What is the ruling on Muslim women attending the masjid? Would it be a good practice for a Muslimah to pray within the the bounds of her home to maintain her modesty or attend Jumaah?
The second question is the status of masjid itself. These days masjids or mosques have become more of community centers where people engage in conversation about everyone and everything. Could you please elaborate on the role and sanctity of a mosque?
It is permissible for a woman to attend the masjid, but it is far better for her to perform Salaah at her home.
The reason for its permissibility is that the Prophet ﷺ allowed it and he did not prevent women from going to the masjid. Regarding this he also said, ‘Do not prevent your women from going to the masjid even though their houses are better for them’. (Abu Dawood)
However, notwithstanding this, the Prophet ﷺ encouraged women to perform Salaah in a private chamber / room of her home and mentioned that it is move virtuous and rewarding for them to do so.
In this regard, Umm Salma (RA) the wife of the Prophet ﷺ reports that the Prophet ﷺ said ‘The best masjid (place for salah) for women is the inner most part of their homes.’ (Hakim in his Mustadrak Vol. 1, Pg. 209)
In another tradition, Umm Salma (RA) narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said: ‘ A woman’s salah in the inner most room of her house is better than her salah in her verandah, and her salah in her verandah is better than her salah in her courtyard.’ (Tabrani Majma’uz Zawaa’id Vol. 2, Pg. 334)
Another narration states that Umm Humaid (RA) relates ‘ The men folk of our tribe use to prevent their women folk from attending the masjid. I approached the Prophet ﷺ and told him that we (women) desire to attend the masjid and perform salah behind him, but our men folk prevent us.’ Upon this, the Prophet ﷺ said: ‘Your salah which you perform in the inner most portion of your home is better than the salah performed in your verandahs, and your salah performed in your verandahs is better than the salah performed in your courtyards, and the salah performed in your courtyard is better than the salah performed with jamat.’ (Tabrani Majma’uz Zawaa’id)
It is also narrated that Aisha (RA) once said during her time, after the Prophet ﷺ had passed away, ‘Had the Prophet ﷺ seen the condition of the women at that time he would have prevented them from the masjid.’ (Sahih Al Bukhari)
Based on the above guidelines given to women by the Prophet ﷺ, it is evident that indeed the best place for a woman’s salah is at her home. The general body of jurists experts (Fuqaha) of the four schools of Islamic Jurisprudence have stated it is not encouraged that women go to the masjid for salah. Instead, it is best for them to perform salah in the privacy of their homes. (Ash Sharah Al Muhazab, Vol. 4, Pg.198. Al Mughni Vol.2. Vol.18 Kitabul Fatawa (Allama Khalid Saifullah Rahmani Vol. 2 Pg. 413-414).
Therefore, in light of what have been mentioned, it will be better for you to perform Salaah at home instead of attending the masjid to do so. With respect to Jummah, this is not compulsory upon women. It is best that women remain home and perform the Dhuhr Salaah.
The Masjid is the house of Allah and a very sacred place. Allah Himself Has made it holy and Has ordered the believers to uphold its sanctity and holiness.
As mentioned in the Holy Quran, the main objective of the masjid is ‘the remembrance of Allah’. Therefore the masjid in a locality /district is the fixed place for all the daily Salaah and Jummah, and is the retreat for the believers who seek Allah’s closeness through Itikaaf in the month of Ramadhan. The Prophet ﷺ has highlighted in many traditions that the masjid is frequented and visited by angels throughout the period of the day and night, and are engaged in Salaah. Allah’s mercy continues to descend to the masjid and His pleasure and blessings are bestowed to those who visit it.
Owing to the sacred nature and holiness of the masjid, the Prophet ﷺ has prohibited Muslims from building conversations of a worldly nature in the masjid. The normal conversations people have with each other that sometimes contain gossip, backbiting, slandering, speaking about other people and things, making jokes, discussing affairs that are not connected to Islam or the Masjid, are all prohibited in the masjid.
Those who wish to do any of such acts can do so outside the prayer area of the masjid. They must not do so inside the prayer area of the masjid. In short, every Muslim (male and female) must be conscious of the rules pertaining to the masjid and refrain from doing anything that is disliked or prohibited inside the masjid.
And Allah knows best
Mufti Waseem Khan