Assalamualaikum ustaz. Where is the best place for a woman to pray, is it in her house or at the mosque/surau?
Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.
Regarding this issue, there are several hadiths that can be referred to explain this issue. Among them is a hadith narrated by Ibnu Mas’ud who said that the Prophet PBUH said:
صَلاَةُ الْمَرْأَةِ فِي بَيْتِهَا أَفْضَلُ مِنْ صَلاَتِهَا فِي حُجْرَتِهَا وَصَلاَتُهَا فِي مَخْدَعِهَا أَفْضَلُ مِنْ صَلاَتِهَا فِي بَيْتِهَا
“It is more excellent for a woman to pray in her house than in her courtyard, and more excellent for her to pray in her private chamber than in her house.” 
Likewise, in a hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad, Ummu Humaid al-Sai’idi who is the wife of Abu Humaid came to meet the Prophet PBUH and said:
يَا رَسُول اللَّهِ إِنِّي أُحِبُّ الصَّلاَةَ مَعَكَ، فَقَال صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: قَدْ عَلِمْتُ. وَصَلاَتُكِ فِي بَيْتِكِ خَيْرٌ لَكِ مِنْ صَلاَتِكِ فِي حُجْرَتِكِ، وَصَلاَةٌ فِي حُجْرَتِكِ خَيْرٌ لَكِ مِنْ صَلاَتِكِ فِي دَارِكِ، وَصَلاَتُكِ فِي دَارِكِ خَيْرٌ لَكِ مِنْ صَلاَتِكِ فِي مَسْجِدِ قَوْمِكِ، وَصَلاَتُكِ فِي مَسْجِدِ قَوْمِكِ خَيْرٌ لَكِ مِنْ صَلاَتِكِ فِي مَسْجِدِ الْجَمَاعَةِ. قَالَ : فَأَمَرَتْ فَبُنِيَ لَهَا مَسْجِدٌ فِي أَقْصَى شَيْءٍ مِنْ بَيْتِهَا وَأَظْلَمِه ، فَكَانَتْ تُصَلِّي فِيهِ حَتَّى لَقِيَتْ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ
“O Rasullullah PBUH, indeed I love praying with you. He replied: I know that you love to pray with me, but praying in your bedroom is more excellent than praying in a room in your house and praying in a room in your house is more excellent than praying in your house and praying at your house is more excellent than praying at the mosque of your people and praying at the mosque of your people is more excellent than you praying ta my mosque. Then, Ummu Humaid asked for a mosque (place of prayer) in the most hidden and darkest space of her bedroom. Thus, she prayed there until she met Allah Azza Wa Jalla.” 
Both of these hadiths show that the best place for a woman to pray is at her house. Hence, it is clear through this hadith that it is not sinful if a woman chose to only pray at her house.
However, is it sinful for a woman or wife went out of her house to perform the congregational prayer at the mosque without asking the permission of her husband? This issue is explained as the following:
أَنَّهُ يُكْرَهُ لِلْمَرْأَةِ حُضُورُ جَمَاعَةِ الْمَسْجِدِ إِذَا تَرَتَّبَ عَلَى خُرُوجِهَا مِنَ الْبَيْتِ وَحُضُورِهَا الْجَمَاعَةَ فِتْنَةٌ، وَلِلزَّوْجِ مَنْعُهَا مِنْ ذَلِكَ، وَلاَ يَأْثَمُ. وَحُمِل النَّهْيُ فِي الْحَدِيثِ عَلَى نَهْيِ التَّنْزِيهِ؛ لأِنَّ حَقَّ الزَّوْجِ فِي مُلاَزَمَةِ الْبَيْتِ وَاجِبٌ، فَلاَ تَتْرُكُهُ لِلْفَضِيلَةِ
However, it is makruh for a woman to attend the congregational prayer at the mosque if by leaving her house and attending the congregation prayer will lead to fitnah and her husband has a right to prevent his wife from performing congregational prayer / leave the house and the husband’s action is not a sin. The restriction in the hadith is makruh tanzih. The reason is the right of a wife to be in the house is obligatory. Hence, she cannot leave the house with the intention of seeking fadhilat. 
However, the opinion of the scholars of madhhab Syafie stated that it is sunnah for a husband to permit his wife to perform congregational prayer at the mosque. This is as stated by Imam al-Nawawi: “It is sunnah for a husband to permit his wife to attend the congregational prayer at the mosque.” 
Likewise, there is a hadith narrated by Ibnu Umar, the Prophet PBUH said:
لاَ تَمْنَعُوا إِمَاءَ اللَّهِ مَسَاجِدَ اللَّهِ، وَلَكِنْ لِيَخْرُجْنَ وَهُنَّ تَفِلاَتٌ
“Do not prevent the female servants of Allah from visiting the mosques of Allah, but they may go out (to the mosque) having no perfumed themselves.” 
Regarding the question of whether it is true that the rewards of praying at the mosque and surau are 27 times greater than those who pray at home. Actually, the reward is granted for those who perform the prayer in congregation even if it isn’t performed at the mosque or surau. The hadith is narrated by Ibnu Umar who said the Prophet PBUH said:
صَلاَةُ الْجَمَاعَةِ تَفْضُلُ صَلاَةَ الْفَذِّ بِسَبْعٍ وَعِشْرِينَ دَرَجَةً
“Prayer said in a congregation is twenty-seven degrees more excellent than prayer said by a single person.” 
The best place for a woman to pray is at her house. However, it is not an offence for her to perform the prayer in congregation at the mosque. In our opinion, it is sunnah and encouraged for a woman or wife to perform her prayers at the mosque or surau. However, it should be reminded that there are several conditions that should be fulfilled by the woman or wife. Among them are:
- Receive the permission of her husband;
- Covering her aurah, doesn’t adorn herself excessively (tabarruj) and protect her sight;
- Doesn’t wear perfume;
- There is no mixing of man and woman and to immediately return home after the prayer.
The Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ غَدَا إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ وَرَاحَ أَعَدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُ نُزُلَهُ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ كُلَّمَا غَدَا أَوْ رَاحَ
“If anyone goes out in the morning or in the evening to the mosque, God will prepare for him his food in paradise as often as he goes out in the morning or in the evening.” 
We say if there’s anything that strengthens the reason for her going to the mosque, such as to learn or study from a teacher or ustaz, where she is going to the mosque not only to just pray but also to learn. Then, at this moment it becomes sunnah or wajib through the apparent meaning of the hadith. Especially if she’s going there together with her husband. Then, it is certainly encouraged.
It is undeniable that praying at the mosque has its own great and special advantages. Hence, let us all strive and set our resolve to always perform the obligatory prayers at the mosque. May Allah SWT make us from amongst His slaves who always maintain his prayers and from amongst the successful people. Amin.