I begin with the Name of Allaah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
“And stay in your houses, and do not Tabarruj yourselves like the Tabarruj of the times of ignorance….” Qur’an 33:33
In Islam, Allaah Exalted be He, has given men and women equal opportunity for spiritual attainment even though the rulings might differ but in the long run the end is the same. Hence, it is common knowledge that women just like their men counterpart have been commanded by Allaah to worship Him Alone and to follow the Sunnah (ways, legal methodology, path) of His beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to the best of their abilities.
Prayer is undoubtedly the most important pillar of Islam after the Testimony of Faith and observing it in congregation for healthy men is obligatory according to the most correct opinion regarding the issue. However, for women it is not so even though it is permissible for them to join the congregation of men to pray. In essence, a woman is not under any obligation to pray in the Masjid in congregation be it the obligatory prayers or the voluntary prayers.
The Women companions (may Allaah be pleased with them) were keen in racing in righteousness with the men companions and they equally aspired to have the blessings of being in the gathering of the Prophet (peace be upon him) especially in the Masjid. This can be deduced from the hadith of Umm Humayd, the wife of Abu Humayd al-Saa’idi, which was narrated by Imam Ahmad in his Musand and classed as hasan (good) by al-Albani in Saheeh al-Targheeb, that she came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: “ O Messenger of Allaah, I love to pray with you.” He said: “I know that you love to pray with me, but praying in your house is better for you than praying in your courtyard, and praying in your courtyard is better for you than praying in the Masjid of your people, and praying in the Masjid of your people is better for you than praying in my Masjid.”
It is clear from the above narration that women are allowed to pray in the Masjid but her prayer in her house is better than her prayer in the Prophet’s Masjid. Whenever a woman prays in a place that is more hidden and private, it is better for her. In addition, there is an authentic narration in the Sunan of Abu Dawud and also in Saheeh al-Jami’ of al-Albani in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Do not prevent your women from going to the Masjid, even though their houses are better for them.”
However, this permissibility comes with certain conditions, which must be fulfilled. Hence, without fulfilling such conditions her going out to pray in the Masjid becomes blameworthy and might attract the wrath of Allaah instead of His pleasure.
In the verse of Suratul Ahzab referenced above, Allaah Exalted be He, explicitly asked the best of women (the wives of the Prophet, peace be upon him) to stay in doors meaning they should only come out for a purpose recognized by the Shari’ah (Islamic legal system). And one of such recognized purposes is prayer in the Masjid so long as the conditions are fulfilled.
Some of the conditions are that she should wear complete Hijab, she should not go out wearing perfume, and she should have the permission of her husband. Zaynab al-Thaqafiyyah used to narrate that the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) said: “If any one of you (women) attends ‘Isha (night) prayer, let her not put on perfume that night…” Narrated by Muslim
Regarding a woman’s dress code especially as it relates to going to the Masjid to pray, the Scholars of Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah said; “a woman is required to cover all of her body when praying, except the face and hands, but if she is praying where there are non-mahrem (those she is allowed to marry) men who can see her, then she has to cover all of her body including the face and hands.
To this effect, what is being witnessed today in most Masajid (mosques) is a shame and deviation from the teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Women, specifically putting on tight clothing, make-ups, perfume, and frequenting the Masjid in this condition while mixing freely with men without any sense of modesty.
It was proven in authentic narrations that the women of the Companions (peace be upon them) used to attend Fajr (morning) prayer in congregation, covering their faces, so that no one would recognize them. It was proven that Amrah bint AbduRahman said: I heard Aisha, the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him), say: “If the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) had seen the way the women are behaving, he would have forbidden them to go to the masjid as the women of the Children of Israel were forbidden.” It was said to Amrah: Were the women of the Children of Israel forbidden to go to the mosque? She said: Yes. Narrated by Muslim in his Saheeh.
The women of today aspiring to pray in the Masjid must not adorn themselves like the ignorant women used to do so as to provoke fitnah (temptations) in the heart of those with weak faith. If she does then she is not allowed to enter the Masjid rather praying at home is her only option.
Mujahid said: “Women used to go out walking in front of men, and this was the Tabarruj of Jahiliyyah.” Qatadah said: (and do not Tabarruj yourselves like the Taburruj of the times of ignorance,) “When they go out of their homes walking in a shameless and flirtatious manner, and Allaah, may He be exalted, forbade that.” Muqatil bin Hayyan said (and do not Tabarruj yourselves like the Tabarruj of the times of ignorance,) “Tabarruj is when a woman puts a Khimar on her head but does not tie it properly.” So her necklaces, earrings and neck, and all of that can be seen. This is Tabarruj, and Allaah addresses all the women of the believers with regard to Tabarruj.
In conclusion, women must avoid crossing paths with men when they come to pray for the sake of Allaah. Free Mixing is never to be allowed especially in the most sacred of places and that is the Masjid. The woman who prays in the Masjid should be far away from the men. Hence, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would stay where he was for a while after the prayer and would not move to allow the women to leave so that men would not mix with them. Today, shoulders are robbed in the most sacred of places without paying attention to the dangers involved. Both men and women most fear Allaah and not turn the masjid environment to matchmaking arena.
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