On the Imamate of Women

Sheikh Abu at-Tayyib Adhimabadi
Awn al-Ma'bud [2/300-301], the commentary to Abu Dawud
Translation by Abu Rumaysah

Umm Waraqah, the daughter of Nawfal reported, "When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) proceeded for Badr I said to him, 'Messenger of Allah allow me to accompany you in the battle. I shall act as a nurse for your patients and maybe Allah will bestow martyrdom upon me.' He replied, 'stay at your home and Allah the Exalted will bestow martyrdom upon you.' [The narrator said: hence she was called a martyr.] She read the Quran and sought permission from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to have a mu'adhdhin in her house. He therefore permitted her to do so. She announced that her slave and slave girl would be free after her death so one night they strangled her with a sheet of cloth until she died and ran away. The next day ‘Umar announced that anyone who has knowledge of them or has seen them should bring them to him. (After they were caught) ‘Umar ordered that they be crucified and this was the first crucifixion at Madinah."

From Umm Waraqah, the daughter of Abdullah bin al-Harith, "the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) used to visit her at her house. He appointed a mu'adhdhin to call Adhan for her and he commanded her to lead the inmates of her house in prayer." Abdurrahman said, "I saw that her mu'adhdhin was an old man." [Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. #591 & 592)]

This Hadith establishes that the Imamate of women and their praying in congregation is correct and affirmed by means of the order of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). Ayshah and Umm Salamah led the women in prayer for the obligatory prayers and the prayer of Tarawih.

Al-Hafidh said in ‘Talkhis al-Habir',

"The Hadith of Ayshah that she led the women in prayer by standing in the middle (of their first row) was reported by 'Abdur-Razzaq and via his route, ad-Daruqutni and al-Bayhaqi from the Hadith of Abu Hazim from Ra'ita al-Hanafiyyah from 'A'ishah that 'she led them in an obligatory prayer standing amongst them.'

Ibn Abi Shaybah and al-Hakim report via the route of ibn Abi Laylah from Ata from Ayshah 'that she used lead the women in prayer and stand in the middle of their (first row).'

The Hadith of Umm Salamah that she led the women in prayer and stood in the middle of them was reported by ash-Shafi'i, ibn Abi Shaybah and 'Abdur-Razzaq all from ibn Uyaynah from 'Ammar ad-Dahni from a woman of his people who was called Hajirah from Umm Salamah 'that she led them in prayer and stood in the middle (of the first row).'

The wording of 'Abdur-Razzaq has: "Umm Salamah led us in the 'Asr prayer and stood in the middle of us.'"

Al-Hafidh also said in 'ad-Dirayah',

"Muhammad bin al-Hasan reports from Ibrahim an-Nakha'i from Ayshah 'that she used to lead the women in prayer during the month of Ramadan and stood in the middle (of their first row).'"

I say: it is clear from these ahadith that when a woman leads other women then she stands in the middle (of their first row) amongst them and not in front of them (as a man does).

as-Sana'ani said in 'Subul as-Salam',

"The Hadith lends proof for the correctness of a woman leading the people of her household, even if their be a man amongst them - and in this case he was her mu'adhdhin and an old man. The literal sense of the Hadith shows that she used to lead him, her servant and her slave-girl.

Abu Thawr, al-Muzani and at-Tabari took to the opinion that this was correct while the majority were of the opposite opinion."

...'Abdur Razzaq reports in his Musannaf from Ikrimah from ibn Abbas that he said, "when a woman leads women in prayer then she should stand in the middle of them."