Asma Uddin & Aman Ali | Why Women Don’t Go to Mosques

Portions of a panel discussion by Asma Uddin and Aman Ali at the 2010 MPAC Annual Convention revolving around the issue of women’s prayer spaces in mosques.

To see the official video from the MPAC Convention, click here: The State of our Umma (Community)” Facing our Challenges

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6 Comments on “Asma Uddin & Aman Ali | Why Women Don’t Go to Mosques”

  1. Naima says:

    Thank you.

    I have been struggling with this as well, I’ve been living in Canada for 24 years now, and I am so upset with the way we are treated.

    I’ve attended a seminar with Al Maghrib Institute last week end and this week end in Edmonton, Alberta, and the first thing I noticed was the seating arrangements: all Front rows were reserved for men and women were given the back rows starting from the middle. I complained to them saying I have paid the same amount and don’t see why I should get a less desirable seat. The volunteers insisted it was the policy of Headquarters. I argued that this should have been made clear before people register.

    The following day the seating arrangements got changed and the right section was reserved for women in addition to the back rows of the middle section. These were still undesirable seats as the view of the screen isn’t great.
    During the seminar they made an announcement reminding us to use separate entrances for men and women. I used men’s entrance as well as women’s.

    It is a shame that an institution like this dwells on petty things instead of focusing on the bigger issues. I am citing this example since it’s a recent one. The last day of the seminar is tomorrow but I have decided not to go.

    I will never go attend their seminars. I have paid over $450 for my family to attend and this was a complete waste of money.

    I am tired of this backward thinking when the men can do whatever they want/dress the way they want and nothing is mentioned to them. But woken are always reminded of the Hijab.

    I am in my late 40’s and I have a big problem with this. I don’t see why young women will put up with it?

    We are driving them away from the Muslim institutions and the religion by putting so much restrictions that are not even founded in Islam.

    It is sad that women are not objecting to it for fear of being labeled.

    I have stopped contributing financially to one local Mosque as well as stop going there because of their treatment of women.

    Thank you for expressing so well what many of us have been thinking for years now.

    This is so sad. I hope many young women will have the courage to speak up and take actions.

    Naima, Edmonton, Alberta

  2. Ify Okoye says:

    Naima, you’re quite welcome, thank you for commenting.

    As an AlMaghrib ameerah myself in the Washington DC area, I can say that the setup is reflective of the local community of volunteers and is not really handed down or enforced from the level of HQ. I do my best to advocate for the rights of women, and our student body in general, knowing that women are often the first ones to suffer or thought to be expendable in such situations. I’ve traveled to other seminar locations and can tell you the setup and empowerment of women varies greatly.

    Highlighting and rectifying the way our communities denigrate women through issues of prayer space and seating arrangements is one of my passions. I’m deeply concerned by the way these practices drive us away, leading some of us to become un-mosqued, or create a wedge between us and our faith.

    May Allah help us and our communities in this struggle. And help us out if you can, I’d love to see any pictures of prayer spaces from Edmonton.

    • Naima says:

      Thank you for your response.
      Regarding Al Maghrib, I do not think this is reflective of the community but rather the Institute. For example: the course material , which is certainly dictated by the HQ and not the local chapter, had the following stated in its booklet under “Class Etiquette”:
      “If a sister is speaking, brothers are requested to look forward and not turn around”
      What is this? Muslim women and men alike interact with the opposite sex at work, at school and outside, yet here in this example men are asked not to turn around when a women is speaking. I was shocked. What is wrong with looking to see who has asked the question? This is unbelievable.

      No wonder our Muslim Youths have challenges and difficulty conciliating their Muslim identity and their North American one.

      I will gladly share pics of women’s prayers space in Edmonton mosques if I get a chance. I haven’t been to the mosque for a while now.

      I get so discouraged at times but at the same time seeing the work people like you do gives me hope.
      May Allah help us all.

      Thank you.

  3. K says:

    @Naima, Im curious to know what mosque you attend now. I am a muslim young woman who has been scared away from the mosque and religion due to alot of their backward mentality. I am looking to find a mosque that I can go to and not feel like i’m going to a “court” as per the above video. I live in Edmonton Alberta. Thank you.

    • Naima says:

      I have just seen your comment as I didn’t get a notice via email of new comments.
      The mosque I go to is MAC (also known as Rahma Mosque), it’s fairly new (3 years), geared towards youth and from my experience is relatively better than the one I used to go to (MCE). Their number is 780-443-3200, email: office@rahmamosque.com.
      Women pray at the back but the space is an open space separated by wooden blocks about 1 to 1.5 meter high, the entrance is the same for men and women unlike other mosques.
      The mosque I used to go to, MCE, has a small room upstairs for women isolated where women cannot even interact with the Imam. The room used to have tinted Closed windows on the wall that overlooked the men’s area, but those windows have been replaced by a wall. I have never been back since I first noticed the windows replaced by a wall in addition to the bad space given to women. I have also stopped contributing money to that mosque. If I am not worthy of a good prayer space when men had just had their pace expanded, then they are not worthy of my money either.
      On two or three occasions I have asked to talk to the Imam after the Khutba. I was made uncomfortable: a man came and asked who requested to talk to the Imam, then another men cam to me, then went and came back to ask me to step outside where the Imam was waiting for me. This made me feel very uncomfortable as it it were a big deal to ask for the Imam.
      I hope young women will fight for the change they want to see, and will not put up with what we are seeing. This is sad and only makes them disengage from the Muslim community.
      Please do not give up and turn away from religion as you are not alone feeling this way. I have struggled with this for so many years now.
      I hope you will find a mosque where you will feel welcome and comfortable.
      Take care and Salam.
      If I had a way to communicate privately with you I would have left you my contact.

    • Naima1217 says:

      Salaam K,
      Have you been able to find a mosque in Edmonton.
      There is a new Community Initiative called Tarjuma that is great.
      It has done an amazing job of providing meaningful programs to the Muslim community you and old alike. They provide free babysitting as well.
      I have stopped going to mosques altogether as Ive ben very disappointed in the way women are treated.
      I now go to the Green Room, which is part of IFSSA (Islamic Family and Social Services), and Tarjuma. I feel welcome and not judged unlike mosques where women get the worse space for praying.
      If you want to contact me leave a response with your contact info and I will contact you to provide mine.
      Salaam


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