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Switch to Forum Live View Separation of Men and Women in Mosque
7 years ago  ::  Dec 22, 2007 - 2:20AM #1
sonrisadeallah
Posts: 192
So, this is (at least at this time) for me, a non issue.  It really doesn't bother me in the least.   But it is the first thing my non-religious friends ask when they learn that I go to a mosque, "Do they SEPARATE the women there?"   For me it's kind of feels the same as when I was a member of a women's only gym.  I am sure my friends think it is very strange that I am not disturbed by this.   

It did, however, feel foreign to me that during the plannning of an Eid al Adha celebration to be held outside the mosque, part of the discussion touched on planning for a separation of men and women at some point and the use of a divider.  Actually, it was just mentioned by the leader of the group helping to plan the event and ensure that everything was done as properly as possible.  Maybe this is because it is a religious event?  I know the mosque has held other community events where there is no separation.  Anyway, I didn't get the idea that anyone else there was overly concerned about it (i could be wrong though). 

So, wondering what you all think.  Do you think a mixed gender worship situation is more ideal?  What about mosque activites outside?  I tried to think of it in a different way.  Like if the interfaith church I went to separated men and women..would I think something was wrong?  They do other things like having everyone hold hands at prayer time (ok, maybe I am the weird one, but I'm not so comfortable with that!).
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 23, 2007 - 10:47AM #2
msdeebro
Posts: 68
MY $1's worth:
I have had the opportuniy to visit many Mosques, Mashallah and have found this situation to be different in each.

Before wearing Niqab, I felt shy being able to see and be seen by brothers. Not all brothers/sisters lower their gaze(LOL)!

I guess it all depends on how the individual feels:
In our Mosque, the women have a seperate room but that room is divided by thick tinted glass, to give the sisters a little more sense of privacy. In the main hallway, there are dividers, this is because of both hamams facing eachother(on the first floor).

When we have non-muslim visitors for dawah programs, the women sit in the back or to the side of the men, no divider.

Since I wear Niqab, I feel comfortable both ways! Although I do not care to be in the close company of brothers, I have to accept it because of the positions held at the Mosque.

At one Mosque, one brother came out yelling at us because we got lost, and was in a restricted area, LOL, now that was scary!!! LOL
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 23, 2007 - 2:37PM #3
sonrisadeallah
Posts: 192
Thank you for your comment-in the mosque I have been attending, there is a separate enterance, prayer and social areas for women and men.  I only saw men come over to bring water during Ramadan.  It really just didn't bother me, but I am used to mixing in every other area of my life.  I remember seeing one woman in niqab and wondering why it would be worn in the mosque, so your post gives me some insight into the possible reasons.

Last night was the Eid celebration dinner.  I was a volunteer and did lots of physical labor.  I was not feeling 100% well, and almost didn't come, but I was glad I did because I had the opportunity to meet lots of the community and work together with some really nice sisters.  There was some drama (probably due to loose planning), but i think it turned out for the most part pretty well.  Upon arriving to help set up, it became clear to me that it was definitely intended to be a gender separated event. 

Some other observations/ thoughts:

The dining room was gender separated by a divider, and some brothers were firmly told they could not enter by the leading sister.  It must have become a problem, because a sign was eventually made for the brothers side.  It suprised me that the most easy going about this seemed to be the traditional, born into Islam sisters.  There was a separate space designated for prayer and then used for children's activities where people did mix, though I think the original intention was to not mix.  I came out of it thinking the whole thing could have been easier mixed.  The separation caused more work for sure (separating food, utensils, etc) and some unnecessary tension.  It was pretty much families and in my experience with traditional family type events, men and women naturally separate anyway.  Most of the women were in hijab.  There were definitely groups of women uncovered and some younger sisters in low cut tops and lots of makeup.  Muslims from different cultures.  Nice diversity.  Let it be, I say.

I do believe that the energy of any group can change when there are mixed men and women, but after having this experience and thinking about it, I think it could be quite limiting in terms of spiritual growth to forcably separate.  At least in this type of  social function.  We need the opprortunity to choose what we will wear, how to interact, and enforce personal boundries in order to experience the effects and consequences of  our behavior and learn from it.  Utlimately, I believe, this can bring us more sincerely to God. 

I do think the mixed events I am thinking of in my original post were dawah events.   I am not sure it makes sense to mix for this and separate for other events.  It could present a false image.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 23, 2007 - 4:47PM #4
msdeebro
Posts: 68
Subhanallah Sis!

I too had a lot of responsibilities to the Mosque during the Eid celebration, Alhamdulillah! I think I sat down once from the entire morning til noon!! In this seperation I did not see one brother as they did their eating and celebrating upstairs while the sisters celebrated in the much needed space of downstairs. It was a great day, getting to know new sisters as well as visiting sisters. Some sisters did not cover, some came in tight jeans,  etc. They said that they felt very comfortable in dressing that way because the brothers were far away!

All in all, we had a good time. However, upon visiting a friend, she had invited non-muslim in-laws, and another muslim couple. She had suggested that we all eat together around the table, but to my surprise it was the non-muslim relative who wanted to be seperate!! Now wasn't that a kick in the head I said to myself!!LOL LOL
My husband and her husband are reverts, she was born in Morocco., the sister-in-law was  born in Germany.

The husbands also were taken aback by the suggestion.She said that she did not mean to make anyone uncomfortable as this is what her family did in Morocco at times. Later she apologised and said that it was good that we were seperate as she was on her menses and did not feel comfortable around men.

SUGGESTION:

1. Seperation is good when the sexes want to relax and laugh with eachother. [This will keep the hearts of both from moving at the sound of the others voice]. One sister I knew years ago fell in love with the brother because she admired his laugh and his "pearly whites". This is not the case all the time though.

The Qur’ân clearly forbids women from being soft of speech while talking to men. Allah says: “Be not too complaisant of speech, lest one in whose heart is a disease should be moved with desire: but speak with a speech (that is) proper.” [Sûrah al-Ahzâb: 32].


2. Mixing is not bad if the people truly fear Allah and do not get relaxed around eachother. This is during business, PTA, Mosque meetings, etc. If the muslims can control themselves in mixing they should do so. But ALLAH said that:

Allah says: “And when you ask the ladies for anything, ask them from before a screen. That makes for greater purity for your hearts and for theirs.” [Sûrah al-Ahzâb: 53] For women to go about uncovered in the company of men is inarguably a gross violation of the command given in this verse.[But not all women/men see it this way]

3. Then there is the Mahram /non-Mahram position:

It is prohibited for men to join women in one place in the absence of at least one of the women’s close male relatives. The Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade men and women from being alone together. He said: “Never is a man alone with a woman except that Satan is the third party with them.”
[I think this deals with singles and marrieds if the spouse is absent, what you think?]

These are a few of the things that i observe around other muslims. I believe that it is the choice of the people involved as to whether they feel comfortabe or uncomfortable being seperated. [I can always take shelter behind my Niqab on many occasions, LOL LOL]
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 24, 2007 - 1:45AM #5
sazaj36
Posts: 331
Allah says: “And when you ask the ladies for anything, ask them from before a screen. That makes for greater purity for your hearts and for theirs.” [Sûrah al-Ahzâb: 53] For women to go about uncovered in the company of men is inarguably a gross violation of the command given in this verse.[But not all women/men see it this way]

The Qur’ân clearly forbids women from being soft of speech while talking to men. Allah says: “Be not too complaisant of speech, lest one in whose heart is a disease should be moved with desire: but speak with a speech (that is) proper.” [Sûrah al-Ahzâb: 32].

these pertain to the prophets wives only....not the rest of us....all though its generally accepted that women will not talk to men in a whispery seductive voice every time they open thier mouths ...its kind of a kick in the backside to assume thats exactly what we will do given the chance.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 24, 2007 - 7:33PM #6
Atsila
Posts: 207
Oh, Lee Ann!  Don't you know that all muslim men are potential rapists that are just waiting for a muslim women to give them a reason to rip our clothes off and assault us right there in the mosque?!  Thank God muslim men can handle themselves around non-muslim women, though.

By the way, any kind of divider between men and women during prayer is innovation in worship, which is forbidden.

wassalam,
Atsila
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 24, 2007 - 11:47PM #7
msdeebro
Posts: 68
Whether muslims/muslimahs act upon anything Allah states in the Qur'an, or anything stated in the Hadiths, is the judgment and answer for those who wish not to. Not all muslims/muslimahs follow the Qur'an or Hadith. That decision is between them and Allah. It is ignorance that causes others to mock the decisions of others who wish to.

Most Mosques use seperate rooms or dividers because of limited space, etc. During the time of the Prophet, there was no seperation mainly because those women dressed properly and fully covered. The Iman of those people during the time of the Prophet(PBUH) was 1000% greater than now.

In our mosque, the women have a seperate room from the brothers, but:
1.We can see the Iman through the glass partition,
2.We can hear the Iman during Jumu'ah, as there are speakers and mic's in the woman's area,
3. We do not miss any parts of the prayers because we cannot see or hear,
4. The women enjoy the seclusion and privacy as most are nursing mothers,
5. During meetings, programs(if library is too small), fund-raisers, the women join the men in the big hall,
6. There is no disturbance of crying , playing or  laughter, to interupt the Iman's khutbah.

Each Mosque has it's own rules and provisions for the men and women. The separation or divider can/may be classed under a "religiously permitted  or  recommended" bidah( have to re-read again) for certain circumstances.

Seperation may not be everyone's cup of tea, but each has the right to choose what works for them.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 25, 2007 - 2:54AM #8
Atsila
Posts: 207
[QUOTE=msdeebro;163313]Whether muslims/muslimahs act upon anything Allah states in the Qur'an, or anything stated in the Hadiths, is the judgment and answer for those who wish not to. Not all muslims/muslimahs follow the Qur'an or Hadith. That decision is between them and Allah. It is ignorance that causes others to mock the decisions of others who wish to.

Most Mosques use seperate rooms or dividers because of limited space, etc. During the time of the Prophet, there was no seperation mainly because those women dressed properly and fully covered. The Iman of those people during the time of the Prophet(PBUH) was 1000% greater than now.

In our mosque, the women have a seperate room from the brothers, but:
1.We can see the Iman through the glass partition,
2.We can hear the Iman during Jumu'ah, as there are speakers and mic's in the woman's area,
3. We do not miss any parts of the prayers because we cannot see or hear,
4. The women enjoy the seclusion and privacy as most are nursing mothers,
5. During meetings, programs(if library is too small), fund-raisers, the women join the men in the big hall,
6. There is no disturbance of crying , playing or  laughter, to interupt the Iman's khutbah.

Each Mosque has it's own rules and provisions for the men and women. The separation or divider can/may be classed under a "religiously permitted  or  recommended" bidah( have to re-read again) for certain circumstances.

Seperation may not be everyone's cup of tea, but each has the right to choose what works for them.[/QUOTE]

I would like to know why you mentioned something about some people not following the Quran and hadith.  So, those of us who recognize that those verses were referring to the prophet's wives are not following the Quran?  That is certainly not true.

As far as having a divider between men and women, innovation is NOT permitted just because we don't live in the time of the prophet.  Why do people always say this when talking about how wonderful separation is?  It's an excuse and not islamic.  The truth is that God knew how people would be in the future and how people were then and GOD did NOT order a barrier to be put between the men and women, then or now.  As a matter of fact, there are reports that these '1000% iman' muslim people had problems.  During prayer, the men would try to sneak looks at the women, but God did not order a barrier.  Some men's clothing was too short to always cover their private area, but God did not order a barrier.  And just because I did not live in the time of the prophet, does not mean that I am not as good in iman as the 'regular' folks during that time.

As far as the 'reasons' for barriers, mosques don't always use separate rooms because of space, but because they just don't want the women in the same room-WHERE THEY SHOULD BE.  Many mosques are built keeping in mind that the women will not be in the same room.  Women are a part of the ummah and should be present in the main hall during prayer.  Cultural excuses of why they are not there, are just that, excuses.

Reasons 1-3:  Great, since you don't miss anything, maybe there should be a partition between the men and the imam.  That way the men's cell phones and men getting there late won't disturb the imam either.

Reason 4:  I don't want to see you nursing your child at prayer.  Take it elsewhere.  Women during the prophet's time had children to nurse, too, and yet God did not order a barrier.  I wonder if it's because those women nursed their children in REAL privacy?

Reason 5:  And you manage to keep from being accosted by the muslim men?  But you people aren't as good as muslims in the past!  You better watch it!

Reason 6:  I don't come to the mosque to hear crying, playing or laughter, either.  I come to hear the khutbah.  I'm tired of women thinking that it's social hour or that it's ok for their children to run around screaming and/or climb me like I'm a tree.  I do think there needs to be a separate nursery area for the children who can't contain themselves, but I don't think I should have to be thrown in there with them.  Also, women during the prophet's time had children and yet God did not order a barrier.

You may love the idea of separation, but don't push it as islamic or say that it is sanctioned by islam, because it certainly is not.  Really though, if you need that much privacy, why not just stay at home and listen to a khutbah on the internet or TV?  Barriers are being forced on women who don't want them because of these kinds of attitudes.  It's not islamic and never will be and it needs to be fought.  If women need so much privacy that they need another room, they can either step into the bathroom or another room themselves or just stay at home. 

peace.
Atsila
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 25, 2007 - 3:36AM #9
sazaj36
Posts: 331
6. There is no disturbance of crying , playing or laughter, to interupt the Iman's khutbah...

why is it that the men get a prayer hall that is basically just men and older boys...so fairly quiet and serene...while the secluded womens section is usually similar to what you might find at McDonalds playland etc...why are the children and babies always always in the ladies section...arent men fathers too? Or is their undisturbed prayer much more imporant than ours?

Segregation does nothing more than build barriers in the mind as surely as it does in the mosque.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 25, 2007 - 8:38AM #10
GraceSA
Posts: 1,100
Well, gender segregation is a Wahabbi/Salafi  innovation, cultural, and not reliegious at all.  And there is no doubt  at most mosques women are given the short end of the deal- as is true with most forms of prejudice.

There should be no seperation- except perhaps for noisy children- though most of the time it is simply they have not been taught to behave.

As for breastfeeding- everyone has to just get over that.  I have publically breastfed countless times.  It is no big deal.  There is no need to expose yourself once you get a rhythm going.  Usually people couldn't even tell what I was doing.  And since well behaved men are not staring at breasts- it is a non issue.

As for being "uncomfortable around the brothers because they are on their menses" why?   That doesn't even make sense.  But if they are uncomfortable- get over it.  No need to punish half the population because of that.

This is all Wahabbi/Salafi sectional deviation- which idealogy was unfortunately spread far and wide with the petro dollar.

Salaam,
Grace
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