Hats off to Asra Nomani for coming up with this much needed document. After demanding her right to enter her mosque through the main entrance a few months back, she has now come up with an 'Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Mosque'. Recent developments like these really show that a genuine reform of Islam is being led by American Muslims more than any anyone else. (Read Michael Muhammad Knight's report on last week's ISNA Conference).
You might think I'm joking, but I seriously think that one of the reasons that current representations of Islam are so screwed up is because men seem to hold the exclusive right to interpret the religion. I'm sure that if women were to have a stronger presence in determining the direction of the community things would be considerably different. For one thing, I don't think violence in the name of Islam would be invoked as frequently as it is today. I think this Bill of Rights is a step towards achieving that goal. I do hope that women in Bahrain are also inspired by this and start demanding their rights in our mosques.
An Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Mosque
Women have an Islamic right to:
- enter a mosque.
- enter through the main door.
- visual and auditory access to the main sanctuary, or musalla.
- pray in the main sanctuary without being separated by a barrier.
- address any and all members of the congregation.
- hold leadership positions, including participation on the board of directors.
- be full participants in all congregational activities.
- lead and participate in meetings, study sessions, and other community activities without being separated by a barrier.
- be greeted and addressed cordially.
- respectful treatment and exemption from gossip and slander.