Muslim Women Standing For Freedom


Posted on : 3/04/2010 04:25:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Asra Q. Nomani tells the story of a recent stand-in protest at a Washington D.C. area mosque where Muslim women demonstrated for equal treatment within their faith.

What unfolded that day inside the mosque underscores a growing agitation inside the American-Muslim community by women frustrated by separate-and-unequal status. A survey by the Council on American Islamic Relations showed that two of three mosques in 2000 required women to pray in a separate area, up from one of two in 1994. In 2003, I challenged rules at my mosque in Morgantown, West Virginia, that women enter through a back door and pray in a secluded balcony. I argued that, in the 7th century, the prophet Muhammad didn’t put women behind partitions, and the barriers were just emblematic of sexist man-made rules. The men at my mosque put me on trial to be banished.

To me, the women’s space in a mosque is an indicator of whether the interpretation of Islam being practiced is puritanical and dogmatic, or open and inclusive. This one choice is a harbinger for other controversial interpretations of Islam, including domestic violence, honor killings, suicide bombings, violence and interfaith relations. Just this week, a hard-line Saudi cleric issued a fatwa on his Arabic-language Web site calling for the killing of Muslims who don’t enforce strict gender segregation.
Shaking the tree that needs shaking most.

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