Posts Tagged mosque barriers

It’s all about control

Several weeks ago, one of my daughters had a school field trip that involved visiting a Hindu temple, a Christian church, and a mosque. A class project on world religions.

Actually, stop judging and body-shaming. My body is not an obscenity. If you don't like what I'm wearing, how about you try lowering your gaze??

Actually, stop judging and body-shaming. The female body is not an obscenity. If you don’t like what someone is wearing, how about lowering your gaze??

Along with the permission forms sent home for parents to sign came a letter from the teacher explaining the type of behavior and dress that would be required of the students. Much of it was very reasonable, reminding the students that these are places of worship, so they needed to behave respectfully. But the girls were also told that they needed to wear long, loose pants (preferably sweatpants) and headscarves when they were at the mosque.

I paused, reading this letter. The field trip was going to take place in the afternoon, in the middle of the week. They would not be attending Friday Prayers, or any congregational prayer. They were not going to pray, either—they were there to see the building, and to hear the imam explain a bit about Islam and the community and the kinds of rituals and activities that would normally take place in a mosque.

In other words, what on earth would be the reason for requiring a bunch of mostly non-Muslim teenage girls to wear headscarves?? Or even to worry about what they might or might not be wearing on their legs??

My daughter wasn’t bothered by this, however. Because she took it for granted that somehow, a girl entering a mosque with uncovered hair or limbs profanes the mosque. And she was proud that at least she knew better than to even think of doing that, unlike some of the non-Muslim girls in her class, who didn’t seem to understand that you have to really watch what you wear to the mosque.

I pointed out to her that when I had first visited that same mosque in the early ’80’s, I saw women wearing short-sleeved, tight, scoop-necked shalwar kameez entering that mosque with transparent dupattas loosely draped over part of their heads and not concealing much of their hair, in order to attend Friday Prayers. They entered through the main door, along with everyone else. Then, they went up to the women’s balcony, put on the large white cotton prayer khimars that were kept there for all those women who did not come to the mosque dressed “suitably” for prayer, prayed, and left at the end of the service.

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Rereading “Status of Woman in Islam” (V)

(and we continue discussing “the spiritual aspect”…)

“Although women can and did go into the mosque during the days of the prophet and thereafter attendance at the Friday congregational prayers is optional for them while it is mandatory for men (on Friday).

This is clearly a tender touch of the Islamic teachings for they are considerate of the fact that a woman may be nursing her baby or caring for him, and thus may be unable to go out to the mosque at the time of the prayers. They also take into account the physiological and psychological changes associated with her natural female functions.”


Early 80’s ghost: I don’t know why, but this sounds a little… off, I guess. The way the first sentence is worded, it sort of sounds as though whether women can go to the mosque is a question. But why would it be? Why wouldn’t any member of the community be able to enter a place of prayer?? Am I missing something here?

Commentator: Your instincts are correct—there is a long-standing debate among Muslims about whether women can go to the mosque at all, and if they can, what the conditions and limitations on their attendance are.

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Dignity and invisibility

A couple of days ago, I walked into a store, looking for a plain, simple three-quarter length sleeve tunic. Something that would be light enough to wear over pants during the summer. In a neutral or quiet color, such as beige or light blue.

The salesperson asked if she could help with anything, and I said that I was looking for a tunic. She directed me to a rack with several different styles and colors. Some with bright blue patterns. Some with purple flowers. Some that were a very bright turquoise.

I shrank inwardly—I didn’t think that I’d like the way they looked on me—but tried them on anyway. Bright blue patterns didn’t suit me. Neither did purple flowers. As I had expected. I had somewhat more hope for the turquoise tunic, but when I looked at myself in the mirror, I quickly decided against it. The fit wasn’t right, but even more problematic was the color….

“That color looks great on you,” commented the salesperson.

“But you could see me from ten miles away in this!” I said, trying to sound like I was joking, but feeling really uneasy at the idea of ever wearing anything like this outside. “Do you have this in any other color?”

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