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!)
I think that this is such an important thing to discuss for women in Islam.
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 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...
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.