http://www.arabnews.com/?page=7&section=0&article=114047&d=27&m=9&y=2008

Saturday 27 September 2008 (27 Ramadan 1429)

      Stop women preachers at Prophet's Mosque
      Nourah Al-Khereiji I Arab News 
        
      ON my way out of the Prophet's Mosque in the morning of Ramadan 17, a 
female voice stopped me. I heard one of the women preachers at the Egyptian 
section tell a lady that Allah will not accept her prayers if she came to the 
mosque with the sole intention of visiting the Prophet's grave, because the 
Prophet (peace be upon him) has "cursed" those who visit graves.

      An Egyptian lady told her that before leaving Cairo for Madinah they 
usually say, "we are going to visit the Prophet". 

      "This is wrong," the preacher interrupted her, "You should say instead, 
'we are going to Madinah to pray at the Prophet's Mosque'. You should never 
say, 'we are longing to visit the Prophet.'"

      Argument ensued between the preacher and some worshippers about what the 
Prophet is supposed to have said about people visiting graves. Failing to 
convince the woman questioner, the preacher asked her to go to the mosque's 
library to find the answers for herself. Another woman asked the preacher if 
she could recite the Holy Qur'an and pray Allah to grant the reward for such 
recitations to her dead mother. The preacher said this was not possible and 
reminded her of the Prophet's saying, "When a human being dies, all his actions 
come to an end, except in one of three ways: A continuing act of charity, a 
useful contribution to knowledge or a God-fearing, dutiful child who prays for 
him." 

      "So you can only pray for your dead mother; you can't recite the Qur'an 
on her behalf", the preacher said. On the second day I went to the same 
section. I heard another preacher tell a woman visitor "to forget that there is 
a grave for the Prophet when you enter the Rawdah". The preacher added: "Do not 
specify the Prophet with prayer or Salam (greetings). Your Salam can reach him 
from anywhere."

      On a Friday, I decided to listen to all the preaching going on at the 
mosque in order to write about it. I sat among lady visitors. Because of the 
crowd, there was no clear-cut division between Egyptian and Pakistani sections. 
The voices of the women preachers were getting mixed. Every one of them was 
trying to be heard. A woman visitor was pleading to them to speak one at a 
time. Four lady preachers were tackling the same topic that day. They were 
advising women against traveling without a mahram (male companion who is either 
a husband, son, brother, father, grandfather or uncle). The preacher said the 
Prophet did not specify the distance the woman should not travel without a 
mahram or the age at which she would need him. She did not approve of the "safe 
companionship" (traveling with old women) as a substitute for the male mahram.

      On the two following days, the preachers continued their cursing of the 
grave visitors including those who visit the grave of the Prophet. They also 
warned against conveying Salam to the Prophet on behalf of others.

      According to my best knowledge, women were not prevented from visiting 
the Prophet's grave except in the last two decades. There is no fatwa (ruling) 
from any top religious authority preventing women from visiting the Prophet's 
grave. The ladies who are official guests of the state are allowed to visit the 
Prophet's grave. All women are allowed to visit the section of the Prophet's 
grave that is connected to the house of his daughter Fatima Al-Zahra every year 
at the end of the Umrah season mid-Shawwal and in mid-Muharram after the Haj.

      A majority of the scholars are not against women visiting graves. In 
support of their position, they cite the Prophet's Hadith in which he said, "I 
had earlier prevented you from visiting graves. Now you can visit them." This 
permission covered both men and women since the Prophet had not specified any 
group. Another supporting argument is the fact that the Prophet had taught his 
wife Aisha what to say when she would visit his grave and those of her father 
Abu Bakr and her brother Abdul Rahman. He only objected to women visiting the 
graves too often. 

      The recitation of the Qur'an for the dead is allowed by the Prophet 
himself. He said the dead would intercede on behalf of whoever enters a 
cemetery and recites some verses of the Holy Book.

      The Prophet's wives traveled without mahram after the death of the 
Prophet and his companions did not object to this. So women can go out for Haj 
without mahram. They can also travel in the company of old ladies. So the women 
preachers at the Prophet's Mosque should not be allowed to give wrong fatwas or 
speak about subjects they do not know much about.([EMAIL PROTECTED] )
     

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