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1/29/09

Women & the Mosque



Assalam alaikum & Peace to all


I just came across this website and found this article...I really like what it has to say. Please read it and let me know what you all think (I have only pasted a portion of the article...click the title of the article to read the whole thing!)

An Eid gone awry

January 20, 2009 by Roberta D
Filed under Featured, Women's Rights

I’d ironed my abaya and scarf the night before, and set multiple wake-up alarms on my cell phone. About half an hour after fajr ended, I headed out of the apartment to the cozy mosque up the street where I often pray on weekends. I was extra excited because although I’d been living in İstanbul for over a year, I had been out of the country for the last few Eids, meaning it would be my first Eid prayer in Turkey.

As I rounded the corner, quietly reciting the Eid takbeer, I reminded myself that I would probably be one of very few women there. Turkish women don’t traditionally attend Eid or Friday prayers at the mosque; it’s just not the cultural practice. But I knew from my own experience that there were usually a handful of younger women that showed up for the khutbah on Fridays, and their numbers were steadily if slowly growing.

With that image in mind, I ignored the stares of the couple of men standing around near the entry to the mosque complex and scanned the mosque courtyard for any women as I took off my shoes. None. When I entered the mosque itself, it was more of the same: Though the mosque was by no means full, there were only men in it. The building’s construction is such that the women’s prayer area is actually in a separate room to the right, so I headed there. I walked in, and it looked mostly empty except someone I saw out of the corner of my eye sitting way in the back. Success — almost.

I was putting my shoes away when I realized that there was a man sitting in the front of the room. Hmm… I looked toward the back, where I thought I had seen an old woman as I walked in, but no, he was actually an old man. I sighed, having expected at least one other woman to be there, and at the very least no men in the women’s section! More than a little deflated, I went to collect my shoes and head out. In the same space of time it had taken me to figure out that this wasn’t going to work out as planned (maybe 10 seconds) it seems that the men in the mosque had come to the same conclusion. An older man rushed into the women’s section, and (assuming the combination of brown skin and an abaya meant I was an Arab) began shouting “Laa! Laa! Laa! [No, no, no!]” and gesticulating frantically. I left, undergoing a second round of stares on my way out of the mosque, through the courtyard, and out the main entrance. So much for my first Eid prayer in Turkey!

So much for the Eid prayer … and so much for the Sunnah too:

I think that this is such an important thing to discuss for women in Islam.
I have to relate a wonderful thing that happened to me and I can only pray that other Imams will be so open minded and equal. I went for Taraweeh prayers and mashallah the mosque was absolutely full of worshipers, the Sisters area was a balcony and it was full. I ended up sitting on the stairs along with many other Sisters, we were all wondering how we were going to offer the prayers? So then the Iman told the men to come up more to the front to make room for the Sisters, then he invited us to come down and pray behind the men. Mashallah I stood up and practically ran, because I so much wanted to experience a prayer service where I was on the same level as the Iman and could see him and hear him properly! So Mashallah that Taraweeh was a very special one for me. I really think there has to be more discussion and willingness to provide a space for women, even better if it is all in the same room!

Just found one more article...

S.F. mosque drops gender barrier -- worshipers are still adjusting


San Francisco's largest mosque -- a Tenderloin refuge for more than 400 Muslims -- has taken the revolutionary step of removing the 8-foot wall separating male and female worshipers.

No other Bay Area immigrant mosque has torn down such a barrier, several Muslim leaders said, and the move is rare in the United States. But leaders at the Islamic Society of San Francisco, citing the opinions of scholars, say Islam provides no justification for the partitions that separate men and women in most immigrant mosques around the country.

9 comments:

أم ترافيس said...

assalamu alaykum!

I prayed taraweeh behind the men in the musjid here in Egypt... but I found it to be a pain :( I had to keep my niqab down for one... and I dont know... I just like the privacy :)

I read on someones blog not long ago, how they fought to have the barrier removed in the mosque, then later when she wanted to breastfeed, she realized one of the reasons why some women prefer to have the barrier up...

Also when I meet sisters for the first time I prefer to be in the musjid, a "public" place but where I can lift my niqab... so - ya.. I prefer the segregation, but in times of mass prayer, I dont mind the barrier being lifted... its usually like that here alhumdullah.

Inspired Muslimah said...

Salaam sis. Interesting story. I do not go to the masjid very often, and Iam not that comfortable there. I personally do not like the segregation. Its weird to me. I dont like feeling like I dont belong or like a second class citizen. I have been to one masjid where there was a mens section and a women's section but it was one room divided in half. the women were on the left and the men were on the right, I liked this very much. We were separated but we werent behind them or in another room off the main room barely able to hear.

Aalya said...

wa alaikum assalam

I can understand about the privacy but I just personally feel the need to be a part of the group :) Indeed when it is a mass prayer then it is nice to be in one place!

Inspired: I too don't like segregation. I think that idea of having one side with sisters the other brothers is a fantastic idea!

Thanks for the comments!

Yasmeen said...

AsSalaam Alaykum sis,
were I come from(India),women are still forbidden in the mosque.It was definitely a relieve in US mosques,which provide space for women to pray.

Almallena said...

Asalaam walikum,

You guys are forbidden from mosque??? Thats haram, you are given the right to go to mosque! This is sad, and they wonder why females aren't that interested in the deen because they make it hard for them to enjoy the deen. asturgallah, May Allah guide us all.


I love to pray with my brothers and sisters, but yeah it can be disappointing not seeing sisters. But we just make dua for them. Sometimes its not their fault, like the females in India and other situations that prevent them from going.

I would go the masjid more often if I had transportation there, and I'm not going to walk by myself up there, I dont feel comfortable doing so :(

Jamilah said...

I agree with UmmTravis... I like the separation... it gives me a chance to lift my veil, and see the others around me. Its safe and calm behind our divider. I have no desire to be a part of the gang with the brothers.

Aynur said...

I can understand how those with niqab (and those without who like it) prefer the separation. I personally do not, and would LOVE to someday pray in the same prayer hall as the brothers. I'm not saying I want to be next to them, but way at the back is fine. All of the mosques here in the Pacific Northwest are totally segregated - the women are normally in a separate room upstairs or in a different building. :( All of the ones I saw in Turkey had women upstairs in a tiny balcony or off in a separate room. But the difference in Turkey is everyone you know is Muslim, so you get to always be around other Muslims.

Hajar said...

Although I'm presently staying in a Muslim country, there are mosques that have various kinds of segregation whilst there are a paltry of others that doesn't. I personally prefer the ones with segregation hence I'm with Umm Travis and Jamilah. :)

Aalya said...

Thank you for the comments! They are varied and each one has a great point!
Personally I still like praying in the same space, and I got that chance last Eid (behind the men) and it was really different!

I think open and honest dialogue will get us far!

Thanks!

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