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YahyaM: Women in Mosques

To: alt.sufi,alt.islam.sufism,alt.religion.islam,talk.religion.misc,alt.magick.tyagi
From: (tyaginator)
Subject: YahyaM: Women in Mosques
Date: 27 Mar 1999 02:47:14 -0800


The  Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If any your women asks 
permission to go to the mosque, don't stop her from going.  But 
in some Muslim societies overseas, they don't let women in the 
mosques.  They've turned the mosques into men-only clubs, 
contrary to what the Prophet ordered.  

In North America and Britain, hard as it is to believe, too many 
Muslims have brought over this ignorant attitude and many mosques 
here don't allow women in.  It's hard to understand why anybody 
would perpetuate such un-Islamic injustice.

And among those mosques that do let women in, I'm sorry to say 
that most of the ones I have seen relegate the women to an 
inferior status.  They banish them to basement rooms or other 
segregated spaces.  Too often the second-class spaces allotted to 
the women are poorly maintained, uncomfortable, cramped, filthy, 
or otherwise substandard, while the men reserve the best areas for
their exclusive use.  This kind of treatment makes the preaching 
about women's status being equalin Islam sound awfully hollow.  
Too many places don't allow women any chance to speak and be heard, 
let alone have any say in the way the mosque is run.

Too many religions throughout history have put down women and 
condemned them as inferior beings.  A little-known fact is that 
Islam brought by Prophet Muhammad is the first religion to raise 
women's status to be equal with men.  You couldn't tell that 
nowadays when Muslim countries are among the worst in their unjust 
treatment of women (especially the Taliban).  Talk about ahsan
al-taqwim degenerating into asfal safilin.  This is a major 
disgrace, the best of religions for women behaving as the worst.  
As Malcolm X said, the fate of a nation depends on how it treats 
its women.

If some mullas insist on absolute apartheid between men & women, 
that is going to an extreme (and one could pointing out several 
examples from the Sahabah to contradict it), and I thought that 
good Muslims shouldn't go to extremes.

The danger of total sexual apartheid is that Muslim women become 
marginalized, have no say in their lives, no voice, no access to 
decision-making that affects their lives; it seems more a matter 
of the male elite protecting their privilege of power by treating 
women as infants.

Again and again we see examples from the very earliest Islam of 
Muslim women exercizing their God-given rights and freedoms to 
the fullest extent, rights and freedoms which the mullas of 
later generations succeeded in denying to them.

If Muslim women were able to make their voices heard instead of 
being suppressed by this extreme apartheid, then men in Muslim 
countries could not so easily get away with beatings, burnings, 
rapes, and denial of basic human rights like education, 
employment, and medical care.

In the original Prophet's Mosque in Medina, the women and men 
all prayed in one open space, with no sexual apartheid.  Sexual 
apartheid makes all-male mosques gloomy, dull places.  The best 
mosques that I have seen in America follow the Prophet's model.  
In a few enlightened mosques, like the one I am blessed to live 
near, the women pray in the same large room as the men, they
can speak to everyone, and they can vote in mosque elections and 
be elected to office (they recently elected a woman as 
vice-president of the mosque; now let's see one become president!).  
I love that mosque because it is a family-friendly environment; 
whole families can attend together in an open, welcoming 
atmosphere.   The mosque needs to be responsive to every Muslim 
in the community, equally.  I chose to live in this community 
because the mosque here accords my wife & daughters their full 
dignity as spiritual human beings.

your brother 
Yahya M

Yahya M's Home Page


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