Family and Community
Mosques are Missing the Point
The room was silent as the scholar spoke to an attentive crowd. People had traveled from far distances to give their ears to a beautiful sermon about the annual Hajj, its rights, and, most importantly, to learn to cultivate the same awe of the All-Mighty that the Prophet Abraham [peace be upon him] exhibited. Though the general setup of the room was theater style, with all the men on the right side and all the women on the left, at the very front of the men’s section sat a woman who seemed to not be familiar with the setup and culture of the mosque, along with her husband and two children. No one else occupied any seats in that row. As the lecture was going on, one, then two, and finally three different men came up to the woman and whispered to her, “This is the men’s section, you need to get up and sit with the women.”
Towards the end of the sermon, as the Shaykh began relating points about the ritual slaughter, the man sitting at the front with his family very calmly stood up and slowly began to speak. “Shaykh, today is the first time I am coming to a mosque in 20 years. I have not prayed in twenty years. My wife who is sitting in the front with me is a Christian and it is her first time ever in a mosque. During your lecture, three different men have approached my wife and asked her to move to the women’s side of the room. She does not know a single person here and does not feel comfortable sitting by herself. Hence, we sat in the front row together.”
At this point the woman began to get up, pick up her coat, and ready her children to leave the mosque. The man continued, “I received an e-mail about this lecture and thought it would be a good opportunity for me to begin the path to God, but it seems I was wrong. Please e-mail me again once this community welcomes Christians like my wife to be a part of your community. Good bye.”
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As the man and his family began walking out, the Shaykh beckoned to him, “No, you don’t have to leave! That’s fine, you can sit in the front with your family!” Before most of the crowd could figure out what happened, the family had walked out.
The Shaykh stopped lecturing and put his head down for a solid thirty seconds. He finally addressed the crowd in a sad, anger-laced, yet calm voice, “We just witnessed a real ritual slaughter.”
There was peak silence in the room.
He then went on, “We need to come to terms with reality that most Muslims do not have a beard, wear hijab, or attend the mosque. Most do not want to go to the mosque because of incidents like this. Many Muslims who I grew up with became closer to Islam through sources outside the mosque, and those are the lucky ones who found a different outlet. But many, such as my own extended family members will not have anything to do with the mosque because of incidents like this. We must stop forcing our own cultural customs on people and show them what care, respect, and understanding mean. Until and unless we welcome non-religious people with open arms to our Islamic centers and create a positive environment, we cannot expect our mosques to grow.”
Without the Shaykh seeing them, the family which had initially walked out, quietly made their way back into the lecture hall. A few brothers and sisters had profusely apologized for what happened and were able to convince them to return to the lecture. The room was still reverberating with the Shaykh’s words. Finally he spoke, “As of now we are ending this lecture. What we have heard and seen is enough. Assalamu Alaikum.”
The Shaykh started to walk off the podium not long before attendees in the crowd began pleading with him to continue. The Shaykh refused, but finally when he saw the family back in the first row, he resumed the lecture where he left off (may Allah bless him).
This is a true story of an incident that I personally witnessed at a masjid I do not regularly attend in the United States. Though this is just one story, I am sure many of you reading this can relate and may have experienced something to a similar degree in your Muslim communities. Instead of seeing this as another story from which we don’t know how or where to proceed, let us derive a few lessons to begin working on:
1. Mosques must serve Muslims regardless of their perceived religiosity level. We must be very careful of catering to the minority at the expense of the majority.
2. Be cognizant of everyone’s individual levels. If a man urinated in the masjid yet was not offended after he was advised, then it behooves us to study the manner in which that advice was given and follow a similar example in correcting people.
3. The mosque needs to be a hospital for the broken, not a guild for “good people.” Everyone was welcome to the mosque of the Prophet .
4. If you are part of the community leadership, it is your duty to do everything in your ability to make guest speakers and scholars feel respected and appreciated by the community and attendees.
At the very least, I hope this post can spawn a discussion amongst those of you who are experiencing similar difficulties in your communities. Leave a comment, question, etc. at the bottom.
May Allah rectify our situations and let our communities flourish with ease.
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December 18, 2012 at 12:55 AM
nice,no doubt we should care about these things,
December 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM
December 21, 2012 at 8:10 AM
Thanks for posting this. You are exactly right. There is too much harshness in our communities but most are in denial about this. I’ve seen far too many converts leave islam for this reason. It is time for a change.
March 7, 2016 at 7:51 PM
So, is this article suggesting that rules should be changed because of the few who refused to follow them?
The man sat with his wife in the front line clearly knowing that there should be segregation of gender; especially while praying in the masjid. His only reason for going against the rules was because his wife knew no one in the female side. That seems like arrogance to me. You want the path of Allah; yet you can’t follow simple rules? There are many non-Muslims who visit the masjid knowing no one, are VERY respectful, and will do all they can to follow the simple rules even if it means asking people.
When you want to start walking your path towards God, you must start with humbleness and the willingness to obey even when you’re not comfortable.
The people at the masjid did not seem rude nor did they say his Christian wife wasn’t welcome. They simply asked for her to go to the female side. The husband decided to storm out (according to the article) on his own account.
Stop being apologetic for what shouldn’t be apologised for. This is insane. Such arrogance (what I felt through what I read).
December 18, 2012 at 1:25 AM
Shukran for the very important point you’ve made, and providing us with another way of seeing things. We are often quick to judge or enforce our beliefs on others without taking into account what their situation is. Inshaa Allah, may Allah grant us all tolerance, patience and understanding in all facets of life, enabling us to get closer to Him and follow the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) to the best of our ability. Aameen.
December 18, 2012 at 1:26 AM
Jazak Allah khayr brother. I love the line, “The mosque needs to be a hospital for the broken, not a guild for “good people.”
You’re absolutely right. We’re fortunate to have a Muslim community center in my town. When I go there, I learn about Islam, and I also make friends, have fun, and sometimes eat good food.
On the other hand, when I go to the masjid, I make no friends. I have been going to this particular masjid for four years and no one there has ever introduced themselves to me.
If a non-Muslim came to me and wanted to learn about Islam, I would never send them to the masjid. They would be lucky if anyone even spoke to them. It’s a real shame.
December 18, 2012 at 11:35 AM
This is in response to Wael Abdelgawad… I think one must know the difference between a Muslim Community Center and a Masjid. Your experience you say, was great at the MCC while in the Masjid you felt the opposite. There is a certain etiquette to attending a Masjid – the House of Allah; and probably that was what you saw but understood it otherwise. A person is highly discouraged to socialize, talk, buy or sell in a Masjid. No-one’s activity/socializing should be a means of disturbance to those worshippers who want to offer their prayers with full khushoo’.
May Allah Forgive me if I have said something wrong. Amen
December 18, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Muslim Community Center and Mosque are used interchangeably in most parts of the country. If the place is legitimately not considered a mosque, then usually it is known/announced.
December 19, 2012 at 10:53 AM
In Masjids : A new religion is taught. Don’t you feel that way. A masjid in the time of prophet was a place to gather organize , improve the society , besides the ritual of praying. Now the Masjid is meant only for rituals. No wonder we Muslims have the least development economically and scientifically. Reason : Sticking to the rituals and leaving behind the spirit of self and societal improvement..
Prophet did not even disturb the man Urinating , yet after completion he talked to him.
Now About the woman sitting on the Men’s side with her Husband. What was it that bad , that could not be awaited to complete the talk and then talk to the man and women and find out the reason. Women to befriend her and her children.Shower their love on her children. The whole new generation got distracted from that intolerant and impatient behavior by these self righteous people .
Prophet also said : If the person who is wrong stops the argument , the place is periphery of Jannah, and the person who is right still stops the argument , the place is the center of Jannah . but the person who improves his /her own behavior , the palce is higher up in Jannah. the spirit of this is emphasis on self improvement in good conduct and behavior. Instead what we see : Intolerant behavior . My way or our way is only the best and right way and not only that become Judges of others instead of leaving it to God.. I have seen even worst incidents :
where even the reading of Qur’an is being prevented in the Masjid. stating it Bid aaa. This is how Tunnelled vision some of Us have become. A bereaving family is prevented from reading Qur’an . ( When in Qur’an it clearly says : Tat aminnal Quloob be zikrillah. Hearts achieve peace by the Zikr of God.)
I would like to see Qur’an read for what ever reason. It is so nauseating sickly behavior of some who stop reading of the qur’an in a Masjid. Some call it Halqah some call it Qatmul Qur’an , it gives a chance for the young to take part in the reading of Qur’an , some Quran read is better than none at all. If the youth come in and read even a chapter in English and understand and try to inculcate in their lives , hey it is great. It is a like a read and feed session. That the Indo – Pak families do at times of happiness or distress.
Yet these self appointed judges , start bull dosing their way upon a large population and the result , is a large population avoids even entering the Masjid. Same story that happened to the christian lady also happens to the Muslims too. Thus in the Masjid some just try to bull dose their way claiming ” authenticity and authority ” which is just meaningless.
When a person is bereaving : for what ever reason : loss of a parent or a child. it is when the mind and heart is most receptive It is when if Qur’an is read and understood , it is most meaningful
Reading of the Qur’an is not for the dead person or even God , it is for our own betterment. It is like a manual sent to us by our Creator for our well being . He does not needs anything out of it or out of us , other than good behavior.towards our parents children and fellow human beings.
The sooner Their self rightours people stop “saying if you read Qur’an you will go to hell” the better it will for the Umma
Whatever traditional people want to read let them read and encourage them to read in English or urdu or bengali or Persian or Pashtu .The language they understand.And slowly keep teaching the beautiful language of Arabic. So one day we will have newer generation who will speak Arabic and Understand. too.
Do we not do the Tareeveh and most of the Indo pak and Afghans do not understand what is being read . but do they stop the tareeveh. No So then why stop the reading of Qur’an : the Read and Feed session that is done at times of Bereavement and or happiness. This one atleast is informal you can pick up a urdu or bengali version and read.
So why stop people from reading Qur’an in the Masjid crying bidaah bidaah .
This is why Some one has said rightly : A new religion is taught in Masajid. What was done to that christian woman is being done to many Muslim families not allowing them to read Qur’an in Masjid and people do it at their homes staying away from the” Judges who state hell is awaiting for those doing Qatamul Qur’an _ Bidaaa.”
December 20, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Just as some commentators are insinuating that I should not have put up this article because now people will make an excuse not to attend the masjid, there are people out there who don’t want us to discuss community issues because “it will cause fitnah.” Let us be very careful not to take our religion out of context. When it comes to fixing a situation, Hafidh ibn Kathir said that Allah equated the word “fitnah” to injustice and wrongdoing, not the process of rectification. Rather, this post is a means of أمر المعروف و نهي عن المنكر (Enjoining in good and forbidding the wrong) and a means to rectification, inshaAllah.
December 20, 2012 at 1:06 PM
masjid must means a place of prostration. sometimes the masjid is only a masjid and other times it can be a place for community. For example, many masjids have family nights and invite politicians to come address the people. We all need to stand up for Allah and his messenger and leave our cultural stuff behind. You are not special because you are African or Indian (or American), you are special because Allah has chosen you to belong to His deen. Too many born Muslims now living in America don’t see it that way.
December 20, 2012 at 8:41 PM
Dear Nihal and Greg,
Islam is the most misunderstood religeon. We have been traditionally brain washed to fear Allah. This is wrong. Love Allah is what I keep telling people. Its hard to change age old traditions because the repercussions are severe. I am with you, brother. Be in touch.
Yours in Islam,
December 27, 2012 at 12:31 AM
@Mary, no complete segregation Except in prayer? What about this hadith “RasulullahSAW was asked about a man mixing with his brothers wife & heSAW replied:”the #brotherInLaw is like death”
@Miraz, Fearing Allah is just as important as loving Allah. Allah says: “Verily! Those who fear their Lord unseen theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward” [Q67:12]
The 3 men had every right to get upset. Because Allah says lower your gaze, and how could they have done that when this lady just sat right infront of all the men. It meant all the men might have been disobeying Allah. If I was there I would have been the 4th.
She felt uncomfortable sitting with fellow women, but didn’t mind sitting with in the mens section?..strange.
Finally, rules had been set, and I’m sure whoever set the rules wasn’t ignorant but a knowledgeable person. – Men on one side, women on the other. Being a newcomer, whether in school, office, market, isn’t it always preferable to just follow the rules?????
July 31, 2015 at 4:19 PM
@ I_Luv_Islam (twitter)
This maybe 2 years later but I must reply. If the Prophet (pbuh) could watch a person urinate in the mosque and let him finish before explaining to him why that’s inappropriate, these 3 men couldn’t wait till after the sheikh was finished talking?
They were in the first row as a family, no one else was sitting there. You ask how she wasn’t comfortable with women but she was with men, clearly it states the first row was empty. Your saying the back of her head was distracting to the men behind her?
You miss the point and clearly you know more or better than the skeikh that was there? He was ready to walk out for what those three men did because they caused the family to leave. No one saw this family before and the wife was new there. Even she was wrong to sit there, it could have waited till after when perhaps one of the brothers could speak with the husband and introduce the wife to his wife so she has someone to show her the right way and she’s be comfortable. But what the 3 of them did and your proud statement of you would be the fourth if you were there … It shows a lack of humility and compassion. Again, the Prophet (pbuh) waited to correct the man and those brothers could have waited. Instead they embarrassed them in front of the entire mosque and could have caused the non-muslim wife to maybe never come back or convert because of that experience.
Again, its not about them being wrong to sit there or not but how they handled it.
June 20, 2016 at 10:45 AM
I sympathise with your plight. But may I enquire if you have taken the initiative to introduce yourself.
December 18, 2012 at 1:27 AM
That story is a shocker, but I was glad to hear the family came back in. The way the shaikh dealt with the situation was excellent, masha’Allah. Good article!
December 18, 2012 at 2:20 AM
From the story it seems the situation was able to be salvaged and end well because:
1. The three people who spoke to the woman, even though they did not think about whether the request could have the best outcome, seemed to have at least done so politely.
2. The husband of the woman, though not practicing for years, had the courage to stand up for his family and was able to calmly correct the gathering of their error and chose to protect his family.
3. The Shaykh was able to immediately see the correct priority of Muslim values in the situation and acted accordingly.
4. Some of the Muslims in the gathering took on the “kifayah” duty of recalling the family and apologising, because it was the right thing to do, and immediately acted to amend their collective error.
5. The man and wife was not too proud and had enough sincerity to overlook the hurt and were open to reconcile.
And thus the lecture could continue and the best outcome obtained. Just think of how many of these elements would so easily be missing in the many similar congregations in mosques across the Muslim world. Any of us could be in the place of any of the 5 parties above who needed to act correctly in the situation.
December 18, 2012 at 2:44 AM
I didnt see any wrong by telling the women to go woman section its our way and Adab , if hé didnt come for 20 years so on is between him and Allah and why ? In islam its the way Of our deen and adab oh how muslims mines start changing ya satir usturna ya Allah.
Jezakum khair for sharing Mosqu are always open for any one just lets respect our way and also when anyone need to go any office any place in USA people read and search about it why not our place Of worship!
December 18, 2012 at 7:20 AM
“Our way” is not everyones way.
I am a convert to Islam. I grew up as a Christian.
I myself avoid mosque’s because I am uncomfortable with seeing this complete seperation of men and women(especially when the women are seperated into a different room completely apart from the men)
If Islam is to attact more converts and people are to understand what they presently have of complete distortion of(non-Muslim), then Islam needs to welcome one and all and quit with this “Our way” mentality.
Allah only sees a difference in humans in the religiousness and piety. Man or woman, neither is above the other spiritually.
December 20, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Just curious why in Hajj men and women are not separated. Is it only there that Muslims should be weary of Allah’s anger?
March 7, 2016 at 8:00 PM
Islam is not to “attract” more convert. Christianity is the one that bands its back and changes its religious values to attrack more people.
Islam has one way; the way of Allah. People are invited towards it and they either accept it ir reject it for or against their own soul. We are the ones who have to give up what we’re comfortable with in order to receive what Allah has commanded us. We have to follow the rules; not change them. We’re not doing any favours to Allah by being Muslim. It’s the contrary; we’re the ones benefiting our own souls and eternity.
December 18, 2012 at 7:31 AM
Tell me everyone reading this article…..
If Christians walked into the masjid before Zuhr on Friday, and wanted to pray with you, how would you respond to them?
This happened in my community.
December 18, 2012 at 11:35 AM
As was done for me: State succinctly that Muslims are worshipping the One Creator only, that we honor all prophets and are specifically praising Prophet Muhammad (saws) in the prayers, and that the visitors are welcome to follow along with the actions or sit on the side to watch.
December 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM
I’d say, “Welcome! Do you want to pray as Muslims do, or would you be more comfortable praying separately in a Christian manner?”
December 18, 2012 at 8:13 PM
The first time they came, a very astute Brother talked to them and answered their questions.
The second time they came, the same brother was not there and the Christians lined up next to the Muslims to pray.
They went through prayer and the Christians did as they did.
After the kitbah, they took them to a private room and told them they could not pray with them again.
Now tell me……. why not? If they were there to worship and pray to Allah(God) and not Jesus, then where is the problem?
If any Muslim were to go to a Christian church, the minister(most of them) would welcome you openly. Yes…..some of the congregation would him and haw, but you would still be welcome to pray. If when they pray, you were to break prayer when Jesus’s name was evoked, where is the sin to you?
Allah is most forgiving and I am sure he would understand the very importance of praying together to bring us closer together.
Remember……. Allah tells us that the Christians are most like us and closest to us in worship.
December 20, 2012 at 12:29 AM
I think you’re mixing between two issues. Can you please elaborate on what you are trying to say?
March 7, 2016 at 8:05 PM
I would welcome them with OPEN arms as all the masjids already do. Even in this article, no one pushed the lady away. She was simply told to move to the female side; rightfully so. I find it quite arrogant of her husband to think he could break the rules simply because his wife knew no one in the female section and would feel uncomfortable. Many non-Muslims visit the masjid and are always respectful and even ask when they don’t know.
December 18, 2012 at 1:03 PM
As someone who was there, there really wasn’t any adab.in the way they asked her. Their whispering was more like loud talking, and then they impeded the shaykh’s view of the crowd while he was speaking.
December 18, 2012 at 2:05 PM
It is always amazing to me how culture ALWAYS seems to trump religion, even in a religious setting. I have never seen anything in the sunnah that suggests that there should be absolute and complete segregation of the sexes EXCEPT during the prayer itself. In this case it was not a prayer, but a lecture. This is a cultural practice deeply rooted in Bedouin tradition. I have, however, seen reference in the sunnah in how to welcome and advise people in an appropriate manner. Shame on those who do not truly know their deen and push those weak in faith or those reaching out further away from Islam.
December 27, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Prophet MuhammadSAW said that the biggest trial he has left for the men is women… And your saying the only time we shouldn’t mix is during prayer?
…….Consider what happened with prophetMusa AS when the women wanted to lead him to their father? He told them to walk BEHIND him and throw stones to show him the way! He didn’t even want to hear their voices! If a prophet who is so pure takes such precautions, then what do you think ordinary people like us should do?
November 12, 2015 at 5:12 PM
Salaam. Mary your point is very right. As far as I am aware the complete segregation issue is culturally set and not based on sunnah. Secondly those who believe the women was wrong to sit where she did is beside the point. The family were together, she had her husband with her so it really wasn’t such a big deal. It was the lack of manners & courtesy that created the problem as well as arrogance. If brothers are unable to control their desires because a women is in front of them they have a serious problem. Its not the women they should be concentrating on. In truth we have become intolerant to anything other than our beliefs. This is arrogance and in no way will produce a positive Muslim image.
December 18, 2012 at 3:12 AM
Salam alaikum wa Rahmatullah.
1) The person who hadn’t prayed for nearly 20 years was not a Muslim for those 20 years. He’s got a lot of nerve demanding acceptance when he himself abandoned his duty towards Allah for 20 years. Allah had mercy on him that he didn’t die during those 20 years.
2) He’s married to a Christian. Odds are, that woman, believes Isa (as) is the “son of god” (na3udhubillah). Yet another damning indicator of the man’s aqeedah.
3) Islam is a community for those who submit WILLINGLY and WHOLEHEARTEDLY to Allah. On matters of aqeedah, there are no LEVELS of religiosity, Mr. Khan. There are levels of iman. There are levels of ibadah. There are NOT levels of aqeedah. You are either Muslim in totality (awareness of tawheed, understanding of tawheed, acceptance of tawheed, declaration of tawheed, uncompromising about tawheed, defender of tawheed, establisher of tawheed)…or you ARE NOT.
4) If that man’s worship of Allah is conditional on his Jesus-worshiping wife being accepted by some murji masjid in the US, he is welcome to stay at home and keep checking his email.
5) I do not expect anyone to believe what I believe. I expect EVERYONE to believe what Rasul’Allah (saws) and Sahabas believes…that is, of course, if that person wants to save him/herself from Hellfire. The Qur’an is Allah’s final message to mankind and contrary to what the millions of people think, in the three ayats of Suratul Baqarah (2:255-257), Allah is not saying that it is OK to believe something other than Islam. He’s saying that He has established who He is (the One and Only God worthy of worship) and He’s made the correct path distinctly clear from the false path. After 124,000 prophets and Allah only knows how many books, you can either take the correct path or leave it. If you take it, He’s your Wali. If you don’t, Taghut will be your wali. Be sensible and make the right choice that saves you from Hellfire. This choice is not conditional on anything nor does it depend on one’s personal convenience.
6) And as for the rest of us, stop apologizing for Islam. Establish the deen of Allah regardless of how many numbers join you. Your Wali is Allah. Allah’s deen was not established by hordes, but by a few whose aqeedah was clear, whose iman was sincere, whose hope was only in Allah and whose way was the footsteps of Rasul’Allah and NOTHING ELSE. You, as daees, have no right to customize Islam to meet people’s ignorant 21st century palates. Either people will accept Muhammad’s (saws) message the way it is or they won’t.
Fee amanillah wa Salaam alaikum wa Rahmatullah.
December 18, 2012 at 3:25 AM
And WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE ???
March 7, 2016 at 8:14 PM
Oh please, just stop. If we use that same analogy, then NO one could speak on anything because that would be seen “judging”!
The guy spoke the truth and gave his two cents on the article. The comment section is here for that. You can’t expect everyone to agree with you.
The man in the article clearly seemed arrogant (based on how the article portrait him). He wanted the rules band for his wife. When asked to follow the rules, he makes it into a “you’re not welcoming” nonsense. If he can’t accept Islam the way it is, then you’re not ready to worship Allah. We have to seek for Allah’s pleasure by following the rules, we can’t expect the rules changed for us.
December 18, 2012 at 3:49 AM
Judging this man and his wife, seeking to exclude them from the community, refusing to allow his wife to sit on the other side – none of these things are a part of Islam. They are counter to the ways of our Prophet (SAWS). It is you who is customizing Islam.
December 18, 2012 at 4:16 AM
1) The man did not pray for twenty years because he may not have known of its obligation. Instead of sitting behind a computer screen and deeming him a kafir, it’s probably better to spend time with people and see how we can better our efforts in making the community more inclusive of others.
2) She probably does believe that. Nice to know you’re acquainted with the core beliefs of Christianity. I don’t see what you’re trying to say.
3) Mr. Zaman, I don’t know how you managed to bring in a discussion of aqeedah into a post about how masajid can work to be more welcoming to others. But hats off to your creativity. Would you be interested in writing for the arts section of MuslimMatters?
4) Murji’ masjid? Well, nice to know you’re reading up on your Islamic history. Funny how you just judged the man, his wife, and masjid (without knowing any of them) and basically say he shouldn’t have been there in the first place. You’re on a roll, buddy.
5) So if you’re giving da’wah to someone and make them feel uncomfortable, and they don’t want to hear you talk anymore, you’re saying that it’s their fault? That makes no sense what so ever. Expect from others what you would expect from them.
5) Of course we follow the Prophet (SAW) and what he believes. He (SAW) stopped the companions from pouncing on a man who was urinating in the masjid and wasn’t even a Muslim, yet his kind treatment caused him to utter the kalima and enter Islam. He (SAW) let a drunkard come to the masjid but told him to leave his bottle at the door. The man kept coming to the masjid, until he finally realized that drinking was not something a Muslim should be doing, hence he broke his bottles with his own hands. That’s the sunnah for you.
6) No one is apologizing or “customizing” the deen. You’re simply being completely irrelevant.
We are open to everyone’s comments on this post. But if you want to be taken seriously, then please stick to specific points and discuss them in a mature and focused manner. Don’t go all over the place and make statements which don’t make any sense.
December 18, 2012 at 8:22 AM
The point of this article is not about the fact that this man did not pray nor was it written so that we can pass judgement over any of the individuals mentioned in this article. So many people assume a self-righteous attitude these days when really what is needed is self-reflection and introspection. Allah (swt) will deal with the short-comings of His servants. For one to stand up in front of a group of people and relate his story and admit to his short-comings is extremely difficult but quite courageous. May Allah (swt) forgive our brother and may He guide him to the the straight path insha-allah. For Allah (swt) to give this man the opportunity to repent shows that He is special and has something to offer in the sight of Allah (swt). Let us be merciful to our brothers and sisters and forgo the arrogant attitude.
Secondly, the fact that this man is married to a Christian does not mean that we have the right to make assumptions about her. In Islam it is not forbidden for a man to take a Christian as his wife. Insinuations and assumptions are highly disliked in Islam. Allah (swt) willed this woman to enter the masjid and if she is seeking the truth then may Allah (swt) guide her.
You also don’t know that Allah (swt) may have brought this couple to the masjid so that we could wake up to ourselves as Muslims – we seem to have no mercy for others, regardless of whether they are Muslims or not. Such situations are a test of our character and our attitude towards others. Do you not believe that if the Sheikh had disregarded the incident and continued with the lecture that Allah (swt) would not question him about why he allowed a couple whom He had inspired to attend the masjid to leave on the Day of Judgement? I respect the Sheikh for the approach he took in dealing with this issue. May Allah (swt) reward him and grant him the highest level of Jannah.
I also don’t believe this article was about tawheed. I’m sure we are all aware of the basic principles of tawheed and we do not need to be lectured on this issue in regards to this article.
It is extremely upsetting to read some of the comments on this page. How is one supposed to seek guidance and enter into the fold of Islam if they are not introduced to it in some form or other. To refer to the husband’s wife as “Jesus-worshiping’ is quite disrespectful and disheartening. Allah (swt) is the one who guides and whether an individual previously worshiped idols, other gods or individuals, or nothing at all, know that it is Allah (swt) who can cause these individuals to seek the truth and turn back to their One and only Creator. We do not guide… nor are we in a position to judge such individuals because one day Allah (swt) may choose to guide them and they may have a higher rank with Allah (swt) than we ever will.
We need to know how to deal with those who are trying to reconnect with their faith. We never deliberately make it difficult on an individual who is trying to move closer to Allah (swt). Alhamdulillah our beloved Prophet (salallahu a3layhi wasalam) was sent as a mercy to mankind and indeed he was a mercy. Now we just have to emulate his character and deal with others in the manner that he would have dealt with them. Islam is not rigid – do not make it a religion of difficulty because indeed it is a religion of ease. Stop trying to fit everyone into a single mould. There are individuals at different stages of their iman and we need to accommodate them otherwise we will be questioned about the role we played in allowing them to become distant from the religion.
It’s all about mercy and loving for your brother what you love for your self. May Allah (swt) unite us and allow us to be an inclusive community – one that accepts all those who seek Allah’s guidance.
Jazakallah Kheir for such an inspiring article. Insha-allah we continue to see scholars using wisdom to deal with such issues.
December 18, 2012 at 1:05 PM
Thank you Manal.
December 18, 2012 at 10:09 PM
You should write articles too
December 19, 2012 at 1:54 PM
I can totally see this happening. I reverted about 21 years ago alhumdulilah. The people at this masjid were warm and welcoming t me. may Allah bless them all.And for the brother passing judgement on the man, mashaAllah! Allahu Akbar! This man came back. Two of my very dear, dear friends reverted to Islam after one being married about 15 years and the other after almost 19 years.
Masjids need to get the youth involved more, follow the Quran and Sunnah and NOT culture and welcome all people. And truly Allah knows best.
December 20, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Thanks Mommaof. A succession plan is something most mosques are definitely lacking.
December 19, 2012 at 3:04 PM
Saad your mentality is the reason Muslims have such a negative image in the world today. I suggest you learn from the lessons of our prophet who judged NO ONE, and welcomed EVERYONE with open arms, regardless of their past.
December 19, 2012 at 9:02 PM
November 12, 2015 at 5:17 PM
Have you re-read your comment? You talk of Islam and following sunnah but your statement shows quite the opposite of how you don’t follow the sunnah. Allah called him back, he is most forgiving and merciful. It doesn’t matter what he did previously he is attempting to do the right thing now. I hope a non Muslim never has you as his role model. I would be distraught.
December 18, 2012 at 3:28 AM
WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE HIM, HIS FAMILY AND HIS ACTION?? WHO ARE YOU TO POINT THE FINGER AND SAY HE WAS NOT A MUSLIM FOR 20 YEARS? WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE HIS WIFE BELIEFS ? WHO ARE YOU??
January 3, 2013 at 10:56 AM
Who are we not to judge his wife’s beliefs? lol–when Allah has said in the quran that Christianity is a false, and ridiculous religion in its irrational affirmations that Jesus is the son of God? It seems that you think even Allah should not judge, subhanallah.
@Nihal: you see, your article has opened the path for the modernistic liberals, the promoters of intermixing of the sexes, the proponents of alcohol, the defenders of homosexuality to begin wagging their tongues, declaring all of these prohibitions to be due to cultural influences, and for what? So that a man married to a Christian, who brazenly and knowingly married, knowing that his children would probably be Christian too, and was indifferent to it, can be not judged? Personally, I don’t care about the man. But the masjid? Let’s have some respect in the masjid. When the Prophet told his Sahaba to not beat the man who urinated, he did not tell the bedouin to continue urinating, and still the Sahaba not to beat him. He forbade the man from urinating again. Yet that is not what you are saying, Nihal. You are saying that we should let the woman continue to violate the masjid’s sanctity and still we should not say anything. In fact, you have cast aspersion on the good brothers who followed the command of the Prophet “when you see something wrong, fix it with your hand…”
December 18, 2012 at 3:32 AM
The family was a bit precious for demanding to change the customs of a Muslim gathering. The husband should have known the etiquette of the need for his wife to sit with other women. He failed in that regard. Men and women do not sit together in a mosque and this is a world wide practice. The man and his wife behaved like spoilt brats with no due respect for the insitution and requirements of a religious gathering. That imam was overly emotional about the issue. The family had to be reminded that they were not sitting in a broadway theatre nor was it a church.
December 18, 2012 at 1:10 PM
They were not ‘demanding’ anything. No one told them that the masjid may have had a certain expectation of how people were to sit. If the man has not stepped foot in a mosque in twenty years, how is he to know the way things work in that specific mosque? Educating is the community’s obligation.
December 21, 2012 at 4:28 AM
If you walk into a big room and all the men are sitting on one side and all the woman on the other, I think you will automatically draw some conclusions.
March 7, 2016 at 8:19 PM
What education? The man clearly knew! The reason why he did not want his wife to sit with the women was because he didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable because she knew no one else! That’s arrogance!
December 19, 2012 at 7:26 PM
At our masjid in Detroit, the men and women sit together. This is how we’ve been doing it since it was established 50 years ago. People who assume this is a big problem really miss out on the entire point of islam and getting close to God.
December 18, 2012 at 4:04 AM
Moreover every institution has rules and regulations. When you sit in an airline cabin and pull a cigarette out to smoke you will be quickly told by all around you that you are breaking a rule. Men and women have seperatte toilets in public places…no one complains about that. When you enter certain golf clubs you must adhere to strict dress code otherwise you cannot enter. No one complains about that and in fact we look up to such a place for its exclusivity. The point is that mosques have rules fully accepted by the vast majority of Muslims. That man and his family behaved as if the mosque owed them exclusion from normal etiquettes and rules to make them feel welcome. The mosque and the religion owes no one special rights. You attend because you want to become close to God and you follow the rules and not seek to bend them.
December 18, 2012 at 1:16 PM
Care, informing others, and being open are what help these rules get implemented. Our role as community members is not to say “these are our rules, follow them,” rather, take each person by the hand with a smile and welcome them. You can use your own example, do airlines first say “these are our rules, follow them” when you get on a plane? Instead, they first welcome you onto the aircraft, make sure you’re comfortable, and then explain the rules to you.
December 18, 2012 at 8:57 PM
Rules for worship????
Are you serious?
Tolerance of others outside of Islam is what is needed.
I will pray that Allah does not hold us to the “rules” of worship and etiquette in gatherings as long as our intention is clear and seen by Him.
None of us are perfect Muslims.
I am a sinner and will be so when I die.
This woman deserved respect that was not given at first.
Christians need to learn that Islam encompasses all and quit being so rigid about the “rules” when a situation such as this arises.
March 7, 2016 at 8:21 PM
THANK YOU!!!!! Exactly!
December 18, 2012 at 5:50 AM
I don’t have a problem with the family sitting together in the front row, but the other three men were also in the right to suggest to the woman that she sit on the other side of the auditorium. That is one of our customs, and we expect people visiting our facilities to adhere to them. The same would be true if we Muslims were to visit a church or other religious facility. Likewise, none of us would be allowed to munch through a box of popcorn while attending a play or the opera, even though such behavior is acceptable at the cinema. Perhaps the husband had forgotten about the gender segregation, but it’s not like he couldn’t have researched what the expectations might have been beforehand. The non-religious can be allowed to enter our mosques or Islamic centers if the management so permits, but the former still have to abide by our rules.
December 18, 2012 at 7:59 AM
This incident seems very odd to me. I can imagine it happening in a Western country, but not here in SE Asia. Here, such an outburst by the husband would have been considered very rude, and the wife and husband, but especially the husband, losing a tremendous amount of face among the other people present. No one would have chased after the family because, who would want to associate with them after the lecture? If my daughter was older, I’d present this article to her with the admonition that, “This is not how we behave in a mosque or Islamic center.” But, insha’allah, she would know that already.
December 18, 2012 at 8:28 PM
I believe the author is trying to educate us that based on Hadith, which is true as I have actually read both Malik’s and Bukhari’s books, this way we perceive the situation in SE Asia, is NOT the Prophet’s sunnah. The way this masjid reacted – the Shaykh, and the congregation who came after them – IS.
WE are the ones who have to question our masjid culture if OUR ‘norms’ of how to react to this situation is NOT consistent with our Prophet’s example. Just because it’s how it is in SE Asia and so forth, does not mean it is the right approach, if it conflicts with the Prophet’s approach. It’s not just what is right and not right, correct and not correct, that is important, but the APPROACH of how you cultivate that sense in each other, is important as well, and from the Prophet’s example, apparently often MORE IMPORTANT.
We never think about the consequences of the HOW, only this is wrong, this is right. Whereas the Prophet was sent to teach, and as all teachers know (and all parents should learn), the how is extremely important. Often overlooking a wrong thing right now, to focus on teaching a how that will over time fix the wrong thing by itself later, is the best way. This is wisdom. Our ways do not have wisdom.
December 19, 2012 at 9:08 PM
December 18, 2012 at 6:34 AM
I am troubled by the premise of this article. I think you wanted the article to be about how mosques should be open and welcoming to everyone regardless of wheether they are relgious or even Muslim. I agree. Who wouldn’t.
However, you ended up saying that because there are certain rules to be followed when in the mosque (by Muslims if they follow the faith and by non-Muslims out of courtesy and respect) that reminding someone to follow them MAY make them feel uncomfortable and therefore should be avoided at all costs.
I actually think its despicable that the man who didn’t pray for 20 years suddenly abdicated all responsibility for his lack of following the faith and placed it squarely on the congregation simply because a few people asked (politely it would seem) that perhaps his wife should sit with the other women.
December 18, 2012 at 1:30 PM
Thanks for your response.
Perhaps it came off that way, but the rules aspect isn’t what I’m necessarily tackling in the article. It’s how we have expectations from people without informing them. or giving them a clue of how things may be at the mosque.
As per being asked, I should add that the man and his family were basically embarrassed in front of the whole congregation. Each time a man would ask the sister to move, he would basically interrupt the whole lecture and have the whole community look at the couple sitting at the front.
December 18, 2012 at 6:45 AM
Mosques should be open and welcoming, but that does not mean we change our rules simply to make others comfortable. Sometimes we need to think about where our arguments are going.
Example, a smoker comes into the mosque and lights up. The view expressed by the story in your article would advocate not even asking them to stop because it would make him uncomfortable and he may not want to come back.
Example, a woman who does not pray but decided that she wants to come to the mosque. She is at an early stage and finds the gender segregation a bit much. She is more comfortable praying in the mens section. Shall we avoid upsetting her since she may walk out in a feminist huff?
When a man came to Masjid Nabawi and started urinating, some Sahaaba rebuked him strongly. The Prophet (SAW) stopped them and once he had finished, the Prophet (SAW) gently explained to him why this was not the right thing to do. He (SAW) taught us that we should be gentle when giving advice, rather than not to give it at all for fear of upsetting the other party.
Sorry brother Nihal – I don’t mean to have a go. I just think that there are many out there who will draw the wrong conclusion from this article.
December 18, 2012 at 8:58 AM
Mosques should feel welcoming to all, regardless fo where they are in their relationship with God. You are forgetting that a man once peed in the mosque of the prophet, and the prophet did not tell him to leave. Our mosques in America are unwelcoming, counter productive spaces because of this very mentality.
Mehdi Hasan Sheikh
December 18, 2012 at 12:27 PM
As Br Wajeed already pointed out, the man who urinated in the Masjid was corrected by the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wa sallam) and he never repeated it. That hadeeth was about the idea of being gentle when advising others towards the right thing. This man’s wife was advised to move to the ladies section, and nowhere was it indicated that she was treated harshly. Institutions have rules. Do we Muslims go to our work places and demand that the women cover up and people stop using vulgar language? No, because we don’t impose rules where they don’t belong. To me this was an example of a Christian woman who was just arrogant enough not to bother with the rules of a place she was visiting. Yes mosques should be inviting an open, but there are limits, and you don’t have to completely bend the rules just to accommodate someone’s unreasonable demands.
December 18, 2012 at 1:39 PM
Mehdi, see the comment where I replied to Wajid. The woman was embarrassed in front of the community in the way the people asked her to move.
Mehdi Hasan Sheikh
December 18, 2012 at 4:43 PM
The article said “As the lecture was going on, one, then two, and finally three different men came up to the woman and whispered to her”, so I assumed that as they “whispered” it was not in the open. Secondly if it was really in the open in front of the community and during the lecture, didn’t the imaam witness this? Why didn’t he correct them at that time instead of waiting for the man to blame the community for what was their own misunderstanding in the first place?
December 20, 2012 at 12:31 AM
If you’re in front of people giving a lecture, it’s important to zone out of everything going on around you so you can focus. The repeating measures of people coming over to the lady while blocking the imam’s view eventually went noticed when the man felt confronted. Allahu alam.
December 18, 2012 at 8:38 PM
Or, they could have waited for the lecture to finish, allowed them to listen and learn, and then AFTERWARD approached them to explain the rules; having first welcomed them and then perhaps offer to assist to facilitate for future visits. This will absolutely follow the Sunnah since the Prophet waited for the man to finish urinating, instead of pouncing at him while he was still doing the wrong thing and embarrassing him while he was in that indecent state. I agree with the author that interrupting the lecture, calling attention to them, etc. is NOT the best way.
I think some commenters might be defensive as they may see themselves in the position of the people doing the public whispering and interrupting, that they don’t differentiate between whether it was an excusable or right thing to do, and the *quality* of the approach, which is the real topic of the article. I hope that you will not be shown by Allah what it feels like to be the people who were embarrassed, what it feels like to have a child who becomes lost and not of the faith, or care for someone who becomes lost to non-practice. That will be when you will feel for yourself the Prophet’s anguish over his uncle, and wish deeply that after 20 years maybe he/she will be redeemed to Allah, and be received well in his/her efforts to return. Then you will understand, which you do not now because you cannot imagine how it could be other than his fault, for not practicing for 20 years or not doing this or that before the visit, and so on. May Allah spare you from learning in this painful way, and you learn the empathy in an easier way.
December 18, 2012 at 1:36 PM
I definitely agree with you here. But the question is whether someone is sensible enough to understand that he/she shouldn’t be smoking in the masjid.
As per this scenario, not a single person conveyed to the family about the mosque having certain rules. It was like slapping a kid in the face for doing something wrong, but the child had no clue.
Once again Wajid, thank you for being respectful in your response. I greatly appreciate it.
December 18, 2012 at 3:13 PM
Wa iyakum. It is very kind of you to say so.
May Allah make our Mosques beacons of light filled with welcoming worshippers
our not-as-practising brothers and sisters slow to take unintended offence and quick to forgive genuine mistakes.
Perhaps that duaa is something we can all agree on inshaAllah. Take care and thank you for making us think.
November 12, 2015 at 5:26 PM
I disagree. I got the point of the article perfectly. You talk of ‘rules’ Islam is not just rules or rituals but of character, manners. These brothers even if with good intentions did not have to embarrass the family. No harm was being done. They were at the front. There was no crime committed. Furthermore ‘it is our way’ is a way of not acknowledging other people beliefs and thus why we shouldn’t have to change our rules. Wrong. Showing we can be tolerant is key to a positive image, one many are quite happy to avoid.
December 18, 2012 at 7:15 AM
Unfortunately it happens in muslims community. Prejudis among muslims. And we knew it those judge thing is source of war. and muslims obviously knew the best judge is Allah.
December 18, 2012 at 7:18 AM
The negative comments seem to come from those who are not willing to accept that to some people coming to the mosque the first time is a nerve wrecking experience. For someone of another faith to even come to a mosque is a big deal. I know; I’ve been in the same situation myself. Instead of being welcomed, i was handed a scarf and was told to cover my hair. After that the women avoided me like I was the plague. I was so scared that I was making excuses as to why I shouldnt convert because of how I was treated. It wasn’t until I met Mr. Nihal Khan that I felt comfortable and welcomed and converted right there. I still do not attend the masjid. I study myself.
Instead of 3 men asking the woman to move, they couldve had another sister ask her to join them. Better yet, without being asked to do so, a sister couldve gone over and welcomed her and asked her to join them herself. Im sure you all get the point. Please excuse my grammar/punctuation as I am writing from my mobile. Also, JD, you said non muslims are only able to enter if the management permits? I was under the impression that everyone is welcome to the masjid. These kind of answers make me wish I could remain muslim, but be surrounded by the welcoming and accepting people of the church.
December 18, 2012 at 7:45 AM
Congratulations on your decision Melinda.
May Allah bless you in this life and beyond for finding the true path.
I as well do my studying alone(most of the time) and I am extremely blessed by Allah to have found the best of teachers for there is so much out there in misguided and prejudice teachings in Islam.
December 18, 2012 at 8:35 AM
My wife pointed out that you had replied to me. First off, I completely understand about going to a mosque for the first (or first few) time(s), that it can be a nerve-wracking experience. Been there, done that. I don’t know if my reversion story is still online somewhere, but I have mentioned in the past how nervous I was when I went to give shahadah for the first time. And my wife and I completely agree with your idea of the other sisters inviting the wife to join them on the other side. However, as to your thought that masajid are welcoming to all everywhere, no, that is not the case. Many mosques are restrictive about whether non-Muslims may enter the mosque or not. For example, here in Singapore, Masjid Sultan, which is popular with tourists, has a sign at the front door forbidding non-Muslims from entering the prayer hall. And one mosque up in Putrajaya, Malaysia, which has bus loads of tourists visiting there, requires non-Muslims to wear a special pink robe, if they are not properly attired, and be escorted through the premises with the tour guide. These are only two examples out of many I could relate. Given security concerns for the buildings and congregants inside, being cautious about letting non-Muslims into a mosque makes sense.
December 18, 2012 at 8:54 AM
Yes, going to the masjid can be nerve racking and I agree with the overall point of the article – that masajid can be more welcoming. But I’m not sure this was the best example, and I’m also concerned that masajid, and muslims specifically, are being held to a different standard than others.
There are different ways this particular incident could have played out. For example, I like your suggestion of sisters approaching rather than brothers. Or, the husband could have discretely said, “she is with me” to the brothers and I’m positive they would have backed off or even chatted briefly with the couple in a friendly way. Instead of brow-beating the entire audience for the misunderstanding of a few, those involved could have discussed it at a later time.
As a convert and former Christian myself, I know there are friendly churches where one feels welcome, especially if one has grown up in that congregation.
However, I also know the experience of not even considering attending many, many congregations because I know I would not feel welcome, or be welcome, there. I’ve gone to church and tried to find seating in apparently empty pews, and been shooed away from row after row by fussy ushers with unfriendly faces because the pews were reserved, meanwhile everyone else there staring at me. I’ve been to church and observed seated ladies elbowing each other and whispering about people passing by – because of who they were, what they were wearing, or who they were with. I’ve been at churches where I didn’t know the hymns because they weren’t the ones I grew up with, and with no one to hand me a hymn book or flyer with the hymns on it, I had to sit there in silence through most of song-based service alienated from everyone else around me. If you go to many churches at the wrong time, they will not let you in. If you go into areas where you are not supposed to be, you will be swiftly escorted out. And often what passes for friendliness at some places is inquisitiveness about just who you are and why are you there – most definitely if you and your family are not members, or even active members.
We can do more to improve and make the masajid a more comfortable and welcoming place. We should also be mindful to abide by realistic and fair standards when evaluating our experiences and expectations.
December 18, 2012 at 8:23 AM
This is also the case for racial discrimination. I attended a khutbah and the imam said, in so many words, that dark skin is not beautiful. Perhaps his cultural norms make it acceptable to make such racist statements, but Islam does not call for any such blatant discrimination. He used his position in the pulpit to further the cause of injustice and ignorance. There is no place for abuse from Muslims towards any group of people. Haven’t we been abused enough from those who hate Muslims? Why then to we abuse our own communities?
December 18, 2012 at 8:43 AM
Thanks for bringing this up. Thank you for seeing what I see.
December 18, 2012 at 9:24 AM
Just replace every “mosque” with “MSA” and you’ve got the university edition of this article.
December 18, 2012 at 1:41 PM
Definitely! An article on that issue could also give some insight.
Want to give us some insight? :)
December 18, 2012 at 9:42 AM
1. You made some very good points.
2. You can easily replace “mosque” with “church” or “temple” and you article would be equally valid.
3. I am not a Muslim but I have visited many mosques and I have always been treated with courtesy and respect and friendship and kindness.
December 18, 2012 at 1:42 PM
Thanks for chiming in. Could you share some of your experiences or those you know of that have occurred at other houses of worship?
December 20, 2012 at 11:09 AM
In any social setting there will be a few people who have to demonstrate to you how superior they are, but I am much too lazy to make a list. I prefer to remember the people who treated a complete stranger with kindness when there was no need to even acknowledge my presence.
But thanks for asking.
December 18, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Great article! I´m a convert myself and had the same experience.
When I converted I got to a local mosque half a year. But it was to extremistic, a discussion whether I have to wear socks during the prayer and negative statements about Christianity in the lecture made me to leave it behind. Then, on Id, it got to another mosque. The Iman there said that women should not leave the their house when its not necessary!!! On Id! All other mosques hold their lectures in Turkish or Bosnian etc. without a translation. So I left the mosques at all and went to the local Sufis. There I can hear the lectures in my language (and with more interesting topics), can pray freely and can make friends with the other women and men there.
Greetings from Germany!
December 18, 2012 at 12:16 PM
I wonder if those who commented “with cultural baggage to Islam,” watched Hz. Omar (MBC series)? Prophet (saw) and his companions (ra) are our role models, and when they raised women status high, gave rights to all, welcomed non-believers with open arm, appoint woman as a market chairperson (over-seer), and provide for a blind old jewish man, who are we to be this harsh???? Early muslims went through horrendous treatment from Meccan unbeliever, yet gave total amnesty when they conquered Mecca… again who are we to be this harsh? Who are we to be judge of a man’s prayer? Shouldn’t we focus on ourselves, how will we be judged? or are we to be exempt in day of judgment because we believe to be who we believe to be? Ya Allah, help us, deliver us from ignorance….for we are utterly lost. ameen.
December 18, 2012 at 12:53 PM
The family could have sat together in the back if they needed to be together. I don’t think that would have posed a problem.
There are so many problems with this article I don’t even want to get into it. This article and the point it’s trying to make just doesn’t make any sense to me.
December 18, 2012 at 1:45 PM
It’s not a matter of where she sat, it’s about how the community leadership handled the situation.
Can you go over some of the problems with the article? Constructive criticism is much appreciated. Thanks.
December 18, 2012 at 12:57 PM
In America, Canada and now France we have several MPV Unity Mosques where all are welcome – as in non-Muslim partners, and we pray like we have been doing in Mecca for centuries, un-segregated by gender. We also encourage women to lead prayer and to give the khutbah. According to the Quran we are all equals in the eyes of God, then it is time we live out those values in practice.
December 18, 2012 at 1:53 PM
Thanks for commenting.
This article seeks to highlight some of the paradigms which we’ve setup in our communities and how we go about addressing them. I don’t want to get into that discussion here, but as we both know, women leading men in prayer is (and always will be) an issue of contention. I do not endorse the opinion, because men and women have seperate roles in the community. Leading the prayer isn’t about equality at all, rather, it’s about getting a job done.
Again, I don’t want to get into that discussion on this article. If you’d like to talk more about it to me, feel free to e-mail me at nihal.k at muslimmatters.org.
Any comments after this one will be moderated. Please see MM’s policy on the etiquette of discussion and staying on topic.
December 18, 2012 at 11:56 PM
That’s impressive! Not all Muslims are conservative!
December 18, 2012 at 1:20 PM
Please correct me if I misunderstood, but this article seems to support changing Islam to accommodate a secular society/secularized Muslims.
Gender segregation not a cultural custom. It is proper Islamic etiquette, and is necessary to avoid problems (fitna) in the place we come together to worship Allah (i.e the mosque). It promotes modesty, which our beloved Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) told us is a defining characteristic of Islam.
December 18, 2012 at 1:44 PM
EDIT: Please see MM’s rules on staying on topic and etiquette of discussion
Sorry Mezba, but we need to stay on topic here.
December 18, 2012 at 1:59 PM
No, this article does not promote changing Islam. I think you may have read into it a bit more than needed.
This article is not speaking about whether gender seperation is to be done or not, hence, we will not discuss it here. Please see MM’s rules on staying on topic and etiquette of discussion.
February 22, 2013 at 10:15 AM
“Please correct me if I misunderstood, but this article seems to support changing Islam to accommodate a secular society/secularized Muslims.”
December 18, 2012 at 1:23 PM
EDIT: Please see MM’s rules on staying on topic and etiquette of discussion.
December 18, 2012 at 1:47 PM
Certain people need to look at how they treat people if you make people feel uncomfortable then you lose any warmth they feel from you. I’m in the uk I don’t go to the masjid as its seen as abnormal in my community though it seems to be fine for certain communities.
I want to be able to walk to an imam and ask questions and learn but it’s not seen as normal, it’s fine to say your men go to masjid and learn bringing back the info for wife’s but what of those who are divorced and widowed there is no community any more no love, yet my dean is nothing but love.
December 18, 2012 at 2:01 PM
Thank you No Name,
Some people unfortunately lack emotional intelligence which leads to their humanity being deficient. Kindness is always part of the package.
December 18, 2012 at 2:10 PM
Let me outline something for everyone.
1) For those of you who have been positively engaging in discussion, thank you!
2) The issue at hand is not whether men & women should be separated or not, rather, it’s about how we can make our community more inclusive. We’re looking to extract solutions which are directly implementable, not read rants. Any comment which strays from this subject WILL be edited. Please see MM’s rules on staying on topic and etiquette of discussion
3) To add, the man and his family were embarrassed in front of the whole congregation. Each time a man would ask the sister to move, he would basically interrupt the whole lecture and have the whole community look at the couple sitting at the front. I didn’t add this because I thought people would be sensible enough to understand that a man who hasn’t prayed in twenty years will not be familiar with any other expectations the mosque may have. But seeing from some of the comments, a good majority of us need this piece of information.
Carry on :)
December 18, 2012 at 3:44 PM
These points were not clear from the article. insha’Allah they are clear to everyone, now. However, I believe my (deleted) comment that we must be careful not to compromise our faith in order to make others comfortable is still a valid (and on topic) contribution to the discussion.
November 12, 2015 at 5:35 PM
I found the article delightful and saddening to read. I was able to understand the point clearly. Evidently such issues of etiquette & manners is something that needs to be addressed across the board. It is our manners which others remember, how we treat someone or engage with them. I feel saddened that the issue of your article came down to why the man hadn’t prayed in 20 years or why they sat where they did or about gender rsegregation ( a hot issue) rather than the focus if our behaviours towards others. It was a most interesting article to read. Thank you
December 18, 2012 at 2:23 PM
Good Job Nihal! Not sure if Hammoodi read this, but def. sending to him.
This was a very well written article indeed. We should all truly appreciate the effort more people have been making in being more welcoming towards Muslims and non-Muslims.
Just a thought, the attitude of Muslims nowadays is much better than it was 20 years ago here in the US and even in the Middle East. I remember when I first started wearing Hijab more than 13 years ago and receiving criticism for it while in Palestine (believe it or not) from extended family and friends!
It’s important for us to follow the example of Prophet Isa (as) and always try to see the good in people, things and situations. I’m sure you know the story, but for those who don’t, it’s about Prophet Isa (Jesus) (as) passing by the rotting corpse of a dog. While his disciples couldn’t bear to breath because it smelled so bad in the vicinity of the corpse, he pointed to how white the dog’s teeth were. We all need to be more sensitive to others and constantly remember why Iblees (Satan) was cast to Hellfire in the first place…arrogance. There is no room for arrogance in our faith. Alhamdulilah 3ala al-Islam.
December 18, 2012 at 2:32 PM
sorry about the spelling error…”breathe” not “breath”
December 20, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Give my boy my salams :)
December 18, 2012 at 3:51 PM
I feel the idea of “[making] our community more inclusive” is vague with a lot of cultural implications; implying things not consistent with Islamic teachings. As a solution, I would like to remind everyone of our individual obligation to study Islam from reliable traditional scholarship, so we completely fulfill the rights of others and embodying prophetic character (e.g. mercy).
December 18, 2012 at 3:55 PM
“The mosque needs to be a hospital for the broken, not a guild for “good people.”” This is perhaps the most powerful line in your article. Our mosques are places where the well-respected, well-connected muslims congregate. Masjid memberships will attest to that. Broken families and broken people need not apply. As a minority, muslims are trying very hard to establish themselves as a ‘group’ of some consequence. How many times have we had the Jewish community held up as a model for organized representation in our melting pot of a nation? I can see why muslims want to take the things that separate them from the average American and use it to bind themselves into a collective. I can also see that in these seemingly formative years of establishing a concrete presence in our communities, muslims want the best and brightest among them to be leaders and activists. We love our doctors as much as we love biryani and basbousa. Single mothers, poor people, disabled individuals- not so much. We keep some as pets but expect them to behave. Its not just women been set at their proper place. Its men in theirs (even though they are afforded the greatest freedoms). All the restrictions and rules that govern the daily lives of muslims are like the column of turtles that are meant to prop up the world. Thats why a woman in the men’s side is upsetting to the fragile sensibilities of some people. While we play musical chairs, the people left standing always leave.
December 18, 2012 at 3:58 PM
I have left a comment above in regards to my own experience. I dont think the majority is seeing the point here. First I would like to respond to JD . . I can understand your point. Tourist in the middle east etc do visit masjids just to admire the beauty. So i now understand. However, it is quite diff here; especially after 9/11. People do not visit our masjids here because of that so when non muslims do come, its usually to learn about Islam.
In regards to the article, I do not belive Nihal is trying to justify special treatment, but give an example of the atmosphere of masjids. Instead of ridiculing people or making them uncomfortable, we should be leaders and explain why we do certain things.
Like I said before, i dont think the wife would be as embarrassed if a sister were simply be inviting and ask her to join them. Once she did join them the sister couldve explained why we sit/pray apart in the masjid. It wouldve not only make the woman comfortable, but make her feel welcomed and not scared to sit amongst people she didnt know.
Also, my understanding is men shouldnt approach another mans wife. Again, the men shouldve sent a sister.
Its about welcoming people and teaching them in a kind and caring matter.
December 18, 2012 at 4:13 PM
According to US constitution All Men are created Equally. However, Women are Not Created equally to Any Man; therefore, women should Not be allowed in the same Places as All Men. Women should stay Home and Take care of Man’s Babies. Women should Not be allowed to Work. Women should Not be Allowed to Vote. Women should Not be Allowed to Drive. Women should Not be Allowed to use their Own God given Brain. Women Should Always Follow Man’s Orders.
(In this case, Follow Three Different Strange-Mens Orders).
Having Said all that. If Two Females from Ladies section came over to this Christian-Lady and Said, “Hello, how are you doing today? My name is Fatima and this is my Friend Khatija. Come, I will introduce you to my Family and Friends. I am sure they will Like to meet you too.” Problem solved without any Hard-Feeling. Learn to be a Civilized Human First. Then, be All you can be.
BTW; All Humans are Created Equally !!!
December 18, 2012 at 4:26 PM
I am married to a christian , she is a good muslim woman , as a muslim woman should be she reads a lot about the life of bibi marium and bibi fatima and bibi zainab, she prays 5 times a day and , wished she could attend the mosque , as all muslims do , but as mentioned above she is always afraid she would be treated as an alien .
i am known to almost all the young muslims in my community from back home and i have been an active member of the community , but unfortunately for the issues our muslims have in regards to white women , as they all think non muslim women are not suitable for the community , which is not true , there are always exceptions .
i think my wife was more muslim than any women i have known in my community or around me ,even before i met her as she had the qualities and morals of a pure muslim woman.
December 21, 2012 at 1:43 AM
Assalamaualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
Brother this is very good! Please get her to take the shahadah, then perform salat(five daily prayers, the only surah she must memorize is al-fatiha), then give zakat.
Then you might want to show her some Nouman Ali Khan videos.
Also, get her to fast during Ramadan and if you can, perform Hajj.
Then you and your wife can enjoy Jannah together, forever inshaa Allah!
Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
December 18, 2012 at 5:55 PM
I absolutely loved the article.
I was, however, a bit perturbed when I found myself agreeing with some of the badly phrased, heavily disliked comments. Over the years I’ve come to change my opinion. I used to be one who would agree wholeheartedly that the mosque should cater to the majority. I’m not so sure. A mosque as an institution should not function as a representative body so much as a leading unit. Of course, this is my opinion. Still, (and I should probably be one of the last to say this), if we believe that Islam is perfect (excluding the largely debated points that vary scholastically) then we should have no reason to make it adapt. I’m. It entirely certain I’m making my point correctly, or that it’s what I believe, but it’s certainly the logical point to be made. To phrase it rather generally (and perhaps inadequately), religion is not a representative democracy type shindig. The entire idea is that Allah tells us what to do. So surely religion needn’t cater to our changing society. It’s one thing to be accomodating, and it’s also necessary to move with the times in terms of teachings referring to camels and wells, but it’s an entirely different issue to change some of the concepts true to the very corpus of Islam. And it may be a fine line. And it may not. It may be a fine line that we move at our convenience. Which cannot be right. I don’t know. But I hope what I’m saying makes some sense to someone. Jazaakallah
December 18, 2012 at 6:04 PM
Some people sayd why women didnt tell her! The thing is she is alraedy in Mans section and its not easy the woman to go different section to tell her , and some say why separet they need NeXT Time man to come woman section and listen in mosque ets .
In my way Of thinking the whole point is just Adab , this days some sujesting to muslims to slowly slowly to lose our why Of Life. With our prophet we have been Warned the day Will come islam and the why Of our identiti Will be strange , may Allah protect us and give us adab.
There is some saying ( Al adabu muqedemun alel ilm)
If we have Adab its easy to follow to learn not to disterupt otheres in leture soooo on to be polite to help others to welcome to call dawa .
Our resul did not just do Lecture it was his akelaq and adab brought more muslims easily .
May Allah give our imams sebr and akelaq
December 18, 2012 at 8:37 PM
Great observation . Every Muslim must be aware of this area of understanding .
December 18, 2012 at 8:53 PM
This is article is so true. I remember about 2 weeks after I had taken shahada, I went to the masjid dressed in a cream colored scarf, my blue jeans and a long top. It was the only scarf/hijab I owned at the time.
A sister there fussed at me to the point that I was in tears. She told me that we (muslimahs) are not supposed to wear bright colors and that I had to dress in only black or brown coat dresses. As she put it “We are not to wear colors that would draw attention to ourselves.” It upset me to the point that I began to have doubts about having converted from Christianity to Islam. She had me convinced that I was doomed to dressing as if I was in mourning for the rest of my life.
I’m from an island background. We love colors, especially bright and cheery ones. I did manage to speak to another sister about a week after that incident and she explained that I had to learn for myself the difference between true Islam and H-I-S-L-A-M. The difference being culturally accepted rules and regulations that are imposed and attributed to the religion but have nothing to do with orthodox Islam. She also advised me that if I was ever in doubt about a thing to consult my Quran for answers. The second sister’s conversation and advice saved me from jumping ship back into the church.
December 18, 2012 at 9:15 PM
Responding to Mosques are Missing the Point http://muslimmatters.org/2012/12/18/mosques-are-missing-point/
My sentiments were the same in 2003, as further reflected in a June 2006 Muslim Link newspaper article titled Masajid Still Have a Long Way to Go (http://www.muslimlinkpaper.com/editors-desk/77-Opinions/502-masajid-still-have-a-long-way-to-go.html)
Six years later, clearly my first experiences lingered within me to the extent that, without even having re-read what I wrote in 2006, I recalled virtually the same story in a talk I gave in Tunisia, October 2012. You can listen to it on YouTube. (http://youtu.be/XB1GNhDWgPY)
What saddens me more than almost anything is that 10-years into my journey as a Muslim, the same problems exist within the masjids until now.
When will the Muslim community get a clue?
December 18, 2012 at 9:47 PM
Alsalamu alaikum, jazaak Allah khair for your delightful and, clearly, thought-provoiking article.
From the comments I’ve read, I see two opposing yet equally valid arguments:
1) The not-practicing man and his christian wife may have been unfamiliar with the segregation etiquettes. Furthermore they were probably nervous being in the congregation and didn’t want to sit separately since the wife didn’t know anyone else there. Therefore, the brothers should’ve been more understanding and gentle dealing with the situation. After all, they already requested once that she move and hence did their part in educating.The fact she didn’t move indicates she was uncomfortable leaving her husband’s side. Her sitting there was not harming anyone, and as has been pointed out, the segregation is mandatory only in salaah (as far as I know), otherwise it is certainly the preferred etiquette, but may be flexible.
2) On the other hand; the seating arrangements should’ve been obvious to the couple and in most typical situations people follow the crowd. You walk into someone’s house and you see the owner take his shoes off by the door, the natural reaction is to do the same; really you don’t even need to ask. You respect the house rules. The couple having not done that could be seen as disrespectful or arrogant. Furthermore, as has been pointed out, the prophetic guidance is to give gentle guidance rather than no guidance at all. We should uphold our rules but in a kind and gentle manner rather than a harsh, forceful one. Despite our gentleness, some people may still take offence and it can’t be helped. Hence we shouldn’t not educate or act in fear of upsetting someone.
From the article, I feel both sides of the argument were displayed at the event. A zeal to uphold the masjid’s standards lead to 3 brothers asking the lady to move. A fear of harshness lead to the imam’s distress, the apologies of some brothers and sisters and eventual reconciliation with the family, and finally an allowed exception to the norm of segregation.
So should we enforce the rules and risk hurting someone’s feelings or allow exceptions in hopes of winning someone over?
Personally I feel it was right of the brothers to ask the sister to conform with the seating arrangements. They had a duty to let the family know the correct etiquettes. After all, if the family were indeed naive to it they might have preferred that someone tell them so not to offend the people they are visiting. However after informing them, since the lady refused to move, I feel in this case it would’ve been better to let it go. Unless the lady was wearing revealing clothing, her sitting there was not going to harm anyone and would’ve been a minor compromise to help gain someone over. Allah’s Mercy overbears His Wrath. Furthermore, if the issue was that big of a deal, the Shaykh should’ve said something. His silent consent would’ve been enough for me; considering I’m there to learn from him.
So I think the beginning of the answer to how to deal with these situations is always the prophet’s (pbuh) example: to gently educate first. What to do from there depends on peoples’ reactions, the time, place, situation etc. It is a careful weighing of pros/cons and there should be some leadership to do so. Allahu a’lam
December 19, 2012 at 6:29 PM
I still don’t see why ‘religious’ men are even talking to an unrelated woman. And we talk about adab! Quite frankly, it is none of their business to speak to a woman unless there is some overwhelming need. So let’s be true conservatives and not just selective ones.
December 21, 2012 at 1:17 AM
Since when is it inappropriate for men to speak with women? I never heard of this; although I do realise that in some cultures people see it that way.
December 18, 2012 at 10:22 PM
A lot of people seem to be very confused about major vs minor issues and afraid of “changing Islam” or adapting it. First of all, yes there are things that remain timeless, like 5 prayers a day etc…..then there are other things that should be allowed to change according to time and place so the container Islam is served up in can be beautiful to all peoples while the content remains the same. Honestly, if the woman was already nervous, dont you think placing her away from the only person she knew would have increased her nervousness? What is the whole point of separation? To serve the principle of chastity and prevent inappropriateness…..but honestly there was no fear of that here. The man was sitting next to his WIFE…in a MOSQUE. My goodness, what do you people do in mosques that you’re so afraid of some sitting a row away with their spouse? You make yourselves sound like a bunch of rapists who can’t control yourseves….and this is supposed to make visitors feel…..warm and fuzzy inside?
“Facilitate things and do not make them hard.” -Prophet Muhammad
December 18, 2012 at 10:27 PM
I think you’ve misunderstood the point of segregation. It’s not that he shouldn’t be sitting next to his wife. It’s that men are easily distracted by women. So having her sitting in the men’s section means the men sitting behind her might easily and frequently be distracted by her simply being there averting their attention, even if momentarily from the lecture. It is a natural male reaction to be distracted by women.
December 19, 2012 at 10:11 AM
agreed!!! as imam suhaib webb said once (paraphrasing) all of you that think xxx things are going to happen are spending too much time thinking about xxx. essentially, GROW UP and stop behaving like children!
December 18, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Masjids should be inclusive, i got it after reading the comments, not from your article.
December 18, 2012 at 11:39 PM
It is interesting in the sense that the article presents a question, though I do not know if it presents an answer.
About 7-8 years ago there was something called a Progressive Muslim movement. There was a site called Muslim WakeUp, and something called PMUNA to add to the alphabet soup of American Muslim orgs. I think all of these are defunct now. At that time I was deeply committed to such issues and I considered myself a part of this movement.
What happened (probably for the best) very quickly is that things were taken to the logical conclusion. I found mainly two problems very soon.
1) The idea of being welcoming and accepting, (as opposed to rigid old desi and Arab uncles running the show) soon meant that you could even be an atheist and be considered a progressive Muslim. At this point, the internal inconsistencies become too glaring to brush under the carpet. What are our principles? And if the injunctions of the Qur’an and Sunnah can be given second place, then why are we calling ourselves Muslim? I mean personally we may do something that is not right, but I don’t understand it even theoretically. I am not saying that this is what this article is doing necessarily, and I am not saying at all that I am any better than anyone else. These are just my questions and thoughts.
2) The other thing that I observed was that other than principles, people’s temperament and experiences in life affect how they perceive things. At one point in my life my experiences made me cherish some things and not others. With time and after observing and experiencing other things my perspective has changed. When these things are moral choices, we should try to mould them into the “right” choices, and when they are not, I guess we can be what we feel like. But then we should be open and accepting of other people’s choices if they are simply different but not immoral. Of course I don’t know all the details.
My perception and observation is that there are a number of problems that people are trying to deal with. However, the conversation has been uni-directional for about 10 years. Some of the issues raised are completely justified while others are going to the other extreme. I think dialogue is always a good thing but I haven’t seen that happening. Sociologically some people have been estranged from the mainstream orgs and I guess I am one of them. I just don’t feel I am part of the people talking about these things or that anyone is interested in a conversation. I don’t make a point to openly criticize these things as I feel I am not doing anything constructive.
I mean I definitely think the situation in this article could have been handled in a better fashion. I hope people can talk about it so the next time people react in a better way. People should also have the opportunity to complain either directly or indirectly like this because someone could be doing something that is actually much worse. It’s just that the tone of the article and many comments don’t seem friendly or open to ideas either and is pretty judgmental and alienating at least for me.
There are things that I feel need serious attention. There are instances where there is almost overt racial/ethnic/national prejudice. There may be instances where the women’s section is actually uncared for and pretty bad.
As far as feeling left out and unwelcome, these things can also happen also to a rough-edged conservative brother from say, the Imam Jamil Amin or Muslims of America community or a foreign Muslim who doesn’t speak English well in a more mainstream, acclimated mosque.
As for the article, there may be situations, in certain surroundings where one should be open to exceptions. But in that case, may be the husband or the wife could have explained that this is the first time for her coming to a masjid and she is a little nervous so she’d much prefer to sit with her family and that they apologize for causing a disturbance/confusion in the seating arrangement.
December 19, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Judging from many of the comments here, I wonder what would have happened if a tattooed agnostic man in a t-shirt saw a flyer for the talk and walked into the lecture hall to give some food for his soul. Since apparently, his appearance deems him an unworthy recipient of our tolerance and respect, I doubt this man would have had a very edifying experience. The conversations on this forum indicate that we are not mature and graceful enough to embrace the realities of people around us without judging and maligning them or tossing the “rule” finger.
We have an unhealthy obsession with the exoteric over the esoteric (the essence of a person). Approaching people with the do’s and don’ts of their behavior is the fastest way to kill that human’s spirit. In this case, the three brothers who were so threatened and traumatized by the woman sitting next to her husband completely ignored the entire history of who the couple was, what their needs were, and any emotional sensitivies involved—instead, they decided to take this rare opportunity to let their first encounter with the couple be about their seating arrangement. I guess our mission has been accomplished. Someone’s understanding of Islam’s rules have been applied. Do we feel better now? Did this situation lead to anything beautiful or enlightening to the couple?
And then there’s the arrogance.
Who here is entitled to speak on behalf of God? Who can say that in this situation, God would have wanted a couple to sit on opposite sides of the room and would have wanted a woman and her family to be constantly harassed about it three times? When one’s interpretation of things becomes cloaked under the declaration that it is absolute and only representation of Allah’s commandments, then we are put in a situation where it’s either that interpretation or nothing. In this case, one could argue that there is nothing wrong or haram with a man sitting next to his wife in a respectful manner.
So while the community continues to show immature and shallow attitudes towards disenfranchised members of society based on a perceived lack in their appearances and behaviors, spaces that actually embrace people with respect, empathy, and genuine concern will attract people. 50 years from now, mosques who don’t get it will become empty buildings (they already almost are). And that’s the simple truth.
January 4, 2013 at 7:27 PM
I understand the point you are making. This sort of thing is part of the human experience everywhere. Let me counter your hypothetical tattooed tee-shirted agnostic with a real-life experience of my own.
In early 2010 I traveled from Texas to New York City and spent almost a month there. I am not going to go into the details because of some privacy issues, but it involved some close Muslim friends and some serious legal proceedings. This was stressful for all of us.
At the end of the daily sessions in the courthouse my Muslim friends felt the need for some prayer. During that month I got an interesting tour of the masjids of New York City. This was January and early February. It was cold outside and my friends insisted that I come inside where it was warm while they prayed.
Now imagine what the regulars must have been thinking when a six foot tall white guy wearing a cowboy hat and a yellow and black motorcycle jacket walked in. The Muslims of New York City have earned the right to be suspicious of anything out of the ordinary, and by New York City standards I was just about as out of the ordinary as it gets.
They had no reason to be nice to me or even acknowledge my presence. Instead they greeted me with kindness. They were surprised that a non-Muslim would feel comfortable walking into a masjid, and they wanted to make sure I wasn’t disappointed. I had a number of interesting conversations both before and after the prayers. These were genuinely warm and caring people.
December 19, 2012 at 12:44 AM
It is nice to see I am not alone here. I almost never go to the Masjid, and am tired of it. Tired of the sexism, of the antisemitism, of the homophobia, of all of it. I love Islam, and I am actually very religious. But I won’t go to a Masjid until they start treating us all as equals. Luckily I found Islam through books and not Muslims (I am a revert).
And that is a sad thing to say Alhamdulillah for.
December 19, 2012 at 7:33 PM
Salaam brother Isa,
I understand that it must be very difficult for you – as a revert – and that the muslim community could be more welcoming and accommodating.
However, I think it is slightly unfair to make out that every single mosque that you have found or is in a reasonable close proximity to you is as terrible as you describe.
Please be a little more open-minded otherwise you end up resembling the narrow-mindedness that you are railing against.
December 19, 2012 at 12:55 AM
I very much see myself in this story. You see I am a widow with a young son, and I converted from Christianity to Islam a few years ago. The masjid where I prayed had separate rooms for men and women. Of the women, only a few spoke enough English to have a conversation with me. The lecture was brought into the women’s room by television, but unfortunately the women there were talking amongst themselves so loudly I could not hear what was being said.
Knowing that I needed to hear the lecture to learn more about my new faith, I asked the leader if he could think of a solution. The result was a fabric fence being erected in the very back of the men’s room where I could “hide myself” and listen. While I gained the ability to hear, I also seemed to gain a bad reputation among the women for even setting foot in the men’s room.
Finally, I just gave up. I have not been back in over two years. Since then I have moved closer to a different mosque. To be painfully honest, however, I learned so little at the last one (and had such a bad experience) I would hate to show my face at the new one for fear of being run out of the place with ridicule.
But the point I would like to make is this: if Islam is to continue its amazing growth in the west, we have to start separating the cultural issues from the true religion. Muslimahs need to stop treating the women’s areas as gossip central. Muslims need to stop treating women who want to learn as second class citizens, making them ashamed of their thirst for knowledge. We need to stand up to the idiots who are throwing acid into the faces of young women (or worse, shooting them) because we KNOW this is not Islam and we KNOW it stands in the way of dawah in the west. Western women are tired of being exploited by their culture and they hunger for a real honest relationship with their Creator. It may very well be that the Christian wife in this story was the one who said to her husband “I want to go see what your religion has to offer.” We don’t know, but given the hypocrasy that is rampant in churches today and the availabilty of writings in English that prove that the Bible has been tampered with, it is highly possible.
So brothers and sisters, when you see someone new come into your masjid, do not make them stumble with your insistance to have everything your way all of the time no matter what. They are already uncomfortable and feel out of place. Welcome them, show them true Muslim warmth, and dispel the image the media creates of us. You have plenty of time to gently guide them into our customs, and inshallah the reward for being gentle will be beyond your wildest dreams.
December 19, 2012 at 1:26 AM
After reading all the comments, I learned new vocabulary
ISLAM ans HISLAM
Interesting but true
December 19, 2012 at 1:46 AM
I can’t believe all the people defending their cultural practices of intolerance and mysogyny. Has no one seen the irony of forcing gender segregation during a lecture on Hajj, where gender segregation isn’t practiced. Men and women sit, stand, walk and pray in front of and beside each other. The Sunnah is to be welcoming and polite, not insistent on enforcing culture.
December 19, 2012 at 2:38 AM
Masha Allah Brother, a very well documented episode which should open our closed eyes and soften our hardened hearts.
I have taken the privilege of circulating this article within my email contacts.
December 20, 2012 at 12:00 AM
December 19, 2012 at 2:51 AM
a very nice article. perhaps a more appropriate or comforting way would have been for some of the men in the masjid to ask their spouses or other muslim ladies to come froward, introduce themselves to the lady and ask her to join them in the ladies setion.
but no doubt this article is an eyeopener for a lot of us self glorified muslims to look within and modify our ways.
December 19, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Why isn’t it ok to have a “families” section at all the masajid? or a an understanding that we can have Men, women and “Families” grouped together at events and lectures. My wife doesn’t like going to the masjid because she doesn’t know anyone there who is her age, and doesn’t want to sit by herself.
Danjuma Muhammad Saad
December 19, 2012 at 5:13 AM
Pls continue to organised such educative, pious & comprehending lectures which everyone can attend to upgrade their knowledge & ask many questions, may ALLAH reward u abundantly.
December 19, 2012 at 11:17 AM
I want to print this article out and review it in person with every single Imam and Masjid Board Member in America.
December 19, 2012 at 12:24 PM
You wouldn’t stop going to work if a co-worker offended you, yet it’s an excuse to avoid the house of Allah?
December 20, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Of course you wouldn’t. You’d possibly file a complaint with human resources and hope they do something about it if it’s a serious matter. But if your company didn’t have a human resources center, or they could care less about your issue, and the issue kept going unaddressed for years to come, you’d be angry, frustrated, and much more. Then after exhausting your efforts, you’d probably look for another job and get out of of your first job as soon as possible.
Welcome to the paradigm of most masajid. The Prophet (SAW)’s masjid was a place everyone came to when they needed help. It wasn’t just a place of prayer, it was their life-line.
December 19, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Salams Brother Nihal,
Thanks for bringing out the incident. Yes Islamic community centers (often considered mere Mosques) in USA need to stop being counterproductive and welcome people from all communities with love and affection. Islam is all about love. Mosques are for everyone, broken and astray need mosques more than anyone. We must welcome people from other communities with open arms PERIOD.
December 20, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Thanks Zeo. I appreciate the sentiments.
December 19, 2012 at 3:41 PM
EDIT: Please stay on point of the article. You’re free to post whatever material you’d like, but this isn’t the place for material which bash the tradition of hadith. -Nihal
Salahuddin al ayoubi
December 19, 2012 at 3:43 PM
Well, I think a combination of brother Wajid and this article’s solutions are in order.
Either that they should have been informed before.
In the case where that is not possible, taking inspiration from prophet (sallalahu alayhi wasalam) and story of the man urinating. They should have let the talk carry on and then kindly taken them to the side and gently explained, as the prophet (saw) did. This would have been practical, considering that the Prophet (saw) tolerated something a tad worse.
And even if that person did take offense nevertheless, we would have at least done our Islamic duty with utmost sincerity and etiquette.
I will leave you all with two further examples :
– A pious sheikh in an eid gathering in Egypt recently participated in a mixed gathering of some sorts. The event went ahead: however afterwards, he kindly explained in private to the event organisers of the gravity of such an event; since they have been better in sticking to Islamic guidelines
– working in a soup kitchen for homeless people in a mosque, was at first challenging getting the homeless to dispose of their alcohol, prior to entering the mosque. This over time , has been done so gently, they now do not even have to be asked.
December 20, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Beautiful example. Thanks Salahuddin.
Salahuddin al ayoubi
December 19, 2012 at 3:51 PM
And remember people remember perceived embarrassment and humiliation. First impressions are extremely important, as is PR. Its not say that we cannot explain or have to compromise on our why of life, its just that we have to fine-tune our approach, thats all, and have patience.
December 19, 2012 at 4:16 PM
we need balance. there are rules and codes of conduct for a Mosque. At the same time, we have to be wise in how we apply those rules. However, reading some of the comments at the article, they stink of irja. Comments such as “its about the esoteric, not the exoteric” “islam is all about love” “we should be welcoming and not judge anybody” etc etc etc. and the comments that dismiss segregation as simply “cultural” show what direction American Islam is heading towards, and its definitely not Orthodox
December 20, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Absolutely. One thing mosques are not doing is defining what Islamic values and principles are versus cultural practices which simply make pockets of community members feel comfortable. So in the end it confuses people and simply frustrates them.
December 19, 2012 at 4:36 PM
I am an American, married to a Muslim for 35 years. In the beginning, we tried to attend Masjids. I was never accepted or even made to feel welcome, because we were a couple without family near. After a move and our daughter was born, we tried again to take her for Saturday education classes. Again I was never welcome, nor did she feel fully accepted. We would drive an hour to get there (the only Masjid in the area). They wanted me to sit in the car and wait until they were finished, in the cold Michigan winter. After a few weeks, we quit going. Not only the hostility but the total lack of compassion made me decide it was not worth it. In today’s society being Muslim is looked upon with suspicion, as an outsider looking in, it is not surprising.
December 19, 2012 at 5:28 PM
Every human should respect others rules and regulation when they enter a sort of building
In the same these couple should respect the set up that was made for all in the same way if i was attending a church gahering where seating was mix
I would gladly sit next to the opposite sex because it was their set up
If i was to enter a house where it was required to take my shoes off then i would AND if i was uncomfortable to do waht it asked me hen i wouldnt enter in the first place
20 years and no mosque that explains it all
They hadnt even understood the concept of segragation in ISlam
December 19, 2012 at 5:53 PM
What????? I see nothing wrong with this story. To be quite frank, this story piss me off!!!!! Why were they so offended???? I don’t get it. WOMEN DON’T SIT WITH THE MEN!!!!! And y’all making it seem like something really bad happen to them. “Like you see this runs people away from the masjid and Islam”. PLEASE, I am going thru crazy time right now in my life. NO, muslim seems to want to help the sister in my of need. Some muslims feel like I should be doing good because I am American. If that is the case, why are they doing better then me and they are not from America. I had an Imam(from New York) tell me he would help my family(and he was), told me to spend the money I had saved on the things I needed, and he was going to help me. But, he abandoned me and my family. This was nothing like I seen, racist muslims, greedy/ selfish muslims.
January 3, 2014 at 2:51 PM
You are so right, but the ignorant husband should have informed his wife about the rules before bringing her to the mosque.
December 19, 2012 at 6:42 PM
My first thoughts are I think that they did not need to bend backwards for this family. The fact that that man had not come to pray in a mosque for 20 years screams volumes about his Iman. That and the compulsory prayer on Fridays. The Christian lady needs to learn respect for other people religions and cultures and not demand to have things done her way. If others can respect the church and not enter and bend their rules she can do the same. The Shayk was accommodating but we do not need to change Islam for anyone who does not follow the religion. Other people would respect the Christian lady’s church if attending. She should show the same level of respect and understand the reigious rules and morals to understand why the men and women are separated. They needed to show more respect and they needed to apologise. Speak to the countless number of reverts sisters who conform and move to the Women’s section even though ‘they don’t know anyone’. Why do they conform? Because they are muslims even though thye are reverts and they say, We hear Allah and we OBEY! That Christian lady and her husband should learn some manners. The Mosques are not just for ‘broken’ people they are for those people who wish to Worship Allah. It is for rememberance of Allah. Innovation in religion is Shirk.
December 20, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Please see my comments towards Saad which are somewhere abouve. They’re addressing most of the items which you’ve spoken about here.
December 19, 2012 at 6:43 PM
PS Had she moved to the Women’s section. The other sisters would most likely been more than accommodating and friendly!
December 20, 2012 at 12:24 AM
It’s basic human responses my friend. If you see someone who may feel uncomfortable, then go out of your way to make them feel comfortable. Not the other way around. Your logic in this comment is flawed in my opinion.
December 19, 2012 at 6:46 PM
Asalamulaikum Ember Hughes, If you are on Facebook you can add me if you need any support from sisters we have a network of sisters who you may like the support of. Although we are not all American. But we can help Inshallah.
December 19, 2012 at 6:49 PM
Their Iman is weak if something so trivial causes them to walk away from Allah’s Masjid.
December 19, 2012 at 7:42 PM
Sorry, this is incorrect. Stating that a community should not have standards, but instead should customize itself away from Qur’an and Sunnah, but to please people that do not attempt to observe or respect the values of the community that they are VISITING is wrong.
Would you refrain from telling someone to put out his cigarette during a khutbah for fear of alienating him? Allah and his Prophet (saw) require us to be kind, and good hosts and neighbors, without a doubt. But we have to be careful to ensure that we have the intent of pleasing Allah through our conduct, behavior and standards.
December 19, 2012 at 9:45 PM
As Salam Alaikum,
Whether it was your intent or not, I do not know, but I will tell how this thoughtful article is coming across to readers. It is being used by people that haven’t been to mosques in years to staying away from them even further, it is being used by others who used to go to a mosque to now even minimize their frequency to the house of Allah, or even stop going. I understand this incident may have duly inspired you to such an extent that you write an article, which comes off as criticizing all the good work mosques have done in America just because of one incident, It is true that we should respect people of other beliefs and welcome them, but refusal of the women to obey the customs of a place of worship just because she didn’t know anyone implies nothing but childish behavior and refusal to acknowledge other’s customs. If any one of our Muslim brothers of sisters were to have a similar encounter in another place of worship, perhaps a church or a synagogue, it would inspire other thoughtful activists like you to also write an article to crticize how muslims are not welcome to other’s beliefs, so I say why the double standard? and may I also alert you to the hadith of the prophet about giving the brother 70 excuses, maybe the men did not know that someone had already talked to them previously and thats why there were three of them approaching them. Again, I do not know your intent in writing this article, because I do not claim to be Allah, you may have written it with a very good intention. But writing anything about Islam requires one to think carefully what they are saying, and how their article might come off. It just pains me to see individuals that have cited this article to me and hence justify the reason why they don’t, won’t, or have never came to a mosque. This article may even hold them back from making taubah, only Allah knows, because justification never leads to repentance. I appreciate your activism in improving the Muslim community, but perhaps this may have been an article best presented to those that are leaders in their respective communities and run the masaajid, not the general public, Allah knows best.
I ask your forgiveness in advance if I have offended you in any way,
December 19, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Wa alaikum as Salam Thinker,
Thank you for your comment. No offense taken.
As I mentioned to Sean in the comment below, anyone can read this article the way they want to. If you’re reading it as an excuse to not attend the masjid, then that’s what you will do. If you’re reading it to find a solution to fix our communities, then that’s what you will do. As the fundamental hadith dictates to us, “All actions are by intention.”
As for the woman, you’re right. Adhering to a church’s or synagogue’s rules are definitely there, but at this gathering, there was no such rule saying families cannot sit together.
As for the article, this has been seen and approved by a group of activists and Imams who are regularly addressing issues surrounding the Muslim community on a regular basis. So it’s not just me speaking on a whim.
Once again, I greatly appreciate your kind demeanor and respectfulness in your comment. Take care.
December 19, 2012 at 9:53 PM
Nice, Touchy story.
Welcome to planet earth. You won’t find everything perfect here.
In Churches, kids were abused and in Mosques they ask you to sit in different section, so where to go?
Social life everywhere on earth contains this kind of misbehavior, as all of us are not perfect.
Go and live in Jungle if you are that sensitive.
This is a joke right?
December 19, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Just another college kid who thinks he can change the world by taking out his accumulating emotional frustrations about mosques on the world and justifying it based on ONE incident, Way to indict all the work mosques have ever done, dude, thumbs up to you. Here’s a suggestion, don’t think you are a (EDIT: Profanity will not be tolerated) if you ain’t one.
The Muslims of the US
This will definitely become the Bible to not come to the Masjid
December 19, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Thanks for commenting. The article is in no way intended for me to voice my emotional frustrations about mosques. Actually, this incident is reported as it happened, and there are comments on this article relating the same information as well (if you scroll up you’ll see them). At the same time I didn’t say anything indicting any work our masajid have done, rather, you’re saying that. Actually, I’ve been working with masajid in my community as a volunteer, employee, and other positions as well for sometime now. If you think I’ve said something incorrect, then I would be more than welcome for you to correct me, but so far your comments have only attacked me personally. You also didn’t address any problems in the article and of course provided no solutions. Since I’m the hot headed, irrational college student who doesn’t really have any solutions, then perhaps yourself, as a calm, rational, and mannered gentleman can fill us in on how we can begin bridging the gap in our communities.
As for my article being “a bible to not come back to the masjid,” then that’s an individual’s own issue. All this problem is doing is trying to extract solutions to a problem. If someone reads it and says “I’m not going to go to the masjid anymore,” then that’s too bad. But another person can read this article and tell themselves that they want to fix the situation of the masajid. So two individuals can take No one is saying not to go to the masjid,
It’s funny how you signed off your comment on behalf of the Muslims in the United States after using profanity. I’m pretty sure most readers wouldn’t appreciate that.
December 20, 2012 at 1:02 AM
I think a lot of people do not understand how uncomfortable it feels to walk into a new, completely unfamiliar situation.
When I first got married to my husband (an Arab Muslim), he wanted to attend a funeral. I was still very new to Islam and extremely shy.
When we got to the house, he told me to go join the women. All the women were Arab immigrants who did not speak English, and I did not know any of them. I almost had a panic attack and told my husband I could not go in.
He tried to persuade me, but I just couldn’t walk into that situation without knowing anyone, much less the etiquette of how I should behave.
He couldn’t leave me in the car, so he decided to take me into the room where the men were gathered. It was very uncomfortable, but I felt that I was at least with my husband and thus safe.
No one criticized us. I believe a few of the men mentioned that I could go join the women, but my husband told them I was feeling shy and wanted to stay with him.
I know I made my husband uncomfortable, but I have always respected how he stood up for me and made my comfort a priority in that situation.
It’s 20 years later now, and I now understand how awkward that situation was for the men. It took me time to feel confident enough to join the women in such situations, but it is normal to me now.
I have been in other situations in the mosque that were also awkward. Once I was trying to leave the women’s section, but the exit was blocked for some reason, so my husband told me to quickly walk through the men’s section so I could make it to the parking lot. There were only a few men in the mosque. I had my eyes down to the floor and was walking very quickly to get to the exit.
Some men were upset and tried to shoo me towards the women’s section. They didn’t know that I was actually leaving and not coming. My face was so hot and red because I just wanted to get out.
In the situation that happened in the article, perhaps it would have been better if someone acted as an usher before the lecture even started and guided people to the correct seats. People are not mind-readers, and the woman probably did not know it would be a problem for her to sit next to her husband. Perhaps the husband was like my husband 20 years ago and also felt he could not force his wife to join the women.
Being prepared is key, and this couple was not. Hope we can cut them some slack and understand that it is unfair to call them arrogant when you really don’t know what transpired beforehand to lead them to the mosque in the first place. I can’t really believe people are saying the man had weak faith, too. This is bad manners.
December 20, 2012 at 6:49 AM
A thought-provoking, well written and important article! Let me just check if I got the point though:
– Muslims should be more tolerant.
– Advice should be given in private
I think that’s what we should take away from this. Some of the comments have given me the impression that people think free-mixing is OK and the segregation aspect is the issue at hand. This is NOT the case!
If you think separating the men and women is a backwards and outdated cultural practice then please do your best to gain some knowledge on the matter because you are pretty much wrong. Sorry to be so blunt, but it truly is an important matter. Sorry if this has been covered, couldn’t really be bothered sifting through so many comments!
December 20, 2012 at 7:22 AM
WA alaikum as salaam, yes I am on Facebook my name is Umme Shariff. Sharmin you can contact me. SALAAMS Sharmin
December 20, 2012 at 12:48 PM
There are a couple of needed quick points here I will try to humbly make. Immigrants (African and Indian) come to America and abandon Islam. The beard, while not fard, is an extremely strong sunnah. Hijab, is fard. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him did not have men and women sit together. So if some of you want to come to the West and dump Allah and His messenger, please don’t blame it on the few Muslim who are trying to stay true to what their parents taught them. The main reason non Muslims in America don’t understand Islam is because even though immigrant Muslims have been here for over 50 years, most hide any belief in Islam to make more more money. And out of that group, the few that do go to masjid then act like the masjid police. You sit with women and touch them at work, then put on the indo/pak clothes, come to masjid and talk down to people about staying away from women and fixate on minutiae points about sitting in a masjid and then when the salah is over you rip those cultural clothes off (especially the kufi) as soon as you get in the parking lot about to leave. So I only think more of us should be a little more consistent. If you go to your job or business and your Islam doesn’t move one foot beyond you, do us all a favor and don’t come to the masjid and start lecturing people about how strict it was in the old country. You run from that and your parent’s teaching for money. As for people who come to an Islamic gathering and don’t want to respect the rules, this only reinforces my point. Too many of us want to treat Islam like an old piece of cloth or a hijab or kufi after the Friday Khutbah, we want to discard the religion when it’s not convenient. And then you wonder why Islamophobes are so successful when attacking Muslims in America. It’s because you hide and won’t stand up for your religion, unless it is some subtle act of prejudice to show how Pakistan or Turkey or Egypt is better than everyone else.
December 21, 2012 at 3:55 AM
I have stopped going to the masjid, I am #unmosqued, because I am tired of Masjids/Islamic Centers acquiescing to the lowest of denominators in the mosque, disrespecting leadership, and running them like the 3rd world dictators that they fled from.
This article is eye-opening, and the positive reinforcement of its theme by the comments of many here is a sign of positive thinking and prophetic guidance in the community.
Yet, after reading many of the negative comments here, it is clear that many Muslims are more interested in upholding some arbitrary understanding of “our way” instead of submitting to divine texts or abdicating to those that understand them. The have wrapped their egos in Islam, and presented that as guidance.
If this woman was sitting in front of the Imam/Shaikh, it is obvious that he saw her there. Why did three different people feel obligated to interrupt and assume a position of authority? These same people would not take it upon themselves to enforce the rules had they been in the public library, they would have spoken to the Librarian.
There is a culture of insubordination in the Muslim community. Everyone has an opinion, and feels vested with the authority to enforce that opinion. Finally, after 1500 years of faith, scholarship, and formal learning, God finally graced the Ummah with supremely guided individuals who by virtue of their social status, occupation, or election to a board are more knowledgeable than those who study the faith for decades and are appointed to “religious” leadership. Unfortunately, hadith was not offered as an elective in B-school and there were no rotations at the feet of the scholars, so they missed the all encompassing statement of our Prophet “The Imam is only there to be followed.” The one person they could have to referred to, the person they deemed knowledgeable enough to lecture them on faith, was not deemed worthy enough of being asked what to do, slipped a note for advice, or patiently waiting to understand what to do better. People will claim the piety of Moses but show the actions of Pharoah.
I’ve seen people driven away from the Masjid because they were shamed into praying in a stinking, dingy room. I’ve seem them driven away because no one smiled. I’ve seen them driven away because “leadership” uses Islam to gain donations, but disrespects knowledge and its people. I’ve seen people driven away because they have a tattoo, or are black, or don’t wear a topi. I’ve seen latinos yelled at because they don’t know Arabic (yelling person thought they would shame the “arab” that didnt know his own language). I’ve seen white people shunned for being “the man”, CIA, etc. I’ve seen single mothers driven away because her kids are not being watched on the “men’s side” and she’s always “asking us for OUR money (read: zakat).” I’ve seen people looking for Islam driven away because instead of a khutbah, they heard a fundraiser on the minbar instead. “I’ll come back when you all decide to talk about God.” When the Imam was deferred to, he was either shouted down by the brashest of community members, or threatened by board members to stay quiet.
The amount of courage it takes for many to come to the masjid should be rewarded with smiles, gifts, and hospitality not …..
We need humility. Instead of parsing the minutia, we should first be asking if we’ve understood the minutia, then defer to those more qualified to us before acting unilaterally or according to the mosque mob that agrees with us.
We need to think before we act, plan before we think, and purify our intentions for Allah alone before everything. If our goal is to act as conduits of Allah’s mercy and light, then the minutia, rules, and plethora of opinions that we beat people down with and prop up our egos with can take a back seat to humility and deference.
December 21, 2012 at 9:24 AM
You’ve been to some crappy mosques my friend, try a new country.
December 21, 2012 at 10:41 AM
Asalaamu alaikom wa rahmatuAllah wa barakatu.
When I first became Muslim, all I can say is ALHUMDULILLAH that some of the people I later came to know were not there. I was extremely anxious about the hijab, so I didn’t cover. I walked into the masjid with my shoes on (in the masallah area), but I had made an appointment with the imam, and he didn’t say anything. That night, I became Muslim (alhumdulillah).
Later, during a sisters halaqa, a brother burst into the room (with no regard for the halaqa), yelling about this brother who was in the parking lot with his 13yr old daughter who was WEARING SHORTS!! (heaven forbid) He railed on about how inappropriate it was, and yet…..the brother was doing work on the parking lot (under construction) for free on his own time. His daughter had come from soccer practice with his non-Muslim wife (Christian). I was shocked and actually disgusted at this guy’s behavior. If that girl wasn’t Muslim, his actions could influence her to NEVER become a Muslim.
Had someone yelled at me like that when I walked into the masjid with no scarf and my shoes on, I would have been embarassed beyone belief, humiliated and would NEVER have gone back.
My friend’s non-Muslim daughter (age 14) is left handed and was eating at a community event when some “sister” took it upon herself to rush over and scold her for eating with her left hand. Needless to say, she is now 23 and never went back to a masjid again.
People need to stop with the SMALL details that really hinder non-Muslims from seeing the beauty of Islam. Islam is not scolding people who are looking to come back to Islam or convert to Islam – it’s showing the beauty of Islam by your ACTIONS……and embarassing people until they leave is NOT what the Prophet (saw) would have done.
Seeker of Guidance
December 21, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Jazakumullah khair for discussing this issue.
December 23, 2012 at 10:29 AM
Assalam o Alaikum All,
We are fighting on non-fundamental issues, men sitting with women, eating with left hand etc. in the above mentioned case, there must be proper staff to guide and help inorder to avoid these kind of situations. And yes when we come to someone’s place we accustoms ourselves to their ways.
I agree with the part that the Masjid isn’t for Good people only. We need to control our personal-principles attitude that yield to negative influences.
May Allaah help us to rectify ourselves first (ameen)instead of changing others.
December 24, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Ameen….inshallah we are attempting this at Masjid As-Subhul http://www.inclusivemosqueinitiative.org
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December 28, 2012 at 9:45 PM
Just spent 20 minutes reading the comments. Excellent contributions!
I suppose it all comes back to the art of giving advice – considering setting, your role, your goal, your tone, considering the overall benefit vs harms, and being prepared for the unexpected!
January 2, 2013 at 2:30 PM
This is indeed a problem within our communities. Being a woman myself I understand how this person would have been feeling comming to Masjid for the first time. What is lacking in us and our behavior is mercy and empathy.
I have witnessed an incident when a very young girl of african descent, wearing tight clothes came to our masjid i think for the first time. She was accompanied by an older lady some what more modestly dressed. They were both in womens prayer area which is seperated from mens area. Some of the very self rightous women came up to this girl, shoved a head scarf and long skirt at her and told her to cover immediately, chanting HARAM, HARAM.
Guess what I never saw these two women at the masjid again. Sooooooooo sad. Please wake up……
January 3, 2013 at 1:51 PM
Allah says in Surah al Fath:
محمد رسول الله والذين معه أشداء على الكفار رحماء بينهم تراهم ركعا سجدا
Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and those with him are harsh on the kuffar, merciful amongst themselves, you would see such people doing ruku’ and sujud…
I see the exact opposite here: a lion amongst their own people and soft on the Christians, kuffar, and mushrikin. Subhanallah
January 6, 2013 at 2:36 AM
I can’t believe something like this happened.
I’m only wondering if these conversations are going to lead us to creating a separate space for families or if we’re going to actually talk about gender and gender separation.
January 6, 2013 at 12:10 PM
Yeah, when the alcoholics and the feminists come to our masajid and demand a bar in the masjid and for women to stand side by side with men in salah, then we should cater to them too, because of course we would not want to be rude to them and tell them our religion does not allow that. How dare we?!!! These people are so sensitive and have never come to a masjid, so we can’t scare them away!
January 6, 2013 at 12:26 PM
You have insinuated that a family sitting together in the house of Allah is the same as opening up a bar in the masjid. You do understand how ridiculous your statement is right? Good job.
January 6, 2013 at 1:22 PM
If the family was sitting together in the back of the masjid, then perhaps there would be no problem; but sitting uncouthly in the front of the masjid, and then ignoring the good brothers who gave them sound advice, and to cap it off, interrupting the talk to pompously publicize their baseless grievances when in fact they had been the one to violate the rules–I think that should be a problem to anyone who sustains respect to the masjid in his chest.
Let me ask you an analagous question, Nihal. If an alcholic who according to your ridiculous assumptions, “did not know the rules” and did come and sit in front of the masjid drinking alcohol, and some brothers, as you claim, “rudely interrupted them,” and he stopped the congregation to declare his grievances to the speakers, would you also say that we should be accommodating to him. And if not, then why stop at intermixing? Why not allow drinking as well? You do realize that your view is filled with at least three logical fallacies, and to a person who has studied mantiq, I am sure they would find even more.
January 6, 2013 at 3:19 PM
Oh okay, so sitting at the back is okay, but sitting specifically at the front of the masjid is the same as opening a bar in the masjid? Ah, got it.
January 7, 2013 at 3:30 PM
The prophet (saw) welcomed and helped alcoholics in his community. I’m a die hard feminist and I don’t agree with praying side by side with males because I know that the Quran and Sunnah don’t approve of it – so what were you trying to say about feminists again? Sitting in the back, sitting in the front – same difference.
I think the problem is that we feel that masjid rules are unbreakable and uncompromising. Not all masjid rules have their ground in the Quran/Sunnah (I’m actually not sure if any do) – we can let go and change some of the rules. It’s okay, we’ll live. And learn to grow as a community.
January 6, 2013 at 3:55 PM
Nihal, you have a habit of twisting words, and it seems your command of English is somewhat lacking. I said if they sat at the back of the masjid “perhaps” it would not be a problem, which indicates it would be less egregious, but still not blameless. This is yet another indication that foolish college students studying psychology no less and with no academic understanding of usul al fiqh and ifta should not be posting online on websites.
I am still waiting for your response to the previous question, by the way.
January 6, 2013 at 4:03 PM
I haven’t twisted any words, I simply restated your conclusion which you clearly stated in your previous two comments. As for my command of the English language, you’re right, yours is probably better. But it’s enough for me to know from you attacking me personally (where I only criticized your comments and not your personality) by calling me foolish and not having any academic understanding of Usool/iftaa (which I’m sure you’re extremely qualified to speak on) that you don’t want a clarification on any issues in this post. From your word choice, you already have your mind made up on what you want to hear.
As for your other questions, there’s no point in me responding to you because the premise of your first comment has proven that you’re not here for a discussion, rather, it’s just for arguing. And since I don’t know what I’m talking about and am simply a foolish college student, then why bother responding if I will most likely be academically incorrect. Wouldn’t you agree?
January 6, 2013 at 4:32 PM
Fair enough; my previous statement was grounded in frustration and was too harsh, and for that, I apologize. I think neither of us will accept the other’s position, so let’s stop here rather than waste time. I think, however, that this serves as a good illustration why posting articles and comments online is futile, since the people who already support you would continue to do so, and those who oppose you will not be swerved from their position. Wallahu a’lam
January 6, 2013 at 8:46 PM
Jazakallahu khair for your apology. This post is simply a means to get a discussion going, so there’s no need to get personal with it. No hard feelings.
Muslim, if I wasn’t open to discussing different viewpoints on this subject, then I would not have written and published this article. I’m very much open to discuss, agree, and disagree respectfully with any point which is validated with proper articulation and proof. Even to the extent of proving my premise in this article to be false and erroneous and asking me to retract the article. As for saying I will not accept your perspective on this article in light of my above comments, that I am afraid that it is simply a form of your own insecurity which is becoming apparent.
I wish you the best.
January 7, 2013 at 1:46 PM
So people stop going to mosques because of Muslims bad behaviour. Why don’t people stop going to office because of their colleagues bad conduct? Or children stop attending school because class mates are rude?Another thing is, there is no need to be so sensitive. I was in the mosque listening to ta’leem (fazail-e-amaal) when the person started his own bayan after ta’leem. Since I am a strong believer that people should not start their own talk after ta’leem, I stood up to leave. Right at the door was a person with a long beard collecting money for his madressa. I clearly heard him mutter saala, (expletive) at me, right there in the mosque. Did I stop going to the mosque. No.
January 7, 2013 at 2:08 PM
Good point, akhi Muhammad Yusha. The truth is that people are looking for a pretext to excuse their absence from the masjid. Even if musallas were very welcome and opening, as quite a few musallas are, people would not come to them, even though many would have you believe otherwise. I have relatives who never go to the musalla, supposedly because “ignorant maulvis” run it, and when I said to them, “ok, lets go to a musalla which is run by modernistic liberals, they admitted they just don’t want to pray anyway, and it wasnt the negative milieu of the musalla that drove them away. Its not like these people are the strictest namazis in their own houses whose environment is welcoming. When people deal with a bad coworker, they ignore it and deal with it, because the money they make at their workplace is important to them. But salah is simply not important to these people, and they should simply be honest and say it clearly.
January 7, 2013 at 11:37 PM
You don’t need to go to the masjid to pray salah. That can easily be done at home. But the whole point of going to the masjid is to pray TOGETHER as a COMMUNITY to promote unity. The whole sense of community vanishes when you have people castigating each other for apparent wrongdoings. Why don’t you look within your own self and look at your own sins, instead of accusing people of whatever sin they may or may not be committing? This whole mentality is why the Muslim community is in shambles.
January 7, 2013 at 11:42 PM
Again, this backward mentality is why the Muslims around the world are considered to be as powerless as they are. Instead of the company (masjid) asking itself “Why are so many people leaving?” they place the blame on the person. If you want to continue with this analogy, then a person’s salary (reward) is NOT contingent on going to the masjid. You get reward for doing salah, although you may get a BONUS for going to the company (the masjid) to do your work. If the work environment is hostile, and you can still get the work done elsewhere, why would people go to the company? It’s not just a “boss” or “coworker” – it’s a systemic issue that is seen in many mosques around the world.
January 8, 2013 at 12:08 AM
Salat al-jama’ah (congregational prayer) is wajib. And “the whole purpose” is certainly not for socialization, as you would have people believe but for i’bada; please don’t give wide sweeping general statements that are not based on any textual evidence, whether it be Qur’an or hadith.
And the reason that the Muslim ummah is in “shambles” is certainly not because of this “mentality.” I find your statement most amusing. I think Islamic history speaks for itself for why Muslims are so weak today.
January 8, 2013 at 3:55 AM
I find it amusing that you don’t understand the reasoning behind juma – which, by the way, is not mandatory for Muslim women. Again, the whole point of congregational prayer is – wow, the key word – to be in the congregation! Develop a sense of community. Why is it that people don’t pray in isolated cubicles during juma? Well, why not pray in a room in the masjid, separate from one another? Well, gee golly, I don’t know…maybe it’s because the whole point is to feel each other worshipping Allah, feel that we are one? How is that achieved when we’re nitpicking at one another? Moreover, if the imam felt your indignation, he would’ve said something, or, do you question his judgment?
Whether you like it or not, Muslims, people who are searching for truth, whatever, are WALKING OUT of masjids because of an unfriendly, intolerant atmosphere. Just look back to what the reverts have written.
I also find it amusing that we are living in a critical time of history, where we are literally living in the End Times, where there are subtle forces just waiting to jump on the Muslim ummah, forces Allah has mentioned in the Quran, forces that are actively trying to divide those who do right and believe, yet the one thing we are fixated on is whether a not a wife can sit next to her husband in a community gathering. It’s absolutely absurd. Our priorities are not in order.
January 7, 2013 at 4:34 PM
Please see my reply to “monotheist.” It should address your sentiments.
January 7, 2013 at 4:52 PM
Assalamu Alaikum Nihal,
You mentioned in your response that people would eventually leave their jobs if a certain problem was left uncorrected for years. I would say first, that if the salary was good, then most people would put up with a bad coworker, and what is better than the reward of salah in the house of Allah. Second, even if people did leave, they would not leave and become unemployed, but they would go and find another job at another place. If these people go and find another masjid or musalla, then I concede you may have a point, but these people don’t pray salah completely (at some other masjid or even at home where there is no one to bother them) with the pretext that they don’t like the people at the masjid.
People have to stop acting like they are doing someone a favor by coming to the masjid. If someone does not want to come, they are the one who is losing on the ajar. Of course, we should not drive them away, and your point is certainly valid that we should be more tolerant, but that should be a general principle, and of course, that should not mean we compromise our principles (which I know you are not saying, but some people have taken it to mean).
January 7, 2013 at 11:32 PM
All you have stated is that a person would change his job if a company did not do anything about an offensive co-worker. That, my dear, is not true. So many people stick to one job despite a boss turning a person’s life hell, or a rude co-worker making life miserable. In school, many people tolerate bullies but continue going to school. This is because they value education. People at office value money.
The article says that men came to the woman and told her to go to the women’s section. I hope that is accurate because normally people would go to the husband and tell him to tell his wife to sit with the women.
Article is a good reminder that we need to be gentle. I find Tablighees veyr polite in the sense that everything is told to be done in a ‘muzakirah’. No one says anything to anyone directly.
January 8, 2013 at 12:27 AM
I am not sure if it is appropriate to say “mosques are missing the point” because then, you are inadvertently attacking mosques, which are houses of Allah SWT. It is better to say “Muslims in mosques are missing the point.” Thanks.
January 10, 2013 at 10:04 AM
Thank you for this beautiful well written article. we have to be open minded about other people’s belief, otherwise, how can we show them our path and introduce them to Islam. In the case of this family, it is better to welcome them and extend our hands to them in all possible ways. by respecting, understanding, welcoming them, they become appreciative of the community. Thus, their faith will increase, and eventually, they might become more observant and practicing Muslims.
January 16, 2013 at 9:36 AM
Just something to think about for all of us.
“If you put sunnah before mercy, You have lost both” -Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad
January 16, 2013 at 4:08 PM
The day I went to the mosque to say the shahadda, I wasn’t wearing a hijab because I was not aware that it was a requirement. A sister came up to me and yelled at me until I was almost crying because I was not wearing a hijab in the mosque. Subhanalla, I am very committed to my faith and wholeheartedly believe in Islam but until today, I only go to the mosque twice a year for Eid and even that experience is hard for me. Even during Eid, nobody talks to me or says Eid mubarak because I’m not part of their community/culture. I never feel more alone than I do on those days.
Please beware of your actions because they may have a lasting effect on people. I really hope Allah SWT forgives this lady and helps her see the truth of her actions.
January 18, 2013 at 8:22 PM
Today, I made a big mistake at work that cost my company hundreds of thousands of dollars, and my boss ridiculed me, so I quit even though it was my own mistake. I’m never going back to that place. As a matter of fact, I’m never going to work again, because the next place will be just as bad.
March 1, 2013 at 6:41 AM
There’s a big difference because people need to work to provide for themselves. People dont need to go to a mosque. No offense, but if Muslims think like you do, then in a few years the mosques will be empty.
March 12, 2013 at 11:09 PM
Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatulahi wa Barakatuh.
Terrific article brother. Really hits home, really hits it on the head of the nail. This is by no means just in the masjid. This sort of unacceptance is found even in our schools and workplaces, where our muslim brothers and sisters are challenging each other’s norms, standards, religiosity, levels of faith and the like. We all definitely need to be more cognizant of the differences about other practicants of Islam, as we all are one big family, and we embrace all family, even if he or she is the “hopeless cause” of the group. May Allah azza wa jal protect us from letting our own ego and mannerisms and upbringings get in the way of fostering the faith of our fellow Muslims, and may Allah azza wa jal protect us from being judgmental of others, for all judgment lies solely with him ont he day of judgment, and may Allah azza wa jal bless you and all of us for participating in an effort to improve our Islamic communities. Jazakallah Khair
May 19, 2013 at 9:26 AM
As salamu aleikum! Wow! Your post was very enlightening. It should make us all self reflect about our own behavior inside and outside the masjid. This article should not encourage one to stop going to the masjid, but go and be a welcoming vehicle to former muslims, visiting muslims, different looking muslims and non-muslims alike. Whoever thinks this article was a bad idea is “MISSING THE POINT!”
July 25, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Lets reverse the scenario and say a man sits with his family in the women’s section. We should accomodate that and that wouldn’t be a distraction, offensive, inappropriate, or a fitnah at all. I think all the women should just sit there and not suggest that he sit in the men’s section. Right?
January 3, 2014 at 2:44 PM
The fault is with the man who had not prayed for 20 yrs and had forgotten the rules of the mosque. He should have educated his wife before bringing her to the mosque.
February 6, 2014 at 11:44 PM
I am from Singapore. I’d like to ask whether it is necessary for non-Muslim visitors to the mosque to cover themselves before entering. One mosque that I went to requested (not forced or coerced) such visitors to cover themselves. They even had long robes that they supplied to those who were not adequately covered so that they can enter the mosque. I think it’s a great initiative but was just curious if this is part of the Islamic teaching. Jazaakum Allah khaira.
March 1, 2014 at 3:01 PM
As salaam Alaikum, I am actually in a situation now. I took my shahadah when I was about 18 years old, in the mid 80’s. Have fond memories being with the brothers, I truly miss those times. When 9/11 happened I stopped going to masjids because I felt that there were a threat by the government knowing its history of oppression. I adopted the Shia Doctrine of Hiding (Taqiyya). I began going back to the masjid three years ago and found the atmosphere to be uncomfortable, I kept having a feeling that people were suspicious of me, like I was some kind of government spy. I tried my best to be humble, but yet still got glares and outright rudeness at times. Isn’t suspicion a sin? Anyway, Sandy came and destroyed that neighborhood. I decided to move to Kentucky. I am shy and quiet person and have been diagnose as having clinical depression. I found a masjid and attended, in fact two, one for Jummah and the other for Fjar. The first year I stopped because I did not feel welcomed, started again this year and still feel the same. I have no friends, I made Allahu Subhannahu wa’ta ala my friend. I think I am going to give up and hope I do not get punished. Islam is not the same when I was younger, I think the people have changed in ways they do not perceive or it may be me.
I am searching the internet to find if it is ok not to attend a masjid, if one feels unwanted. I do not want to rebel, but I can not stand the loneliness I feel at times, I cry at home when praying to Allah.
I have decided to find some rural land and build a home for me and my wife. She too stopped attending masjid before me because she felt unwelcomed by the sisters she met at the Shia masjid. We were married under Sunni Islam, I no longer try to convince her anymore, there is no compulsion.
I also chalk it up to being punished for not attending Masjid, I still love all Muslims regardless of School of thought, I just wish we can just stop being suspicious or ignoring people that are new. I was offended once at a particular Masjid in Kentucky. After the Jummah Khutbah someone was giving another brother a meal from the kitchen and made no offering to me, I was hungry that day. I over looked that, hoping Allah would over look my faults on the day of judgment. I will move again to preserve my faith and religion, Insha Allah.
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