Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Mosque

There's a list of women's rights in the Mosque, called "The Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Mosque" by Asra Nomani. I found it on someone else's blog and then Wiki'ed it.

She wrote it after her visit to Meccca, where she noticed that:
"I was a fully realized human being. There were no back doors for me. There was no back entrance. There was no back row where I had to pray. I prayed alongside my father. I walked in through the front door with him. When I dared to try to do the same at my mosque in Morgantown, I was screamed at and yelled at and I was told to take the back door. I was told to sit in the balcony. And so for almost two years now, we've been fighting and we walked in through the front door and into the main hall. And I now sit on trial because 35 men at the mosque have signed a petition to have me banned for being a troublemaker. So on March 1st, the start of Women's History Month, I launched what we're so proud to call the Muslim Women's Freedom Tour. And what I did was I posted on the door of my mosque 99 precepts for opening hearts, minds and doors in our Muslim world. And with it I attached a bill of rights for women in the mosque and a bill of rights for women in the bedroom, so that we can assert and reclaim all that Islam created for women."

This is really sad; I don't agree with this whole idea of women's entrance into the Mosque through the "back" door -- again, it makes the woman nothing but an evil seductive and a dangerously sexy being who's gonna create "fitnah" in the mosque. A man might get turned on by seeing her, even if she's covered from head to toe, and then God will punish HER for having created such feelings in the man.

I myself have had some horrible experiences with the mosques here, and I've read stories of women who defy the idea of being subjugated to the extent of not even being ALLOWED in the mosque (even in the west, mind you!) or of praying in a suffocatingly small area of the mosque -- simply because it's assumed that women won't come to the mosque or don't NEED to come. Well, maybe they would if you didn't make their stay in the mosque this miserable, damnit. One of the ones I regularly attend has more women than men coming to it on weekends, and yet ... the area for women is a small room. And it gets so musty in there at times it's impossible to breathe. But how big is the area for men? It's at least six times as big as the women's area! And they always close the door so that we won't see the men and they won't see us, and because the mic system is pathetic there, we can't even hear what the imam says! For Friday prayers, they have the women go to a house near the mosque (bought by a former imam of the mosque, I was told) to pray there.

Just three weeks ago, I watched a documentary/film called "Me & the Mosque" presented by this Pakistani-Canadian lady named Zarqa Nawaz. She made the film because she noted the huge barrier that Muslims have created between men and women in the mosque; she also found it interesting yet depressing that each mosque (in the west) seems to go through these phases when during one phase, the leader of the mosque will be a misogynist loser who thinks that women don't belong in the mosque and so he'll do everything he can to PREVENT them from coming (including making the space for women SO tiny AND adds BARS to it such that it's literally too suffocating for women to stay in there for more than a minute or so), and in another phase, the leader will be someone more reasonable and human -- and someone more knowledgeable about Islam -- and will therefore not have these solid bars and glass between the men's and women's sections. It's definitely worth watching. For once, some Muslims are standing up and recognizing the problems that we Muslims OURSELVES are creating in our communities. (I mean, you know how we love to point out all the problems that non-Muslims have created for us, yeah? Well, we, TOO, have created many, many problems for ourselves, and when exactly do we plan to solve those?)

Anyway, I'll be giving a conference presentation on Muslim women in the mosque in a few months, ka khairee, so I'll try to post something on that later on. But for NOW, let's take a look at the notorious and controversial (but absolutely great) Asra Nomani's bill of rights. (lol @ notorious and controversial. Sadly, just about EVERY Muslim woman who speaks up about Muslim women's issues is considered this. But then again, why NOT! She was the lead organizer of the woman-led Muslim prayer, led by Dr. Amina Wadud.)

k, more on that another day, ka khairee.

1. Women have an Islamic right to enter a mosque.
2. Women have an Islamic right to enter through the main door.
3. Women have an Islamic right to visual and auditory access to the musalla (main sanctuary).
4. Women have an Islamic right to pray in the musalla without being separated by a barrier, including in the front and in mixed-gender congregational lines.
5. Women have an Islamic right to address any and all members of the congregation.
6. Women have an Islamic right to hold leadership positions, including positions as prayer leaders, or imams, and as members of the board of directors and management committees.
7. Women have an Islamic right to be full participants in all congregational activities.
8. Women have an Islamic right to lead and participate in meetings, study sessions, and other community activities without being separated by a barrier.
9. Women have an Islamic right to be greeted and addressed cordially.
10. Women have an Islamic right to respectful treatment and exemption from gossip and slander.


  1. Greetings! I'm glad that you found the Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Mosque. If I can help you in anyway, please contact me. You can reach me at asra(a)

    Your blog entry on women's rights in mosques is wonderful. The frustration women feel excluded in mosques is far and wide.

    I don't know if you saw the Stand In at the Islamic Center of Washington.

    I wrote about it at You can see a video of women praying in the main hall, instead of a secluded area.

    I look forward to future conversations.

    With warm wishes, asra

  2. OMG! Wait, is this REALLY Asra Nomani??? You're kidding me!! How and WHY would you come across a blog like mine? I'm too flattered and grateful!

    (That is, assuming you're the real Asra Nomani, of course, lol.)

    No, I haven't seen the stand in Washington, but I most certainly will the next time I visit there, inshaAllah.
    Expect an e-mail from me some time soon; I must discuss with you a research of mine for which I may need a list of authors or books/articles from you.

    Thanks for dropping by! You just made my day :D

  3. I wonder if you have seen / read this commentary on Asra'a book?

    Interested to hear your thoughts.

  4. Hi there, Anonymous! Thanks for dropping by!

    I've to read the book first. Remember: Asra Nomani isn't adored by the typical Muslim, so of course they're gonna say the most disturbing things about her and what she believes. I have the book myself and am searching for an opportunity to read it soon.

    Have you read it? What did you think of it?

  5. "4. Women have an Islamic right to pray in the musalla without being separated by a barrier, including in the front and in mixed-gender congregational lines."

    Vow! It will certainly make me one of the regular mosque going person! lol


Dare to opine :)

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