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In the Name of God: The Eternally and Everlastingly Loving and Caring

I was blessed to attend the 52nd Annual Concention in Chicago this past weekend. Among the many great sessions was the launch of the campaign to make mosques in America more woman-friendly. It was an electrifying session. 

Yet, not only did I witness the launch of this initiative, but I was blessed to add my own signature on both forms of the document: online and on paper. 

  

For a long time, Muslim women have complained that their spaces were woefully inadequate. They were absolutely right. In fact, despite the beauty of the mosque in Paris, which I was blessed to visit recently, the women’s space was terrible. 

For such a long time, it seemed little was being done about it. Well, now things have changed. The Islamic Society of North America, the largest American Muslim organization, is trying to do something about it. 

The statement ISNA released reads as follows: 

We, the undersigned Muslim scholars, leaders, organizations and concerned Muslims, voice our strong commitment to uphold and realize the Prophetic ideal of masjids being open and inclusive of women. Striving to realize the Prophetic model, we call upon all masjids to ensure that (1) women are welcomed as an integral part of masjids and encouraged to attend, (2) women have a prayer space in the main musalla which is behind the lines of men but not behind a full barrier that disconnects women from the main musalla and prevents them from seeing the imam; and (3) women actively participate in the decision-making process of the masjid, best realized by having women on the governing bodies of masjids.

The full statement outlines the theological basis for their stance. 

It’s about time! 

This initiative is the result of the hard work of scores of Muslim women (and men) who have strived to make mosques and Islamic institutions live up to the Quranic ideal: 

The believing men and the believing women are awliya’ (supporters, helpers, protectors, patrons) of one another: they (both) enjoin what is known to be good and forbid what is known to be bad; they establish salah and pay zakah; and they obey God and His Messenger. These are the ones on whom Allah will bestow mercy—indeed Allah is exalted in power, wise (9:71).

There is no way to live up to this ideal if our sisters, who are at least half of the community, have to enter the mosque from the side or pray in a terrible space. 

I’m so proud to be a signatory. I’m so grateful to have been there to witness the launch of the campaign. And I pray that these noble words of truth and commitment translate into concrete action and results. Our sisters deserve as much. 

It’s about time. 

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