This is a tremendous lesson and a lofty valuable benefit; we will teach it from the story of a virtuous female companion. She tells the story of her acceptance of Islam, the news of her entrance into this religion, and her life in Islam.
She is Qaylah b. Makhramah al-Tamimiyyah رضي الله عنها , and her story is long. At-Tabarani collected it in totality in his book “al-M’ujam al-Kabir,” and I will take the part of her story wherein she mentions about her arrival to al-Madinah and her entrance into the Masjid of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم.
Her entrance, as narrated, was during the time of Fajr prayer; the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم was praying with the believers, and the ranks were behind him establishing this great prayer.
She رضي الله عنها said:
“We approached the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم while he was leading the people in Fajr prayer, and it was established when Fajr first appeared and the stars were interlaced in the sky. They were almost not known due to the darkness of the night. So, I, a woman who was new to Islam, joined the ranks with the men.”
Let us ponder on a woman who joined the ranks next to men in the Masjid of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, during Fajr prayer!
She goes on to say:
“So a man who was in the row behind me said: ‘Are you a woman or a man?’ So I said: ‘No; rather I am a woman.’ So the man said: ‘You almost caused a trial for me. Pray in the ranks of the women.’ There was a rank of women that had formed in the Hujurat and I did not see it when I entered, so I prayed with them.”
In other words, she went and prayed with the women, and she made an excuse for herself for the mistake in that instance: Her excuse was that she was new to Islam. In other words, she did not know the details, rulings, and directives of Islam.
O my Muslim sister, ponder on this:
The place: The Prophet’s Masjid صلى الله عليه و سلم
The era: The Prophet’s era صلى الله عليه و سلم
The time and situation: A virtuous situation and the time of prayer.
And within all of this, that noble companion رضي الله عنه said: “You almost caused a trial for me.”
The meaning of what he mentioned رضي الله عنه is what the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم clarified in the hadith of Usamah b. Zayd رضي الله عنه. He said:
“The Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم said:
‘After [my time], I have not left any trial more severe to men than women.'” (Sahih Bukhari)
And in the Hadith of Sa’id al-Khudari, the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said:
“Fear the worldly life and women. Indeed, the first trial for the people of Israeel was women.'” (Sahih Muslim)
This Companion رضي الله عنه feared for himself, and he was in the Masjid of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم behind the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم praying Fajr prayer! What about when women mix with men, not at times of darkness like occurred here and not in a noble place like this one; rather, in broad daylight, in market places and gatherings while she is completely beautified, fully adorned and wearing her sweetest fragrance. These are all overwhelming dangers and tremendous tribulations that wipe out, destroy, and cause falling into the great trials that the Prophet feared for his nation.
When the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم was in the masjid, the House of Allah that is a place of tranquility, Imaan, and a place of excellent efforst to gain closeness to the Most Merciful, he still distanced the women from the men as a precaution and awareness. In the authentic Hadith collection of Muslim there is the Hadith of Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه wherein he said that the Messenger of Allah said:
“The best rows for the men are the front rows and the worst ones are the back rows, and the best rows for the women are the back ones and the worst ones are the front ones.” (Sahih Muslim)
In other words, even if a women is in the Masjid, the House of Allah, the further she is away from men, the better and more befitting that is.
Prayer in her house is better for her than prayer in the Masjid. In the hadith of Umm Humayd as-Sa’adiyyah رضي الله عنها she said:
“I came to the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I love to pray with you.’ He said صلى الله عليه و سلم said: ‘I know that you love to pray with me, but praying in your sleeping area is better than praying in your room, praying in your room is better for you than praying in your house, and praying in your house is better for you than praying in your courtyard, and praying in your courtyard is better for you than praying in the mosque of your people, and praying in the mosque of your people is better for you than praying in my mosque.'” (Ahmad, Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Hibbaan)
It is also collected in the authentic Hadith collection of al-Bukhari, in the Hadith of Umm Salamah رضي الله عنها that she said:
“Whenever Allah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم completed the prayer, the women used to get up immediately, and the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم would remain in his place for a while before getting up.”
Az-Zuhri رضي الله عنه said, “We think, and Allah knows best, that he did so, so that the women might leave before any of the men perceived them.”
It is also mentioned in the Book of Allah that which indicates that distance from intermingling was present in the previous nations. Allah The Most High said:
وَلَمَّا وَرَدَ مَاءَ مَدْيَنَ وَجَدَ عَلَيْهِ أُمَّةً مِّنَ النَّاسِ يَسْقُونَ وَوَجَدَ مِن دُونِهِمُ امْرَأَتَيْنِ تَذُودَانِ ۖ قَالَ مَا خَطْبُكُمَا ۖ قَالَتَا لَا نَسْقِي حَتَّىٰ يُصْدِرَ الرِّعَاءُ ۖ وَأَبُونَا شَيْخٌ كَبِيرٌ فَسَقَىٰ لَهُمَا
“And when he came to the water [i.e. well] of Madyan, he found there a crowd of people watering [their flocks], and he found aside from them two women driving back [their flocks]. He said, ‘What is your circumstance?’ They said, ‘We do not water until the shepherds dispatch [their flocks]; and our father is an old man.’ So he watered [their flocks] for them…” (Surah al-Qasas [28:23-24])
So O Muslim sister, fear Allah; you will certainly meet Him. And from the things you will be asked about is did you act by the directives and blessed guidance found in the Book of the Lord of all creatures and in the Hadith of the Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم.
Certainly, the fear of Allah, adherence to his legislation, and being devoted to the religion and its etiquette is honor,success, and happiness for a Muslim in his worldly life and the his Hereafter.
By Shaykh Abdul Muhsin al Abbad in the book “A peace of Advice & Admonition for the Women”