Jun 2, 2012 - islam op-eds    11 Comments

Equal access to Mosques

One thing that I never understand is why brothers don’t get why sisters want to be in the Mosque. Why do we want equal access? Why do we want to go there to pray? Why do we want to hold classes there? Or do learning or social things there? It’s like Duh? Why do we even have to explain this? Just like for men, the Mosque is the center of our spirituality, the center of our learning, the center of our community. Why do brothers want to cut us off from this?

And then in the same breath they will criticize sisters for ‘causing fitnah’, ‘not dressing appropriately’, ‘hanging out with non-muslims’, ‘being feminists’ and whatever blah blah myriad of a million complaints.

I would like just for one day, every Mosque in the US to actually do a switch and have the men go to the ‘women’s section’ and the women go to the men’s! I wonder if they’d find it irritating to find parking in the back and look for the right back door to enter. And then going down maze like hallways to a tiny stuffed room usually in a basement (with no a/c) filled with a ton of kids and ppl with (if you’re lucky) a tv screen with sub-par speaker system blaring the prayer or dars. Then they should also endeavor to have an iftar for 100+ women and kids in there and then pray in the same place on top of dropped rice and salan for taraweeh with a ton of screaming kids and distractions.

And YET STILL women love to go to the Mosque! How amazing is that.

I wonder if this would change any of their perspectives? Probably not for most. They’d still believe “women don’t need to go to the Mosque” and if they do go “they’re a fitnah”.

Sometimes it *is* just easier to stay at home and watch TV or go to the Mall or a restaurant or basically any other place in the world. Everything in every other place is open to everyone equally. Every other place has our convenience in mind, not just men’s.

Some of the best Mosques I’ve been to were built in the late 70s or early 80s. These were our fresh faced parents who came here to study or as young professionals who built these mosques with their families and their kids in mind. There was usually ONE door that everyone would enter through as a family including ONE door to the Musallah area which would be divided by something very simple. Seating in the dining area might be gender based but it would be open to everyone and you could see everyone. All the rooms were open and shared. And the Mosque was thought of as a community space.

Today in most Mosques, even the mega Mosques being built for the future, everything is so carefully divided, huge walls are built, separate entrances, separate doors, separate rooms, separate eating areas, completely separate prayer areas even with big screen tvs or balconies separate us from the worship going on. There is such heightened segregation as a reaction to I’m not sure what? Fears of oversexualization? That we’ll turn into beasts? That people will come to the Mosques for the wrong reasons – like to meet someone for marriage? I mean I don’t even know what they’re trying to prevent here.

They want to make it so you don’t even ever SEE a woman at the Mosque.

It just makes me sad. Most women are extremely intimidated by all these barriers. Why should they come to the Mosque to hear a class through tiny speakers that are competing with crying babies. Why should they come to pray when they just see the tiny back of the Imam through a TV screen. (They can sit at home and watch an even better prayer at the Haram on Saudi channel1!) An entrance in a back alley, one sister told me, is the reason she never comes to the Mosque. They can’t even change their babies or find a place to nurse them or a safe place where their kids can play. Why is a woman going to the Mosque to pray Maghrib seen as a ‘feminist’ or ‘loose’ or something!

Really I’m going to just straight up ask, why should women even go to the Mosque? Cuz there’s just nothing there for them.

It’s not “ours”. It belongs to someone else and we’re not welcome there is the message most Mosques are giving women. Let’s ask ourselves if this is right, and not just “right” but is this something that would please Allah?

11 Comments

  • That’s horrible. I left the states before realizing that kind of problem with the community there…I do remember going into basements….and having kids everywhere.

    But it’s just like a cycle, isnt it?
    “well it’s not recommended for them to come anyway”
    “well hardly any women ever come so it doesn’t really matter”
    “well looking at the imam is haram anyway so I don’t what’s wrong with a barrier”
    “well in the prophet pbuh’s time there were two separate doors for women and men”

    And I don’t know about you, but the ridiculous thing is that while everyone seems soooo embarrassed to share a MOSQUE with men or women there’s no problem with mixing outside of it!

    • salam nature,

      yes it’s true… definitely an ugly cycle…

  • my point of view what u say :?:

    Although long seen as the most distinctive emblem of Islam, the veil is, surprisingly, not enjoined upon Muslim women anywhere in the Quran. The tradition of veiling and seclusion (known together as hijab) was introduced into Arabia long before Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), primarily through Arab contacts with Syria and Iran , where the hijab was a sign of social status. After all, only a woman who need not work in the fields could afford to remain secluded and veiled.
    In the Ummah, there was no tradition of veiling until around 627 C.E., when the so-called “verse of hijab” suddenly descended upon the community. That verse, however, was addressed not to women in general, but exclusively to Muhammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him) wives:
    “Believers, do not enter the Prophet’s house…unless asked. And if you are invited…do not linger. And when you ask something from the Prophet’s wives, do so from behind a hijab. This will assure the purity of your hearts as well as theirs” (33:53).
    This restriction makes perfect sense when one recalls that Muhammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him) house was also the community’s mosque: the center of religious and social life in the Ummah. People were constantly coming in and out of this compound at all hours of the day. When delegations from other tribes came to speak with Muhammad, they would set up their tents for days at a time inside the open courtyard, just a few feet away from the apartments in which Muhammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him) wives slept. And new emigrants who arrived in Yathrib would often stay within the mosque’s walls until they could find suitable homes.
    When Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was little more than a tribal Shaykh, this constant commotion could be tolerated. But by 627 C.E., when he had become the supremely powerful leader of an increasingly expanding community, some kind of segregation had to be enforced to maintain the inviolability of his wives. Thus, the tradition, borrowed from the upper classes of Iranian and Syrian women, of veiling and secluding the most important women in society from the peering eyes of everyone else.
    That the veil applied solely to Muhammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him) wives is further demonstrated by the fact that the term for donning the veil, darabat al-hijab, was used synonymously and interchangeably with “becoming Muhammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him) wife.” For this reason, during the Prophet’s lifetime, no other women in the Ummah observed hijab. Of course, modesty was enjoined on all believers, and women in particular were instructed to
    “draw their clothes around them a little to be recognized as believers and so that no harm will come to them” (33:60).
    More specifically, women should
    “guard their private parts…and drape a cover (khamr) over their breasts” when in the presence of strange men (24:31-32).

    But nowhere in the whole of the Quran is the term hijab applied to any woman other than the wives of Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
    It is difficult to say with certainty when the veil was adopted by the rest of the Ummah, though it was most likely long after Muhammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him) death. Muslim women probably began wearing the veil as a way to emulate the Prophet’s wives, who were revered as “the Mothers of the Ummah.” But the veil was neither compulsory, nor for that matter, widely adopted until generations after Muhammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him)death, when a large body of male scriptural and legal scholars began using their religious and political authority to regain the dominance they had lost in society as a result of the Prophet’s egalitarian reforms.

    • mashood who wrote that garbage? it’s neither scholarly nor islamic. if someone wants to make up stuff that is wholly their own opinion they should say it’s their opinion instead of trying to twist verses and leave stuff out and claim it’s islam. tell them to talk to a real scholar who by the way NONE OF THEM would ever say the hijab is not mandatory.

      making up stuff like it’s a cultural practice or was only meant for the prophet’s wives is garbage. leaving out all the hadith and opinions that talk about how hijab is mandatory is basically lying about the deen. and btw what is said up there is completely historically INACCURATE. they are obviously no scholar, western or eastern, and have complete disregard to the texts and scholarship of islam. tell them to go just make up their own religion. (oh wait they have)

      • lol gee jannah, why don’t you tell us how you really feel? :razz:

        • :P do u really want to know? j/k don’t tell me that’s not wack!!

  • these views are from secular Irani young generation.i got these from a website.

  • despite all the rubbish i did on this post i am daring to comment on your post,
    i am wondering that born and raised in a country that support freedom of thought and action women in USA still asking their rights from men,even they know that Islam completely protect and give them liberty to go mosques even night time Isha prayer.

    these Islamic scholars have made their own sheria and they claim it is from ALLAH and prophet and i will say, it is completely disobedience, ALLAH allowed this and Prophet allowed this and these religious people think that they know more than ALLAH and Prophet may ALLAH peace be upon Him.

    keeping all values of Islam that Islam impose on Muslim women you all women collect money to extend that portion that is reserved for Muslimahs. you need not any permission and agitate for the rights that ALLAH has given you.

    And among Muslim architect women announce a competition to make a mosque designed for Muslim women in mind and specially having in mind of all Islamic values and current social structure and values good and bad.

  • sorry mashhood i know you didn’t write the above. i have no problem with anyone who wants to be secular or doesn’t want to practice islam. but i do have strong feelings when someone wants to change islam to what they want it to be because that’s what they want or is more convenient for them.

    a womans only mosque!! sounds cool to me, but i’m sure you know how brothers are… they’ll be like “bid’ah bid’ah!!” and they’ll try to burn it down or soemthing lol!!! maybe a muslim woman’s community center would be a cool idea!! have classes and things for kids and stuff like that!

  • not a WOMEN ONLY mosque,rather a mosque that is designed having in mind that women will come here 5 times so make it safe, spacious and keep in mind they will have kids with them so having all aspects in mind a Muslim must build a design for such mosque a prototype,maybe you know one Shabe may be Umer asked Prophet may ALLAH peace be upon Him,to stop women from coming in mosque for isah prayer, but Prophet may ALLAH peace be upon Him, refused and said you can not stop them,in Arab society women were actively participants in daily business of life for example women went to fetch water.
    all these restriction came afterwards rather to control other factors human and non human,the religious people changed Islamic way of life,rather to snub the factors that hinder Islamic way of ,the religious mind became defensive and snub women.

    in fact they must reacted seriously and furiously to those factors, human and non human,that hinder Islamic way of life to be practiced.
    rather than stopping women to come in mosque and purposefully make women portion of mosque small and inconvenient so discourage them to come in mosque ,these religious mind must had and have brutally reacted to those factors that make Islamic way of life difficult to be practiced for Muslim women.
    i will write a proposal how to make this Islamic way of life being practiced having all other values of Islam in mind so make Islamic way of life easy rather to alter the Islam.InshaALLAH.

  • The Quran considers women a crucial part of the family. In fact, in pre-Islamic days in many prominent civilizations, women were considered spiritually inferior. It was considered a coup when the Quran protected the honor of women and gave equal rights to men and women.

    Men are not superior to women, and women are not superior to men.

    As you say, if men would not stand to be treated the way women are being treated, the Quran would not stand for the women’s treatment.