Question # 433: In Indo-Pak subcontinent, there are no separate area for prayers in the masjid for women/sisters. Therefore, if the women offer their prayers at home, how many rakah should they pray?
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Shorter Answer: Jumu’ah prayer is only valid when performed in congregation for both men and women. However, the scholars agree that Jumu’ah prayer is not obligatory for women, and that they may pray four rak’ahs of Dhuhr in their homes. Nevertheless, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said to not prevent women from going to the mosques; therefore, if a woman prays two rak’ahs Jumu’ah with the imam, that is sufficient and she does not have to pray Dhuhr, just like the men.
Long Answer: The scholars are agreed that Jumu’ah prayer is not obligatory for women, and that they may pray four rak’ahs of Dhuhr in their homes.
Ibn al-Mundhir (may Allah have mercy on him) says in al-Ijmaa’: “They are unanimously agreed that Jumu’ah is not obligatory for women.” Ibn Qudamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “As regards women, there is no difference (among the scholars) concerning the fact that Jumu’ah is not obligatory for them.” (Al-Mughni ma’a al-Sharh al-Kabeer)
The evidence for that is the hadith of Taariq ibn Shihaab (رضي الله عنه) according to which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Jumu’ah is a duty that is required of every Muslim in congregation, except four: a slave, a woman, a child or one who is sick.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood). Al-Nawawi said in al-Majmoo’: its isnad is sahih according to the conditions of the two Shaykhs (al-Bukhari and Muslim). Ibn Rajab said in Fath al-Baari: its isnad is sahih. Ibn Katheer said in Irshaad al-Faqeeh: its isnad is jayyid. It was also classed as sahih by al-Albani in Saheeh al-Jaami’.
The reason why Jumu’ah is not obligatory for women is that shari’ah does not encourage women to attend places where men gather, because of the negative consequences to which that may lead, as happens nowadays in many workplaces where men and women mix. (See also Badaa’i’ al-Sanaa’i’).
If a woman adheres to the shar’i conditions for her going out to the mosque, such as not wearing adornments and perfume, then there is nothing wrong with her attending Jumu’ah prayers in the mosque and praying two rak’ahs behind the imam, in which case she does not need to pray Dhuhr.
Ibn al-Mundhir (may Allah have mercy on him) said in al-Ijmaa’: “They are unanimously agreed that if women join the imam and pray with him, that is sufficient for them.”
Ibn Qudamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said in al-Mughni: “But if she prays Jumu’ah it is valid, because for women to pray in congregation is valid, as the women used to pray with the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) in congregation.”
With regard to praying Jumu’ah in the home on one’s own, this is not valid for either a man or a woman, because Jumu’ah prayer is only valid when done in congregation, as stated in the hadith of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) quoted above: “Jumu’ah is a duty that is required of every Muslim in congregation.”
If a group wanted to pray Jumu’ah in the house, this is also not valid, because Jumu’ah prayer is prescribed in order for the Muslims to gather together in one place for prayer and to listen to the khutbah and benefit from it. Hence it is not permissible for there to be numerous Jumu’ah prayers in one city unless there is a need for that, such as if the city is very large or there is no jaami’ mosque that can hold all the people.
Based on this, if [women] do not go to the mosque to pray Jumu’ah, then they should pray Dhuhr at home.
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah: “If a woman prays Jumu’ah with the imam, that is sufficient and she does not have to pray Dhuhr; it is not permissible for her to pray Dhuhr that day. But if she prays on her own then she can only pray Dhuhr, and she cannot pray Jumu’ah.”
It is better for a woman to pray Dhuhr in her house, because of the general meaning of the words of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم): “Do not prevent your women from going to the mosques, although their houses are better for them.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood; classed as sahih by al-Albani in Saheeh Abi Dawood)
If she wants to go to Jumu’ah, then she has to avoid perfume and adornments, and not crowd together with men in the streets.
(The above reply is based on various answers provided by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on similar topics)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.