Police Officer Barry Goodwin squatted next to a woman finishing her prayers inside the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.
He listened to her explain why she had a right to pray in the main hall of the mosque, while a mosque employee countered that she was violating the rules.
“I don’t know the rules,” Goodwin, who’d been called to the mosque by the employee, admitted to the woman and the mosque employee.
“What’s going on here?” asked Goodwin.
What was going on was a protest last Saturday, Feb. 20, against the center’s requirement that women pray behind an 8-feet-tall, wooden partition at the back corner of the mosque, behind the male worshippers. The protest was led by Fatima Thompson, 44, of Owings Mills, Md.
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At the time for salah, we went upstairs to make wudu and to pray in the second-floor completely enclosed off women’s prayer area although there are windows from which to look down at the men’s section.
The publication of my “The Penalty Box” post created a stir and led others to alternately encourage or discourage the creation of this photoblog to highlight the good, the bad, and the downright awful prayer spaces that Muslim women and their children encounter in our communities. I’m open to suggestions, receiving pictures and stories of prayer spaces, and all constructive feedback. Two reminders that I hold dear to my heart:
The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam): “None of you truly believes, until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”
Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”