muslim sisters
The other day I posted how I wanted/needed to go to a mosque, and I still intend to, but the more I think about it the more nervous I get.
I am not one who enjoys new situations, and when I have no choice I really like someone to “hold my hand”, at least for the first time. I assumed I would have my husband to hold my hand, but alas this can not be.
I already knew that men and women did not pray together in most mosques- most have women in a separate room, some behind a curtain, and apparently there are even some that don’t allow women at all. Now I can’t begin to say how anti I am for all three of those. This isn’t a dig at Islam, because it ISN’T Islam. In the time of the prophet it can be gathered by hadiths that women were in the same room as men, not hidden away. Yes, they were at the back, but free to participate in mosque discussions and with clear view and hearing of the imam. I really can go on about the subject, but this Muslim brother’s blog page pretty much sums up my thoughts on it perfectly: http://muslimreverie.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/its-time-to-end-gender-segregation-in-mosques/
Anyway, so as nerve wracking as I knew it would be to enter a mosque, I was prepared for it. I thought to lessen anxiety my husband and I could go for Iftar (evening meal after fast), until he informed me that that too was segregated! For someone who isn’t the most confident of people, the idea of sitting around eating and trying to make small talk with complete strangers has to be up there with one of my worst nightmares. I know I’d hate every minute of it. Obviously I will be dealing with feelings of not belonging there and feeling a fraudster, but feeling lost and confused on top of that? Argh!
I don’t want a trip to the mosque to be tainted by my own fears, I wish I knew even just one Muslima in the “real world”, to show me where to go, what to do, to talk to me as we eat.
But I don’t, all I have is my husband and he wouldn’t be much of a support in another room.
Before Ramadan many large London mosques were running classes for new Muslims and those interested in it. That would have been perfect, at the very least I wouldn’t feel like an imposter, and they would know and expect ignorance on my part. Sadly now it is the holy month, mosques are a bit preoccupied and the classes have ended/put on hold.
And it isn’t just visiting mosques that having Muslim sisters around would help with. The only Muslim in my life is my husband, and obviously he cannot explain to me Islam from a females point of view. In fact, he thinks I obsess about the differences between men and women in Islam, but he just doesn’t *get* it, there are difficulties women face that he doesn’t, and so doesn’t understand just why they are difficult. A woman however would get it, and explain how she deals with it/understands it. An example of this is the segregation mentioned above- my husband who gets to be in the main room with the speaker, able to participate in the discussions, cannot say how women feel being hidden away. Ok, some, maybe most, women might love it, but only they can say that, not a man. It is easy for men to say women shouldn’t wear make up, shouldn’t pluck their eyebrows, shouldn’t do this, shouldn’t do that, they are not living it, so they don’t bother truly thinking about it and understanding it.
When nonmuslims talk about the worst things about Islam, it is likely to be ranked: 1) terrorism, and 2) female oppression.
Now I know number one is simply not true, I didn’t need to do this month to know that, but number two is what I am working on now. You don’t need western media distorting Islam and making it out as sexist when so called Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia do it perfectly well all by themselves. But I have known some women online for years who are Muslim and not the “stuck in the kitchen and only out in a burka” type. The Prophet Muhammed’s first wife, Khadija, was a strong, successful business woman, much older than he was. Their monogamous marriage lasted for 25 years until she passed away, making me believe he must have truly loved and respect her. Doesn’t seem like the type of woman or marriage for a man who some claim just wanted women hidden away.

I need to start addressing the issues I have with Islam, and not be like those who are judging it by inaccuracies. I’m thinking of starting a facebook group and posting my questions/concerns there. Right now, whenever I discover something I disagree with, I’m seeing it as a point against Islam, instead of researching the why and even credibility behind it.
I’m nearly half way through being a Muslim for a month and feel as if I’m still clueless. I need more dialogue with actual Muslims, preferably sisters!

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