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Female Scholars and Preachers in Islam

HebaOriginally published in May 2014

One of the biggest problems facing religion today is modern relevance. For many people of faith, this means coming to terms with reforming their religion to fit modern times by dismissing or “re-interpreting” scripture. The beauty of Islam among religions is in its universality, its compatibility with science, and its versatile legal tradition which remains relevant across times and cultures.

Modernity between Acceptance of Reality and Rejectionism

For the Muslim, the correct attitude is not to resist or reject modernity, rather embrace it with our divine law. Unfortunately, some “conservative” Muslims fear modernity for one reason or another, thus detracting from their relevance. This way of thinking alienates many educated, reasonable Muslims, because they have to live in reality and Islam seems to be at odds with it.

We have ample means of accommodating modernity embedded in the Qur’an, the Sunnah and our vast, rich, 14-century legacy of jurisprudence. So for us, it is not a matter of reform per se, rather that of revivalist research of scriptural interpretation. The Islamic orthodoxy of law is quite vast and versatile. There are two issues that have hindered the proper manifestation of this versatility: closing of the doors of ijtihad (deriving new rulings from legal principles) for centuries, and a huge decline in the general quality of education in the Muslim world in the last two centuries. These two issues have led to some scholars blindly following certain, fixed schools of thought, and in turn to the subjugation of religious values to popular culture; thus our current dilemma/dichotomy.

Female Role in Society

One of the issues of modernity is female leadership. So you have the culture and its supporting fatwas from the Muslim world that women are not to be leaders outside of motherhood. You have a general consensus that women can be scholars and preach Islam, but only to other women, lest they corrupt the men with their sex appeal! In the west, Muslims are divided three ways over the issue of female leadership.

  1. Since immigrants are still the major stakeholders in the Mosques, most mosques have not had a female board member, executive director (Amirah) and have never had a woman scholar or preacher speak to the community.
  2. Some movements have started to make women Imams, leading prayers and giving Friday sermons to mixed gatherings. This has no traction in mainstream mosques due to the lack of precedent in the history of Islamic Law.
  3. Some Mosques are empowering sisters as female board members and executive directors, and inviting female preachers to speak to mixed gatherings. They are reviving some historical precedents of Islamic Law to achieve relevance in dealing with modernity.

Women Scholars Preaching Islam to Mixed Gatherings

The subject I would like to tackle now, with divine providence, is having female scholars who advise and preach to both men and women. Naturally, some people will object, saying it is un-Islamic to have a woman speak to a mixed crowd, counsel or give fatwa to men. The same people would not object to a male scholar counseling a woman, outside of seclusion of course! To give them the benefit of the doubt, they have never seen or heard of this in the Muslim community. Here lies the power of culture in defining our traditions. The resolution of such issues should not be determined by what we see people doing, rather by what Islam says about the matter.

So the question is, what does Islam say about having women scholars, preachers and teachers who address both men and women?

The Holy Qur’an tells us:

“The believing men and women are patrons of each other. They command to good, rebuke evil, establish prayers, give alms, obeying God and His messenger. They will have God’s mercy. Indeed God is Mighty and Wise.” (Qur’an, 9:71)

This verse, like many others, puts men and women on equal footing regarding the practice of religion. It is especially significant regarding our question, because its linguistics equates men and women working together in preaching.

Umar sums up the drastic change to Arabia regarding women

“.كنا في الجاهلية لا نعد للنساء شيئا حتى أنزل الله فيهن ما أنزل وقسم لهن ما قسم،” و في رواية: “فلما جاء الإسلام وذكرهن الله، رأينا لهن بذلك علينا حقا”

 “Back in the days of ignorance before Islam, we didn’t consider women of much significance at all. This all changed with the emergence of Islam in which God mentioned them with respect and gave them new rights then we realized their rights over us.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 5843)

Aisha – The Founding Mother Scholar, Judge and Orator

There are many texts which unquestionably show that Aisha was a huge precedent for female scholarship. Trained for 9 years in the house of the Prophet ﷺ, Abu Musa al-Ash’ari the great scholar of the companions is reported to have said about her:

“.ما أُشكل علَينا أصحابُ محمَّدٍ صلَّى اللهُ عليْهِ وسلَّمَ حَديثٌ قطُّ ، فسأَلنا عائشةَ ، إلَّا وجَدنا عِندها منه عِلمًا”

“Sometimes we the companions of Muhammad ﷺ would get confused about Islamic teachings. We would then go and ask Aisha about itand we found she always had the knowledge we were seeking in it.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi, 3883)

It was also authentically transmitted by al-Zubair bin al-Awam, the great companion who was of the six nominated by Umar to decide among them the Caliph after him:

ما رأيت أحدا من الناس اعلم بالقرآن ولا بفريضة ولا بحلال ولا بحرام ولا بشعر ولا بحديث العرب ولا بنسب من عائشة رضي الله عنها

“I never saw anyone more knowledgeable of the Qur’an, Islamic Law, poetry, Arab history and lineages than Aisha radi
 (may God be pleased with her).” (Al-Hakim, 4/11)

In his masterpiece on the biographies of the greatest prominent Muslims of our past, Imam al-Dhahabi relates that the famous scholar and general of the tabi’in (the generation of Muslims who were born after the death of the Prophet ﷺbut who were contemporaries of His companions) in Iraq, Al-Ahnaf bin Qays, said:

سمعت خطبة أبي بكر الصديق وعمر بن الخطاب وعثمان بن عفان وعلي بن أبي طالب والخلفاء من بعدهم فما سمعت الكلام من في مخلوق أحسن ولا أفخم من في عائشة

“I heard the sermons of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali and the Caliphs after them and yet I never heard speech from the mouth of anyone better or more eloquent than from Aisha.” (Siyar al-A’lam al-Nubalaa)

This should close the case, but some might say that Aisha was an exception. Well, she was in fact unique, since she was the greatest woman scholar among the companions, and greater than the top handful of men as well. That being said, as the mother of the believers, she naturally became a standard of excellence and an example to be followed by other women.

In his famous work Al-Isabah fee Tamyeez as-Sahabah, Imam ibn Hajar al-Asqalani reports on 1543 women scholars of Islamic Law, Hadith and Arabic literature!

As for teaching, the great granddaughter of the Prophet ﷺ Nafeesah bint al-Hasan was reported to have lectured to the masses in the Prophet’s mosque as well as in Cairo. It is also well-documented that scholars like Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Hajar, Ibn al-Jawzi and Imam al-Thahabi were all taught by female scholars.

For those of you who are still not convinced that it is acceptable for a sister to assert herself,

Imam Al-Haythami relates a story about the woman Umar put in charge of the policing of the marketplace of Madinah. Yahya bin Abi Saleem said:

رأيْتُ سَمْرَاءَ بنتَ نُهَيْكٍ وكانَتْ قد أَدْرَكَتِ النبيَّ صلَّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّمَ عليْها دِرْعٌ غَلِيظٌ وخِمارٌ غَلِيظٌ ؛ بيدِهِا سَوْطٌ تُؤَدِّبُ الناسَ ، وتَأْمُرُ بالمعروفِ وتَنْهَى عَنِ المنكرِ

“I saw Samraa bint Nuhayk, who met the Prophet ﷺ, wearing a rough Hijab with chainmail and a whip in her hand. She would discipline the people commanding to good and rebuking evil.” (Majma’ al-Zawa’id 9/267)

The majority of our scholars throughout history have said that there is nothing wrong with listening to a woman’s speech unless it is flirtatious or provocative. Both men and women were prohibited from (prolonged) looking at an attractive person. To say a woman clergy member cannot speak in front of men because some men may find her attractive is the same as prohibiting women from listening to a male Imam, since women have desires as well, and were equally rebuked from looking where there is attraction.

Just because the Muslims have strayed from the scholarly tradition of old and have become used to certain ways of dealing does not mean that our traditional sources of law do not support a different way of doing things more suitable for the reality we live in today.

It is of the utmost importance that we not judge Islam by the state of Muslims today. Our religion is much bigger and better than that. There were many great generations who were not only relevant but standard setters for civilization in general wherever they were.

There are many causes and struggles going on here in the US right now. Our religion is completely capable of addressing and solving the world’s problems. We are obligated to create a generation that has the right tools to bring moral balance to issues like feminism, economy, racism, class warfare, political corruption, oppression or anything else related to morality or ethics.

About the author

John (Yahya) Ederer

Imam John Yahya Ederer left a life of spiritual decadence and embraced Islam in 1998. In 2002, he accepted a scholarship offer from the Islamic American University in Michigan and spent 6 years travelling the Muslim world studying with prominent scholars. He attained an associates with IAU, a certification of mastery of the Arabic sciences from the ministry of education in Egypt, a diploma in Islamic Studies from the Cordoba Institute in Kuwait and a license with one of the highest chains of transmission in Qur’an memorization and recitation. He served as the Religious Director of the Islamic Foundation of South Florida for two years and now lives with his wife and two children in Charlotte, North Carolina where he serves as Imam of the Muslim American Society. He currently sits on the clergy board of one of the largest interfaith coalitions in Mecklenburg Ministries and is a board member of the Shamrock Drive Development Association.


    • Guys. Please for all our sake, if you want to put this issue to rest or have a better comprehnsion and understanding about the role and rights of womwn on islam, please youtube “rights of women by mufti menk” just watched this today ya allah t answered most of my questions regarding this same issue.

    • Salaam, A timely article for our society. Let’s be the Ummah in the west that broadens minds and allow us all to grow. We don’t want to narrow our access to scholars or limit our daughters.

    • Let the sisters speak freely.

      Misogyny and sexism has to stop, it benefits no one. I love this piece, well done! One thing that I have found has always been a blessing to me is my ability to speak up, through my voice I have been able to represent my religion, fervently admonish oppression, defend myself and stay true to my faith and my values…not always easy especially when both men and women often discourage women from speaking for themselves (especially when what you have to say isn’t really popular,) but true bravery comes with some risk. Honestly it’s been a blast, people are going to hate you when you’re good, they’ll hate you when you’re bad so you might as well be GREAT and walk in your purpose. If you are a woman who is meant to lead empower yourself to manifest your goals.

      Say what you need to say brothers and sisters just try not be destructive by personally insulting other individuals in the process!

    • Come down to the real world guys, im a muslim woman whose been “there”, with guy friends, in pubs, clubs, parties, – and REAL DISCUSSIONS on sex and how men look at women. Get out of the mosques and hear what men see women as. Its dirty. Honestly if i went to the mosques with these guys with me – id pull that female preacher right down off of her chair – i don’t want to hear them say “well i wonder how this babe must look when shes naked”…

      Our sheikhas deserve respect, just because their innocent and don’t know the filth out there doesn’t mean we don’t tell them. It ain’t the same being an attractive imam on the mimbar – girls checking guys out is NOT as disrespectful.

      I came to Islam from the gutter and it was like a shower – I don’t want to dirty up my clean water. Islam has solutions. Don’t be scared of those feminists, the curtain is a solution. YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT MODERN ADAPTIONS? Heres one: niqab. Our issue is we are weak.

      • Indeed. People from the gutter like me really appreciate the “conservativeness” of Islam. It closes the doors of evil real tight.

      • Because Ayesha Radi Allah anha -the mother of the believers- would teach men from behind the curtain with a finger in her mouth so the men would not feel attracted towards her voice and be a source of fitna for them.

        • This is the same sort of illogic that says a woman has to be under a burka to prevent men from being attracted to her. This is sexist against both men and women. Number one: it places the blame on women for men’s arousal and number two: it suggests that men have no control over their own arousal. Whether a person is aroused or not by another person is part of human nature. They do, however, have the choice to act on or not act on that arousal.

      • I don’t exactly want to assume it, it’s because I’ve come across a few anecdotes that historically female imams/scholars would teach behind a curtain. It’s not mentioned in this article so I wanted to some clarification.

        • Yes as brother mohammed khan pointed out all women scholars would teach – but behind a veil.
          That is our identity. The west wishes a more post modern liberal approach how women in jahilyyah were presented without any protection.

        • Peace,

          The Quran says “ولاتقف ما ليس لك به علم”
          Don’t talk about what you don’t have knowledge of. Indeed many scholars hold that the correct understanding of the texts do not prohibit a shaikhah from teaching a mixed gathering.

          I will write a follow up article to clarify the well-established age old difference of opinion on the verse in sura al-Ahzab as well as if a woman’s voice or face is of her nakedness.

          Then you will see you are just choosing one of two legitimate opinions. You are choosing the one that conflicts with and alienates the modern world rather than facilitating folks to relate to Islam and not see it as outdated. The opinion you are pushing as puritanical Islam is actually a defense of the leanings of “religious” culture in the Muslim world. Islam is the only religion that has a historical pre-modernity scholarly discourse which can accommodate the modern world. That is not something to be ashamed of rather we should be proud of it as it shows divine wisdom and permanent relevance in our religion.

          Trust me bro when I was a new Muslim and when I was like you an avid reader and listener to the “anti-western” scholars I thought like you and pushed the ticket with all around me. Most people were alienated.

          After sitting with real scholars with no political or cultural agenda for 6 years and then for 4 years studying thoroughly into the vast realm of scholarship that is the REAL tradition, I saw just how narrow and ignorant the so called conservative anti-western modern day schools of thought are and thus I changed to align myself with the historical rich versatile legacy of Islamic Law.

      • We [especially in the “West”] live in a debauched, degenerated, deplorable, porngraphied, hypersexualized, sexually deviated, sexually confused, immorally aggressive and general bankrupt society. We grew up in and are a part of it. Two consequences follow: either “arousal” is pervasive, conspicuous and ubiquitous OR because we have become so use to “it”, we have become insensitive and “dulled” by it.

        Little more than a hundred years ago, the only woman you saw intimately was most likely your wife. The rest “were” covered and hence the only “uncovering” you did see was at home. These days obviously that is not the case.

        • But pornography and prostitution originate in the east? Why must this be an east versus west discussion? Honestly what you say just isn’t true, men have been intimate with women other than their wives for centuries, in fact it has always been woman who has (generally) lived and been bound by modesty and monogamy, the few you see on the internet and t.v. do not represent the whole, maybe you should turn the tv off? I can only speak for myself but I personally do not feel that Im in a world surrounded by pornographic nature and this could simply be because I don’t expose myself to it. Not to make myself seem superior I just really can’t empathize with what you’re talking about. I mean, you’re surrounded by what you expose yourself to.

        • I agree with Kendriana. The idea that ‘all women covered’ is simply not the case. You can take a cursory look at Imam ibn Hanbal’s commentary on Quranic verses related to women – there is an entire section that he devotes to saying that a man is still obligated to lower his gaze from slave women, even though they were not required to wear hijab.

          What does this mean? It means that there were an abundance of women who for religiously valid reasons, did not observe hijab!

        • @ Razan
          Yes I quite agree but then I again I do not asset in my comment anything particular about the hijab per se. Yes men and women are commended to lower their gaze but realistically with so much corruption around us it becomes difficult.
          I am not saying anything that a garment is the line in the sand between shame and shamlesnless. For a point of view see a clip of SHY lecture on hijab from circa 1995.
          (type Hanza Yusuf hijab)
          @ Kendriana
          I was giving the example of living in the West not setting up a juxtaposition between the two. Bedsides following trickle down culture the East within a decade becomes the West of a decade ago.
          One does not need to look as to so much be shown in today’s time.

    • Assalamu Alaikum, that is my exact question to the Sheikh. I have no issues with women teaching men, but what were the Aadaab in doing so? Aisha (RA) taught the Sahabah from behind a veil.

      • Re: Aisha (R) teaching from behind a veil…
        The Prophet’s(S) wives were all commanded to have a hijab(barrier/screen) between themselves and the men of the community in the Qur’an.

        Not incumbent on all other women textually(Qur’an or Hadith).

        • Unfortunately imam maliks wife who was a big scholar ibn sireesns sister and other muhadithaaat (women hadeeth scholars) taught behind the veil as is mentioned in the books of taraajim. I don’t think thats a evidence since the practice of the first people who received the scriptures was contrary to what they claim. I would rather be safe than sorry wouldn’t you?

        • They had every right to do as they wish.
          There is however no textual evidence from Qur’an and hadith to make it explicitly required and fardh for women outside of the prophet’s(s) wives, so it comes down to a question of implicit interpretation or taqlid, ‘urf and maslahah mursalah.

          You are free Brother, not to attend an audience with a woman not behind a screen.
          There is no consensus on this issue. I don’t need to feel safe rather than sorry as the alternative opinion is just as valid, so nothing to be scared of.


        • ZAI, not only for prohet’s s, a, w wives r.a , please read my brother or sister in surat al ahzab ayah 59 ,O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.

          Even though, the 4 imams schools of thoughts differed on the issue of woman should wear a veil or shouldn’t but all agreed in that it is obligatory her to wear it during a fire fitna time that we’re living today . Allah knows the best , may Allah s.w.t grants us Jannatul firdous Ameen ya rabel Alemin.

  • I really hope we keep gaining more great preachers in our communities — men and women alike! Thanks for this!

  • The reason the brother is asking about the veil is that islam only prohibited men to gaze at a women for a long time period when proposing to her.if there is no veil then the harms are larger then the benefits and we don’t need to eloborate on something apparent.

    • Peace Zakariyya,

      Please bring forth your evidence of your claims?

      That all shaikhas taught behind a veil and that there is proven harm or fitnah for a shaikha to teach a mixed gathering.

    • Aren’t woman instructed to lower their gaze as well? Does that mean men should teach behind a veil?

      No matter what we do, there will be some attraction, whether it is a male or a female. We deal with it the same way we deal with it while we are walking outside, we control ourselves.

  • Surprisingly why we have to become a carbon copy of the west s educational institution strikes me odd. We have a perfectly balanced deen which has been passed on through 14th centuries. If there was anything wrong kr missing we wouldn’t haven’t got so far.

  • Abu Azzam, i guess your qyestion is a rethorical one, because you’ve answered yourself perfectly.
    We must stick to the sunnah and stop all these modernism in Islam.
    Jazakallahu Khairan to the author of this article

  • Assalam u alaikum.
    Just a quick comment on this timely article. Is arguing about women speakers addressing mixed gatherings even required when we have the luxury in our times of having so many male speakers? Why shouldn’t women address only women and children? Male speakers can address men.

    • While we do have enough scholars/preachers for conventions, we are not even close to having enough for all of the Mosques.

  • Great article masha’Allah. We, as Muslims, need to work hard to educate our community about the differences between religion and culture. Unfortunately many of us find it difficult to separate both of them. Alhamdulillah, Allah has given us a book which is timeless and a guidance for all of us.

  • Jazakallah khair, thank you for this very well written article, mashallah! I can see that even Muslims in the US are probably more open-minded than Muslims in Europe, where I am living. As a convert it seems difficult for me to open such topics for discussion, since there still exists rejection towards “new” Muslims and their “lack of knowledge and respect for the traditions”. It seems that the main concern amongst Muslims in Europe is to conserve the traditions and beliefs of their heritage country, whereas the message of our faith, the well-being of all members of our community and the variety of our religious sources are second class concerns. It is unfortunately very common to spread misleading and barely attested information about the Sunnah amongst people, especially amongst young. Preachers have made it their mission to present islam in the most black-and-white way, as a religion of extremes, as haram and halal, as anything else than a peaceful way of living, in harmony with the world and it’s people. Sadly, we have to deal with this every day. That is why I am very happy and relieved to read refreshing articles such as yours once in a while!! Salams and greetings from Finland!

  • Inreat article. I think we are heading in the right direction. It may take a lot of time though.

    I always tell myself not to read the comments. And I always do anyway. Of any otherfiscouraged sister (or brother!) Is reading this then I will just say it is logically ridiculous to think just because one woman (the one example he gave in his unexhaustive ariticle on this subject) taught behind a “veil” it is not basis to assume that all women should. Muhammad’s pbuh wives were exceptional and yes their behavior is praiseworthy but not the norm. Other women at the time and after were not expected to live the same way, according to the same rules. Also remember that the Quran revealed the “ask them from behind a veil” verse bc ppl were coming to their “houses” and asking them about things. When you read some of these Hadith you see the ppl are literally in their bedrooms talking to them. Think about that. How modest is it to have some guy or strange gal in your bedroom? But for the sake of the religion it was tolerated and the adapted by a curtain or a screen.

    additionally the Imam gave the example of Umar’s appointed guard of good in the marketplace. You wanna go back and tell her to stand behind a screen? She had a whip! Ha!

    And it makes no sense in our western culture to have women behind screens or veils, unless they choose so of their own volition. It should not be “policy”. This is not the position of Islam or western culture. Maybe the brothers above are writing from another culture, that is their standard allahu alim. But not here boys. Sorry. Ridiculous when we have strong women leaders and scholars teaching f and preaching in all other Western fields and religions. Western Muslims need to get on the train and get with the program. These beliefs and comment a disguised as modesty are actually sexist and misogynistic. Look up Shaykh Nadwi who recently has done scholarship on the vast numbers of female scholars, leaders and teachers throughout the years. If men are tempted, let them lower their gaze or stay home. But don’t tell women to stay home anymore. As Sh Nadwi so aptly points out, to prevent women from Islamic learning is akin to the jahiliyyah practice of burying baby girls alive. Either way you prevent them from growing and developing. May Allah guide us all. Ameen.

  • I find it odd after reading many of the comments saying women need to be “behind the veil”. In other words, women of Islam dressed modestly cannot have scholarly discussions to both men and women. So lets say the woman does preach behind the veil. When you leave, you all go to the store and see the “people of Wal-mart”. How is that for relevant?

  • JazakAllah Khair John Ederer for an insightful and much needed prose.

    I am slightly shocked at the discourse of comments I have been reading regarding the veil, and it is that discourse which is pure evidence of why Islamic Scholars and some Muslims are having difficulty mediating Islam in a Modern context.

    Brothers and Sisters, I understand that some of you are holding true to the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH), his family, and his companions; and that you are hesitant to mediate or transform those practices in the 21st century. However, John Ederer writes about a crucial topic about the Muslim Ummah and automatically people are bringing up whether it is required to teach behind a veil or not – really? Do you genuinely think, that in the 21st century, a female Muslim scholar teaching in a mixed gathering WITHOUT a veil is going to be a major fitnah for the Muslim community, especially in the U.S. – really? We have girls who have just been kidnapped in Nigeria by Muslim Extremists, we have terrorists staining the name of Islam, we have Muslim countries enslaving construction workers and abusing domestic workers, and we are worrying in the U.S. whether or not we should have a veil for female scholars – where are the female scholars in the first place? We have reached a state where some brothers and sisters have become very protective of the religion, that they are subconsciously worshiping the religion devoid of any contextual reasoning in fear of being “deviated.”

    Here we are in the 21st century where we have professional independent and married Muslim men and women working in mixed settings, speaking to the opposite sex on a daily basis, and they’re steadfast with the faith and not entranced by the world, it’s the beautiful balance of the “دين و دنيا”. We should be very careful when we mediate the “عرف” (tradition and customs) of the past with the current conditions of our time. I wonder what your reactions would be if a sheikh proclaimed a fatwa that using computers and television is Haram because of the abundant amount of access to “nakedness” that is prevalent on those mediums. Just like the computer, The benefits of having female scholars teaching in a mixed setting, with a veil or not, will infinitely outweigh any “negatives”, if there are any. There is infinite wisdom with the traditions of the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions, but we need the right people to mediate between two completely different time periods. We must realize that the times are changing, and as one of my teachers once said, you either change with time, or you get changed by time.

  • Asslam o Alaikum, Could you please clarify about women Imams in an article as well because I have always heard that women can’t lead a prayer but I have been seeing this a lot lately. What is the point of view about this in Islam? JazakAllah kahir for all the help!

  • Masha Allah, what a beautiful article! May Allah reward you for confronting such a controversial issue in our Ummah.

  • The question is not about how many speakers we have. By prohibiting a large group of people(woman) from sharing their intellectuals you are only depriving the Muslim communities.
    If there is a woman, blessed with great knowledge and understanding, what gives you, me or anyone the right to stop the spread of this precious knowledge ?
    And why is this such a great issue to begin with ? Allah clearly indicated how much woman can and can not do. Why do you think you are so great that you can add to that ?

  • An excellent article and about time!! The Ummah has most certainly lost out big time by depriving woman the opportunity to educate and enlighten the Ummah.More than half of the Ummah are woman.Over the last few decades woman always comprise more than half the pilgrims performing the Hajj.Those who are unable to control their lust have done Islam a great disservice by potraying woman as the source of all fitnah. The Quran revolutionised the status of woman and released them from this bondage.In Islamic society the question of womans emancipation never arises because Islam liberated woman the day it liberated man.

  • Assalaamu alaikum warahmatullah.
    It seems that the purpose of the article is to highlight the prevalence of female scholarship through out the ages (or so i assume).

    Firstly, for the Imam to write an article regarding female scholarship but caption it with a photo of unveiled teaching begs the question: was Imam trying to subtly imply-cum-validate a position or not? Is there another valid opinion in this regard? surely Imam would know the term Mutafarridaat or even Shaadh. To request evidence for this is nothing short of surprising, from a scholar who has written on the subject.
    2ndly, The word “Dir'” has been translated as chainmail??
    then 3rdly(though i must state this was a riposte by Imam and not part of the article) “Trust me bro when I was a new Muslim and when I was like you an avid reader and listener to the “anti-western” scholars I thought like you and pushed the ticket with all around me. Most people were alienated”
    What are the Maqaasid of Islamic scholarship?

    • Peace Abu Sahl,

      1st – Yes I am a supporter of the the position for women to speak as the texts and the overall benefit support it. Follow up article coming soon iA

      2nd – What would you suggest as a translation?? armor

      3rd – The purpose and aims of Islamic scholarship is to guide the people to properly understand Islam!

  • May abundance of peace be upon you

    Based on the comments I have read, I can clearly see the need for a follow article. The fact that female scholarship is just now being brought to the table is a really good sign for our muslim Ummah and as many have said we do have a long way to go. But for know I’m really excited to see that we have people who are questioning the “status-quo” for the past centuries and providing tangible evidence to support their arguments.

    May you be expectant of Allah’s reward Br. Yahya
    looking forward to the follow up inshallah .

  • Assalaamu ‘alaykum imam John. I have some confusion. You wrote in the article:
    “You have a general consensus that women can be scholars and preach Islam, but only to other women,”
    But then you wrote in the comment:
    ” Indeed many scholars hold that the correct understanding of the texts do not prohibit a shaikhah from teaching a mixed gathering.”

    So are you saying an ‘ijmah of scholars in a certain time period should not be considered as a source of law, just like the scholars – Imam ibn Hazm and the recent Muhammad Asad?
    Or did I misunderstood the point?

    • Peace br. Jakub,

      The first was referring to the attitude of the Muslim world not the scholarly opinion on the matter. The second was showing the power of culture over religion.

      The legal term for a consensus of scholars اجماع Ijmaa is surely a source of law, but it is a highly abused term thrown around like flapjacks at IHOP.

  • I pray my countrymen and women in Nigeria should wake up from this long sleep of Boko Haram since 1903-date and seek knowledge.

  • Totally agreed. Women have the potential to do much great things as they have proved many times throughout the Muslim history. The problem is accurately pointed out: Closing the doors of Ijtihaad and Poor Quality of Muslim Education .

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