Is it Allowed for Women to Teach Mixed Gatherings?


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Photo: Julie Fletcher

Few scholars (and yet many “religious” Muslims) claim that women scholars should not teach mixed gatherings openly as men scholars do and that if she does she should do so behind a curtain. It is also suggested as evidence against this that women should generally stay at home and that her face as well as her voice is of her nakedness (`aura), and they shouldn’t be seen or heard! For those who came to Islam or latched on to it because it is generally so practical and reasonable, you are probably thinking, well, that is ridiculous. The following article will show the strong scriptural refutation most scholars would make against such claims.

The discussion is mainly based in the commentary and juristic interpretation of surah al-Ahzab (Qur’an 33). Surah al-Ahzab is themed contextually with many verses over a few pages which address the pronoun for the feminine plural. These are always referring back to “the wives or women of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) (أزواج أو نساء النبي)” whereas the word “female believers (مؤمنات)” is only used once at the very end of the context in the verse enjoining the modest covering of Islam which is customarily referred to as Hijab in English. This can be confusing because the “verse of Hijab” is not referring to the modest clothing; rather it was an injunction for us to ask the wives of the Prophet ﷺ from behind a curtain when visiting their homes.

The first occurrence of the feminine plural pronoun is in dealing with the Prophet’s wives desire for extra wealth and provisions. God tells them that if they desire this worldly life then the Prophet should divorce them whereas if they want the Hereafter then that is the reward for exceptional Muslims:

“Dear Prophet, tell your wives that if they want this life and its adornments…” (Qur’an, 33:28).

The next time the pronoun appears, it is referring back to a specific warning against the wives of the Prophet ﷺ from sexual immorality which will bring a double punishment.

“Dearest women of the Prophet whoever among you would commit adultery…” (Qur’an, 33:30).

The next verse with the plural feminine pronoun makes the case in point of the whole issue!

“Dear wives of the Prophet, You are not like any other women. If you are to be pious then do not speak in a soft sweet tone which could lead a person with a diseased heart to get the wrong idea. Live in tranquility in your homes and don’t make a spectacle of yourselves as the women did before Islam…” (Qur’an, 33:32-33).

This verse is clearly denoting the special status of the wives of the Prophet ﷺ and how they carry a much more specific and cautious ruling. As we saw in the previous verses, the deeds of the wives of the Prophet ﷺ carry double the impact and so naturally the law carries double the seriousness. There are clearly unique rules to the wives such as the fact that they do not inherit from the Prophet ﷺ, no man can marry them after, and according to many commentators and jurists, they should stay home and if visited, they should speak from behind a curtain.

The surah then goes into the generality of spiritual equality between women and men, and then goes into a page and a half of other matters clearly moving away from the specificity of either the wives of the Prophet ﷺ or the women believers.

It picks back up admonishing the Prophet ﷺ and his wives about the general rules of their relationship and again we have reference to the plural feminine pronoun again referring to the Prophet’s wives.

“Dear prophet, We have permitted you to be with your wives to whom you have given the bridal dowry…” (Qur’an, 33:50).

Immediately following that is the “verse of the Hijab”. Let us look at the verse and see who it was referring to and the scholarly difference of interpretation and what may have led to such difference while it will probably seem plain and evident to most readers.

“Dear believers don’t hang around the Prophet’s house hoping to be invited for a meal. If you are invited, then go and eat, but don’t linger around too long afterwards hoping to talk as that often annoyed the Prophet and he was shy to tell you to leave. God is not shy to say the truth. If you ask them (feminine plural), then do so from behind a curtain. That is purer for your (masculine plural) hearts and theirs (feminine plural). You must not annoy the Prophet nor should you ever marry his wives after he passes. Indeed these are of the most serious of affairs to God.” (Qur’an, 33:53)

Three verses later, the surah reveals the injunction for the modest covering women are to wear and God felt it necessary to specify the wives of the Prophet ﷺ, his daughters and all the believing women so as to leave no doubt about its legislative intention.

“Dear prophet, tell your wives, your daughters and the believing women to cover their entire bodies with clothing…” (Qur’an, 33:59).

This was the last verse in the surah using the plural feminine pronoun in which we see all previous verses specifying that to the wives of the Prophet ﷺ.

Interpretations of the Verse Regarding Staying at Home

As you can see, the context and linguistics is addressing the wives of the Prophet ﷺ, although some scholars said that it should address all other female believers as well since they are our example. They said it is similar to the verses which address the Prophet ﷺ. On the other hand, other scholars held the position of the specificity of the text to the wives of the Prophet ﷺ as both a specific admonition and to clarify their special status.

Prominent Classical Commentaries

Al-Tabari (310) — Indicates that the verse about staying in the house except for need is for all women. He narrates many narrations of circumstances in which the verse of Hijab was revealed all of which indicate it is specific to the wives of the Prophet ﷺ. He does mention one opinion of Qatada that it was for all homes to have a curtain between strange men and the women of the house. Ibn Kathir follows Imam al-Tabari’s commentary.

Ibn Atiya (546) — Makes no mention of the verses being general for all women rather his commentary follows the natural linguistics which are specific to wives of the Prophet ﷺ.

Ibn al-Jawzi (597) — Makes no mention of the verses being general for all women rather his commentary follows the natural linguistics which are specific to wives of the Prophet ﷺ.

Imam al-Razi (606) — Makes no mention of the verses being general for all women rather his commentary follows the natural linguistics which are specific to wives of the Prophet ﷺ.

Al-Qurtubi (671) — Indicates that the rulings are general for all women.

Al-Nasafi (710) — Makes no mention of the verses being general for all women rather his commentary follows the natural linguistics which are specific to wives of the Prophet ﷺ.

Imam Al-Sutooti (864) — Makes no mention of the verses being general for all women rather his commentary follows the natural linguistics which are specific to the wives of the Prophet ﷺ.

Ibn Ashoor (1393) — Actually makes the point that the verses are specific to the wives of the Prophet ﷺ when speaking about things which the believing women weren’t generally commanded to elsewhere in the Qur’an. He states that it would be noble for a believing woman to follow them, but she is not obligated to.

Related Hadiths

Ibn Hajar, radi Allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him), narrates the hadith in his commentary on al-Bukhari — This verse stay in your homes is in reality specific to the wives of the Prophet ﷺ since Umm Salamah used to say: “I won’t be moved by a camel’s back until I am reunited with the Prophet,” (al-Fath 3561).

It is also narrated in most of the historical commentaries how after the verse of Hijab was revealed, Umar saw Sawdah (ra) — the wife of the Prophet ﷺ— walking around outside for some reason and asked her why she is outside. She went and asked the Prophet ﷺ about Umar’s rebuking her and he responded: “God has permitted you to go out if you need to,” (Muslim 2170).

It is also narrated in many sound narrations that after the loss of the Battle of the Camel led by A’ishah (ra), she would cry when reading the verse about staying in the house.

Is a Woman’s Face of her Nakedness?

In Sura al-Noor men and women were commanded to lower their gaze since the face is apparent. So if that is to be a proof for men not watching a female speaker then that would also prevent women from watching a male speaker. The vast majority of the scholars say that the face and hands of a woman are not from her nakedness, but should still not be stared at. In commenting on this verse many commentators particularly from the Hanafis say that the injunction to lower the gaze is understood at the moment of desire. If there is no desire then the verse is inapplicable. Others said that the restriction is lightened in professional interactions like buying and selling or teaching etc.

Is a Woman’s Voice of her Nakedness?

Hanafi’s: Ibn Abideen Al-Darr Al-Mukhtar: “Like her face and hands, her voice is not of her nakedness.”

Maliki’s: Hashiyat al-Dasooqi: “It is said that the women’s voice is not of her nakedness since we have so many female scholars of Hadith. It can only be of her nakedness if a man is attracted by it so then it would be disliked to listen to it.” It is the well-established opinion that her voice is not nakedness as mentioned by al-Adawi.

Shafi’ee: Majmoo al-Nawawi: “It was said that Al-Qadhi Husain was asked if the woman’s voice is of her nakedness and he answered that both opinions are found in the school, but that the more correct is that it isn’t.”

Hanbali: Insaaf al-Mardawi: “It is the more correct opinion that the voice of a woman is not of her nakedness.”

Dr. Su’ad Salih the previous Deen of Islamic Law at Azhar University says the there is nothing wrong with a female scholar teaching a mixed gathering since it is well established that great women scholars of the past did so. There is nothing in the scripture that would prohibit a modest woman of knowledge and character to preach to the masses. She states that the fact widows were commanded to stay in the house for mourning is evidence that generally they may leave the house. She similarly negates the claim that a woman’s voice is of her nakedness since the Qur’an did ask us to ask the wives of the Prophet ﷺ behind a curtain thus hearing their voice. She also reminds us that there were thousands of female scholars of hadith and fiqh who taught many men. The verse does not prohibit all speech; rather it forbids a sweet soft toned voice that may be seen as attractive:

“…If you are to be pious then do not speak in a soft sweet tone which could lead a person with a diseased heart to get the wrong idea.” (Qur’an 33:32)

Dr. Husam al-Farfoor and Dr. Abdul-Hameed al-Ubaydee, both professors of comparative jurisprudence in Syria and Iraq as well as the great scholar Muhammad Al-Didow al-Shanqeeti agree with her fatwa.

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43 Comments

  1. A'bd Allah says:

    Selamu Alejkum

    What is it that you are trying to accomplish?
    What is your intention behind pushing this idea of having women teaching mixed gatherings without encouraging at least a Niqab let alone a curtain?

    We live in an environment where the hearts of the people are diseased and lack physicians who may help us purify them. It comes to mind that Imam Al Ghazali thought those teachers were gone in his time and Sidi Ahmed Zarruq thought the same when he lived may Allah be pleased with them both. How do you believe this will benefit the people of sick and diseased heart? There is no opinion that this slave of Allah has on this issue rather one wonders what place you learned men are trying to take the people to….

    Thank you for your time….Selamu Alejkum

    • Maria Moreira says:

      What he is trying to accomplish is to remove the ignorance from the mind of many Muslims who have excluded women from participating in the public and community life under the excuse that there is a lot of fitnah out there. If it’s so, why only women should pay the price for it? If all commands are for BOTH men and women, then men should stay home too, to avoid contributing to the fitnah. It seems like if we women were the source of all evil for some Muslims. This is a Christian concept that have entered in Islam and that should be fought for every educated and knowledgeable Muslim, whether a man or a woman.

    • Jakub M. says:

      Assalaamu ‘alaykum. In my view moderation (sincere attempt to combine pure wahy and pure ‘aql) is the best reaction to sick hearts and lack of physicians. Going away from the sunnah and making things hard in my view will only drive away people who are not close to religion. for example I think that seperating man and woman in the masjid by a curtain is wrong and not based on the sunnah, and Allaah knows best. Different entrences for man and woman, lowering gazes, teaching, advising is based on the sunnah. and I believe that the sunnah is enough. Is making a curtain from the teachings of the Prophet?

      Let’s avoid accusing people of evil intentions.

  2. Anon says:

    I think you meant

    “Dr. Su’ad Salih, the previous *Dean* of Islamic Law at Azhar University, … ”

    and not

    “Dr. Su’ad Salih the previous Deen of Islamic Law at Azhar … “

  3. In Love With Allah says:

    Brother John, may I ask what advice you would give to students of knowledge? I want to become a jurist one day and would love any advice I can get. I am trying to master Arabic and memorize the Qur’an as first steps.

  4. Said Hasan says:

    Scholarly piece.
    Though I understand you are inspired by Al-Azhar, It would have been great to quote from few Moderate Modern Salafis who may support your claim.
    Nonetheless, I am perfectly satisfied with the classical commentaries that you highlighted which support listening to or learning from a modest women if the need arises.
    The point is that we should be open-minded to difference of opinions and learn to ethically disagree.
    Both points are correct since they have classical backups.
    The danger will be when there is no salafus-salih to prove the fatwa or scholarly intepretation of a given issue which is motivated by a whims, being appologetic and to flew with the tide of popular culture and trends.
    JazakAllah khayr.

  5. Syed says:

    Salam alaikum wa rahmatullah, dear brother John and others,

    It seems clear, as you show, that the Quran’s understanding of “hijab” is not mandatory on all women. Why then does it seem that our modern community is so insistent upon using that word? When Muslims repeat the maxim that “hijab is mandatory on all women” without providing primary sources, it raises a lot of confusion as to what exactly is meant by hijab – general modest clothing, a headscarf, or total segregation (as the Quran’s usage would suggest)?

    Wouldn’t it be more accurate to simply say that the Quran commands that women “yudneena ‘alaihinna bi jalābeebihinna” and “idribna bi khumurihinna ‘alā juyoobihinna.” In my opinion, it would raise far less confusion as to what God actually commands and allow us to have a far more honest discussion as to what how to apply those commands today.

    Peace and love -

    • Hussain says:

      Imam Suhaib webb has another article about hijab being mandatory. You should check that article out. Just search for it on his website.

      Asslamu alaykum

      • Syed says:

        Wa’alaikum Salam wa rahmatullah Hussain,

        It depends on what you mean by “hijab.” Clearly, Imam Webb does not believe that the Quran’s concept of “hijab” is obligatory (complete screening from view, like the Prophet’s, saws, wives) but advocates for the use of modest clothing and a “khimar.”

    • John Ederer says:

      May the Peace, Blessings and Mercy of God be with you Syed,
      It’s pretty much semantics bro. The Quranic “Hijab” was referring to a curtain in the house of the wives of the prophet (PBUH). As we see in this article and in sura al-Noor there is a clear legislation of a code of dress for all Muslim women that Muslims customarily call Hijab. The clear language of both indicate that it covers the whole body except what naturally appears which most scholars have defined as the face and hands and God knows best.

  6. M says:

    Salam Alaikum

    First of all, JazakAllah Khair for sharing a different point of you. Secondly, you are my brother in Islam, and a scholar on top of that (while I am not), but I might have to respectfully disagree with you.

    We are living in a very sexualised society and immoral times, most Muslims do not lower their gaze unfortunately. I understand from my research and understanding of the religion that it is allowed to talk to the opposite gender in case of necessity, and teaching the religion in today’s time does sound like a necessity. But I do feel it would be better to take precaution and teach the mixed gathering while wearing a niqab.

    I remember reading in a hadith that one can never be too modest (maybe it was a weak hadith, I might be wrong).I do not see any harm in teaching a mixed gathering from behind a curtain. It’s something at least I would be comfortable with.

    If I’m right, it’s from the Allah. If I’m wrong, it’s from myself.

    • John Ederer says:

      WAS M,

      I can appreciate you piety and caution which is from a devout heart. I agree 100% that we live in a highly sexualized world. However, I can’t come to terms with the logic of your solution. I am promoting something that can deal with the problem. For a modest Muslim woman to preach to the masses and show leadership is a great example for women of any faith to see.

      Are you saying that men will look at these sisters who are teaching and then jump their bones in lack of control of their carnal desires?! or are you suggesting that they will stare at her fantasizing and that would amount to fitnah? As an earlier sister said he should lower his gaze if he thought wrong just as a sister watching a handsome shaikh should too. What about the widely accepted practice of men preaching to mixed gatherings?

      As the article and Sh. Akram al-Nadwi’s book show in detail there is clear classical precedent and no scriptural prohibition. After that I’m looking to weigh the harm and benefit and I see the scales clearly in favor of benefit.

      • Maryam Amirebrahimi says:

        jazak Allahu khayran Shaykh John for ALWAYS being a voice of knowledge, wisdom and relevancy and reason!

    • Kirana says:

      Hmm… yes one can in fact be ‘too’ modest. Just as it is possible to go in excess in every thing. You could end up locking up every woman for the rest of her life, as had actually been a norm for some time in some places in medieval Christian Europe and Central Asia, because that is the “most” modest she could possibly be. Where then would be the female warriors, teachers, market enforcers, doctors, poets, traders, of the Prophet’s companions, if they were all locked up because “one can’t be too modest”?

      Putting aside these academic arguments, common sense dictates that it is not possible that women ought to be stashed away, since it contradicts historical facts of the feats and examples of the first generation of Muslims many of whom are known to be heaven-bound.

  7. Ibnu Ud says:

    A good article, masyaa Allah. I suggest others to read the introductory chapter of the biographies of female muhaddith (Al Muhaddithat) by Sheikh Muhammad Akram Nadwi hafizhahullah, and from that, you’d see that even shahabiyah and tabi’iyah used to speak (in the context of the sheikh’s book, they were the scholar of the hadeeth, and they were all female) in front of mixed gathering! Apparently it was a sunnah (tradition) of the pious predecessors…but somehow along the way we lost it.

  8. abu Haneefah says:

    Shaykha Fathimah al-Batayahiyyah (r.a.), an 8th century scholar taught the celebrated work of Swahih al-Bukhari in Damascus.  She was known as one of the greatest scholars of that period, demonstrated especially during the hajj when leading male scholars of the day flocked from afar to hear her speak in person.  A beautiful picture is painted of her in an Islam that has been long forgotten – a distinguished, elderly woman teaching her students for days on end in the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) mosque itself.  Whenever she tired, she would rest her head on the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) grave and continue to teach her students as the hours wore on.  Any woman visiting the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) mosque now will know the frustration of not even being able to see the blessed Prophet’s (s.a.w.) grave, let alone rest their head on its side wall.

    Taken from Shaykh Akram Nadwi’s book, al Muhaddithaat.

    Another, Shaykha Zaynab bint Kamal (r.a.), taught more than four hundred books of ahadits in the 12th century.  Her ‘camel loads’ of texts attracted camel loads of students.  She was a natural teacher, exhibiting exceptional patience which won the hearts of those she taught.  With such a towering intellectual reputation, her gender was no obstacle to her teaching in some of the most prestigious academic institutes in Damascus.

    Then there was Shaykha Fathimah bint Muhammad as-Samarqandi (r.a.), a jurist who advised her more famous husband on how to issue his fatawa.  Shaykha And Umm al-Darda (r.a.), who as a young woman, used to sit with male scholars in the mosque.  “I’ve tried to worship Allah in every way,” she wrote, “but I’ve never found a better one than sitting around debating with other scholars.”  She became a teacher of ahaditsand fiqh and lectured in the men’s section. 

  9. Saul says:

    1- I do not see any commentary from Sahaba neither their action (any example of female companion teaching males in public)

    2- wats ur opinion about Umar (ra) being strict at women,even throwing pebbles and women use to change their route if seeing him incoming?

    3- its ironic that us use the old references and only in
    21 st century a Scholar from Al Azhar Allows female teaching men?

    4- To be frank I guess this practice might work in western countries (where there is less permuscuity)comapred to muslim countries (such as Paksitan,Egypt,Indonesia) where sexual deviancy and attack on women is alarming(as evident from recent news out of Egypt)

  10. Aamena says:

    To the previous poster, M, why should a woman have to wear niqab in order to teach in mixed gatherings? If a brother wants to attend a mixed gathering where a woman is teaching, he is more than capable of utilizing his self control and lowering his gaze.

  11. khalil tayeh says:

    1. it is true that the word “hijab” belong to the prophet’s women, and it is also true that those last ones are NOT EQUAL TO THE OTHER WOMEN: Wives of the Prophet, you are not like other women. If you have fear of God, do not be tender in your speech lest people whose hearts are sick may lust after you. (33.32)
    also they have the double of punishment in case of adultery unlike the normal woman who has 100 lashes as punishment, so the prophets women have 200 lashes: Wives of the Prophet, if anyone among you commits indecency, her torment will be double. This is not at all difficult for God. (33:30)
    2. Tell the believing woman to cast down their eyes, guard their chastity, and not to show off their beauty except what is permitted by the law. Let them cover their breasts with their veils. They must not show off their beauty to anyone other than their husbands, father, father-in-laws, sons, step-sons, brothers, sons of brothers and sisters, women of their kind, their slaves, immature male servants, or immature boys. They must not stamp their feet to show off their hidden ornaments. All of you believers, turn to God in repentance so that perhaps you will have everlasting happiness. (24:31)
    her it is clear what the muslim woman must cover , what is out of zeinah (face, hands and hair) .. this is the first meaning of the word “zeinah” in the verse, ; the other meaning is in the second part of the same verse which means “do not show your “zeinha” your body or your “desired” parts as breast or thighs .. and do not put in your legs rings to make a voice to capture MEN ATTENTION, this was done in Jahyliah (pre Islam)..
    3. the word HIJAB is mentioned in Quran to lead and mean a curtain but not for women but to express the PHYSICAL OR VIRTUAL “WALL” but NEVER ADDRESSED TO THE MUSLIM WOMAN as a RULE TO COVER HER HEAD..
    Quran is ISLAM and the “sunnah” of the prophet wich is understood as the PROPHET BEHAVIOR IN HIS LIFE BUT NOT AS A LAW, BECAUSE THE LAW IS MADE BY ALLAH NOT BY MESSENGERS:(to pray, to fast, to haj, and so on).. unluckily many of muslims consider the Prophet’s Sunnah as a LAW OR TASHRI3 which is not CORRECT.. he was only the messenger of Allah and the messenger dose NOT write or do laws but HE ONLY FORWARD THE MESSAGE: ” The duty of the Messenger is only to preach. God knows what you reveal or hide. (5:99)
    in conclusion, the woman can lives normally and teach and there is no ONE VERSE WHICH SAYS “WOMAN MUST BE OR STAY AT HOME” ; THE RULE BELONG ONLY PROPHET’S WOMEN:
    ” Do not display yourselves after the manner of the (pre-Islamic) age of darkness. Be steadfast in the prayer, pay the religious tax, and obey God and His Messenger. People of the house, God wants to remove all kinds of uncleanliness from you and to purify you thoroughly. (33:33)
    thanks
    may Allah Bless all of you

    • John Ederer says:

      With all due respect Khalil Tayeh,

      What you are suggesting is not Islam as it has been understood and practiced for 14 centuries.

      The two phrases used to define the female dress code in the Quran خمرهن and يدنين عليهن من جلابيبهن
      clearly mean covering the body head to toe and if you want to stick literal to the Quran as the Hanbalis do then that includes covering the face and hands!

      The Quran says clearly in sura al-Nisaa “Whoever obeys the prophet has obeyed God”.

      May God bless us with guidance and understanding and protect us from the plots of Satan.

      • khalil tayeh says:

        Islam is practiced everyday not only 14 centuries: in the past and until now in all muslims countries they understand the verse 4:34 as !BEAT” but the the meaning of it is not beat but ISOLATE\SEPARATE\.. and many other verses which are understood JUST ONLY in these new years, if you need i will give you more examples of verses where the meaning is misunderstood from muslims, imagine form others who are not muslim!.. i mean understanding the book is not stopped and halted but must be everday and every time, reflecting upon the quran is a DAILY DUTY, because you cannot leave it and say for “14 centuries” they understood it like this way. so in Islam as the verse in says clearly in 24.31 NOT TO COVERR THERE FACES, but جلابيبهن to cover there breasts and the face is NOT MENTIONED.. it is useless to FORCE the verses and say say must cover here face where Allah dose not Say absolutely this. all of us use this famous verse and leave the rest of the Quran: “Whoever obeys the prophet has obeyed God” but we MUST understand the book as ALL FROM ALL NOT A PIECE FROM ALL,so remember that Allah Says in all the book “obey Allah AND OBEY ARRASUL” so at first we MUST OBEY ALLAH and then hi prophet: this mean if Allah revealed to the prophet to Qur’an and Says in it nothing about covering the face the prophet CANNOT DISOBEY THIS, this mean there is not CONTRADICTION BETWEEN THE ACTION OF THE PROPHET AND WHAT ALLAH HAS SAID TO HIM IN QURAN.. so the Quran also says clearly that woman should not cover her face..i do not care about hanbalies or hanifi or other things: i care to read and REFLECT UPON THE QURAN this is the fist and important thing: ” Is it that they do not think about the Quran or are their hearts sealed? (47:24).. so obey Allah and OBEY the prophet but we know that the prophet obey Allah at all and he cannot says anything which CONTRADICT THE QURAN..
        and the word AZENAH mean the parts which usually lead to the provocation exactly like discovering the breast يدلين عليهن من جلابيبهن and do not hang or put something relative to AlJahelyah..as the ring in the foot.. so if you have a verse where covering the face is mentioned please write it and i will be pleasured to read it.. and do not forget that prophet’s wives are NOT EQUAL TO THE OTHER WOMEN: Wives of the Prophet, you are not like other women. If you have fear of God, do not be tender in your speech lest people whose hearts are sick may lust after you. (3:32), so what is mandatory to the prophet’s women is NOT MANDATORY TO MUSLIM WOMEN.. it is clear in the verse above.
        salamu alaykum warahmat allah
        may allah Bless you

  12. June says:

    Alhamdulillah, I come from a country in Southeast Asia (i.e. Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines etc). Here, we have a lot of qualified and respected ustadhas. Our ustadhas often conduct classes or seminars to a mixed gathering (though with gender segregation) without observing niqab or hijab in the form of a screen. This has been the practice for many decades and to-date, I have not heard of an ustadha being harassed or dealt with in an inappropriate manner. In my opinion, we’re living in a world where the hypocrites or ones with diseased hearts do not have a tangible reminder of Allah’s authority on earth to deal with i.e. the Prophet (s.a.w) himself (unlike in his time) So these people probably wouldn’t come to learn from the ustadhas in the first place; therefore the ones who do come to learn are, in shaa Allah, genuine seekers of knowledge and in shaa Allah, have taqwa so that they wouldn’t entertain any sort of ‘bad’ thoughts. Alhamdulillah, truly I’m glad that in this side of the world, we have many female scholars to benefit from. So I do sympathize with my fellow sisters from other parts of the world who may not be so lucky, or even brothers who wanted to learn more about the female psyche from the ustadhas in order to better understand their wives, moms, daughters etc because who knows a female better than Allah and a fellow female? I hope the ummah will be more open-minded about female ustadhas and scholars but unfortunately in certain parts of the world, people get blinded by culture and their own nafs… Allahu a’lam…

    • Kirana says:

      I feel lucky too, sister. Lucky I can take for granted that our female views on all matters including religious practice can be publicly expressed and taught. Why, the majority of schoolteachers are female. If they can teach math to teenage boys and girls, why not fiqh? What next, since females can’t use their knowledge even if they had it (being unable to leave the house or speak), they don’t have to be educated either, since that’s unnecessarily immodest too?

  13. Anika says:

    MashaAllah.Thank you for writing this article. May Allah give barakah to your clarity, sensitivity and your pursuit of the truth. Ameen.It seems specifically apt in our times as there seems to be a concerted effort by some to exclude the women from the masajids and public discourse instead of integrating them into our society where they can have a platform to learn scholary knowledge and lead by example esp.for other women. I hope more people will rise above this form of ignorance and think from the perspective of a woman and realize that God didn’t create women so they could disappear from sight into insignificance. If that were the case then Allah would never have allowed a believing woman the opportunity to elevate herself to ranks equal to those of the believing men. In His design lies infinite wisdom and we need to examine our intentions critically because we will be held accountable. May Allah guide us to the straight path. Ameen

  14. Wearing Niqab while teaching is must.

  15. Faisal says:

    Shaykh Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi wrote a 57 volume biographical encyclopaedia of over 9000 women scholars of hadith in the history of Islam. In that he brings so many examples of women teaching both men and women. Many of the luminaries of Islam such as Bukhari, Muslim, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Hajar have women teachers.

    Please have a look at the following 1 hour video which summarizes his findings.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwihHlqqvqI&list=UUHUhtE6AMSG4lhijvXr39yg

    • Sr. Sada says:

      Yes it’s a great work but what is left out of the statements made here regarding his work is the fact female scholars of the past also practiced hijab, one even sitting behind the wall of her students. So let’s not deny that some women scholars practiced hijab. This forum is slanting to one side of the evidence. Can we agree that there is proof allowing both? Why do our brothers and sisters have issue with those who choose to practice hijab? Those who say it is a choice and a practice in Islam. Please do not deny the evidence of those female scholars who taught with hijab using partitions. Are you all saying that no female scholars used hijab when teaching? I see the position made here but it is sounding like hijab and niqab or partition in general were not used. To say that is to deny history as thereis evidence to prove otherwise right in the works you’ve mentioned.

  16. Sister says:

    Asak,
    What about women reciting Quran in public?

  17. RUKI says:

    We are passing through a great FITNAH time. Scholars and their families spent generations and generations to learn Islam and spread Islam and they never disputed on these issues but today these basic issues are being debated. It is time to think where we at. May Allah Subhanhu’Wa’Tala give us guidance to understand deen with its true value and closeness to Sunnah of our beloved RasoolAllah Salalaho AlaihWassalam
    JazakAllah
    RUKI

    • Kirana says:

      Didn’t you read the article? I thought it is clear – as it often is clear – that scholars have ALWAYS debated each other on these and other issues. They just accepted each other’s differences of opinion better than we do.

      • Sr. Sada says:

        Well then why is the practice of hijab being argued. Hijab was practiced by the later female scholars. The opposite position here is argued as if it was not the case. To deny that shows some bias and this then no longer becomes a quest for truth but an agenda.

  18. Hikma says:

    Barak Allahu Fiika to the brother who wrote this. One thing I would like to point out to those who would roll their eyes and say “you must wear the niqab” to a sister is learn to accept differences. If there is anything we learn from this deen, it is the idea of balance and we recite at least seventeen times a day for Allah to guide us on a straight path, yet we speak and act as if we own and understand in absolute terms what that straight path is. May Allah protect us from the delusion of guidance and self-righteousness.
    May Allah keep us steadfast and help us see truth and accept it when we see it. And help us see rejectables as false and help us accept it.
    Very beautiful dua to reflect upon.
    And remember this deen belongs to Allah, and we know it is never meant to be hard.

  19. Junayd says:

    Assalaamu Alaykum,

    Can you cite the sources where sh. Dido and sh. Farfur have stated that it is allowed for young women to teach men without a curtain?

    • khalil tayeh says:

      the curtain is ASKED only to the prophet’s wives.. there is not one verse in which Allah (then also the Prophet who obey Allah) mention the curtain to be put between woman and man.. this is so clear.. this is only about curtain, but the other behaviors which the woman and the MAN must have are also clear READING THE BOOK.. 47:24 clear the concept of REFLECTING UPON THE QURAN..
      may Allah Bless you

  20. Farah says:

    Yes, the answer is for both men and women to learn to control their nafs/desires/passions. Not to remove the temptation of them. For one can’t live in this world without any temptation. That is not the state of the dunya. We try our best to remove sources of fitn. But they will always exist, that is the state of the dunya. Our test in the dunya, is to control our desires. To rid ourselves of the hub-us-shahawat (love of our appetites). Both women and men face the same tempatation -especially nowadays when men too are dressing in hyper-sexualized manner. Also women are not miraculously and un-biologically saved from being attracted to male scholars. That would not be humanly possible. Woman have always been able to exercise better self-control though, and being brought up with modesty hammered in (for lack of a better way to put it) do automatically watch their reactions and passions. Perhaps if men are brought up in the same way it would help them. The ayaath on modesty were first addressed to men after all by our all-knowing Lord. I too think, Christian notions of the inferiority of women have mixed into Islam and if not removed, it will be a great step-backward for the Ummah. Our beloved Muhammed (sallallahu alaihi wasalaam) was a visionary and exemplerary in his championing of women’s right. I don’t think a man has ever been born who has done the same for women since or before. I pray such men, who walk in his footsteps will be born. Trust me, the Ummah will only be stronger with women teachers. Women have a lot to offer and a unique perspective to teach. Many great male scholars were born at the feet of women. Women are after all, the prime holders of ‘rahma’ for humankind – we need their input more. Wa Allahu Subhahana wa ta’ala a’lam.

    • Sr. Sada says:

      Brothers I think now the nature of men is being denied. To say women are better taught how to be modest makes it sound as if these behaviors are all nurtured, what about the nature we are made in? Men are attracted more than women by the eye in regards to the opposite sex and this has been proven for those who believe in only science. If women choose to wear niqab to protect herself from unwanted stares of those men who don’t lower their gaze, then why is there any issue? If we are saying here let’s be fair and equitable, then leave women to choose since there is evidence for both practices. To say some matters were only for the sahaba causes us to abandon many other practices as well. The sahaba were models of the sunnah, which is part of our Islam. Why would we say to pick apart which practices to adhere to?

  21. Sister says:

    Asak, can someone write an article on weather women can recite in mixed gatherings?
    Jazk

  22. Sr. Sada says:

    I understand the message here but the evidence for hijab and the history showing female scholars adhering to this practice isn’t provided. Why show bias? Let’s be honest people and present all of the truth.

  23. Haroon says:

    Imam Yahya

    Could you kindly elaborate on the Hanafi position that the injunction to lower the gaze is understood at the moment of desire and if there is no desire then the verse of surah noor is inapplicable?

    What is meant by desire? When sexual thoughts of the woman come into one’s head? Would merely thinking that a woman is pretty without having sexual thoughts count as desire?

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