Natural Prayer, Women in Masjid, Liberty and Restriction

Issue 947 » May 19, 2017 - Shaban 23, 1438

Living The Quran

Natural Prayer
Al Baqara (The Cow) Sura 2: Verse 186 (partial)

"I answer the call of one who calls when he will call to Me."

The natural prayer addressed to God shall always be answered. If a prayer is not answered, then it lacks both or one of the two things mentioned in the verse: the prayer of the supplicant when he calls on Me. It may happen in the following ways:

First: There may be no prayer at all. It may only be a misunderstanding of the supplicant. For example, a person prays for an impossible thing (but he or she does not know that it is impossible), or for a thing which, if he or she knew the fact, would not have wanted at all. Let us say that someone was sick and died, but his friend is unaware of his death and prays for his recovery, while now the prayer should be for bringing him back to life. If he had been really sure that a dead body could be resurrected and had asked for its resurrection (as the prophets did), his life would have been returned to him; but he does not have such firm conviction and therefore the prayer is not answered. Or, let us say, he asks for a thing which, had he known it really, he would not have wanted. Therefore, it is not granted.

Second: There is indeed a prayer, but is it not addressed exclusively to God. For example, a person beseeches God for his or her needs, but his or her heart is looking towards its apparent causes or to some imaginary beings whom he or she thinks have the power to fulfill his or her needs. In this case, his or her prayer is not addressed exclusively to God. In other words, he or she did not beseech God at all because God, Who answers the prayers, is the One who has no partner in His affairs. He is not the one who works in partnership with apparent causes and imaginary beings. So these are the two groups of supplicants whose hearts were not sincere in their prayers even if their tongues were.

Compiled From:
Ramadan: Motivating Believers To Action, "Quranic Commentary on 'I Answer The Prayer'" - Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i , pp. 94-99

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Women in Masjid

It is certain that the Prophet, peace be upon him, set aside one of the doors of the mosque especially for women and that he put them in the last rows of the mosque to protect them when they bowed and prostrated. He forbade men to go too near their rows in the same way that he forbade women to come too close to the rows of the men. These rows of women remained in the mosque throughout the era of the Prophet and the time of the Rashidun Khalifs. No one protested. It began with Fajr and ended with Isha. There were sometimes large groups of women for the Tarawih prayers during Ramadan. It is also known that they took part in the Eid prayers; and listening to the khutbas is one of the hallmarks of Islam.

In spite of the flowering that Islam produced in the world of women, it rapidly began to fade and disappear. A hadith was forged forbidding teaching women to write, in order that they should remain illiterate! What will be the reckoning of the person responsible for this piece of Jahiliyya? When was ignorance and blindness imposed on half of the Community? Then another hadith was disseminated which rejected the idea of women attending group prayers:

"Umm Humayda, the wife of Abu Humayd as-Saidi, reports that she went to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, 'Messenger of Allah. I want to pray with you.' He said, I know that you want to pray with me. But your prayer in your bedroom is letter than your prayer in your living room, and your prayer in your living room is better than your prayer in your house, and your prayer in your house is better than your prayer in the mosque of your people. Your prayer in the mosque of your people is better than your prayer in my mosque.'" The transmitter said that she gave orders that a prayer room be constructed for herself in the furthest and darkest part of her house. She prayed in it until she met Allah Almighty." [Ibn Khuzayma]

The transmitter of this hadith casts behind his back the sunna of action transmitted by multiple paths from the Message-bearer. This transmitter regards a woman praying as something filthy which should be confined to the narrowest and most distant place possible. From this it would seem that the more constricted and distant the place the better the prayer!

The immediate question arising from this is: if these words are true, why did the Prophet let women attend the group prayers with him for ten years from Fajr to Isha? Why did he single out one of the doors of the mosque for them to enter by? Why did he not advise them to remain in their rooms instead of helping them in this way? Why did he shorten the Fajr prayer to two short suras when he heard a child with its mother weeping, so that their hearts would not be distracted? Why did he say, "Do not forbid the female servants of Allah from going to the mosques of Allah"? [Bukhari] Why did the Rashidun Khalifs allow the rows of women to remain in the mosque after the death of the Messenger?

Ibn Hazm spares himself and others when he says that the hadiths which forbid women to pray in mosques are lies and considers them false. Scholars of technical usage say that this hadith is considered aberrant (shadhdh) since it is opposed by someone who is more reliable.

Compiled From:
"The Sunna of the Prophet" - Muhammad al-Ghazali


Liberty and Restriction

A person who falls ill during the fasting month of Ramadan may not be certain as to whether he is definitely incapable of observing the fast, and the question thus remains of whether he should observe the original obligation (azimah) or take advantage of the concession (rukhsah) under the circumstances. Which of these is the preferable option? A general response recommended in this situation, which is also deemed to be in conformity with the spirit of wasatiyyah (Moderation), is that he should start the day with fasting but should then break it when he actually feels that he would be unable to sustain it without hardship, in which case he would be able to take advantage of the concessionary rule.

Taking unwarranted liberty or excessive restrictions with the religion can be violative of moderation on either side. The first can occur by declaring as permissible what is clearly prohibited or advising unjustified abandonment of the religious duties, or even declaring as permissible (mubah) what the religion has clearly made obligatory on one hand, and permitting or recommending what is clearly reprehensible (makruh) on the other. Similarly, downgrading a major transgression into a lower one or even to the level of makruh, and taking unwarranted liberty with the interpretation of clear text without the required knowledge—all fall afoul of the advice of wasatiyyah in the treatment of religious ordinances. Issuing a judgment (hukm) or a fatwa without any supportive evidence in the sources in order to gain the pleasure of rulers, for self-enrichment or nepotism, or opening the doors to usury (riba) by declaring dubious practices and transactions permissible, cannot be vindicated in the name of wasatiyyah. The list can be extended to include taking unwarranted liberties by treating lightly indulgence in commercial fraud, or hoarding and profiteering in response to pressure, self-advancement, or gaining favour of others.

Compiled From:
"The Middle Path of Moderation in Islam: The Qur'anic Principle of Wasatiyyah" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, p. 99