First of all, it should be clear that it is certainly permissible for women to pray the Friday Jumu`ah Prayer in the mosque even if it is not obligatory for them. Women used to attend the Jumu`ah and other prayers in the mosque of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) during his lifetime. So, it is incorrect to say that women are not allowed to do so, as there is nothing in the sources of Shari`ah to indicate otherwise.

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states the following: It is certainly permissible for women to pray the Friday Prayer; it is therefore totally absurd to say that they are not allowed to do so. Since there is nothing whatsoever either in the Qur’an, or in the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to indicate otherwise, no human being possesses the right to say so. 

It is a well-known fact that women used to attend prayers including that of Friday at the Prophet’s Mosque during his time. As a matter of fact, many of those women from among the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did so consistently that they memorized entire surahs of the Qur’an from the Prophet’s mouth as he was in the habit of reciting them during sermons and prayer. The practice of women attending the prayers continues to this day in the Prophet’s Mosque; the same has been the consistent practice in the Sacred Mosque in Makkah. This can be verified by anyone going for Hajj or `Umrah, for it is a common sight of women praying all over the Haram sanctuary in Makkah just as men do.

This being the case, how can anyone dare to say that women are not allowed to attend prayers in the mosque? Are we then implying that it is OK for them to go to the Prophet’s Mosque or the Haram in Makkah but not to other mosques? Are our mosques holier?

Furthermore, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also clearly forbade men from banning women from mosques. He said, “Don’t stop the maid servants of Allah (that is, women) from coming to mosques of Allah” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim, abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, Malik, and others).

Having said this, I must rush to add that women in Islam are not obligated to pray at the mosque if they are burdened by their duties of nurturing and caring for their little ones. Women are thus absolved of this obligation solely because of the compassion of Islam. But, in such a case, according to the laws of the Shari`ah, they are duly compensated for their absence from mosques because of the nobler task they are engaged in at home.

This exception, however, must never be used by men against women to prevent them from coming to mosques, especially if they are not in the above situation.

Based on these, women are definitely allowed to attend mosques and participate in mosque-related activities. As scholars such as Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and others have stated that in this day and age when chances for proper spiritual and moral education are becoming ever scarce, it would be highly recommended for women to come to mosques and derive the spiritual and educational benefits just as men do.