Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Delayed Thought/Question About the Local Mosque and the Women There

I know, I know. You all thought we were done with this topic. You heard about it a million times while I was wittering and being a nutter, and I said I was done, so why am I talking about it again? I know. Sorry? :)

I dreamt about my visit to the local mosque last night. Nothing weird or freaky, just a replay basically. But it reminded me of something that I thought was strange but forgot to mention when I was originally talking about the visit.

So I was in the women's section, which is a room side by side with the men's section. It's separated by sliding glass doors and the lights are kept turned off so that it turns the doors on the men's side into mirrors, basically. There was a speaker so we could hear the imam and we could see him as well if we turned our heads to the side. From what I hear of other mosques, all and all not the worst set up ever. The room seemed clean and it was cool enough, no broken a/c or stained carpets that I saw.

It was weirder than I thought it would be, being separated but it wasn't an awful little space is what I'm saying. There was plenty of room for the number of women that were there. All of which bears on my question/observation.

When it came time to pray, only one of the women did so. You could look over and see the men praying, the movements everyone is familiar with for salat. But only one of the women did the same. The others all just sat there, quietly. I assume that they were praying without making the movements. Oh! I stand corrected. One of the older women who sat was making the motions with her hands. And I believe, as I recall, that it is allowed to make changes to the prescribed movements allowing for illness, infirmity and the like. And some of the women it was clear that that was likely the case, as in the woman who was obviously making the motions that she could. But what about the young ones? Like I was saying, the space wasn't anything fancy, but it seemed to be perfectly adequate space wise and it wasn't *dirty*, so why would the women, seemingly collectively, not pray in what I understand as the correct fashion? Is there some facet of Islamic practice that I'm forgetting? Or is it maybe because women aren't required to attend jumah?


  1. At the one jummah I ever attended, on my campus, I was the only woman participating. Other women came in, did their prayers by themselves, and left. So my guess is they don't see the jummah prayer as something that is for them to participate in.

  2. Sarah,

    That's sad. It's the one communal prayer/lesson and half the people don't think it's something that they need to or can participate in?

  3. I read on a blog recently that women were given more points if they prayed at home so maybe the ladies only came for fellowship with each other rather than for prayer. Interesting observation and it's cute that you dreamed about your visit there.

  4. Susanne,

    My dreams are random! :)

    Maybe. Though that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me either. It's not as though jumah is conveniently timed for anyone who works. It's right in the middle of the day and it would always run over an hour lunch. Maybe the ones who were there were the ones who didn't have to work? But then it's not like they were talking. They came in, found their spots and sat. I guess they could have talked afterward, but even while the men were all chatting (after the service) and mingling, the women just sat there in silence.

  5. Hmmm. That strikes me as very strange.

    Although I haven't really been to any proper mosque, in the Sufi meetings I attended both women and men prayed (albeit women behind men).

  6. Becky,

    It seemed strange to me too.

    I could understand some of them, of course, like the older woman, and a few of the women sat in the very back with me, so I assume that they were exempt from salat that week. But all of the others? I can't think of a good reason why.


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