Views on Truth?
2 + 2 = Islam

Safety in Gender Apartheid

Shabana Mir:

We play it safe. We play to the tune of the conservatives. The conservatives want segregation: we offer it up. We play conservative roles. We are Other People in our individual lives, but in Official Islamic Spaces, we play the same roles. What else is it to be two-faced? All of us talk to both men and women; all of us shop, work, study, with men and women.

But we go to community spaces and pretend. “Oh no, I don’t see men. I am pure of gender. We have no gender. We have too much gender. We have no sex. We have too much sex in our minds.” Hai hai.

She lives in the United States.

[...] I met up with a woman here the other day. She’s a convert, a beautiful person. She hates the mosque. She hates going to community spaces. The segregation kills her soul. It makes her feel cheated. Why do they do this? It’s not the Islam she learned. The Islam she learned is about love, connection, wisdom, engaging with life in harmony and clarity. It’s about community. It’s about being who you are, no matter where you are. It’s not pretending here, and pretending there. It’s not irrational and obscurantist.

Ignorance ain't bliss.

I remember my days at Indiana, BEFORE women became more integral to the community and MSA. They thought they were playing it safe. The Gulf men and women were happy in “their” community. They didn’t see college kids except for the grad students. They didn’t see any mixed gender socializing, so it wasn’t a part of their world. And the whole time, some young men and women at college were experimenting, playing dangerous games, not a part of their religious community, confused, isolated. Safety was in the masjid, the masjid attendees thought: keeping the masjid “pure” of anything that didn’t belong in Riyadh, keeping the masjid “pure” of America and “American” ways, - and American Muslim kids.

Yes, so much emphasis is put on purity, both spiritual and physical, that one ends up with a stale and insipid community. The "impure" sphere of society is, in stark contrast, dynamic, fresh and bursting with energy.

She [her daughter] will want to know why ammi [mom] is a spare wheel in the mosque, why she can’t contribute to the public sphere in the mosque, why she and ammi are invisible, but abbu [dad] is in the public sphere. Raihana will want to know why the mosque has 1/3rd of the men’s space for women. Why, when women AND children mostly share that space? I counted the musalla spaces in the mosque the other day. It was about 30+ for women, and 100+ for men. Now this is not a “sister-we-are-helpless” issue: this is a structural feature that we have CONSTRUCTED.

Yup. It's mighty tough to blame the Jews for this one.



I wonder how hard it is to start a new mosque. Just find some like-minded people, somebody to lead prayers or whatever, and a place to meet. Set it up the way they want it, and if people don't like it they don't have to go. What's the holdup?

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