Separate But Equal?

Imagine an eager student anticipating a lecture by a prominent expert.  This student, equipped with a notebook and pen, arrives early to ensure a place in the front row.  Now imagine that the student is prohibited from entering the lecture hall; she needs to go to an adjacent, smaller room, where she will be able to watch the lecture from a grainy projection screen.

The disappointment, indignation and injustice felt by this enthusiastic student is exactly what I feel each time I go to the local mosque.  I wish I could refer to it as “my mosque”; but the possessive pronoun implies a sense of ownership I cannot claim.

The segregation by genders in mosques and Islamic centers holds no religious validity; it is a cultural tradition that was established by immigrants and is maintained by ignorance. If Islam is to flourish in America, the practice of a physical barrier between men and women must be eliminated.

Some Islamic centers claim to provide halls for men and women that are “separate but equal”.  I wonder how the audience in one room, energized by the magnetism of the speaker, inspired by the vitality of the sermon, and privy to the nuances and subtleties of the presentation can be considered “equal” to the audience in the other room.  Here, the message is filtered through a fuzzy screen; a two-dimensional replica of the authentic, live action that is taking place in the “main” hall.  Rhetoricians explain that in public speaking, the audience plays as critical of a role in the effectiveness of the production as does the speaker.  No matter how one-sided a sermon appears, there is in reality genuine interaction between the audience and the speaker.  How can the dynamics of egalitarianism, so emphasized in Islam, be justly expressed in a speech when half the audience is hidden, non-existent, to the speaker?

I am certain that those Islamic centers that insist on partitions are also reluctant to have women participate on decision-making boards and committees.  I understand a woman’s desire to pray separately for the sake of modesty, and this should be accommodated for those who prefer it.  However, Islamic centers are needed for much more than prayer halls.  The mosque, even as it was established by Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him) 1400 years ago, is a place for the community  to plan service projects, organize activities, socialize, acquire knowledge, grow spiritually and pray together.

These days, sermons are taped and broadcasted on YouTube or streamed live to reach a broader audience.  I am often tempted to watch from the comfort of my own home rather than go and watch the same sermon from a poor-quality screen in a crowded room.  But I usually do go; the only feeling worse than being sequestered into invisibility is the feeling of not belonging at all.

S. Y. Hooshmand is an adjunct instructor of English at her local community college.  She has written for various Islamic newsletters and publications.  She lives in Houston, TX with her husband and 2 children.

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17

01 2011

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  1. Love and Peace, Not War #
    1

    UmmSakina and PinkMulimah, both of your views are superficial in nature. They lack serious critical thinking and promote misogynistic and sexist ideas within the framework of Islamic Shia school of thought. That is insulting.

    Please differentiate between your own thoughts and Islam. There IS a difference. None of us are scholars and even scholars do not always have the sense of justice, equity and fairness. Which is the heart of this debate in the first place.

    Also, UmmSakina brings in a quote with absolutely ZERO CONTEXT. The quote by itself implies that “Men serve Allah (swt). Women serve men.” You are saying that women are not individuals in their own right. They must be married and must have children in order to have any PERSONAL WORTH in life. Have you even considered the scope of what you are saying? You are qualifying the status quo of subjugation of women. Saudi Arabia anyone?

    [Reply]

    NTG Reply:

    “Saudi Arabia anyone?”

    Spot on! Here we are in the U.S. decrying Islamophobia and the denial of Muslims’ civil rights yet our masjids have no problem taking away the rights of their own women.

    Umm Sakina, I am very happy that you respect your own modesty. The reason that those who prefer no barrier is NOT because they are devoid of haya or because they want to sit with the men or in front of them etc. (Do you really want to have a haya contest here?) The whole point of the article was to point out that a lecture/sermon etc is an interactive two way process.

    Nobody is suggesting that we take a secluded space AWAY from women. There IS clearly a need to have the option of the women sitting behind the men with no partition and BEHIND THEM would be the secluded area. Even the tiniest of mosques can accommodate such logistics.

    [Reply]

    PinkMuslimah Reply:

    You are implying that a face-to-face presence is required for interaction. So much, then, for Internet courses, and blind people benefitting from a lecture. There are more ways of interacting than simply being in the same room, or seeing each other face to face.

    [Reply]

    UmmSakina Reply:

    I was going to take the time for an in depth response but I see that you can’t read through your own self righteous indignation. It’s funny that your singular response to myself and PinkMulimah is exactly what you are accusing us of. I pray that Allah SWT will guide you and have mercy on you.

    [Reply]

  2. UmmSakina #
    2

    Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri narrated: {A woman from Al-Ansar
    came to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) and said:
    “The men have got all your speeches, so, make a day
    for us on which we come to you to teach us from what
    Allah taught you.” He said: “Meet on such and such
    day”. They met, and he came to them and taught them
    from what Allah taught him, and then said: “Every
    woman among you offers (in the sake of Allah) three
    children they will be protection for her from the
    Hell fire.” A woman asked: “How about two?”. The
    Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said: “And two”.}
    (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

    As Salaamu Alaikum;
    I quoted the above hadith to show that apparently, the sisters at the times of Prophet Muhammed SAWS had the same problems. They too didn’t want to be left out from benefitting from the knowledge and speeches. RasullAllah’s SAWS solution was to have a separate day just for them. Perhaps one of the sisters of the masjid could suggest a separate day every week for the sisters? As a woman with a certain amount of haya I appreciate the separation from brothers and have no problem with it. I don’t need to sit with them, next to them, in front of them, or behind them. I know that where I sit in relation to where they are sitting is NOT indicative my status with Allah SWT or society, but a reflection and respect of my own modesty Alhamdulillah.

    If the entire point is to receive whatever is being offered in the lecture or khutba then a partition or separate sisters’ area is neither here nor there as long as I get the benefit that I’m seeking.

    As some other posters have noted, having 2 sections in the masjid – 1 for sisters & 1 for brothers is a good thing as many if not most brothers and sisters will want to pray in their own area for the sake of modesty. The only alternative is a masjid with ***3*** areas – brothers, sisters, & coed. How many masajid are equipped to handle this? And who “gets” the speaker face to face? He can’t be in 3 places at one time…. It would likely be a situation where 1 group gets to see the the speaker and the other 2 are watching on a monitor. Even less practical than the 2 area setup.

    I pray Allah SWT guides our ummah and has mercy on all of us. Ameen.

    [Reply]

  3. PinkMulimah #
    3

    Assalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah
    The establishment of a barrier between men and women at a masjid is not haram. When done in such a way that the two genders are equitably accommodated, there is nothing wrong with it. In fact, it is most likely a praiseworthy modification of the masjid.

    It’s wrong to assume that men cannot help themselves but to view women as sexual objects. Most do control themselves. That does not remove the fact that there are some who act like idiots in front of women. Personally, instead of reacting to a situation that has already come into existence because some idiot chooses to misbehave himself, I’d rather have a solution ready and in place for anyone who wishes to avail himself or herself of it.

    If some women want to attend the masjid without a barrier between them and the men, that shouldn’t be a problem, as long as the option also exists for women who want a more modest situation to go to an area where there is a barrier – and the same for men: they should have that option, as well.

    In my opinion, neglecting to take care of a women’s space which is behind a partition is just as wrong and unaccommodating as not creating a separated worship space for them.

    It should also be noted that those of us who choose to make taqlid (a religious necessity, in case no-one noticed) are not “blindly following” anyone. If anyone posting here has enough time on his hands to look up every potential evidence for every single act that we do throughout the day, evaluate and balance that evidence, and make a valid deicision about how to act based on that evidence, then mabruk! It’s great to be your own mujtahid. Most of us, however, are not mujtahidin. Most of us don’t speak Arabic. Few of us have memorised the Qur’an. Hardly any of us knows a single hadith in Arabic by heart, much less who recorded and transmitted it, and how it was graded by previous scholars of hadith. Hardly any of us knows the first thing about the study of isnad and rijal. Few among us own a tafsir of the Qur’an, much less more than one – and even fewer among us have dedicated themselves to studying any of them. And very few among us, if any at all, have made an intensive study of the rulings of mujtahidin from earlier eras.

    This kind of study of fiqh takes decades. Our mujathid `ulama have been at it longer than most of us have been alive. It isn’t hard to determine who they are: the biographies of most of them are available online; and there are higher ranking `ulama who communicate actively on the Internet to give us their advice about who are qualified mujtahidin and what their educational and personal backgrounds are.

    If, therefore, a mujtahid `alim recommends to us that it would be better to separate the genders while at a masjid, I haven’t the slightest problem taking that advise. I’m not the one specialised in Islamic Law, he is. Demanding that I see every evidence before I take action is like requiring that I train as an MD before I trust the medical advise of my own physician, whom I chose as a result of my own research into his educational and personal background.

    [Reply]

  4. ali #
    4

    Sa,

    Yes both men and women should abide by the laws of islam. But let’s be honest. All the centers you have been too majority of women have makeup and pardon me for being blunt actually No. Makeup is haram unless it is done for your husband can you honestly tell me that women are abiding by these rules. I actually remember in one of the fiqh classes this ruling was mentioned and during all the qna session women kept giving excuses what if this what if that. First let’s observe proper hijab. No revealing tight clothing and no makeup and we should be ready to remove the partition.

    [Reply]

    NTG Reply:

    O.K. so let me summarize. Women wear make-up. That is why we need a partition. Even though there were none at the time of the Prophet. ‘Lady’ Fatima chose to speak behind one but that was a choice.

    So men have no responsibility to lower their gaze. Is that just a minor recommendation (even though it’s a Quranic ayat) Because, God bless ‘em, boys will be boys?
    And meanwhile, our community is filled with disenfranchised youth, converts and others who can find little identity and connection with the mosque.

    [Reply]

    Love and Peace, Not War Reply:

    WORD. I second this to the max!

    [Reply]

  5. Maryam Hajar #
    5

    I agree with what Shaykh Faraz Rabbini states about social interaction between the sexes (can be viewed on YouTube video for more specific explanation): it is allowable when it is necessary and beneficial. If the interaction is unavoidable, one should lower his/her gaze and not stare at the person of the opposite sex. One of the hallmarks of a good Muslim is modesty in the heart and in one’s dress. And Allah knows best.

    [Reply]

  6. Al-Ajal #
    6

    Wonderful article! I think it is such an important issue, a root one at that, which if fixed, will provide a brand new sense of community and Muslim women leadership.

    InshaAllah we see that day soon!

    [Reply]

  7. Love and Peace, Not War #
    7

    “PinkMulimah Reply:
    January 25th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    `Allamah Baqir Shareef al Qurashi mentions a curtain in his “The Life of Fatima az-Zahra” [http://www.maaref-foundation.com/english/library/pro_ahl/fatima/the_life_of_fatima] on page 227 in Chapter 13, which contains her sermon. His references for that sermon are listed on p 235.”

    @PinkMulimah. Thanks for providing your source. I really appreciate it! I read a good 10 pages from the website you sent. With all due respect to you, Allamah Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi (original author) and Abdullah al-Shahin (translator) – I’m sure these authors tried their best. Unfortunately, this book includes itself in vast majority of English translations that LACK proper pose/form, context and explanation.

    (The author decides to praise Bibi Fatima smack middle of telling the story of how she spoke at the Grand Mosque – which I’m guessing is Masjid-e-Nabawi?- to get Fadak back from Abu Bakr. He then alternates sentences from telling the story to praising her. This is an example of what would NEVER make it to the publisher in most Western/English presses. We as Muslims desperately need a major overhaul in upgrading the standards of written pieces, should we not?)

    It’s one thing to believe and adopt something blindly and another to weigh it with one’s own logic, reason, examination, reflection, and conscience. The latter proves to be more valuable for us in the long run because there is a foundation to the house that we build that is called faith. I think that is what Ms. Hooshmand is also trying to convey in this piece. Fi Iman Illah.

    [Reply]

    PinkMulimah Reply:

    Does an author’s writing style really have anything to do with whether Lady Fatimah placed a curtain between herself and her audience? The reason that I accept `Allamah Qurashi’s reference to a curtain is because he, not I, has spent decades studying such topics as hadith and rijal, tarikh, fiqh, etc.

    [Reply]

    Love and Peace, Not War Reply:

    Like I said earlier, you are implying that blind faith of accepting what any Islamic scholar says is good enough. If that is how you understand your faith, that is up to you. All I was trying to say is that there is more than one method of accepting a practice (hijab = curtain). Islamic beliefs and practices aren’t rooted in blind acceptance. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have any use for having a brain now would we? I’m sure this can continue forever so I will respectfully disagree with you. Best of luck. Salaam.

    [Reply]

    NTG Reply:

    “Islamic beliefs and practices aren’t rooted in blind acceptance. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have any use for having a brain now would we?”

    Best comment ever in the history of commenting.

    PinkMulimah Reply:

    I’m not one to impose my own writing style on others, mostly because of the difference in accepted writing styles from culture to culture. See http://www.scribd.com/doc/2339047/Cultural-Differences-

    [Reply]

  8. Ali Musawi #
    8

    Salaam allaikum sister,
    Thank you for bringing up this important issue. I had a question in regards to your comment, when you mentioned: ‘The mosque, even as it was established by Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him) 1400 years ago, is a place for the community to plan service projects, organize activities, socialize, acquire knowledge, grow spiritually and pray together.’

    Do you have any proof of this?

    [Reply]

    Guest Blogger Reply:

    Ali Musawi–
    Thank you for your comments. I do not claim to be a religious scholar, and this was not meant to be an academic research-type paper, which is why I did not cite any specific sources. However, I am grateful for your question. My post was written for that specific purpose; to inspire all of us to question the underlying assumptions of our practices. I encourage you to research and find the proof you seek. I am certain you will discover, as I have, numerous examples of the mosque being used by the Prophet (SAW), his companions, and others as a place to learn, distribute charity, discuss current events, etc…
    Peace, SYH

    [Reply]

  9. NTG #
    9

    Samira-
    I understand your point.
    It is somewhat disturbing to think that an Imam who is holy enough to inspire us with a Khutbah will be distracted by a few hairs coming out of a loosely tied scarf.

    But the fact remains there were no barriers or partitions at the time of the Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him. Does that not make them a bidaa, an innovation? Venerated leaders and individuals may have spoken from behind a curtain. That may be seen as a personal preference. But if the ‘Best of Creation’ did not feel the need for a curtain, why are they there? Here is a possible reason.

    Men in particular may find it difficult to keep their gaze lowered so they have made partitions the norm. Plain and simple. There is no Ummah-wide attempt to maybe- er you know, CONTROL ourselves. If it is so DIFFICULT to keep one’s gaze lowered, to not stare at the opposite sex, to focus on worship, is this the only option? It is easy to construct barriers and invent justifications for them. But if the emphasis is always on externals, we will never implement self regulation. You can put women behind a partition, a wall, you can insist they cover up every part of their bodies, every hair, every follicle. But if we do not practice self control, it is all futile. Finally, what opinion do we have of the men of our communities? That they are animals who can barely control themselves for 45 minutes every Friday afternoon?

    Thank you to the writer of this piece. It takes courage to write about this topic in this “partition- happy” culture we have built around us.

    [Reply]

    PinkMulimah Reply:

    assalamu `alaykum
    No. It would not be a bid`ah. What constitutes bid`ah is a newly innovated practise that is incorporated into the religiously mandated actions, either as a haram or a wajib, without sound basis in the religion.

    Establishing a barrier between men and women is not haram – otherwise Lady Fatimah, `alayha salam, would not have done so. Neither is it bid`ah, since again she (as) did so herself.

    [Reply]

    Love and Peace, Not War Reply:

    Clarify what your source is when saying that Lady Fatima (a.s.) talked from behind a curtain? Please give proper citation as to what you are talking about. I have a hard time believing that she talked from “behind a curtain” when addressing Abu Bakr about returning Fadak. How effective do you think that is anyways? Have you tried talking to your male teacher or professor from “behind a curtain.” No. Obviously not. This is an invented idea – not bidah but invented. There are things people make up to justify current practices especially injustice against women.

    [Reply]

    PinkMulimah Reply:

    `Allamah Baqir Shareef al Qurashi mentions a curtain in his “The Life of Fatima az-Zahra” [http://www.maaref-foundation.com/english/library/pro_ahl/fatima/the_life_of_fatima] on page 227 in Chapter 13, which contains her sermon. His references for that sermon are listed on p 235.

  10. Nabeela #
    10

    There will be a day when I get to be in the very front of the masjid, in the men’s section, in front of all the men. And I don’t even have to have my head covered.

    I will be dead. I will be in a coffin. It will be my janazah prayer.

    [Reply]

  11. PinkMulimah #
    11

    assalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah
    I know of a mosque that came up with a fine solution: it has a musalla in which women can do salat – you cannot enter if you are in a state of janaba or hayd; and another where any woman can sit to pray, meditate, or listen to the lecture; and yet another where the women can gossip, the teens can chat, and the kids can play. The men’s side is set up in a similar fashion.

    The one thing that I would fault the place on is not having baby changing tables in the men’s restrooms. It’s not like men can’t be single parents, or actually desire to care for their children.

    [Reply]

    Dudewhere'smybrain Reply:

    “..and yet another where the women can gossip..”

    Do you mean where mothers can breastfeed and take care of the children which is what usually seems to happen? I find your use of the word “gossip” a little disturbing.

    [Reply]

    PinkMulimah Reply:

    Assalamu `alaykum
    I used the word “gossip” where my intent was the concept of chatting. My apologies.

    I think that the masjid allows women to nurse their children in the second prayer hall – not incorporated as a musalla, but yet a quiet space for prayer and listening to lectures. It’s not so much a matter of “allowing” in that case as it is a case of that’s just how it is. I hope that it stays that way, too. Nursing babies is a quiet activity; and babies do appreciate quiet when they nurse.

    [Reply]

  12. Sarah #
    12

    Salam Alaikum respected sister,
    “Segregation by genders in mosques and Islamic centers holds no religious validity” is simply untrue. We have to consider our works at the center and our works outside of the center as one single litany. There is no special rule for separation of the genders at the mosque (that I’m aware of) because those the rules of hijab and preservation of modesty have already been established. No matter where you are, mingling, unnecessary discussion with the opposite sex, and calling attention to yourself (be it yelling, wearing bright colors, running, or simply being the only woman in a room full of men) is forbidden. Please don’t forget that Fatima Zahara (pbuh) debated with Abu Bakr from behind a curtain. This isn’t something to scoff at, as if it was ok for her time, but not for our time period. This is the etiquette of our role model, Leader of the Women of Paradise and we should strive to be like her.

    Ref, “I understand a woman’s desire to pray separately for the sake of modesty, and this should be accommodated for those who prefer it.” I think what you’re saying in your article is that the accomodation for modesty at the center already exists to an extreme level… What you’re really asking is for the converse which would be: acceptance for those those who do not prefer to be modest at the center. God forgive me if I have deduced incorrectly. And God forgive those who tout this on their progressive agendas. Hijab and rules of modesty (separation of sexes) are not traditions, they’re Islamic culture and if you build your case for change based on falsehoods, then you and the women at your center can forget about equality. “Separate but equal” is actually possible and it is being practiced at many centers across the US already. A room in the back with a video is not fair. The women of your center should suggest something more appropriate, even if it means the sale of your current center and the purchase of a new one with a larger hall that can accomodate the whole community in one room (with or without a divider curtain or wall or whatever other logistical considerations you so choose). That may seem like a daunting task, but if the women stop attending and stop bringing the children, the organizers may get a clue as to the extent of the social deterioration of the local community when they exclude the needs of the women. Thanks… Wasalam…

    [Reply]

    Love and Peace, Not War Reply:

    I think you are conflating two different things: partition is not equal to proper hijab and lack of partition is not equal to improper hijab. Partition does NOT equal “proper hijab.” Ms. Hooshmand is talking about women that wear hijab in the masjid participating in a lecture which is educational in nature. All things considered, modesty for men and women are expected to be observed in the mosque – men are required to lower their gaze (not stare at women) and we are all familiar with what women’s hijab requires. Bibi Fatima (as) talked from behind a curtain? Where is your source? Often English translations of Arabic, Farsi or Urdu are highly disproportionate – how do you compare 7th century Arabia to 21st century U.S.A. without loosing the context, meaning, and usage of the words. “Curtain” can mean many things, intangible or physical. The point in this article is that the concept of hijab is much broader than the convenient partition that leaves women and children excluded from the educational lecture.

    [Reply]

  13. PinkMulimah #
    13

    assalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah
    Thank you so much for distinguishing between salat and other worship, and speeches and other community activities. Thank you also for not insisting that we have the “right” to sit elbow-to-elbow among the men. :) ) Your writing has given me insight on the separation between men and women and how to better accomplish it while not casting women underfoot.
    -Pink

    [Reply]

  14. L Alahem #
    14

    it has been 10 years since I took my shahada. At first I was horrified by the noisy, crowded room that was the sister space and desperately afraid. there was often no translator, and then there were the simultaneous headsets where there would be a brother interpreting the khutba. or not so much as the case may be. even when they did work, the translator would fall behind or stumble. I speak other languages, and do understand the limitations, but I would have thought that it would be better coordinated.

    It bugged me the most that the sisters themselves were so ill behaved, and the kids? oof, don’t get me started! Ours is an urban center, but I only found a couple places where the woman could pray in the back. Seems that women, like children, seemed to behave when their men could see them. That offended me on a real primal level, because I see much of the cultural BS between the genders as a case of keeping women in a ‘not adult’ status. I would hear excuses; ‘oh let the children play, they don’t get together with other muslims’ or ‘we don’t see each other during the week’ UGH, I was so done. Establish a family fun night during the week like the Christians do, and you got that phone sticking out of your hijab 24/7, CALL someone! I actually offered a couple of chatty cathys $20 to go have coffee up the street, as I was actually trying to hear the lecture. That did shut them up, but if looks could kill, I would be a smoking heap. But the point is, if you want to be treated like a grown up, act like one. In the intervening years, I have found that the local masjid has responded. Services in English, more accommodating facilities. Older children have a “Friday School”. The women themselves, at least the ones at the English services seem to know how to sit down and be quiet.

    I do think that a public service campaign would be in order. Women sometimes are own worst enemies. As the sister stated, adhering to hijab, and that means hijab and not a scarf thrown over your head, with painted on jeans and a formfitting top. it doesn’t matter if the top comes down over your butt if it is so tight one can discern your individual butt cheeks, if you hear what I’m saying. And if you can’t refrain from talking or texting during a khutbah? Please, by all means, go out in the hall. Every time we ask for consideration, the men throw this back at us. To which my answer would be; evidently her parents did not teach her how to behave in public, so would you please do so?

    We women have to learn how to behave in the Mosque. We must teach our children how to behave in the Mosque. Would we be inconsiderate in front of the judgement seat of the Most High? I think not. Let us act like we are in his presence at the Masjid.

    Thanks for the read.

    [Reply]

    Maryam Hajar Reply:

    Salaam Sister,
    I totally agree..it is the same at the masjid I occasionally attend. It seems that women and children and ghetto-ized at the masjid and you just gave some good reasons why.
    Thank you for your post. I’m sure you speak for many of us who would like to attend a respectful masjid and actually hear the lecture, etc.

    [Reply]

  15. Samira Rizvi #
    15

    Well said Sister. I agree with having a separate place made for those women who wish to pray or meditate, but those women who are fully adhering to the laws of hijab should be allowed to sit in the speaker’s presence.

    Unfortunately because there are women who do not respect the concept of modesty at local masajid/centers, a partition seems to be a good way to ensure that division – albeit a bad reason.

    How would you address that problem sister? Imagine a speaker is giving a speech and a throng of women arrive to listen, but they are not dressed appropriately. It’s not fair to the speaker – who I imagine might feel uncomfortable addressing such audience members.

    [Reply]

    Guest Blogger Reply:

    Samira-
    Thank you for your comments. The Quran provides 2 directives to ensure modesty. The first, and arguably the more weighty one, is for men to lower their gazes. The second is for women to cover themselves. The combination of both of these practices safeguard modest interaction and a healthy society. I would hope that any speaker who is qualified to teach Islam is well-practiced in its command of lowering his gaze. We should remind each other of the guidelines for modesty. We should also remind each other of the immorality of discrimination and inhumanity. There is no need to resort to subjugation when the answer is education.
    Peace,
    SYH

    [Reply]

    MM Reply:

    Another point I’d like to make is that all women should not be punished for the actions of some– this is unfair to all of the appropriately-dressed women. So I’m not sure that would be an adequate reason to support segregation.

    [Reply]

    Samira Reply:

    Yes, I agree. Education is a must and inshAllah we will use our centers to educate more instead of just divide.

    [Reply]

  16. AMR #
    16

    “The segregation by genders in mosques and Islamic centers holds no religious validity; it is a cultural tradition that was established by immigrants and is maintained by ignorance. If Islam is to flourish in America, the practice of a physical barrier between men and women must be eliminated.”

    What proof does the author present to back up this claim? Please see the following article by respected scholar Hujjatul Islam Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi, which provides a scholarly perspective on this issue: http://www.islamicinsights.com/religion/clergy-corner/gender-apartheid-or-respectable-interaction.html

    [Reply]

    rabia Reply:

    Sorry brother nut that article does not give a single example of a barrier in the mosque during the life of the Prophet (saw). In fact it supports this sisters piece, which is advocating modesty but rejecting exclusion.

    [Reply]

    AMR Reply:

    So what if there was no physical barrier in the time of the Prophet [saww]? When Sayyida Fatima [as] delivered her famous sermon in the court of the oppressor, did she not ask for a partition to be put up so she could speak from behind it?

    Sayyid Rizvi has written a comprehensive recommendation on this topic, which was unanimously endorsed by all the scholars who comprise the Islamic Education Board of the World Federation of Khoja Ithna Ashari Jamaats. It doesn’t say men and women should ALWAYS be separated by a barrier, but in most cases, this is the recommendation. Insha’Allah one day all our communities can use this as a guideline: http://www.world-federation.org/Secretariat/Circulars/Mixed_Gathering_guideline_for_community.htm

    [Reply]


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