Prophet Mohammad said, "Do not prevent women from coming to the Masjid." Women may pray in the masjid for taraweeh salat in Ramadan.
As Ramadan approaches many mosques will be opening their doors to women to pray taraweeh salat (night prayers) in congregation. It is a time to gather with women of the community to worship Allah and do zikr (praise). It is also a time to be in an environment free of haram (forbidden) activities.
Sunnah of Praying in the Mosque
There are two situations to be considered when deciding to pray in the mosque or not. First the sunnah of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) stated:"Do not prevent women from coming to the Masjid even though their houses are better for them." (Abu Dawud)
Second consideration must be that the Prophet also said,"A woman's prayer in her house is better than her prayer in her courtyard, and her prayer in her bedroom is better than her prayer in her house." (Reported by Abu Dawud in al-Sunan, Baab maa jaa'a fee khurooj al-nisaa' ilaa'l-masjid. See also Saheeh al-Jaami', no. 3833).
In the days of Prophet Mohammad women and men were different. Men lowered their gazes and women rarely left the home. It was a time when Muslims were extremely dutiful of the Prophet and Allah's commandments. Women should keep from all forms of haram, such as taking a taxi alone to get to the mosque or speaking to men at the mosque casually. When Prophet Mohammad gave permission to go to the mosque, there were certain requirements:
- The woman must wear hijab (hair covering).
- The woman must not wear perfume (to attract a man's glance).
- The woman must have permission of the husband.
Aiesha stated, "If the Messenger of Allah had seen what the women of our time do, he would have forbidden them to go to the mosques just as the Israelite women were forbidden." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
Although many men perform I'tikaf or Seclusion in the Mosque most women would want to avoid this due to pressing obligations in the home and duties to the husband and family. Some women may choose to spend the night of the 27th of Ramadan in the Mosque as a one night i'tikaf.
Reasons Why Women are Allowed to Pray in Mosque
In the home during Ramadan there may be distractions not allowing the woman to pray properly. If the television is on, there may be shows or commercials that cause there to be an atmosphere not totally perfect for prayer. Loud talking, children fighting, telephone ringing and basic chatter may cause anyone not to be able to concentrate or pray. If this is the case and the woman is married, permission must be asked of the husband before going to the mosque.
According to Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada,"According to the consensus of Muslim scholars, Tarawih is not considered mandatory on either men or women. Rather, it is only considered a recommended act. There is no evidence in the sources to make it obligatory. As far as I know, no jurist or imam has expressed such an opinion."
Although taraweeh is not mandatory for women, it is a highly suggested recommended act. If the woman has no obligations at home or is single, praying in the mosque is a good choice. It is a time for joining together with sisterly love. It is a time to help a poor neighbor who is in need and it is a time to draw on other sister's strong faith to make the prayers strong and sincere.
Women and the Best Rows in the Masjid
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "The best of the men's rows [In salat (prayer)] is the first row and the worst row is the last; but the best of the women's row is the last row and the worst of their rows is the first."
Women are better protected in a mosque with a separate praying area for women or one separated by a curtain. Having a curtain in the masjid is not sunnah, but it is a protection for any and all women to be saved from any fitna (trouble or desires of men). If women come to the mosque, it is sunnah to leave quickly after the end of the prayer is said, not sit around and talk. The women must leave before the men so not to mingle with men.
Women Praying in Taraweeh Salat is Sunnah
There are many differences of opinions about which method is the correct way for women, but in the end the praying in the mosque for taraweeh salat is sunnah. Following the ways of Prophet Mohammad is always the best way if possible. Women with small children who would be an annoyance to other worshippers should not pray in the mosque.
Consideration and moral manners must be considered. The mosque is not a place for children to play and run wild. It is a place for prayers and worshipping Allah, The Creator of mankind. When children are at the age to learn how to pray, it is the parent's responsibility to teach them how to pray properly and respect the rights of all members of the mosque.
"70 Issues Related to Fasting" Sultan.org
"Is Tarawih Mandatory on Women?" Islam on Line
"Night Prayer During Ramadan (Taraweeh), "Mission Islam