The premise upon which we shall initiate the discussion of the ladies jamaat question is: Tablighi Jamaat activity, if contained within the Shar‘i limits, is Mustahab. This Mustahab Tablighi Jamaat activity is applicable to males and not to females. Ladies do not fall within the ambit of such tablighi activity which is of the projecting, outdoor type exclusive to males. Tablighi Jamaat activity for ladies entails the following acts:
1) Emergence from homes for reasons which are not deemed imperative by the Shariah.
2) Gathering at various homes in the locality and elsewhere for talks, albeit on Deen.
3) Travelling from town to town and even abroad.
4) Identification as a special group peculiar to only the Tablighi Jamaat.
EMERGENCE FROM HOMES
First and foremost, the Quraan Shareef declares with emphasis:
“AND, REMAIN RESOLUTELY WITHIN YOUR HOMES.” (Surah)
Besides this decisive Quraanic verse, there are other aayaat, as well as numerous Ahaadith categorically establishing the Shar’i laws of Hijab which do not permit women to emerge from the home environment without valid Shar’i reason. Participation in a form of tabligh or da’wat which is Mustahab is not sufficient and strong enough reason to permit women, whom Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) described as ‘aurah’ (object of concealment), to emerge from the home in contravention of the Islamic Law of Hijab, it is not necessary here to go into detail to prove the rigid application of the Islamic Law of Hijab, since this article is written for the benefit of those who acknowledge the Shar’i Law of Hijab. Those who have drifted from Siraatul Mustaqeem will not be interested in this article, hence it has been considered superfluous to dilate on the question of Hijab. Such a detailed article on Hijab is available in booklet form. This article is purely for those who subscribe to the Shar’i Law of Hijab, but act to the contrary on the basis of certain mistaken assumptions.
Often certain Ahaadith pertaining to Jihad in which women participated in a secondary and in an unorganized role, are cited to condone the ladies’ jamaat tablighi programmes. However, the analogy is erroneous since Jihad and the specific tablighi activity of the Tablighi Jamaat are two entirely different duties and obligations. The one should not be confused with the other. The Shar’i Ahkaam pertaining to Jihad which is a Fardh Kifayah obligation – in rare cases becomes Fardh-e-Ain – differ from the Ahkaam pertaining to a Mustahab branch of Amr bil ma’ruf-nahy anil munkar, Here again there is no need to elaborate, since the respected Ulama linked with the Tablighi Jamaat will be fully aware of the wide difference in the Ahkaam of the two duties.
It is worthy to note here that even in the Fardh Kifayah Jihad, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) discouraged the participation of women even in a secondary role. The few women – exceedingly few – who participated in the Jihad campaigns in a secondary role, did so of their own accord. Their participation was not organized by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), hence when he (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) observed several women arriving for the Campaign of Khaiber, he (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) became angry and demanded an explanation for their presence. However, they were then permitted to participate after Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) heard their explanation. The significant fact to note here is Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) anger when he saw the ladies joining the Campaign of Jihad. This is sufficient evidence to prove that it was not normal for the Sahabiyah ladies and early Muslim ladies to participate in Jihad. Where they participated in Jihad campaigns, they did in a secondary role and in an unorganized manner, i.e. they were not called upon to join nor were they exhorted to participate.
Their presence – which was not normal practice – in Jihad campaigns was not for the purpose of fighting ‘side by side with the men’ as modernists would like us to believe. Imam Nawawi (rahmatullah alayh), in Sharhul Muslim, states that the women who participated in Jihad campaigns primarily attended to their husbands and other mahram relatives in the Jihad. Where women fought ‘side by side’ with the men, the circumstances demanded relaxation of the Hijab rules, since it was a matter of life and death. The rules pertaining to times of grave danger differ vastly from the rules regarding orderly and dignified tabligh activity. Once, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) expressed surprise when he saw a woman in the Jihad carrying a dagger. His surprise was such that he (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was constrained to enquire from the lady the reason for her carrying a dagger.
Furthermore, when Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did take along one of the Azwaaje Mutah-harat in Jihad, she was completely concealed in a cabin which was mounted on a camel. These cabins were specially used for Purdah Nasheen ladies who had to travel when the need arose. But the Hijab was complete. From the example of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), it will be manifest that even in Jihad which has a superior status (i.e. Fardhe Kifayah) than the specific tablighi activity of the Tablighi Jamaat, Hijab was observed as far as was possible. The Ahaadith make it clear that women never participated in Jihad in any organized form. There was no ‘ladies regiment’, ‘ladies battalion’ or ‘ladies jamaat’ operating ‘side by side’ with males. The presence of women in the Jihad campaigns paled into insignificance by virtue of their un-official, rare and unorganized participation.
DICTATED BY CIRCUMSTANCES
Even if women participated in Jihad campaigns it could not be cited as justification for the ‘ladies jamaat’ operating under the auspices of today’s Tablighi Jamaat. As has been stated earlier, Fardh Kifayah Jihad and Mustahab specific tablighi activity of the Tablighi Jamaat are two different duties. The Ahkaam of both differ. The one cannot be argued on the premises of the other. Tabligh is not something new. It existed since the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). In fact, it was the mission of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and of all the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam). There are therefore, detailed instructions and rules governing Tabligh. There is then no need to endeavour to prove the significance and importance of Tabligh on the basis of Jihad aayaat and Ahaadith. It is a branch of ibadat on itself, having its own rules and regulations independent of Jihad. It is, therefore, erroneous to justify ‘ladies jamaat’ activity on the basis of women having participated in a quiet role, unostensibly in the Jihad campaigns of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Their engagement in actual fighting activity with the kuffaar was in the course of events. But their participation was extremely insignificant. Isolated episodes of participation do not represent a general rule.
Despite the great importance of Jihad, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did not encourage ladies to participate. The following Hadith indicates Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) actual attitude to the question of women emerging from their homes even to participate in the Fardh Kifayah obligation of Jihad.
“Hadhrat Umme Kabshah (radhiyallahu anha) says;
‘A woman of the tribe of Usrah Bani Qadha-ah requested Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam):
‘O Rasulullah! Do you permit me to participate in that army?
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) refused permission. This woman said: O Rasulullah my intention is not Jihad. My motive is to tend to the wounded and sick and give them water to drink.
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) replied:
‘If it was not for the fear of women‘s participation in Jihad becoming Sunnat and people saying (in future) that a certain woman (Sahaabi) went in Jihad, I would have given you permission. But, you remain behind.”
(Hikayatus Sahabah, Vol. 3)
This Hadith portrays: 1) Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), express refusal to women’s participation in Jihad even in a secondary capacity, and 2), the reason for the refusal.
The reason for Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) refusal is given by Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) himself as the fear that women‘s participation in Jihad will be interpreted as a Sunnat whereas it is not a Sunnat. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did not wish his Ummah to cite women’s participation in Jihad campaigns during the age of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) as being a standard Sunnat practice, hence he refused permission and immediately furnished the reason for the refusal, viz., “THE FEAR THAT WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN JIHAD WILL BECOME TO BE ACCEPTED AS A SUNNAT”:
Now since Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) himself negates women’s emergence from the home to participate in the superior ibadat of Jihad, it will be highly incorrect and total conflict of the purport and spirit, of Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) teaching for us in this age to assign ‘ladies jamaat’ activity a higher rank (or even an equal status) than, Jihad, by claiming that it is Sunnat for ladies to participate in the Tablighi Jamaat ‘ladies programmes’. Tabligh in group form has never been ordained, for ladies. Acquisition of Islamic knowledge and the specific tabligh activity of the Tablighi Jamaat should not be confused. Acquisition of necessary Islamic knowledge is Fardh upon every Muslim, male and female. But, this should not be interpreted as the specific tabligh activity of the Tabligh Jamaat, for this specific tablighi activity is neither Fardh Ain nor Fardh Kifayah,
FORBIDDEN TO PERFORM SALAAT
During the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), it was permissible for women to go to the Musjid for Salaat purpose. Despite this permission, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) discouraged women’s Salaat in the Musjid by exhorting much the superiority of their Salaat at home. During the Khilafat of Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu anhu), Ijma’ (Consensus) of the Sahabah (ridwanullah alayhim) was enacted on the prohibition of female attendance of the Musjid. Consequently, women were banned. Since, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) expressly commanded the Ummah to follow and adhere to the Sunnah of the Khulafa Rashideen and categorically stated that the Sunnah of the Sahabah is his (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) Sunnah, the decree of Amirul Mu’mineen, Sayyidina Umar Ibn Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu) and the Ijma’ of the Sahabah will not be at variance with the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Thus the total prohibition of women’s emergence from the home (except in cases on need) even for the greatest of all Ibadat, viz., Fardh Salaat, to be performed in the holiest of places, viz. the Musjid – the bastion of piety – is the SUNNAH OF RASULULLAH (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) AND THE COMMAND OF ALLAH TA‘ALA.
Now when the Shariah has prohibited a practice which initially enjoyed the sanction of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), viz, women’s participation in Fardh Salat in the, Musjid, then to a greater degree will the prohibition apply to a practice which did not enjoy Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) permission, but which contains the same ‘basis of prohibition as the initial practice of women attending the Musjid. And, that common basis is the ‘fitnah’ attendant to their emergence from the home, which the Quraan rigidly proscribes: “And remain resolutely in your homes.”
Salaat is Fardh Ain. The specific Tabligh of the Tabilghi Jamaat is MUSTAHAB for men only, NOT for women. When the Shariah has blocked female emergence from the home for discharging even the Fardh Ain in a place of supreme holiness and serenity such as the Musjid, then it is inconceivable that a practice which is not even Mustahab for females would be permitted in places and circumstances devoid of piety, holiness and serenity. In this age the entire environment is charged with ‘fitnah’, jahl, fisq and fujur. There is a total collapse of hijaab from the moment the woman leaves her home. Streets, public transport, planes, airports, stations, etc. are the worst places with an atmosphere of zina of a variety of kinds.
How is it possible that women’s emergence for a mubah (permissible) practice could enjoy Shar’i sanction when the Shariah has withdrawn its initial sanction from their emergence for a Fardh Ain obligation in even the holiest of times, places and circumstances? The intention underlying the establishment of ladies jamaat activities is sincere, but it is fraught with the gravest danger. The Illustrious Sahabah foresaw this danger and promptly enacted the necessary ban to nip the future ‘fitnah’ in the bud. If the Sahabah did not prohibit women from visiting the Musjid, then today, our Musajid would have degenerated, to levels of impiety worse than what is prevailing in the temples and churches of other religions.
PROJECTION AND SELF-EXPRESSION
The emphasis of the entire Shariah – the Quran and Sunnah – is upon ‘Ikhfa’ (concealment) of the female adherents of Islam. Projection and self-expression of females are of the ways and customs of the kufaar, for shamelessness is an inseparable attribute of kufr. On the contrary, an integral part of Iman is Haya (shame and modesty), hence Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Shame is a branch of Iman.”
Allah Ta’ala has naturally imbued woman with this attribute of Haya, if this natural quality in woman is destroyed, she will then excel in shamelessness. It is normal that once a natural attribute is eradicated, its opposite will assert its dominance. Hence, if Imaan is destroyed, kufr will manifest itself; if generosity is eradicated; miserliness will take its place; if courage is eliminated; cowardice will prevail in its place. Similarly, if the natural modesty of woman is destroyed, shamelessness sets in. The results of this destruction of female Haya are too manifest to require elaboration.
BASTION OF HAYA
Emergence from the home, participation in group activities, travelling about unnecessarily projecting a special identity apart from the identity as members of Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) Ummah – as is the case of ladies movements of which the ‘ladies Jamaat’ is also a branch – are factors negating the natural Haya of the Muslimah. Her role has not been cast by Allah Ta’ala as a ‘reformer of society’, as the ‘reformer of the Ummah’ in the manner in which males have to perform this task. Allah Ta’ala has ordained upon her the training, care and reformation of her children and the execution of the affairs of her home. This then is what is FARDH AIN upon her, not her emergence from the bastion of Haya – her home – to project herself as ‘some reformer of society’, This is not her role. She can never play that role. The whole futile exercise of ‘ladies Jamaat’ is doomed to a colossal failure since it does not hold the sanction of the Law of Allah Azza wa Jal.
The TABLIGH which is Fardh Ain upon a woman, is her tabligh to her ‘flock’, viz., her children, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) has commanded this Fardh Ain tabligh. Thus he (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Everyone one of you is a shepherd and everyone will be questioned about his (or her) flock…”
Her ‘flock’ then constitutes the field of her Fardh Ain tabligh, not the public at large. She has to discharge this Fardh tabligh to her ‘flock’ in the highest possible degree as is commanded by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam):
“Whoever among you sees evil being committed, change it (prevent it, thwart it, destroy it) with the hand (using the necessary force where possible)…”
‘FLOCK‘ AT HOME
This obligation she has to discharge to her ‘flock’ at home. The Shariah has given her the due authority for operation in the region under her jurisdiction, viz., her home and not the public – not the homes of others. She is not the ‘reformer of society’ and never shall she be, for Islam has not envisaged that role for her. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) commanded that Muslim males should not encourage her projection and expression, hence the holy Hadith speaks:
“Never will a community who appoints a woman over its affairs, be successful,”
“Place them (women) behind like Allah Ta‘ala has placed them behind.”
That is their natural role – the role for which they are qualified – the role which only they can execute to perfection – the role of the home – the role of reforming and teaching their children – not the role of teaching the public.