Ashraf’s Column

Friday, June 16, 2006

Lady leading Salat (prayer)

On 18 March, 2005, a lady called Dr. Ameena Wadud led a Jum’a congregation in New York. A number of male and female Muslims said their prayer behind the lady. I was listening to the early morning BBC program ‘Probhati’ in Bengali at 06:30 AM (BST) on 19 March, 2005. The incident was reported in this programme with due importance. The BBC correspondent claimed that this was for the first time in the 1400 years of history of Islam that a female Imam led a congregational prayer of Muslims. The incident has raised a storm among the Ulema (Islamic scholars) all over the world, Bangladesh being no exception.

May I draw the attention of the concerned BBC correspondent, and others who think alike, through your column to inform them that this is not an unprecedented incident. There is at least one case on record of a lady, H. Umm-i-Warqa, daughter of Abdullah, who was appointed by the Holy Prophet (SAW) as an Imam to lead the prayers. Imam Shafie (RA), founder one of the four leading schools of Sunni jurisprudence requested that his funeral prayer be led by a lady named H. Nafisa bint-I-Hasan bin Zaid bin Hasa, a son of Ali-Fatima (May Allah be pleased with them all). The lady duly obliged. The congregation obviously included both men and women. The Qur’anic injunction and the normal practice of the Holy Prophet (SAW) were later rendered ineffectual. As a result, entry of women into the mosque was and still is severely inhibited in most Muslim countries of the world.” (Reference: Brigadier ( R ) Nazir Ahmad, Qur’anic and non-Qur’anic Islam (2nd Revised Edition); Lahore, Vanguard Books (Pvt) Ltd., 1997, pp. 195-196.) A Bengali translation of Brig (Retd) Nazir Ahmad’s book is available with Hakkani Publishers.

Syed Ashrafuzzaman

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