Would you please comment on the following web site link? http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/03/18/muslim.prayer.ap/. Women (Dr. Amina Wadud) Lead Muslim prayer in a mixed gathering in New York.
If it was a general practice of the Prophet (pbuh) for men to lead the prayers, does it not mean that this is a Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh)?
I would personally term mixed gathering prayer regardless of men or women leading prayer as prohibited in Islam. What do you think?
Would it be allowed for women to lead prayer if women and men were separated from each other in separate rooms?
There is nothing of a religious nature to reply to in that article and secondly, we do not like to comment directly on any contemporary thoughts given on other websites. You are, however, most welcome to send any questions that may have arisen in your mind after reading the article and we will try our best to answer these questions.
Some points may however be kept in mind: There are a few religious leaders stating the impermissibility of what occurred in New York and since our position is clear on the matter there would be no reason to delve further into this. The “general practice” does not mean Sunnah, the practice of the Prophet commissioned as part of the religion, rather it simply means that it was the general custom. Mixed prayer is not prohibited by the Shari’ah (i.e. Islamic Law), this is self-evident in Makkah, in the Harram (i.e. Sacred Mosque) itself, as everybody prays together without barriers. This does not imply that men and women are standing shoulder to shoulder, just that everyone prays in the same general area with care and prudence due to the nature of Islamic worship. Since it was the custom of the Prophet and the latter generations not to have women lead men in prayer then there should be a positive, religious or moral, reason to make an effort to bring about a change in the situation. This should be the case even when the women are in a different room. It should be remembered that it is not the title of nor the place where one worships that is of significance but rather the mind and heart and the elevation of the spirit. These matters of who leads prayers are a means of undermining the very spiritual essence that Islam inculcates its followers with. True equality and feminist ideals should focus on the issues that directly do have influence on women. The leading of the prayer should not be politicized because it really does not play a major role in women’s rights. It seems that such focus on established worship traditions are a poor investment that will yield no gains and can entail huge losses. There seem to be far more important issues for Muslim women in the world than this.
I hope I have clarified the issue.
God knows best.