The first women's mosque of America just opened its doors. As an American Muslim woman, it gives me great pride and joy. There are so many aspects of it that maybe many people -- Muslim and non Muslim -- will not understand, but I will try to explain anyway.
The mosque is a holy place for Muslims. It's a place of worship, prayer, reflection and meditation. We go there to find peace and to learn from community members. Yet as a woman, when we go tour mosques we are usually pointed towards a small room upstairs or in the back where we are expected to be in. Friday is considered a holy day and we call it "Jumma". The sermons or "Khutbas," which are usually given during Friday's afternoon prayers, are always given by men. These Khutbas can range from being very interesting to very "male-centered". Truthfully, I have never felt welcome in my mosque -- not because I feel threatened or left out, but because I feel that I am an outsider in my own mosque.
Being a mother, a daughter and a sister I would love to hear more women talk about women issues. When a man tells me what my duties and responsibilities as a mother or wife are, my automatic response is, "How can you tell me what to do?"
And so when I heard of the women's mosque my immediate response was that of relief and belonging.
But the sad thing is that the only people that seem to have an issue with this all women's mosque are Muslim women. We are torn as a community because we keep telling ourselves that segregation and gender discrimination is wrong. The people not agreeing with this concept of an "only women's place of worship" truly believe that this is discrimination against men.
But truthfully, I think that women are one of the groups that are mostly discriminated against. Firstly, as women we get paid less than men, we are told we are the worst drivers, a strong independent woman is called a b****, in some people in power don't want women to have a right over her own body ( abortion rights) and so much more.
In our mosques there is segregation already where as women we get the upstairs "room" or the back room to pray while the men get to pray in the big hall.
So when someone came up with idea of us having a place of our own, where we aren't judged by what we wear or told where we should pray, it made me very happy. A place where we can talk about our problems, feelings and issues, a place where the person giving a sermon understands our struggles-of course I would love it!
May God bless America and the people who work hard everyday to make this country a place where everyone is free to practice religion in their own way!