Is Jummah Obligatory for Women?

Is Jummah Obligatory for Women?


Salam alaikum. Urgent question. I am a sister and I was wondering if jumma prayer is obligatory for women? I have heard all my life that it’s not but I recently read sura jumma and saw nothing about the exception of women in jumma salah.. And I haven’t found any hadith to support this either. If it is obligatory for women, I have a dilemma. I’m in high school and have no way to leave school to attend jumma prayer at the mosque. School ends at 3. What should I do if it truly is obligatory to pray

Wa alykum as-salaam,

I am sorry I was not able to get to this question before today’s Jummah, but first things first: be easy on yourself. When we read the opinions of scholars, many times they come from an assumption that is very different to ours.

What do I mean by that?

It would never occur to most Muslim scholars (living in the Muslim world) that a young Muslim in America would not have access to praying facilities, so, when you seek out the opinion of scholarson any matterplease keep this in mind. It is not because they are “evil” or “out of touch,” like so many people like to say, rather, it is simply that what applies to you is different to what applies to the audience that the scholar was/is writing/speaking to.

Sheikh El Shaarawy, who I hold in the highest regard, wrote about Imam Shafi’i’s juristic methods when he moved from Baghdad to Cairo, noting that Imam Shafi’i did not just adjust what parts of The Qur’an and the Hadith were most relevant, but he also accounted for the situation of the people in Cairo as it differed to those in Baghdad.

Why should it be any different today?

Sheikh El Shaarawy notes that it is unfortunate that many have taken the differences in both the individual jurisprudence of a particular Imam or between the Imams to be the place from which Muslims accuse another of insincerity, bid’ah (Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa explains this term fantastically here), or even disbelief (Kufr).

I must agree with Sheikh El Shaarawy in the strongest possible terms, because people forget that Islam’s flexibility is not a flexibility of morality or of religious observance, but of pragmatism that is the central thrust for Islam in the life of a Muslim, which is highlighted by the flexibility of jurisprudential opinions, especially in light of this Hadith, noted by Suyuti in Al-Jami as-Saghir:

“The differences of opinion among the learned within my community are [a sign of] God’s grace.”

I write this lengthy introduction to hopefully ease your mind, to realize that you must account for your situation, as this process is done by the greatest of Islamic scholars in history, through the example of our Prophet, and in the very language of The Holy Qur’an.

Now, the idea of women not being required to attend Jummah prayer was/is pragmatic. The ayah you are referring to is as follows:

“O you who have attained to faith! When the call to prayer is sounded on the day of congregation, hasten to the remembrance of God, and leave all worldly commerce: this is for your own good, if you but knew it.” [62:9] Muhammad Asad

The central reason behind the idea that it is not obligatory for women lies in this ayah since it refers to “worldly commerce” and the assumption is that men were those who were working while women were at home working there, and thus, since house work is more difficult the idea that women are not required to go to Jummah is rooted in that assumption.

I would argue that if a woman is a professional and is able that she should attend Jummah, because she is participating in “worldly commerce” and not in the far more important, and difficult, work of the home.

The idea behind framing the relative obligation of women to attend Jummah is not subject to their gender, rather, it is an acknowledgement that women are–generally–subject to more constraints than men, since women tend to stay at home more than men do, and thus not making Jummah obligatory for women is predicated on the assumption that women would be working in the home, making travel to-and-from Jummah far more difficult than for the man who is simply working.

Therefore, the issue is predicated on your ability, and what becomes abundantly clear from your situation is that you are unable to go to Jummah, so regardless of any other factor, you should not worry about this, pray when you can, because Islam is a religion of practicality.

That being said I have seen many people refer to the following Hadith, found in Abu Dawud, which states:

“A woman’s prayer in her house is better than in her courtyard, and her prayer in her own room is better than her prayer in the rest of the house.”

According to Sheikh Muhammad al-Hassan al-Dado, he writes that the most favorable opinion, which means that most scholars agree with this sentiment, that the above Hadith does not apply to all women.

The Prophet said this to Umm Humayd Al-Saidiyyah, and it specific to her, because of the following reasons:

First, there is a Hadith where The Prophet said the following, “Do not prevent the female servants of God from (entering) the Houses of God,” which I believe is found in the collections of Ahmad and Abu Dawud.

Second, Aisha is reported to have said: “The women would pray Fajr with the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him), and they would return wrapped in their garments, unknown in the darkness.” This Hadith is found in Imam Malik’s Muwatta.

Thus, according to the scholars, preventing a woman from attending Jummah is to go against the command of The Prophet, and it is clear that women attended all the prayers, the issue of Jummah was governed by pragmatism. To “package” preventing women from attending Jummah through poor facilities or by saying it is “not obligatory” is disingenuous, in my opinion, because the central assumption for women not being obliged to attend Jummah hinges upon the idea of “worldly commerce” in the earlier ayah of The Qur’an.

At the end of the day, even disregarding all the other various reasons I have offered, your issue is practical, and if you are unable to attend Jummah because you are at school, then relax, you’re at school, God knows that, and pray when you can. Although I admire your desire, I just ask that you please be easy on yourself and recognize what you can do and what you can’t, not just to make things easier on yourself, but so that you can focus on school, insha Allah.

I hope this helped, insha Allah.

I pray this reaches you and your families in the best of health and Iman, insha Allah.

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