Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Mosques Relegate Women's Prayers to the Basement



Women are particularly discouraged from going to mosques on Fridays, the day for the congregational Muslim prayer when space is limited and arguments against women's participation are used to prevent crowding, authors of the report found. And when women feel unwelcome they may prefer to stay home to pray.
Farida Kabir, who lives in Brooklyn, only started going to mosques two years ago. Before that, her family members, who are from Bangladesh, told her that women don't go to mosques.
"They always told me to stay at home, especially my dad," Kabir told Women's eNews on the side of last week's discussion. "He was telling me that women don't go to masjid (mosque). You stay and pray at home and that's how it should be. That's how I grew up."
When she finally went to a mosque two years ago after she was married she felt unwelcome. "A man told me this is not the place to be, come back another time!"
Mosques are always open during prayer times but some stay open all day so Muslims can pray at any time of the day. The general understanding in Islam is to never turn a worshipper away.
The American Mosque Report 2011 found that mosques with women on their boards are less likely to use dividers between the sexes during prayer and have higher female attendance; 20 percent versus 13 percent at mosques that do not allow women on the board.
The problem of providing women with good prayer space is sometimes explained as a budgetary issue but Makki said it's more a matter of attitude.
"If a community is ideologically opposed to providing women access to sacred space, it doesn't matter how big their budget is--women will not have equitable facilities," Makki said. "If a community believes it is the prophetic tradition to provide women access to sacred space, even if their budget is tight, they will find a way to equitably accommodate female congregants."

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