Women and Mosques
Equality of women in Mosques
In the video ‘Me and the Mosque Zarqa’, Nawaz the producer depicts the existing relationships that Muslim women in Canada have with the mosque which is Islam’s official place of worship. It is worth noting that Islam is the quickest emerging religion in the entire world with the highest number of converts being women. Women are mainly drawn to this form of religion due to its emphasis on social justice and spiritual parity preached between both sexes of men and women. However, the video is quite clear as it gives a good illustration of many women being forced to pray behind barriers that is detached from men and some mosques do not even consent to them entering the edifice (Nawaz, 2005). The film discusses the key historical and scriptural reasoning to justify women’s full and equal participation in mosques.
According to the Quran, the official religious text of Islam there is great emphasis placed by verses on the equality that has occurred ever since time immemorial between men and women. These verses stood for the pro-woman tradition concept. The argument was that prophetic words from Sunnah, Muhammad called for the equality of these two sexes especially in the mosque was in fact a prophetic command. This argument was based on the spiritual context showing women’s rights in the mosque were being jeopardized.
Muslim women are regarded as homemakers while the men are breadwinners. With this notion Muslim women can argue on the basis that the mosque brings together a home unit so as to serve Allah. The video of me and the Mosque clearly shows how women are charged with the sole responsibility of bringing up children as well organizing the entire home including the husband if he is so special he should perform all these duties so that he can acquire all privileges before Allah in the mosque.
Women argue basing their factual analysis that through out history they have maintained the family structure. Speaking in the actual sense Nawaz, the producer of the video comes to the conclusion that women are indeed the head of the family but the Muslim man is just the virtual leader owing to the fact that his position was instituted by God but still all duties are destined to be carried out by the woman if everything is to move in the Islamic way of life. These duties should not be put in the basket when it comes to the mosque thus women deserve their equal opportunity to serve just as men do.
Another way of reasoning clearly disregards the way women are treated in mosques especially during prayer sessions. They are separated from men whereas during creation they were both brought together before Allah with no discrimination whatsoever by the Almighty. This is a spiritual form of argument but when related to today’s services there is absolutely no wrong in women participating in religious activities inside the mosque as to them it is a second home and they are accustomed to taking charge of all home affairs. Men’s needs are considered during the mosque and they are allowed to pray in front of the women but speaking in society where civilization is a fast approaching vehicle don’t women have similar needs that need to listen without any form of discrimination (Mehmet, 2000).
Muslim women come out of their homes and head to the mosque not to entice or seduce men but to offer sacrifice in the sense of spirituality. Men have the same needs but this notion about regarding women as sex objects is quite intolerable. Considering the fact that women wear full clothing that hides completely the body features how comes the men has the power to be distracted. One has to be so inattentive and immoral to come up with such a ridiculous theory that has cost women their precious time to dedicate themselves to their one and only maker. However, it is true that men’s necessities predominate in the mosque but women’s requirements should be taken into deep consideration.
Throughout history the Muslim women are growing in large numbers and as shown in the documentary of Me and the Mosque North America is fast leading with this population. This alone is enough to say that women are overtaking the men population in mosques. Sooner or later they will take over the leadership of the church as the Muslim men will be so few to handle this overwhelming task of serving in the mosque.
In Canada where this film was shot women throughout history have been organizing prayer sessions outside the mosque and are even teachers of the Sharia law which governs all women and men alike. If they lead like this outside what should be the reason as to why they should not lead in the Mosque itself? These questions are posed to analyze that the basis for discrimination of women in mosques is pointless and a ruthless act of hypocrisy. The Quran teaches that Allah is every where whether outside or inside the mosque thus there should be no need of hiding those women can still take charge of duties in the mosque as they easily do outside (Ruthven & Malise, 2005)
The video also explains that the Muslim population in Canada is also the minority. With this historical fact there is no need of discriminating women and disallowing them to participate in the religious activities inside the mosque. We can all imagine what the situation will be if they decide to vacate the Muslim religion all together. Women being the foundation of homes they are also the foundation of the Mosque itself and a move such as this is dangerous to the strong hold of the Muslim religion. In the middle of the movie we see a woman praying and worshipping outside a mosque in Montreal Canada and this dehumanizing. This is not a threat to the men in demand for equality in the mosque and access to religious material but it is a rational form of thought where the men have to look at the two sides of this kind of coin.
In the documentary Muslim women were interviewed and they clearly expressed their knowledge of the fact that men are naturally seen as having a greater interest in the affairs of the mosque but truth be told women have a right to have their voices heard when it comes to matters of religion and particularly in the mosque. The governance of the mosque requires ample participation of both men and women as this enables the proper catering of the future of the Muslim community as far as religion is concerned (Benjamin & Walker, 1998).
Boards have been formed and committees in the mosque and they are better led by the Muslim women. This was testified by one Imam in the video as he was being interviewed by Nazar. Other people may prefer men’s committee while others in that same mosque prefer the women’s leadership of various committees in the mosque. To avoid this collision it is widely acceptable to accept the fact that women hold respectable positions in the society and they deserve to be empowered in giving them equal rights in the mosque.
The women have experienced great challenges in those mosques and speaking from experience a lot had to be revisited considering men had misinterpreted the Quran and put them away from the spotlight. In their quest for this equality women have encountered multiple challenges as explained by Zarqa Nawaz in her video. Women who are regarded as sexual beings and this has served to only make life worse (Nawaz, 2005). Men have argued that women make them not to concentrate in prayer while in the mosque disregarding the fact that they are also praying. Sexuality is pronounced as powerful natural impulse and it accelerates to myopia on sexual dynamics which generally causes an imbalance. On this instance women have been regarded as impure entities that only contaminate the more righteous Muslim men.
Women find it challenging to fight for equality with men in mosques and elsewhere as they are prohibited from interacting with men especially in the mosques. This is according to shrewd teachings by the compromised Islamic values and doctrines. This poses a major challenge as women are isolated due to the weakness they impose on men in a way that they is actual punishing the victim and disrespecting their right to worship and to live for that matter. Men are not punished or held responsible for their wrong doing and misbehavior but women are held accountable for the sin that is committed by the men.
Another challenge is the segregation or creation of spaces between men and women which provides difficulty in accessing vital commodities. Women are forced to stay behind men in mosques thus they are just given an opportunity to listen to the sermon and not see the Sheikh or Imam. Teachers in classes stand in front of classes to where they can be seen easily by all but women in mosques have great difficulty in seeing those teaching them. It is also disallowed for women to ask a question or interrupt a man when he is speaking especially in the mosque. This becomes difficult for her to speak her mind or fight for her rights as there is technically no room or platform to raise their views even in the house of God (Mehmet, 2000).
The idea of forming committees and boards that are led by women to aid in catering for women in the mosque and beyond has proven worthless. According to the video of me and the Mosque Nawaz tells of how this committees are only regarded as addressing the concerns of women. When women are selected in men’s committees they are only put there to quite the society. In actual sense these policies are instilled there to give a lip service to the needs of women. As long as there are restrictions to women which act as quotas that enhance their inaccessibility to the governance of the mosque and truth be told this has no effect to the change that women really need in the mosque and beyond.
Some men have even challenged the Quran and the law of the Sunnah on their teaching about equality between men and women. They have literally ignored the jurisprudence but it is only clear that they are only avoiding change like in the aspect of integrated congregation. Women have had no problem in praying in a different formation as long as they are all in the house of God with no segregation whatsoever but this has required amendment of the Sharia law which is completely difficult (Andrew, 1990).
In conclusion the video points to the fact that Muslims of whatever caliber that on Haji which is the holy Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and at this very sacred place both men and women pray next to each other. What proves they should not do so while in normal mosques and it is taught that God does not change with locality or time? The Prophet Mohammad himself prayed with his mosque women side by side and not behind him. In the house of prayer there is no issue of respected worth but all are equal (Nawaz, 2005).
At the end it is even proposed that women should participate in elections for mosque governance and they should even sit on the boards as legitimate leaders of both the society and the mosque. In a mix of spirituality and history the Imam being interviewed by Nawaz in the video tells of how the Quran praises Queen Sheba for her wisdom and this is a twist that shows how women were chosen to rule irrespective of time and place.