*** Can a Muslim Woman Lead a Public Mixed-Gender Friday Prayer ? *** 
Shaykh Saalih Ibn Muhammed Al-Luhaydaan
Member of Council of Senior Scholars
Member of Lajnah Ad-Daaimah

Q1. There is a woman among us, who is a professor of Islamic studies in one
of the universities, who claims that there is no prohibition in Islam for a
woman to lead men in the congregational prayer. This woman is planning to
deliver a Friday sermon as well as lead the Friday prayers, for a
congregation of men and women. This woman believes that women praying in the
back rows of the mosque behind men has nothing to do with Islam, but rather
it is the it is the result of following old customs and cultural practices.
Due to this belief, this Friday she will place the women's rows in front,
and the men will pray behind them. What is the Islamic position on this
issue? And what is the ruling on men praying behind women?

A1. All Praise is due to Allah, and peace and blessings be on His Messenger
who delivered the message, fulfilled the trust given to him, advised the
nation, and left us on a clear path. Nobody deviates from this path except
that he is religiously destroyed.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) explained to us what
was revealed to him by Allah in the Quran. Allah revealed the Quran as a
clarification for all things, and He ordered His prophet to explain to the
people what has been revealed to them by their Lord. And the Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him) fulfilled this duty and clarified all
issues. He never made a woman a leader of prayers for men. Allah says:
(translation) "Men are the care-takers of women" And when He mentioned the
relationship between men and women, He made clear that men are favored over

With regards to acts of worship, however, it is necessary for women to carry
out the same obligations as men. For instance, women are required to observe
all the daily prayers, just as men are. This obligation is never waived
except if a woman is menstruating or in the period of post-childbirth

It is not permissible for a woman to lead men in prayers, as it is not
permissible for her to deliver a Friday sermon. A woman is not allowed to be
a leader for men in obligatory or supererogatory prayers. She is only
permitted to lead other women in prayers, and while she is doing this, she
should stay in the middle of the first row of women she is leading, and she
should not come in front of them.

What I have mentioned here is the opinion of the majority of Islamic
scholars, past and present. And it is not proper for a woman who believes in
Allah and the Last Day to innovate into this religion what Allah and His
Messenger have not allowed.

This professor you mentioned, perhaps intends to deliver a Friday sermon, or
perhaps she would like to lead the people in the Friday prayer. This is a
matter that is not permissible in Islamic law. No evidence can be found to
support her position in the Quran, the Sunnah, the sayings of the companions
and their followers, or the sayings of the people of knowledge. If this
woman is Muslim, then it is obligatory for her to comply to the rulings set
by Islam, and to follow the guidance of the Mothers of the Believers, and
the women of the companions, may Allah be pleased with them all.

I do not know of anyone from any period of time who has allowed a woman to
lead the people in Friday prayers or deliver a Friday sermon. This never
occurred during the time of the rightly-guided caliphs, which was the peak
of the Islamic nation, nor during the Umayyah or Abbasi dynasties. Actually,
it never occurred during any time whatsoever. So there is no doubt that this
is clear misguidance, and we ask Allah to guide that woman, and those who
accept her position, to the truth.

Q2. This woman says that she disagrees with the Quranic ruling mandating
cutting off the hand of a thief, because she believes that cutting off
someone's hand is brutal behavior. Also, she does not submit to some of the
Quranic rulings that pertain to Islamically prescribed punishments. What is
the ruling on one who denies the permissibility of cutting off the hand of a

A2. One who denies a ruling that is clearly stated in the Quran becomes a
disbeliever, and leaves the fold of Islam. Allah says (translation) "The
male and female thief -- cut off their hands." However, for this ruling to
be carried out, certain conditions must be met. For instance it should be
clear that the thief didn't mistakenly take money that he thought was his.
Also, if a Muslim takes money from the Muslim public treasury, his hand is
not to be cut off, rather he is to be punished in a way that will deter
himself and others from committing this crime in the future.

When people start to deny the laws that the Quran has set, then they have
actually started to leave Islam and remove it's companionship from their
necks. And by doing so, there is a great evil and misguidance, its extent
known only to Allah.

Q3. This professor says that if a Muslim finds difficulty or problems
understanding some verses of the Quran, it is permissible to reject these
verses and say "No" to the Quran. What is the ruling on such a statement?

A3. One who makes this statement has fallen into a dangerous situation. The
Quran was revealed in the language of the Arabs, and it is completely
understood in the language of the Arabs, except for the matters of the
unseen, and this was explained by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah
be upon him). As for those who follow the unclear verses in the Quran, they
are the people whose hearts have deviated from the straight path. In the
Quran there are verses that are understandable to any Arab who can read and
understand the Arabic language. There are other verses that deal with
detailed rulings, and these have been explained by the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him). Allah says (translation) "that you (O
Prophet) explain to the people what has been revealed to them." The Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fulfilled this duty and explained
everything. Allah also mentioned about the Quran (translation) "In it are
verses that are precise -- they are the foundation of the Book, and others
unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation, the will follow that
of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation
(suitable to them)." These are the people of misguidance. As for those who
have firm knowledge, they say "We believe in it, all of it is from our
Lord." As for the idea of rejecting the verses of the Quran that one does
not understand, it should be known that recitation of the Quran is an act of
worship, even if the reciter does not understand what he is reading. If he
is able to read and understand what he is reading, then he has been given a
great blessing. Intentionally rejecting a verse from the Quran, and firmly
resolving not to accept it, is actually firmly resolving to leave Islam.
This is something that none of the people of knowledge have ever agreed to.
The Quran was revealed as a clarification for all things, and the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) explained these things to us in
his Sunnah. The Sunnah of the Prophet clarifies what is difficult to
understand in the Quran. It limits, specifies, and clarifies certain
rulings. Furthermore, the Quran cannot be understood by all people. A person
with greater understanding of the Arabic language can comprehend the general
verses of the Quran better than others. Whoever deviates from this
understanding has deviated from the straight path, and taken the other paths
that lead to misguidance. Allah says (translation): "And surely this is My
straight path, so follow it, and do not follow the (other) ways, for you
will be separated from His way." The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah
be upon him) once was with his companions, and he drew a straight line. He
drew to the left and right many crooked lines. He then said that the
straight line was the path of Allah, whereas the crooked lines were the
other paths, with each one having a devil calling to it. Then he recited the
previously mentioned verse: (translation) "And surely this is My straight
path, so follow it, and do not follow the (other) ways, for you will be
separated from His way." We ask Allah to protect us and keep us safe from

Q4. When this professor was asked about implementation of Islamic laws in
Canada, she rejected this suggestion, but in the same lecture, she gave her
support to same-sex marriages? What do you say about this?

A4. This statement does not even need to be discussed. Is this woman a
Muslim? A Muslim would never make such a statement. It is impossible for a
sane Muslim to make such a statement. She is not only allowing
homosexuality, but encouraging and justifying it by suggesting that same-sex
marriages should be recognized. On the other hand, she is rejecting the
implementation of Islamic law. Is she a Muslim. No one from the fold of
Islam would allow a man to marry a man and a woman to marry a woman. The
only question is: Should a man who commits homosexuality be executed or not?
Should it be carried out by stoning or not? Most of the companions were of
the opinion that men who commit homosexuality should be executed.
Shaykh-ul-Islam ibn Taymiyyah mentioned that the companions and the Tabi'een
had a consensus on the issue of execution, but the difference of opinion was
on how it should be carried out? Should they be stoned, or thrown off the
highest structure in the land? The idea of legalizing homosexuality is
filthy and evil, and could never be supported by a Muslim. We ask Allah to
keep us safe.

Q5. This woman says that it is the right of women to sit with men in the
main hall of the mosque, without any barrier, and it is the right of women
to participate in all activities normally reserved for men, such as leading
the prayers, etc... What is the correct position in this matter?

A5. Surely, this is from misguidance. Women have roles and jobs specific to
them, and men have roles and jobs specific to them. Allah specified women to
carry children and give birth. Also, Allah says: (translation) "Men are the
care-takers of women." And when the Persians appointed the daughter of Kisra
as the leader of their kingdom after his death, the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him) said (translation): "A nation who appoints a
woman as its leader will not be successful." Furthermore, even the testimony
of a woman is not equal to that of a man. According to the Quran, the
testimony of two women is equal to that of one man. As for crowds of men and
women entering the mosque from the same door, and the issue of women and men
sitting side by side without a barrier, this is something that is totally
against the etiquettes of Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah
be upon him) said (translation): "The best rows for the women are the last
ones, and the worst ones are the front ones." And he said with regards to
the prayer, which is the most important act of worship (translation): "If
the wife of one of you asks for permission to go to the mosque, let him not
prevent her, but their houses are better for them." He also said :
(translation): the first trial that affected the Children of Israel was due
to women." The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also
informed us that he did not leave behind a more harmful trial for men than
women. So we say: May Allah guide the men and women of the Muslims to hold
fast to their religion and respect the rulings of Allah, and constrain their
actions to comply with the Quran and the Sunnah and what the scholars have
agreed upon. No nation has a methodology that addresses all situations of
man and his personal life, as well as his business dealings, his relations
with friends and enemies, his relations with his family and relatives, his
relations with the rulers and subjects -- no nation has a methodology that
deals with these relationships like the methodology of Islam. And whoever
wants something other than Islam, wants to fall into clear misguidance. And
help is sought with Allah.

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{Invite (mankind, O Muhammad ) to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom 
(i.e. with the Divine Inspiration and the Qur'an) and fair preaching, and argue 
with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone 
astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided.} 
(Holy Quran-16:125)

{And who is better in speech than he who [says: "My Lord is Allah (believes in 
His Oneness)," and then stands straight (acts upon His Order), and] invites 
(men) to Allah's (Islamic Monotheism), and does righteous deeds, and says: "I 
am one of the Muslims."} (Holy Quran-41:33)
The prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "By Allah, if 
Allah guides one person by you, it is better for you than the best types of 
camels." [al-Bukhaaree, Muslim] 

The prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)  also said, "Whoever 
calls to guidance will have a reward similar to the reward of the one who 
follows him, without the reward of either of them being lessened at all." 
[Muslim, Ahmad, Aboo Daawood, an-Nasaa'ee, at-Tirmidhee, Ibn Maajah] 

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