Q.1. I have been told that no woman is allowed to attain a high
standard in Islamic learning so as to give rulings on matters that
may be put to her. Is this true? If so, how can we account for the
position of Aishah, the Prophetís wife, who used to giver rulings
on different matters?
A.1. Men and women are equal in Godís sight. There are some
differences of what God requires of them in worship, but these are
minor and take care of differences in their make-up or
To say that a woman is not allowed to attain a high level of
scholarship is to accuse Islam of discrimination which it does not
As you say, Aishah was far more learned than many of the
Prophetís companions, and practically more than anyone else in
In Islamic history there was a long tradition of women scholars
who studied up to a very high degree. Many of them had their circles
in which they taught whoever wished to read under them. Among their
students were some men who attained a high standard. Imam Ibn Hazm,
for example, was taught by several women. We recently carried
several articles introducing some women scholars who attained wide
fame in different periods of Islamic history.
Q.2. Can a group of women offer Friday prayer on their own, with
one of them giving the khutbah or sermon and then leading the
A.2. Women are not required to offer the Friday prayer. Instead,
they offer the zuhr prayer in the normal way.
However, if a woman, or a group of women, attend the Friday
prayer in a mosque, it is perfectly appropriate and compensates them
for zuhr prayer. But the situation you are considering is not right.
Why would women offer the Friday prayer instead of zuhr when what is
required is zuhr? There is no advantage in that. Besides, God has
exempted women from Friday prayer because it is easier for them to
offer zuhr, particularly when they have to attend to young children.
To establish something that Islam does not require is to create
an imposition. This is not acceptable.