A woman leading men in congregational prayers
Why does Islamic Law prevent women from leading men in congregational prayers like Friday, ‘Eid, and other prayers?
Men and women in Islam
According to the Islamic faith, human relations in general and male-female relationship in particular are based on compatibility and not conflict. Islam holds the relationship between males and females in high esteem since both genders are the source of life. God Almighty says, “And [by] He Who created the male and female, indeed, your efforts are diverse” (Quran 92: 4-5).
God Almighty has singled out men for certain virtues and rulings, and He has singled out women for others, “Men are in charge of women by [right of] what God has given one over the other” (Quran 4: 34). However, no one is favored over the other in the sight of God except through piety and righteousness. Males and females are equal in the sight of God as per His words, “Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer - We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do” (Quran 16: 97).
As a religion of balance and justice, Islam acknowledges equality between the two genders to establish the fact that there is no spiritual or moral deficiency in women as some ignorant individuals claim. Islam takes into consideration the biological, physiological, psychological, and social differences between the two genders. Islam also considers and respects the cultural diversity of today’s Muslim communities. However, the Islamic faith since the very first day of its legislation has singled out men for certain tasks that require special physical strength such as jihad, or that require a position of leadership such as leading the prayers, etc.
A woman is only to lead females in congregations
Islam places no restrictions on women to teach, preach, and guide both men and women. God Almighty says, “The believing men and believing women are supporters of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey God and His Messenger. Those - God will have mercy upon them. Indeed, God is Exalted in Might and Wise” (Quran 9: 71). Many women today are fully qualified to be jurists, issue fatwas, and teach the Quran and hadith in schools, colleges, and universities all over the world. However, leading congregational prayers in the presence of men is restricted to male imams only.
According to the opinion of the majority of scholars, women are not allowed to lead men in congregational prayers whether they are daily, Friday, or Eid prayers. Although Imam Ibn Hazm allowed women to lead men in congregations, the opinion of the majority of scholars is that women are not allowed to do so.
This has also been the practice of Muslims all over the world since the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), Companions, and succeeding generations. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "The best rows for women are the last rows and the worst rows for them are the first rows and the best rows for men are the first rows, and the worst rows are the last rows" (Muslim).
Since the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) described the first rows of women behind men as the worst rows, it is not permissible for a woman to stand in front of the men and lead the prayer. A woman is only allowed to lead females in congregations if there is no male imam and she must stand in the middle of the line and not in front of them.
Based on the above and according to the opinion implemented for fatwa, which is the opinion of the majority of jurists, it is not allowed for women to lead men in congregational prayers. If this happens, the prayer is deemed invalid.
And God Almighty knows best.