Umm Hani’, where he was staying that night, it was to her house that he returned. Everyone in the house soon woke up. When they had finished their dawn Prayers, the Prophet told Umm Hani’ about his journey.

A firm believer, she accepted what the Prophet related as true. When he was about to leave, intending to go to the mosque, she stopped him, saying: “I fear that people would not believe you if you tell them what you have just told me.” The Prophet made clear his intention to tell them “even though they would not believe me”.

Narrating the Unthinkable

When he was sitting in the mosque, he was totally absorbed in his thoughts. Abu Jahl, the arch-enemy of Islam, noticed that and came up to him to ask: “Any news?” The Prophet replied: “Yes. I was taken last night to Jerusalem.” Making sure that he had heard him correctly, Abu Jahl asked: “To Jerusalem?” The Prophet’s clear answer came in the affirmative.

Realizing that there was a chance to consolidate the opposition to Muhammad and his message, Abu Jahl asked him: “If I call the others to come over, would you repeat to them what you have just told me?” Unhesitatingly, the Prophet said: “Yes.”Thus Abu Jahl did what the Prophet intended to do, that is, to gather the people so that he would tell them about his journey.

When the Prophet had finished his story, everybody was expressing disbelief in one way or another. Some people clapped, some put their hands over their heads and others jeered. One of them asked about the caravan the Quraysh had sent to Syria. The Prophet gave a detailed answer on its conditions and specified its arrival time.

They went out at the appointed time and, to their surprise, there was the caravan in exactly the same condition the Prophet had described. Yet that did not influence or weaken their opposition to the Prophet.

As the Prophet’s account of his journey was completed, there were many unbelievers going around into every quarter in Makkah to relate what sounded to them the most incredible story ever told. Some of them went straight to Abu Bakr, the Prophet’s closest friend, to tell him and to find out what his reaction would be.

Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) first accused them of bringing him false stories. When they assured him that Muhammad actually claimed to have made the return journey to Jerusalem overnight, Abu Bakr’s answer was: “If he has actually said this, he is telling the truth.” When they expressed their amazement that he would believe such a singular story, Abu Bakr said: “What is so surprising? I believe him when he says something even more incomprehensible. He says he receives revelations from God and I believe him.”

Abu Bakr then went to the mosque where people were still gathered around the Prophet expressing their disbelief. He asked the Prophet whether he made the statement that he went to Jerusalem and came back on the same night. When he heard the Prophet’s affirmative reply, Abu Bakr said: “I believe you; you always tell the truth.” Then he asked the Prophet to describe Jerusalem.

As the Prophet went on with his description, Abu Bakr kept repeating his words: “I believe you; you always tell the truth.” The Prophet was so pleased with Abu Bakr that he gave him the title As-Siddiq, which denotes ‘a true and firm believer’. This was Abu Bakr’s most cherished title which he kept for the rest of his life.

A small number of people rejoined the unbelievers after accepting Islam. The Prophet, however, was not influenced by their apostasy. He continued to preach his message with unshaken determination.

Direct Confrontation with Adversity

Two points need to be made here: the first concerns the example provided by the Prophet for all advocates of Islam. He faced the Quraysh with his story, fully aware that he would be accused of telling lies. That did not influence his determination to do what was required of him.

The interests of his message came first. People’s accusations could not weaken his resolve.

The point is that people may accept the idea of revelations but turn away from Islam for lesser reasons. In this case they found it difficult to accept the idea that God could take His Messenger on a journey like this while they believed that He would inspire him with His words, sending down His angel messenger to convey His message.

In other cases people may opt for disbelief for even less important reasons. That, however, should not weaken our resolve to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet and his noble companions.

There is no doubt that the night journey was a very effective morale booster for the Prophet. He was, after all, a human being who shared in all human emotions of sorrow, grief, pleasure and delight. Only a short time earlier he had lost his wife Khadijah, who was his main source of comfort, and his uncle Abu Talib, who ensured that Muhammad received all the support and protection to which he was entitled, according to the traditions of the Arabian society. Then came that disappointing trip to Ta’if, which was intended to broaden the base of the Islamic message.

It is only natural that Muhammad should feel downhearted after those three major jolts which affected both his personal and his public life. There was no question that his sorrow would affect his faith. Nevertheless, his losses were, by human standards, of huge proportions. Hence, a comforting gesture which gave him first-hand experience of the smallness of this world in relation to the wider universe, and the triviality of what one may experience in this life in relation to what lies in store in the next life, would, as the expression goes, do him the world of good.

There is no doubt that his night journey had a lasting effect on the Prophet. It boosted his confidence in himself and in his message; it enhanced his aspirations and helped put his efforts in the service of his faith on a higher level. Subsequent events show that there was a marked change in his attempts to set the course for his message.

Universality of the Islamic Message

The night journey was of great significance in more ways than one. Note, for example, that at Jerusalem, Muhammad led the other Prophets in Prayer. It is a well established Islamic concept that the messages of all Prophets were basically the same. They all called on mankind to believe in God, the one and only deity. With Islam, these messages were brought to their full and complete form.

With Muhammad, the line of prophethood reached its end. For the Prophets to pray together at Jerusalem signifies the continuity of their messages and their unity of rank and purpose. Jerusalem thus occupies a unique position as a sacred place for all followers of the Divine religions.

That unique Prayer of the Prophets, led by Muhammad, also signifies that as Islam has crowned all Divine messages and brought them to their final form, Jerusalem, the spot revered by all religions, belongs to the Muslims who follow Muhammad, the recognized leader of all Prophets.

The night journey also stresses the universality of the Islamic message. Muhammad is taken to Jerusalem which, at the time, was inhabited by non-Arabs. He is engaged there in the most religious of human activities before he is taken to heaven. It would have been just as easy for God to raise Muhammad to heaven from his home in Makkah. The fact that He chose to take him to Jerusalem first, to lead his fellow Prophets in Prayer, endorses the fact that Islam is a message for mankind, not for the Arabs alone.

In those congregational Prayers of the Prophets one also sees a reference to the fact that all the distortion which crept into earlier messages had been pushed aside. A fuller and more complete version of these messages has been revealed and guaranteed by God to remain intact for the rest of time. That version is Islam.

Was It a Physical Journey?

Muhammad’s night journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and hence to heaven, and his return to his home town on the same night, was, to a contemporary mind, very much a miracle. Caravans took a whole month to cover the distance between the two cities. How, then, could Muhammad make a return journey overnight, and have a side excursion to Heaven in the same package?

Even to those accustomed to today’s jet travel and to the notion of supersonic speed, the event can only be classified as supernatural. Hence questions have always been raised about the true aim of this journey and its nature. More precisely, people wonder whether it was a ‘spiritual’ or physical Journey.

The Qur’an answers the first question clearly. The chapter entitled The Night Journey or Al-Israa’, opens with this verse:

Limitless in His glory is He who made His servant go by night from the Sacred Temple (of Makkah) to the further Temple [of Jerusalem] whose surroundings We have blessed that We might show him some of Our signs. He alone hears all and sees all. (Al-Israa’ 17:1)

The whole object of the journey, then, was that the Prophet would have a chance to see some of God’s signs. What these were, we are not told. Seeing them, however, had a greatly reassuring effect on Muhammad, since it enabled him to experience at first hand the limitless ability of God the Creator.

This was bound to put the dispute in which he had been engaged with the Makkans into perspective. It exhibited before his eyes the true nature and the real might of the two camps: his own, in which God is an active participant, and that of the unbelievers.

Hence, it is not surprising that the following years of his life were free of any feelings of weakness or downheartedness. He remained to the last day of his life unaffected by adversity, certain that he would be victorious as long as he and his followers were true believers, sincere in their intentions and actions.

Here, one should emphasize that the journey was not a miracle with the aim of persuading the unbelievers to accept the faith. It was not one of the type of miracles which was given to other Prophets as evidence of their truthfulness.

The unbelievers had actually challenged the Prophet to go up into heaven, but he refused their challenge, as he refused all their other challenging requests. His answer to all such requests was:

Glory be to my Lord. I am only a human Messenger. (Al-Israa’ 17:93)

When he actually rose to heaven, he did not portray the fact as a reply for their challenge. Hence, one needs to understand the night journey in its proper light: it was merely an act of God to reassure His Messenger at a time when such a reassurance was needed for the proper conveyance of His message.

The majority of Islamic scholars are of the opinion that the night journey was not purely ‘spiritual’. They believe, as does the present author, that the Prophet did physically, in body and spirit, go on this journey. Some people may find this hard to believe because it involves preternatural powers. The answer is that whatever powers such a journey required, they were easy for God to provide.

Look back only one hundred years and imagine what would have been the reaction of people if someone had told them that anyone would be able to travel the distance between Bahrain and London in a little over four hours, in luxurious comfort.

Now reflect on travelling speeds, if one maintains the rate of progress achieved in this field in the present century. Would supersonic travelling have seemed natural? Indeed, the term ‘natural’ is certainly relative. What is natural today was preternatural to our ancestors and may become, in our grandchildren’s view, primitive.

‘Natural’, in essence, signifies little more than ‘familiar’. One need only look, with open eyes and mind, at the world to find that there are many miraculous facts which are readily accepted as ‘natural’ for no reason other than their familiarity. Every childbirth is a miracle, but it is simply overlooked because it occurs so often. One need only reflect over it a little to understand its miraculous nature.

In tackling such events as the night journey, one needs to remember only that they occur because God has willed that they should occur. To Him there is no such’ thing as ‘natural’ or ‘preternatural’. He has created all the laws of nature, whether they are familiar or not. To Him the operation of all laws is equally easy. What is not understood of His actions is readily accepted, because the fact that His power is limitless is already accepted.


Taken with slight modifications from



Ghusl on Friday: Recommended?

Ghusl on Friday: Recommended?

By Sheikh Sayyid Saabiq

Muslims are encouraged to perform ghusl before they gather for the Friday Prayer. In fact, Islamic law even goes to the extent of ordering one to perform ghusl at this time as part of the overall cleanliness and hygiene of the Muslim society.

Ghusl on Friday

The time for the Friday ghusl is between dawn and the time of the Friday Prayer.

Abu Sa`id reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Ghusl on Friday is obligatory (wajib) on every adult, as is using a toothbrush and applying some perfume.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Greatly Recommended

The meaning of “obligatory” here is that it is greatly recommended. This understanding of the Prophet’s saying is derived from what Al-Bukhari recorded about an incident from Ibn `Umar about his father.

One day, `Umar ibn Al-Khattab was standing and delivering the khutbah when `Uthman, one of the people from among the emigrants and helpers, entered. `Umar said to him, “What time is it now?” He said, “I was busy and could not return home. When I heard the call to prayer, I did not make more than the regular ablution.” `Umar said, “And the ablution only, when you know that the Messenger of Allah ordered us to perform ghusl?”

Commenting on the incident, says Ash-Shaf`i, “`Uthman did not leave the prayer to perform ghusl, nor did `Umar order him to do so. This illustrates that the Companions knew that this order was one of choice. It also shows that it is preferred.”

Abu Hurairah reported the Prophet saying, “Whoever makes the ablution and perfects it and then goes to the Friday Prayer and listens attentively, will have forgiveness during (the period) between the Friday and the next (Friday), and an additional three days.” (Muslim)

Says al-Qurtubi, “This hadith shows that ghusl is preferred. The mention of ablution, the reward and acceptability points to the fact that ablution alone is sufficient.” Ibn Hajr states in At-Talkhis, “It is one of the strongest proofs that ghusl for the Friday prayer is not obligatory. The statement that it is preferred is built upon the fact that if one does not perform ghusl, it will not harm (his prayer).

But, if others are harmed by his perspiration or bad smell from his clothes and body, ghusl becomes obligatory, and not performing it detracts from the rewards of prayer. Some scholars say that the Friday ghusl is a duty even if its nonperformance causes no harm (to others).

Their basis for this opinion is the hadith related by Abu Hurairah in which the Prophet (peace be on him) said, “It is a duty upon every Muslim to perform ghusl once every seven days, by washing his head and body.”

Al-Bukhari and Muslim accept the hadith mentioned on the subject in their apparent meanings and refute the ones contrary to the last hadith (of Abu Hurairah).

The time for the Friday ghusl is between dawn and the time of the Friday Prayer. It is preferable to do it at the time of departure (to the mosque). If one loses his ablution after that, it is sufficient for him just to make a new ablution (he does not have to repeat the ghusl).

If You Lost Your Ghusl

Says Al-Athram, “I heard Ahmad being asked if a person performed ghusl, and then lost it, would the regular ablution be sufficient for him. He said, “Yes, and I have not heard anything about that preferable to the hadith of Ibn ‘Abzi,” Ahmad is referring to the hadith related by Ibn Abi Shaibah (with a sahih chain from `Abdurahman ibn ‘Abzi on the authority of his father, who was a Companion.)

Following the Prophet’s Order

He performed ghusl for the Friday Prayer and afterwards nullified his ablution. After that, he performed just the regular ablution and did not repeat his ghusl. The time for the ghusl ends with the time of the prayer. If one performs ghusl after the prayer, it would not be the ghusl of the Friday Prayer, and one who does so is not following the Prophet’s order.

Ibn `Umar reported that the Prophet said, “Before you come to the Friday Prayer, you should perform ghusl. (Related by “the group”)

Muslim says, “When one of you wants to come to the Friday Prayer, he should perform ghusl.” Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr related that there is a consensus on this point.


The article is an excerpt from the author’s translated book “Fiqh Us Sunnah”.



Changing the Qiblah: A Test for the Believers


Allah certainly knows everything before it happens.

We appointed the direction of prayer which you formerly followed in order that We might distinguish those who follow the Messenger from those who turn on their heels. (Al-Baqarah 2: 143)

From these few words one can immediately identify the divine approach in educating Muslims and preparing them, from that early stage of their development, for the role of custodian of Allah’s message and the leadership of mankind.

As part of that transformation, it was essential for that nascent community to be freed of all traces of paganism and ethnocentricity, and to become totally obedient and dedicated to the new religion of Islam. The early Muslims had to realize that their values and standards in life must, from then on, be derived from the divine revelations being regularly communicated to the Prophet Muhammad.

In pre-Islamic days, certain elements of polytheism and racism had crept into the Arabs’ understanding of the faith of Abraham and the status of the Sacred House in Makkah. The Ka`bah had come to be venerated as an exclusively Arab shrine. This was contrary to its intended purpose, since it had been established by Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael (may Allah’s peace be upon them) as a symbol of purely monotheistic faith and for the reverence and worship of Allah alone.

A Test

To correct the situation and to test their faith and loyalty to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), Allah commanded the Muslims to adopt Jerusalem as the direction they face in prayer. Although it was not clear to the Muslims at the time, the measure was meant to be a temporary one, specifically intended to decide where their allegiance would really lie.

It was a delicate decision, but Islam is a complete and self-sufficient religion. It does not need to be supplemented or augmented by other religious beliefs. It does not accept any lingering traces of un-Islamic ways, serious or trivial. This is indeed the point implied in the Qur’anic statement:

We appointed the direction of prayer which you formerly followed in order that We might distinguish those who follow the Messenger from those who turn on their heels. (Al-Baqarah 2: 143)

Allah certainly knows everything before it happens. However, He wishes that what is kept deep in people’s hearts should first appear in action before He holds them accountable for it. His grace means that He does not hold man answerable for his thoughts and feelings; He only holds man accountable for what he does.

It was also a critical decision because Allah was aware that it was going to be a hard test for some Muslims, still fresh from idolatry. But He was also there to provide help and support for the sincere ones: “It was indeed a hard test except for those whom Allah has guided.” (Al-Baqarah 2:143) With Allah’s guidance every difficulty becomes easy.

For yet further reassurance, Allah affirms that the prayers the Muslims had performed facing Jerusalem were valid and the reward for them guaranteed.

Allah would never have let your faith be in vain. Allah is Compassionate and Merciful to mankind. (Al-Baqarah 2: 143)

Allah would have never burdened the Muslims with more than He knew they would be able to bear. As long as their intentions were genuine and their determination sincere, Allah was sure to come to their assistance and lighten the tasks expected of them. If a certain hardship or test is meant to reflect Allah’s wisdom and purpose, passing such a test is indicative of His mercy and compassion. Thus the Muslims could feel content, confident and free of worry about the past and the future.


Taken with slight modifications from



Significance of the Change of Qiblah


Qiblah has a significant role in bringing together every nation, race, and tribe on this planet regularly five times a day.

Two momentous events in the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) bear special significance as regards the institution of Prayer (Salah) in Islam: The Mi`raj (the Prophet’s Ascension) and the change of the qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah.

There is general agreement among Muslim scholars that the P ophet’s Night Journey and Ascension occurred in the month of Rajab, most probably on the 27th of that month, about a year before the Hijrah (the Prophet’s emigration from Makkah to Madinah); and the change of qiblah happened in the middle of Sha`ban, about sixteen months after the emigration.

Muslims believe that during the Prophet’s Mi`raj, God instituted the five daily obligatory Prayers for believers. And it was in the middle of a congregational Prayer in Madinah, that God’s command came to the Prophet about the change of qiblah.

We read about it in the Qur’an:

The fools among the people will say: “What has turned them from the Qiblah to which they were used?” Say: To Allah belong both East and West; He guides whom He pleases to a Way that is straight. (Al-Baqarah 2:142)

“The fools” in this context are those who criticize the change of qiblah, without any understanding of the matter. Before considering the meaning of the change of qiblah, we need to understand the importance of what is called the qiblah for Muslims.

For Muslims, none of the daily Prayers can be done correctly without knowing the qiblah. “Qiblah” means orientation, or a sense of true direction.

At the beginning of every Prayer, the Muslims face the house of God in Makkah, thereby spiritually connecting themselves along an invisible line that passes through every point on earth, to the spiritual center in Makkah.

Whether they pray alone, or in congregation, they do so as part of the greater community of Islam. Thus, five times a day, each Muslim is aligned to the other Muslims who form concentric circles around the Kabah encircling the earth.

Imagine watching the scene from space; and we may see all the Muslims at Prayer like a huge flower the size of the earth, opening and closing its millions of petals. Each of those petals represents a Muslim at Prayer.

Thus the qiblah (which is unique to Islam) has a significant role in bringing together every nation, race, and tribe on this planet regularly five times a day, so as to link them to the common center at Makkah.

Being central to the worshippers in Islam, the qiblah serves as the heart of the Ummah of Islam, supplying life-blood to the spiritual existence of Muslims all over the world and keeping the concept of unity in every sense of the term: God is One, the religion is one and the Ummah is one.

Every time we stand in Prayer, Muslims may say they make a spiritual journey to the Ka`bah in Makkah, somewhat as the Prophet did during his Night Journey to Jerusalem. And from the Ka`bah, our spirit travels upward towards Allah the Almighty just as the Prophet during his Ascension from Jerusalem. So for a pious and sincere worshipper, every Prayer he performs involves Night Journey and an Ascension, as it were.

During his Ascension, in a mystical experience of immense spiritual significance, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) led all the earlier prophets in Prayer in Al-Aqsa mosque at Jerusalem. This was a wonderful event that symbolized not only the oneness of both the houses of worship — the Ka`bah and Al-Aqsa — but also the oneness of the guidance of Allah given through all the prophets.

Because Prophet Muhammad was sent as the final prophet for the whole of humanity consisting chiefly of the children of Abraham by his eldest son Ishmael, and the second son Isaac, (peace be upon them both). Jerusalem represents the line of Isaac, as Makkah represents the line of Ishmael.

The foregoing highlights the significance of both the cities serving as the qiblah of Muslims: First Jerusalem and then Makkah. The final prophet born in the line of Ishmael, the first son of Abraham, at Makkah was commanded to turn to Jerusalem for Prayer; and then as a significant turning point in the process of the completion of the religion of Islam, God asks Prophet Muhammad to turn to the first house of God in Makkah for worship.

And God says in the Qur’an what means:

Thus, have We made of you an Ummah justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves; and We appointed the Qiblah to which thou was used, only to test those who followed the Messenger from those who would turn on their heels (From the Faith). Indeed it was (A change) momentous, except to those guided by Allah. And never would Allah Make your faith of no effect. For Allah is to all people Most surely full of kindness, Most Merciful. (Al-Baqarah 2:143)

In the above verse the use of the expression, “an Ummah justly balanced that ye might be witnesses over the nations” is particularly noteworthy. Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad is not to be considered the prophet of just a region, a race or a nation any more. Rather, he is the prophet of the whole of humanity; and the community of believers will be a justly balanced middle nation with Makkah as its center. Jerusalem, representing the earlier versions of the religion, was not the qiblah any more. Makkah, representing the patriarch of mankind Abraham and all his children, was to be recognized as the center of the completed religion of God.

This means that the change of qiblah had far more significance than most people at that time understood.

According to the Qur’an, Prophet Muhammad and his followers were named “the best of peoples” as well as “a justly balanced society”, deserving of leading the whole of humanity to the path of God.

That is to say, the change of the qiblah is a declaration by God of the perfection of the first religion as the final religion for mankind. Through the two mystical events in the life of the final messenger, Muhammad, God completes and perfects the religion for humanity and declares the Ka`bah in Makkah as the center of the world as well as of His religion.

And those who recognize and accept this cannot be parochial or ethnocentric; they have got to be above race, region or nation; they have to be at the center as a justly balanced middle nation serving as “witnesses over nations” as the true representatives of the whole of humanity.


Taken with slight modification from

Professor Shahul Hameed held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.


Women’s Prayer in Mosques: Allowed or Not?

Women’s Prayer in Mosques: Allowed or Not?

By Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan 

Our religion is a perfect one that comprehensively covers our welfare and interests in this world and in the Hereafter, Islam came with good to all Muslims, whether male or female as Allah says:

Women’s Prayer in Mosques

One of the things by which Islam honors woman is allowing her to attend the mosques.

Whosoever does right, whether male or female, and is a believer, him verily we shall quicken with good life, and We shall pay them a recompense in proportion to the best of what they used to do. (An-Nahl 16:97)

Islam takes an interest in women, conferring honor and respect upon them as long as they abide by its rulings and adorn themselves with its virtues.


One of the things by which Islam honors woman is allowing her to attend the mosques to witness the congregational prayers and the assemblies for remembering Allah in order to win reward. However, at the same time the woman must do that with due decency and precautions that keep her away from any satanic seduction and preserve her dignity as well.

With Men’s Permission!

It is detestable to prevent women from going to the mosque if they ask permission. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Do not prevent the female servants of Allah (women) from (going to) the mosques of Allah, but they should go while they are not perfumed.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud)

This is because performing the prescribed prayers in congregation has a great reward for both men and women: moreover, walking to the mosque has a great reward.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“If your women ask permission to go to the mosque at night, allow them.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)


The wisdom behind asking their husbands’ permission is that it is among the rights of men upon their women (wives) to stay at home. Thus, going to the mosque, in this case, is only permissible, and they art not to abandon what is obligatory for the sake of what is permissible. When the husband gives permission to his wife to go to the mosque, he then gives up his right (upon his wife to stay at home).

The Prophet said:

“ … yet their houses (women’s) are better for them (to perform prayer therein).” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) means that it is better for women to perform prayer in their houses to avoid any satanic temptation. The Prophet also said:

“… But they should go while they are not perfumed”

On this Condition

This means that women are allowed to go to the mosque (to perform prayer) on the condition that they should not be perfumed, lest they might tempt men with their perfume, thus diverting men’s eyes to them. The intended meaning here is that perfume is something that tempts men towards women. Joined to perfume (in prohibition) is what resembles it (with regard to temptation) like wearing attracting clothes, jewels and adornments.

Thereupon, if a woman perfumes herself or puts on attractive clothes, then she is prohibited to go to the mosque and must be forbidden from going out of her home. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Whoever woman perfumes herself should not join us in the `Isha’ (Night) Prayer.” (Muslim)

Besides, if a woman went out to the mosque (for prayer), she should keep away from crowded gatherings of men, Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

Thus, those in authority must forbid mingling between men and women in marketplaces and  gathering of men. The responsibility for this is upon those in authority since mingling between men and women brings about a great affliction. This is according to the hadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘After me I have not left any affliction more harmful to men than women.’” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Ibn Al-Qayyim added:

“Thus, those in authority must forbid women from going out adorned and beautified (in a seducing way). They must also forbid women from talking to men in streets and forbid men as well from doing the same.”

                                                                                                                                                                      To be continued


The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence”.


Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan is a Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence, Member of the Board of Senior Ulema & Member of the Permanent Committee for Fatwa and Research.


Women’s Prayer in Mosques: Allowed or Not? (Part 2)

Women’s Prayer in Mosques: Allowed or Not? (Part 2)

By Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan

Our religion is a perfect one that comprehensively covers our welfare and interests in this world and in the Hereafter, Islam came with good to all Muslims, whether male or female as Allah says:

Whosoever does right, whether male or female, and is a believer, him verily we shall quicken with good life, and We shall pay them a recompense in proportion to the best of what they used to do. (An-Nahl 16:97)

Islam takes an interest in women, conferring honor and respect upon them as long as they abide by its rulings and adorn themselves with its virtues.

Concerning going to mosques, does Islam allow women to attend the mosques to witness congregational prayer and assemblies for remembering God? What do the Qur’an and Sunnah say about that? (Read Part 1)


Women’s Prayer in Mosques: Allowed or Not? Part 2

When a woman adheres to the high moral standards of Islam it becomes permissible for her then to go to the mosque.

When a woman adheres to the high moral standards of Islam, such as bashfulness, covering herself, keeping away from attractive adornment and perfume (when going out) and keeping away from mingling with men, it becomes permissible for her then to go to the mosque for prayer and attend gatherings for the remembrance of Allah. However, it is better for her to stay at home, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“ … Yet their houses are better for them (to perform prayer therein).” (ِAhmad and Abu Dawud)

Moreover, scholars unanimously agree that it is better for women to perform prayer in their houses than in the mosque, to keep away from any satanic seduction, and for purpose of safety and for uprooting any source of evil.


If a woman does not adhere to the high moral standards of Islam and does not avoid whatever the Messenger (peace be upon him) forbids of adornment and perfume when going out, then it is prohibited for her to go to the mosque, and she must be prevented from going out by her guardian or those in authority. It is stated on the authority of `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that she said:

“Had Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) witnessed what the women were doing, he would have forbidden them from going to the mosque as the women of the Children of Israel had been forbidden.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

When a woman goes to the mosque, both the benefit gained behind this (for her and for the whole community) and the avoiding of any cause of evil are to be taken into account (by the Lawgiver). If the cause of evil is greater than the benefit gained, a woman, in this case, must be prevented from going to the mosque.

If a woman is asked to observe these high moral standards, when going out to the mosque, then it is more worthy for her, to be cautious and to keep away from any cause of temptation when going anywhere other than the mosque.


The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence”.

Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan is a Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence, Member of the Board of Senior Ulema & Member of the Permanent Committee for Fatwa and Research.