Thursday 9 November 2023

Understanding Islam: Why should women stand behind men when offering Salat (Prayer) together?

Many a non-Muslim are always on the lookout to find some flaws in Islam to mock the Muslims. The Hijab is one main concern of non-Muslims for they think that it is tantamount to suppression of Muslim rights. We have written much on the philosophy and wisdom behind Hijab of women, and so have many others. But those who want to mock Islam are unmoved no matter how many arguments are proffered in support of Hijab.

Now here is another object: Why should women stand behind men when offering Salat (Prayer) together?

Yesterday, I shared the above photograph showing how a Muslim family offer prayer in ranks. It shows the women of the house standing in the last row behind men. This photo was immediately picked up and one of the commentators, obviously a non-Muslim, remarked: "Mother and daughter pray in the back cause they're not as intelligent as men according to your prophet, lol."

I in my counter remarks tried to explain the wisdom behind this, which is purely hinges to protect and respect he modesty of women. Yet the above said commentator continues to come up with her own arguments, though I asked her to read more about it before making her comments. But to no avail.

Since the aim of my blog is to present to the world Islam in as easy words and explanation as possible with a view to removing any doubts that non-Muslims may have to better understand Islam, I thought to explain the reason why. But before I do that, I must point out out right from outset that the rationale or the wisdom behind women standing behind men can only be understood by those non-Muslims who value the modesty, dignity and honour. Since in most of the countries, women are only considered as sex symbols, which is evident from the advertisement which show women in revealing outfit to attract men, accepting my viewpoint will be a bit difficult for both men and women, for they enjoy the hidden lust in public display of women.

Now coming to the issue at hand: we all understand that women have been so made that men cannot resist watching her because of her body shape and contours. So, if a woman stands in front of a man or even by his side, there is more than a possibility that her presence so close will be notice by man, and since the purpose of prayer is complete devotion to Allah, any distraction in the prayer due to presence of man may take his attention away from prayer. Even if a husband is standing close to his wife or behind her, her love for her may be distracting too.

The most logical reason why a woman is required to stand behind the man and not beside him when offering congregation prayer has got to do with the nature that Allah Subhanah has bestowed upon the man. It is in the inherent nature of the man that he is easily and immediately physically attracted to the woman. Thus, when one is in audience with the Lord of the Worlds when one is in prayer, there is a chance that his sight or glance might fall on the woman, and thus his natural attraction and thought towards the opposite sex might distract his attention, and that would affect his humility and sincerity required when in prayer. The Deen of Islam, being perfect and in absolute accordance with nature has taken care of even the smallest of issues; and guided its followers that when a man and a woman pray in congregation alone, the woman must stand behind the man and not beside him. [1]

Thus, it is not fair to read his tradition from a presentist standpoint and look at the configuration of the prayer in terms of female subordination to men. It’s not about male superiority or female inferiority. That women stand behind men does not suggest that they are secondary in the sight of God. God’s sight encompasses all. Furthermore, Islam is a religion whose overriding characteristic is modesty. The prayer is very physical. Some men might be able to ignore a woman standing beside them or in front of them. Others might not be so successful. If men weren’t moved by the female body, then the billion-dollar advertising industry that objectifies and commodifies women would not exist. [2]

Now you may like to watch a very informative video in which eminent Muslim scholar Dr Shabir Ally explains the issue at hand:
I hope this explanation amply answers the questions by the non-Muslims and they would try to find wisdom in women praying behind men, if objectively viewed with an open and unbiased mindset. 
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

You may also refer to our Reference Pages  and Understanding Islam for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo: Facebook | Resource References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |

Disclaimer: The material for this post has been collected from the references given above. If anyone differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

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