• Search Knowledge Base by Keyword

    A man leading a woman or group of women in congregation

    You are here:

    Question: What are the rulings of one man leading a woman or group of women in congregation without the presence of another man in the same congregation? More specifically:

    1. One man leading a group of nonmahram women.
    2. One man leading a group of mahram women.
    3. One man leading one mahram woman.

     

    بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم

    Answer:

    1. It is strongly disliked (makrūh taḥrīmī) for a lone man to lead a group of non-maḥram women in an enclosed space. It is permissible for the imam of a masjid to lead a group of non-maḥram women in the masjid.
    2. It is permissible for a lone man to lead a group of maḥram
    3. It is permissible for a lone man to lead a maḥram woman as long as she is not immediately next to him.

     

    Explanation:

    Throughout time, there likely has been no other tactic used more by Shayṭan to delude our nafs into disobedience, than the potential harm that can arise from gender interaction. The Qur’an takes the approach of blocking many paths to it. For his part, the Prophet ﷺ warned us, “A man is not alone with a (non-maḥram[i]) woman except that the third of them is Shayṭān.”[ii] Even in ṣalā one should take care not to transgress boundaries.

    Before getting into the explanation of each situation, we should remind ourselves of a few basic points:

    1. The Prophet ﷺ advised us that most rewarding place of prayer for a man is with the jamā`ah in the masjid, and for a woman, alone in her home. This not preclude that, at times, men may find themselves praying at home and women, in the masjid.
    2. He ﷺ prohibited us from khalwah, being alone with a non-maḥram, non-spouse in a confined space.[iii]
    3. Proper ḥijāb and decorum must always be observed when before a non-maḥram.

     

    A lone man leading a group of women

    Keeping the above three points in mind, if a man finds himself in a home, a muṣalla or another enclosed space having missed the masjid’s jamā`ah and in the presence of only women, none of whom are maḥram to him, it is strongly disliked (makrūh taḥrīmī) to lead them in ṣalā. Although he is not alone with a single, non-maḥram female, Imam al-Sarakhsī explains the fear of corruption remains with a lone male in a female group. Despite the sin of performing a strongly disliked action, the ṣalāh is valid and does not need to be repeated.

    Otherwise, according to Imam Muḥammad al-Shaybānī, if the imam leads a group of non-maḥram women in a space which does not constitute khalwah, like a masjid, while proper modesty and ḥijāb are observed, there is no harm in it. Sayyidunā `Umar ordered Sulayman ibn Abī Ḥathmah to lead women during Ramadan in this manner.[iv]

     

    A lone man leading a group of maḥram women

    Ibn `Ābidīn quoting Ibn Nujaym al-Miṣrī’s al-Bar al-Rā’iq explains if a man leads a group of maḥram women, whether in a masjid, home, or other enclosed space, it is permissible. Here, the fear of corruption is removed by the presence of any one of them being a maḥram or all of them. Similarly, if there is an additional male present or his spouse, the ṣalāh will be without dislike.[v]

     

    A lone man leading a single maḥram woman

    `Allāmah Sirāj al-Dīn al-òshī stated that it is permissible for a man to lead a single woman, who is a maḥram or his spouse, even in an enclosed space.[vi] If he misses the ṣalāh in the masjid, it is better to pray as a jamā`ah with her or them at home as stated by Muftī `Abd al-Raḥīm Lājpūrī. She or they should stand behind him.[vii]

     

    والله أعلم بالصواب

    And Allah knows best,

    Mufti Sulaiman Yusufi

    Shaykh Mateen Khan

     

     

    [i] A maḥram is an unmarriageable person in the Sharī`ah.

    [ii] Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2165

    [iii] The Prophet ﷺ said, “A man should not be secluded with a woman except in the presence of a maḥram.” al-Bukhārī 5233, Muslim 1341

    [iv] قلت: أرأيت الرجل يؤم النساء وليس معهن رجل غيره؟ قال: أما إذا كان مسجد جماعة تقام فيه الصلاة وهو إمام فتقدّم يصلي وليس معه رجل فدخلن نِسْوَةٌ في الصلاة فلا بأس بذلك. وأما أن يخلو بهن في بيت أو في مكان غير المسجد فإني أكره له ذلك إلا أن يكون معهن ذات محرم منهن. الأَصْلُ 1:40، دار ابن حزم، بيروت – لبنان

    قَالَ (وَإِذَا أَمَّ الرَّجُلُ نِسَاءً فِي مَسْجِدِ جَمَاعَةٍ لَيْسَ مَعَهُنَّ رَجُلٌ فَلَا بَأْسَ بِذَلِكَ) لِمَا رُوِيَ عَنْ عُمَرَ – رَضِيَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى عَنْهُ – أَنَّهُ أَمَرَ أُبَيَّ بْنَ كَعْبٍ أَنْ يُصَلِّيَ بِالرِّجَالِ فِي لَيَالِي رَمَضَانَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ بْنَ أَبِي حَثْمَةَ بِأَنْ يُصَلِّيَ بِالنِّسَاءِ وَلِأَنَّ الْمَسْجِدَ لَيْسَ بِمَوْضِعِ الْخَلْوَةِ فَلَا بَأْسَ لِلرَّجُلِ أَنْ يَجْمَعَ مَعَهُنَّ فِيهِ، فَأَمَّا فِي غَيْرِ الْمَسْجِدِ مِنْ الْبُيُوتِ وَنَحْوِهَا فَإِنَّهُ يُكْرَهُ ذَلِكَ إلَّا أَنْ يَكُونَ مَعَهُنَّ ذُو رَحِمٍ مَحْرَمٍ مِنْهُنَّ لِقَوْلِهِ – صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – «أَلَا لَا يَخْلُوَنَّ رَجُلٌ بِامْرَأَةٍ لَيْسَ مِنْهَا بِسَبِيلٍ فَإِنَّ ثَالِثَهُمَا الشَّيْطَانُ» وَبِتَفَرُّدِ النِّسَاءِ يَزْدَادُ مَعْنَى خَوْفِ الْفِتْنَةِ فَلَا تَزُولُ الْكَرَاهَةُ إلَّا أَنْ يَكُونَ مَعَهُنَّ مَحْرَمٌ لِحَدِيثِ «أَنَسٍ – رَضِيَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى عَنْهُ – أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ – صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – صَلَّى بِهِمْ فِي بَيْتِهِمْ قَالَ فَأَقَامَنِي وَالْيَتِيمَ مِنْ وَرَائِهِ وَأَقَامَ أُمِّيَ أُمَّ سُلَيْمٍ وَرَاءَنَا» وَلِأَنَّ بِوُجُودِ الْمَحْرَمِ يَزُولُ مَعْنَى خَوْفِ الْفِتْنَةِ وَيَسْتَوِي إنْ كَانَ الْمَحْرَمُ لَهُنَّ أَوْ لِبَعْضِهِنَّ وَتَجُوزُ الصَّلَاةُ بِكُلِّ حَالٍ؛ لِأَنَّ الْكَرَاهَةَ لِمَعْنًى فِي غَيْرِ الصَّلَاةِ المبسوط، دار المعرفة، 1:166

    [v] (كَمَا تُكْرَهُ إمَامَةُ الرَّجُلِ لَهُنَّ فِي بَيْتٍ لَيْسَ مَعَهُنَّ رَجُلٌ غَيْرُهُ وَلَا مَحْرَمٌ مِنْهُ) كَأُخْتِهِ (أَوْ زَوْجَتِهِ أَوْ أَمَتِهِ، أَمَّا إذَا كَانَ مَعَهُنَّ وَاحِدٌ مِمَّنْ ذُكِرَ أَوْ أَمَّهُنَّ فِي الْمَسْجِدِ لَا) يُكْرَهُ بَحْرٌ – رد المحتار على الدر المختار، دار الفكر، 1:566

    [vi] ولو أمّ أمّه أو امرأته ونحوهما في الخلوة لم يُكره – الفتاوى السراجية 97 دار العلوم زكرية

    [vii] Fatāwa Rahīmiyya 4:128, 134

    Disclaimer: Many of these answers are unique to a particular scenario and cannot be taken as a basis to establish a ruling in another situation or another environment. ICMC bears no responsibility with regards to these questions being used out of their intended context.