Q: What is the ruling regarding a woman going to the masjid for any prayers?
A: In the time of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) females were permitted, not commanded, to attend salaah in the musjid, but that permission was qualified with a number of conditions:
1) They were always reminded that the inner most corner of the house was the best place for the salaah of a woman (Bukhari Shareef)
2) Women were not allowed to apply perfume when attending the musjid.
3) They had to dress shabily and in simple, unimpressive clothing.
4) They had to wear the jilbaab or cloak that covered the entire body from head to toe.
5) They were to remain aloof from menfolk enroute to the musjid and when entering and exiting.
6) The Imam had to pause after the salaah to allow females time to leave the musjid before the men.
These conditions can be found at different places in the books of Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmizhi, Abu Dawood, and Nasaai.
Nowadays, observation and experience has shown that none of these conditions are applied when women attend the musjid for prayers. Not even a single one. On this basis, the Ulema have ruled, not today, but centuries ago, that generally females are not allowed to attend musjid for salaah.
And Allah knows best
Mufti Siraj Desai
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