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Women's Essential Role in the Community's Core:
"Aisha, r.a. narrates that the messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, prayed the morning prayer (so early) so that women wrapped in their outer coverings who returned (after praying with him) could not be recognized owing to the dark." (Hadith, Muwatta of Imam Malik)
"From Ibn ‘Umar, r.a., The Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) permitted women to go forth and take part in fajr and ‘Isha prayers. (Hadith, Musnad of Imam Abu Hanifa.)

Here the women are well integrated into the core activity of the Islamic community, the obligatory prayers in the mosque. [Note: The first Hadith negates the use of face veils. The women could not be recognized because it was too early in the morning, not because they were wearing face veils.] As the second Hadith indicates, the Prophet (pbuh) had to give permission to women to participate in the two prayers which are most difficult to be fulfilled in the mosque. One reason for the "permission" was the prevalent pagan idea that women should not participate in sacred rites which were only for men.

Note on narrators: Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, passed away in year 11 of Hijra. Hazrat ‘Ayesha (r.a.) died in year 58 after Hijra. Her Hadith were often narrated by Urwa, the son of her sister Asma (r.a.). Urwa died in the year 94. These are Hadith narrators in the FIRST CENTURY of Islam. From Urwa, ‘Ayesha's (r.a.) hadith was narrated by Urwa's son Hisham who died in the year 144. His narrations were received and collected by Imam Malik who died in the year 179. These are narrators of the SECOND CENTURY.

Thus Hadith has been an essential text of Islam, with the Qur'an, since the beginning.
The Qur'an too was transmitted by the Sahaba (companions of the Prophet). It was not received from the heavens all a once in book form, complete with binding and hard cover.

2003-05-20 Tue 17:42ct