Voice of JAKIM: Amina Wadud’s agenda belittled Islamic canon

by Ghafani Awang Teh

Such is the action of Amina Wadud, leading the Friday prayer with males and females in the congregation on 18 March –
In the Islamic modern history, we come across various personalities who bring controversy, such as Mirza Ghulam Ahmad who proclaimed himself as the final Prophet of Alllah. A group of followers of Mirza have formed the Qadiyani sect and declared a new religion.

During the colonization of Pakistan dan India, the British colonials strongly supported Mirza in Pakistan. Then came Salman Rushdie who claimed the Quran as the devil’s words and was protected by the west.

In Bangladesh, there was Taslima Nasreen who wrote a novel which basically debase the Quran. In our own country, there was a group of Muslims who did not avow to the Traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) and instead published a book entitled Bacaan.

The main question here is whether the incessant controversies created by ignorant Muslims are the agendas of certain parties or is it a complot to erode the role of the ulamak and the fuqaha in safeguarding the sanctity of Islam and the strong values in its teaching?

On 18 March recently, the Muslim ummah was jolted by a foreign news which mentioned of a women who led a Friday congregation and gave its sermon in a church in Manhattan, New York.

The women who took the duty of imam was Amina Wadud (picture), a professor of Islamic Studies at the Commonwealth University, Virginia, USA. She is a single mother of five children.

This controvercial act of Amina Wadud against the teaching of Islam is nothing new. She once was lecturing at the International Islamic University of Malaysia from 1989-1992, but her tenure was not extended due to her always controvercial viewpoints.

In a international Conference on Islamic Leadership Negotiation Concerning AIDS/HIV in Kuala Lumpur on 20 May 2003, she was condemning the Quran and the Traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) because, according to her, the teaching from the two sources regarding sexual education is the cause to the HIV/AIDS epidermic.

The main contention in the latest act of Amina Wadud is leading the Friday congregation as imam, giving the sermon while the safs during the prayer constituted of males and females.

Her action of becoming the first female imam of a Friday prayer in this world and giving the sermon was condemned by ulamak the world over, amongst them, Syeikh Yusuf al-Qardhawi.

According to Syeikh Yusuf al-Qardhawi, fuqaha were unanimous that a women is forbidden from becoming an imam and giving the sermon. This view was based on teaching, and not based on the customs of any race, as proposed by some. This opinion was given when queried by news agency Islam Online on whether the forbiddance of female as imam to male is due to:never occur in the history of Islam a female becoming an imam of Friday congregational prayer and giving the sermon; no one fuqaha agreed to permit female to become imam of Friday congregational prayer and giving the sermon;

The solat in Islam involved acts of various physical and spiritual movements. It does not contain merely religious rituals and there is no intermingling between males and females. The solat in Islam demands complete intentness of mind, emotion and heart to be focused to Allah, the Most Sublime.

Islam defines a few rules to ascertain that its ummah worshipAllah with decorum and dignity so as to attain concentration in the act of worship to Allah.
Hence, in tandem with the great magnitude of solat, Islam prescribes certain guidelines in doing it.

In performing solat with males and females congregants, the Messenger of Allah said “ The best saf for males is the first saf and the worst is the last, while the best saf for females is the last and the worst is the first.” ( narrated by Muslim).

This is an authentic hadith. This is the rule and discipline of congregational solat in the act of worshipping Allah.
Islam permit female to be the imam to female congregants only. Several hadiths reported by al-Baihaqi and Darqatani mentioned that Aisyah and Ummu Salamah ( the wives of the Messenger of Allah ) did lead as imam of congregational solat with females congregants only.

The place for female imam is in the first saf together with the congregants, not in front as required for male imam. There is no hadith that directly mentioned that female can be imam for the Friday congregational solat and give the sermon.

Islam gave equal rights based on fairness to male and female alike. The separation rule of male and female in solat shows that Islam is a harmonize and systematic creed. Islam actually bestows virtue and harmony to all. Its followers perform the solat to attain concentration and obtain blessings from Allah. Allah mentioned in the Quran that a prosperous Muslim is he who attain concentration in solat ( surah al-Mukminun:1 ) and he who is negligent in solat suffers a great loss ( surah al Maaun:4 ).

In the Traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) narrated by Bukhari and Muslim, it is mentioned that the great magnitude and excellence of solat will determine whether one is of the heaven or hell. Obviously solat is a of great importance and provide extreme rapture to individuals who obtain concentration in solat. The great magnitude and influence of solat in personal development of its ummah is vindicated whence Allah Himself delivers the command to perform solat to His Messenger (pbuh) during the event of Isra and Mi’raj.

The controvercial act of a women becoming imam of Friday congregational solat and giving the sermon evidently did not consider the stature and magnitude of solat. Hence, this action clearly is seen as an act of fighting for women’s basic rights as:fighting for equal right for men and women as practiced in the freedom to socialize between men and women which is observed in rituals of other religions an effort to undermine the intellectual discipline observed by the fuqaha and ulamak who are the foreguard of the strength of values held by the ummah. If this effort is successful, then the role of the ulamaks and the fuqahas in defending the values in Islam will be eroded.

With the advent of any new incident, the Muslim ummah should think critically before accepting it. It also has to be assessed and investigated with knowledge and clear guidelines before practicing it.

The Word of Allah in surah al-Hujaraat, verse 6, carries the meaning : “O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of repentance for what ye have done.”