Published at the Voice of the Cape website
Everyone who knows me – knows that I have a crusade against sexist/misogynist/chauvinist men (and women for that matter), especially that kind that tries to bar women from Islam’s places of worship – mosques. If you know this about me, you will know that I was initially extremely irate, then quite hopeful at the well organized salaah facility at the World Cup Opening match.
It was Friday, an auspicious day for Muslims and the facility was packed, before the 2010 Fifa World Cup Opening Match which would make history for being the first on African soil.
At said salaah facility (generously organized and well executed by Muslim donors and volunteers) I witnessed with rising anger, so many men and women who normally “oppose” women’s participation in the mosque, quickly adapt their positions to suit their soccer frenzy.
I would like to pose a question to everyone who attended – did you notice any women luring and seducing men before, during or after the Salaah? I personally did not. What I did witness, was men and women who wanted to pray. Period.
After a long and very informative chat with Imam Wadee, who led the salaah before the kick-off, I realized that small steps like these, taken by organizers and community leaders like himself, are the only way to ultimately show people, realistically, that the skies will not open up and rain down punishment on men and women who pray in congregation in the masjid or other public places. Imam Wadee explained to me, that although a separate tent was set up for the women, he took the initiative to designate the space behind the men for the women. The whole barrier/partition, in his words – did not exist during the Prophet’s (PBUH) time, and is an innovation.
South African Muslims are amongst the most free to practice their religion in the world, and to engage to all sorts of other social, political and economic activities…yet women in Johannesburg and other Deobandi-run masaajid are not allowed to attend, or are allowed to do so “conditionally”.
I don’t believe there are any conditions for a women’s attendance and participation in the masjid, which is the pivotal center of a Muslim community. It should be open and welcoming to every human being. Its time we started living up to the Sunnah we are so quick to defend…the Prophet (PBUH) allowed a Christian man to complete urinating in his mosque…and some Muslims, in this day and age, bar believers from the house of worship.
So – let me get this straight – under normal circumstances, religiously-committed women who desire to benefit from the sanctity of the masjid and the unity of prayers in congregation cannot do so because they will distract and seduce men, but in other circumstances, such as a certain important soccer match, men and women can pray together, with no walls/curtains/partitions/barriers – do you not see the hypocrisy in this??
There were many in attendance at the World Cup Jumuah who support women’s participation in the masjid, and I hope they realize the importance of fighting hard for it. There were also many there, who I personally have come to loggerheads with on this issue, especially regarding the Eid Salaah – I would like to say to these people who stop their wives/mothers/daughters and other believing women from Allah’s house to stop being such hypocrites – if you truly believe that women have no place praying together with men, that a womens place “is in the home”, then you should not have been there, but since you were, please do some serious introspection and ask yourself that if women are so inherently evil and shameful, why did you stand with them in prayer to Allah?
I would also like to commend the organizers, the Imam and the participants for making it a successful Jumuah, and showing the community, practically, that men are not lust-hungry animals and women not evil-temptresses.