Dar us Salaam’s Off-Site Jumu’ah LocationPosted: January 13, 2011
The venue is the Cherry Hill Manor/Knights of Columbus property in College Park, MD. Most weeks, we pray with the men in the front and women in the back separated by a single row of chairs. However, when larger numbers and crowding is expected as happened around the holiday season with many Muslims off from work and school, the sisters were relegated to the basement with only an audio connection.
It seems to me, a fairer and more considerate solution would be to maintain the setup as is, so women who come early or who would like to see the khatib are not penalized on account of their gender to the less desirable accommodation. Men and women that come later could be re-directed to the basement, where they could recreate the setup of men in the front and women behind them.
One week, surprisingly the men’s overflow area was in the basement, but unsurprisingly, the majority of the brothers did not wish to be relegated to the basement. The reasons are obvious, despite the piped-in audio, it is only natural that one’s focus is decreased by the lack of visual connection and also feels cut-off from the main body of the jama’ah when relegated to a separate room. It was so informative to see the resistance from the brothers to being relegated to spaces so often readily given to women.
The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “None of you truly believes, until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” If you do not love to be cut-off from the jama’ah, know that many of us women don’t enjoy it, either. And the solutions are many if we can simply think critically and with some compassion.