I’m presently working with my employer to create a prayer space, initially for Ramadan but hopefully beyond.
The question I found my self asking was whether it’s ok to share a prayer space between men and women. The answer surprised me.
My experience of UK mosques is that women pray in different prayer spaces from men.
However a recent visit to Morocco made me question this approach – is it required by faith or simply cultural?
Yes the new mosque in Casablanca separates men and women yet the old mosque in Marrakesh, the Koutoubia Mosque, doesn’t.
In this mosque women pray in the same space as the men albeit to one side and behind. There is no wall or curtain between.
This encouraged me to reflect and read with the following conclusions.
Firstly we are taught by the Quran to:
So lets explore what the prophet did when praying in the presence of women.
Firstly he commanded us to:
So how did he offer his prayers in the presence of women?
Anas ibn Maalik narrates how:
This teaches us that women can pray in the same space as men.
Al-Haafiz said in al-Fath:
But most pertinent to instruction is that there is no mention of any screen, curtain, wall or isolated prayer space.
The belief and practice of both of these is linked to culture and tradition only.
Lets challenge such limiting traditions and follow the Prophet and Quran more closely than cultural norms.
This fatwa is offered:
Note: Praying behind is a mark of respect for women not subjugation – more on another occasion about this.