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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

Note: This page has moved to a new address. Please click on the following URL to get there: http://chanad.weblogs.us/index.php?s=An Islamic Bill of Rights for Women. Sorry for the trouble.

An Islamic Bill of Rights for Women

Friday, September 10, 2004

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.

Read Asra Nomani's article about this Bill of Rights at Muslim Wakeup. Also, don't forget to check out her 'Sex & the Umma' column.

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3 Responses to 'An Islamic Bill of Rights for Women'

Blogger Scorpio says:

Interesting your point about the need for women to get more involved in Islam to control the extremists.

I picked up a copy of Quintan Wiktorwitz’s latest, where in the case of Bahrain the opposite’s argued. According to the guy who rights a chapter on Islamism here, their cause got a major boost in the mid 90s from Bahrain University’s intake of large numbers of female students, creating a new group of aspiration educated young women, who were at the same time deeply imbued with Islamist ideas thanks to networks of preachers and the general current in the region.

It goes on to remark on their “lifestyle” Islamism – which I remember you touched on in an earlier post re that slick advert – borrowing identity politics from the West. What this seems to amount to though is crass consumerism and lots of eye shadow with a veneer of piety over the top.

Also mentions the Hash House in the rise of Islamism on the island. Whatever role it may have had I forgive it with those curries.    

Blogger Chanad says:

Yeah, I've heard about the book, but I havent got my hands on a copy yet. It seems like his assessment makes sense. Even though women played a significant role in the rise of Islamism in Bahrain it does seem to be this "lifestyle" Islamism, -- exactly as you have described it,... consumerism with a veneer of piety.

And actually, we do know of female suicide-bombers, and female terrorists in Palestine and Chechnya, and other places.

But my contention is that if women were able to find a place in the decision-making process of Islamist organizations (rather than just serving as pawns) things would be significantly different. Of course, this is entirely subjective, but I do feel that most women have a sensibility that men do not possess. I mean, if you have ever had a female significant other then you will know how they are able to sneakily achieve their goals without you ever knowing it :) This skill is particularly useful in the political arena, which is necessary to avoid violence. The Islamists generally have quite weak political skills, which is why they so often turn violent to achieve their goals.    

Anonymous Anonymous says:

We're not sneaky, well just a little. I have also often thought what a shame it is for women not to be more involved. It's not so much the sneaky part, but rather that women are doers-is that a word? They shoulder problems of all sorts, usually people problems, all day long, and they look for the end result so they can get on with the solution to the next problem. Of course, there is the side benefit that if men are "forced" to deal with women interacting in the mosque as equals, that perhaps they will eventually be seen and treated as equals.    

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