Monday, 2 May 2011

Reclaiming Islam : Part 3 (“Critical Friend” Emails)


Reclaiming Islam : Part 1 (The Muslim State and the Muslim Ummah, Democracy)
Reclaiming Islam : Part 2 (Women and Islam)
Reclaiming Islam : Part 3 (“Critical Friend” Emails)


In a spirit of being a "critical friend", the email below was sent (with some minor changes) to the Muslim Communities Facilitator (who works for the council) and to a local group of mosques:

"I have just read a book called “Taking Back Islam - American Muslims Reclaim their Faith (Ed: Michael Wolfe, Pub:Rodale) and was saddened to hear some of the stories of American Muslim Women, two of which are summarised below:

Saraji Umm Zaid describes how she has often been denied access to mosques on the basis that “there isn’t room”. She comments that mosques will not explicitly ban women from entering, because the Prophet specifically forbade keeping women from the mosque. “’We don’t have room’ becomes code for ‘we don’t want you here, go home’. If people were really interested in keeping with the Prophets practice then they should make sure their mosque doesn’t aid them in violating this command”.

Samer Hathout (founding president of the Muslim Women’s League) mentions the case of Mirian (not her real name). Miriam was married to Ali, she was often beaten and abused. “When Mariam did attempt to speak with her local Muslim community leader, she was made to feel that the abuse was her fault – if she was a better wife, Ali would not have to beat her. She was also told not to discuss her marital problems with other people and that it was important for her to stay married at all costs to preserve the family.Eventually, Mariam left home and sought refuge in a local battered womens shelter. She received assistance and Ali was convicted in US court for spousal battery. “But when Mariam appeared at Muslim functions she was shunned, the Muslim community wanted nothing to do with her. She was viewed as a woman who had left her husband for no reason. Ali, on the other hand was viewed as the victim of a broken marriage and of the United States criminal justice system. He was greeted by the Muslim community with open arms. Mariam found no support from the Muslim community and eventually stopped attending Muslim functions.”


I’m hoping that you can provide some reassurance on the situation in Nottingham regarding these issues. Specifically:

a) Do you expect all mosques in Nottingham to allow entry to sisters? If so, can you provide some reassurance that this is actually the case?

b) Can you provide any reassurance that no mosque in Nottingham would treat sisters in the way that Miriam was treated?"


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As part of the ethos of this blog is to try and balance out criticism with praise, BFTF was chuffed to be able to aslo send the email below to a local mosque :

"I just sent an email to XXX (see below) and just wanted to say that your masjid sets very high standards in this respect. Please keep up the good work."



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