More from Muslims in their own words…the real war on women via Mosques Relegate Women’s Prayers to the Basement | Womens eNews. h/t Jihad Watch
NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)–When Matea converted to Islam in December 2013 she looked forward to joining the life of her local mosques here. Today Matea, like many Muslim women, is disillusioned.
“When I first converted I wanted to be part of the mosque environment. But I went to mosques and what I found was sort of an unwelcome environment for women,” she told Women’s eNews during a discussion organized last week by Women in Islam, a New York-based organization working to empower Muslim women through knowledge and practice of Islam.
Matea didn’t want her full name published.
“The spaces are separated, there are different rooms and sometimes it was even in the basement,” Matea continued. “And as a convert, it feels very strange to you. I used to go to church and everybody is part of the same community. You can see the preacher. You can hear the sermon very well.”
“Every time I visit a mosque, I assume that I must enter through a side or back door, if I’m allowed in at all,” Makki said. “I assume that my prayer space is not the one that men use and that I must look for signs directing me to a basement or a mezzanine floor. This has been the case in nearly every mosque I’ve visited in the U.S., Canada and Western Europe.”
Makki realized the importance of the issue during the month of Ramadan in 2012 when one of her friends was kicked out of a mosque for praying in the second men’s prayer hall. Since the women’s prayer space, which was located in the basement, smelled of mildew and the air conditioner wasn’t working, her friend, and a few other women, decided to pray in the last rows of the men’s second prayer hall.
“She wasn’t even praying in a mixed-gender line,” said Makki in the email interview. “That didn’t go over so well. The imam threatened to call the police on them if they didn’t leave the premises.”
Women are particularly discouraged from going to mosques on Fridays, the day for the congregational Muslim prayer when space is limited and arguments against women’s participation are used to prevent crowding, authors of the report found. And when women feel unwelcome they may prefer to stay home to pray.
Farida Kabir, who lives in Brooklyn, only started going to mosques two years ago. Before that, her family members, who are from Bangladesh, told her that women don’t go to mosques.
“They always told me to stay at home, especially my dad,” Kabir told Women’s eNews on the side of last week’s discussion. “He was telling me that women don’t go to masjid (mosque). You stay and pray at home and that’s how it should be. That’s how I grew up.”
When she finally went to a mosque two years ago after she was married she felt unwelcome. “A man told me this is not the place to be, come back another time!”