Using Islam to suppress Islam

Here’s a report from Reuters about what sounds like an attempt by a secular government to use “Shari’ah” in order to suppress Islam (linked off Ginny’s blog):

On 6 November, Tajik President Emomali Rahmonov made a decree banning women from mosques. “More than a thousand years of Islam’s history, including the Sunni branch and, particularly, the doctrine of the Great Imam (Azam), says that it is preferred that women pray in solitude, in other words it is more favourable if they pray at home,” Rahmonov said, justifying his decision.

Imam Azam, by the way, is Imam Abu Hanifa, radhi Allahu ‘anhu (which is never pointed out in this piece; obviously the author doesn’t know much about Islam).

This isn’t the first time such a thing has happened, by the way - it was reported that the British attempted to “use Shari’ah” against Somali women during their occupation of northern Somalia. In fact, women not attending mosques is not demanded by Shari’ah, although it’s never been encouraged for women to do their regular prayers in the mosque. Doing those in the home is vastly more meritorious; but what happens if the woman cannot pray at home because there is fighting, or it has been washed out in a flood and she needs a place to pray, or if she is in a different part of the city? If she can’t use the mosque, she may have to use the park, which is even more exposed than the mosque.

But in the classical period in Baghdad and elsewhere, women did take and give lessons in the mosque, and major imams attended. Of course, they must observe proper hijab, but if she’s giving lessons, she knows that anyway, doesn’t she?

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