Don't Cross The Picket Line

This is my response to the recent revelation of the devious acts done in the name of inter faith solidarity by the Shalom Hartman Institute. This initiative is called the Muslim Leadership Initiative. They invite up and coming Muslims to join them on an all expenses paid junket to Israel. They choose Muslims that are of South Asian or other races, never Arabs and certainly not Palestinians. The endeavor is done in secret, the participants go and come back in a shroud of mystery. There is a group there now and when they were approached by a popular Palestinian blogger they physically assaulted him and berated him. This is solidarity? That the one Palestinian you encounter you assault and disrespect? That incident alone speaks volumes and reveals all we need to know about such a project. This is not how you treat other people. This is not how you treat other Muslims. This is not how you treat the oppressed. This is not how you respond to those you claim solidarity with.

Honestly the fact that they are Muslims does not matter, it just stabs the knife in a bit more is all. The reaction would be just as much if they were not Muslims. The fact is that this organization is a direct supporter of the Israeli military, and a propaganda machine for Zionism. Zionism is a vile system based on a master race theology that invokes racism, apartheid, genocide and murder as justifiable ways of dealing with other human beings. This system is truly evil. To see an organization pluck out, seek out, stalk, and strategically choose up and coming Muslims to join them on a trip to Israel is not only heartbreaking but a slap in the face to everyone working for justice in this issue. 

They are not going to Palestine, to refugee camps, to mosques that have been bombed, and not schools coated with the remnants of nerve gas and are not visiting or assisting dying refugees in Gaza…but they are going to the pristine, landscaped, protected illegal settlements of Israel. 

They take them there to indoctrinate them with the aims of Zionism, to turn them against their own communities. They have never, and will never, invite any Arab on this trip. It is all South Asians and other races. Why? Because this is a race issue. Inviting an Arab would never work. The message is: we are wonderful Zionists, we like Muslims, we just don’t like THESE Muslims, the Arab Muslims, the Palestinian Muslims, but you guys? You guys are cool. (forgetting, as always that a serious component of Palestinian society is Baha’i, Christian and others) The organization operates in secret and to this day we have no complete list of those who participated. Why keep it secret? Why create suspicion, which is haram in Islam? Why ignore the cries of your fellow Muslims simply asking for answers? When simple, respectful pleas for an explanation are pointed at the participants they respond with vulgar insults, threats, mocking, condescension and out right blocking. How is this a community building tool?

They have done exactly what the goal of this organization was to do: cause a rift in the Muslim community. 
You do not have to ‘support Palestine’ just because you are Muslim, it is not a Muslim issue or even a religious issue. The media presents it as a religious issue but it is far from it. It is a race issue. It has always been a race issue. It will always be a race issue. Zionism is a sickness. To see fellow Muslims fall victim to it angers me. I am a Palestinian. I was born to a refugee parent and I grew up here in America. Because of that I acknowledge that I have a degree of privilege that Palestinians living in Palestine do not have. When I would visit my grandparents there I recognized this privilege. I have an American Passport. I can do almost anything I want, go anywhere I want, skip certain check points, use the high way. They could not do any of that. They could not go beyond their neighborhood. Because of this acknowledged privilege I have I am careful to what extent I speak for my people. I am in the diaspora, they are in Palestine. We both struggle by my struggle is not their struggle and their struggle is not my struggle. I wake up in a comfortable bed, in a nice apartment. I can rely on the promise of endless amounts of clean water, electricity and internet. I do not fear bombs. I do not fear Apartheid walls 2.5 times higher than the Berlin wall. I have privilege. So to see those who have no part in this struggle at all cross the picket line, blatantly ignore calls from Palestinians to boycott, divest and sanction Zionism and its sympathizers and then speak on the behalf of the oppressed is downright repulsive. There is a certain level of respect you have for oppressed people, even if you do not support their cause.

You do not cross the picket line, you do not work against them, you do not assist the enemy. The enemy here is not Jews, it is the state of Israel that operates on a racist ideology called Zionism that insists on a master race dominant society. Just like apartheid in South Africa, we BOYCOTT DIVEST AND SANCTION those who would seek to normalize relations with such a system. Anyone can support the Zionist apartheid agenda but that makes them a legit target for BDS. There is no longer going to be an acceptance for such policies, of murder, apartheid and oppression. Israel outright slaughtered nearly 3k people last summer while the world watched and clapped as children fell from Zionist bullets. 

If anyone supports, in any way, that system then they deserve to be named, blamed, labeled, call out, sanctioned, boycotted, and divested from …from the biggest corporation to the loneliest individual.

An article that goes deeper into the discovery of this can be found here, written by Sana Saeed. 

Another great piece explaining the background of the parties and organizations involved can be found here, written by Ali Abunimah


Solidarity or Appropriation?

Wear a scarf on your head for a day and suddenly you become the voice of Muslim women everywhere! This has gotten out of control. This is cultural/religious appropriation and it is disgusting. I am sure their intentions are good but you do NOT need to dress up like someone and turn their religion into a costume in order to feel empathy for your fellow human being. You should be perfectly capable of standing up for and showing solidarity for Muslim women without having to dress up like one. And what of the Muslim women who do not wear hijab? Where is their solidarity? Hijab is an act of worship. It is a deed commanded by Allah most high. It is not a game, not a costume, not exotic, not dress up, not sexy. 

How about just don't judge, period.
So we now have this sick trend of white women wearing scarves on their head for a selfie and somehow that is supposed to expose them to something? That is supposed to make me feel better? Protected? It certainly does not. For centuries White peoples have exoticized Muslim dress, made it mysterious, sexual, and exotic. This is a continuation of that. It fetishizes Muslim women. Hijab is not just a scarf wrapped around your head, it is an intention to obey the creator of your soul, it is an entire 7 point dress code, and it is an act of worship, of sanctity. Does some woman wearing a hijab for a day or just to pose for a photo make her aware of what it is like to struggle with modesty in today’s world ... no ... because she has the PRIVILEGE of removing it with no guilt, no shame no sin... she has no idea what it is like to wear it every single day of our lives, and there is no way to have that experience unless she became Muslim and did it. 

I feel solidarity with black struggle in America but to do so I do not need to paint my face black and walk around or post a selfie while in black face. I feel solidarity with the struggle of Native Americans but I do not need to dress up like a Lakota lady to feel it. To do so would be wrong, to do so would be cultural/religious appropriation, to do so would be insulting and misguided and so is this "hijabi solidarity". Another point is this: over the past couple years of this trend developing I have witnessed SO MANY Muslims praising these women as if they are saints, and Muslim men go out of their way with the 'wowowowow mashallah' comments ... where is this support and praise and encouragement for actual Muslim women who actually do struggle to wear hijab? When it comes to reality most Muslim men refuse to marry a woman wearing hijab ... but a white woman playing dress up in one? Oh that is hot, sexy, exotic, intriguing. Muslim men are all for sexualized hijab just as long as it is not an actual Muslim woman in hijab. Apparently the men in this ummah of ours are too weak to handle real hijab. 

And where in all of this is the voice of REAL MUSLIM WOMEN? Where is our narrative, our experience? Where is our voice? It is nowhere. No one is asking us "hey sister friend what is your life like? What is your experience?”... No one. Oh but these women in costume offer up their narrative and suddenly they are the voice of Muslim women everywhere. I understand that these women have good intentions and they are trying to show solidarity but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Good intentions do not mean the resulting action is good or helpful. Stop supporting this, start supporting the Muslim women out here doing our thing and living life ... we are here, we exist, we have a voice and we need you...



Adorable pig, loving life at Farm Sanctuary

Ok so I am Muslim. I also happen to find pigs adorable. Problem?

Apparently so!

I have been told by countless Muslims that finding pigs adorable is "haram" (sinful).

"Pigs are haram" is what they say. This baffles me. Eating pigs is certainly haram, no argument there! The pig itself being haram, that I have a problem with. I have found no Islamic source that says the existence of pigs is haram. Allah created pigs, he created them from the same dust and breathe as he created you and I. Try telling that to these hardline wack jobs and they nearly pass out at the thought! I also love telling them that pig flesh is the closest thing to human flesh on this planet and that you can take a pigs heart and put it in a human being and it will work just as well. At that point they are usually gasping for air, muttering a long line of curses and protective proverbs to keep my pig worship from affecting them.

I like pretty much anything that is pink. Do not even get me started on flamingos: pink + bird = stupendously awesome. 
If you can not see the sweetness of this mama having a mud bath with her babies then you are insane. Farm Sanctuary is a place for all farm animals to find respite and live out the remainder of their lives in pampered euphoria, as well they should.

Allah created pigs, he sustains pigs. Allah never said he hated or disliked pigs. Maybe, just maybe he loved them so much that the idea of us mangy humans eating them was just too much to bare, who knows... What I do know is that Allah loves and cares for all of his creation, every single bit of it.

Wilbur & Charlotte
Best friends planting some peas
Pigs are actually quite smart little buggers. I have always had an affinity for pigs. When I was a kid my grandparents had a farm in the Ozarks and on this farm we had pigs. When these pigs had babies it was like every holiday wrapped into one. I had to be locked out of the barn so the mama could have her babies. I was a 7 yr old baby pig thief & damned proud of it.  I also tend to root for the underdog and pigs always seem to get the shaft. They are forbidden to eat, Jesus cast demons into them, they get blamed for human health problems etc... It is not the pigs fault! There have been some awesome pigs in this world, real or imaginary. Wilbur from Charlotte's web was one of the first pigs I loved. Wilbur was so awesome, not just because of his cool name but because he had awesome friends and enough faith to trust a spider. Lets face it spiders can be shifty. Wilbur never let the barnyard haters get to him, he knew he was worth something. Some pig indeed...

lovin' her man
There are lots of famous pigs. Ms Piggy is someone I could see myself being BFF's with. She loves fashion almost as much as she loves herself. She fell in love with someone that society told her was unacceptable but she did not let it stop her! Piglet from Winnie the Pooh was a timid little thing but had a heart of gold. The three little pigs were victims of a bully who happned to a wolf  and he was not very nice with all the huffing and puffing but they did teach us a valuable lesson, I am not sure I know what it was though. There was Babe who wanted to be a sheepdog and did not let the haters and naysayers sway him from his dream and he became one of the best sheepdogs there ever was! No pig run down would be complete without Pumbaa from the Lion King. Pumbaa was best friends with Timon, yes best friends is what we will call it, yes, I am sure that is what they were. Pumbaa and his meerkat buddy taught us all about hakuna matata and that a life of  "no worries" was just what young Simba needed.

Bless his little heart...

There is one of my most favorite pigs that ever existed: Pig. He is part of the comic strip Pearls Before Swine & in my opinion he is the best part. He is kind of a air head and always hilarious. A lot of people can relate to Pig. He has an obnoxious roommate, Rat, who is hell bent on world domination and is arrogant beyond imagination. I can relate. Pig was kicked out of his pig association because they caught him eating a bacon sandwich. I love Pig for being utterly unapologetic about it. He loves to eat pork & it is unclear if he actually understands that he is pork.

Power hungry Napoleon
Then there is my favorite pig of all. The fearless leader: Old Major and his comrade Napoleon from Animal Farm. Old Major was a great philosopher. He had dreams and ambition, he had gusto. He had a vision that the animals of the farm could one day be free of the oppression of Jones, the human who owned the farm. Old Major died before he got to see his dream become reality. That pig had dignity and no oppressor was going to take it away from him. Napoleon picked up and led the revolution and he got drunk with power. 'Two legs bad, four legs good' slowly become 'two legs not so bad, four legs sometimes bad' and the revolution went down hill fast. He let the power over take him, but who among us could have done better. He had a lot of pressure. It is not easy to keep everyone happy and keep a farm running, specially when you do not have opposable thumbs. Of course, I do realize these are not "real" pigs but they are awesome just the same. I love pigs and I will always love pigs. Sadly I know many Muslim children who will never know any of these amazing pigs.

I babysat for a Muslim family once, good people I have known for a long time. I brought a movie with me to watch with their 5 yr old girl. I watched Charlette's Web with this little girl and she had the same reactions most kids do when they see it. She cried when Charlette died and was so proud of Wilbur. When her parents returned she told them all about it and I thought nothing of it.

I was quickly hauled outside and lectured about my bad morals and that I had damaged their daughter and made her feel sympathy for a pig. I swear this is what I was told. They were angry that their child would feel sympathy for another creature. How vile is that! They rationalized this by saying that if she felt sympathy for them she would be inclined to eat them and I had to laugh. I told them that having sympathy for an animal would actually end up preventing her from eating it, they did not agree and we are no longer friends because I am a dirty pig loving heathen. Good riddance!

The Prophet said that any one who harms any living thing, even so small as a sparrow, without just cause, will answer for it on judgment day. He also said that whoever is kind to Allah's creatures is kind to his own self.

All creatures of Allah are worthy of love and admiration. There is reward in loving what Allah loves and what he created.

The Quran also tells us that all animals form communities and societies just like we do and that they all have souls and will all be gathered to their Lord on the last day. It does not say 'all except pigs', it says all, that includes pigs and even, for some crazy reason, includes the most vile of Allah's creation: the human being.
There is beauty here.

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Animals & Islam

 I have always loved animals as far back as I can remember. It had a lot to do with the people who raised me, but also it was just a part of me from the very beginning. These values along with the values of Islam paired with my own compassion for animals of all kinds in a very symbiotic union.

I always knew that Islam was very environmentally oriented and held compassion for any living thing in a very high degree. It was not until a recent animal ethics class that I began to really delve into what exactly my religion says about animals, their rights, their place in our lives and how Allah views them. I am, as you might imagine, studying to be a veterinarian. This is truly my calling and it was not until I began this path that I truly understood when people say 'do what you love & you will never work a day in your life'; how very true that is!

 I hate that I have to say this before I speak on anything Islamic, but I do have to offer up a disclaimer.

Islam is not Muslims and Muslims are not Islam. Islam is the religion & Muslims are the followers. Islam is a perfect system for all aspects of human existence. Muslims are merely human followers who sometimes, more often than not, get it wrong, drastically wrong.

The vast majority of the Muslim world is totally and completely ignorant when it comes to religion. It is much like Europe during the dark ages. Most people have very little actual Islamic education and the little bit they do have is from sources that are lacking to say the least. This is the sad state of the Muslim world today. We, as a society, are lacking in true, reliable guidance and there is a void so we fill this void with absolutely anything that crosses our path. Sadly, that is the perfect breeding ground for wack jobs, fanatics, extremists and nutters with agendas to get a foot hold and gain control.

"If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything" ~ Martin Luther King JR.

"A house divided against itself can not stand" ~ Abraham Lincoln by way of Jesus Christ

So, like any other religious ruling, the ones dealing with animals are often ignored or simply unknown. I admit that I did not know many of them. Islam has a way of constantly renewing itself for me. I will get busy living my life and then out of no where, I will read a verse from the Quran or a Hadith and it just hits me like a brick wall.

This endeavor was one of those experiences. I found myself in tears at the balance, logic & reasoning, compassion and humbleness of this religion. I am not worthy of such a beautiful system, truly.

So I will relay to you my findings. Grab some tissues, you may need them.

Quran 6:38 (Y. Ali) There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end. 

This verse has many implications. The verse comes as an answer to those asking why Allah has not sent forth some grand gesture to show himself. Allah responds by saying that the Earth and its inhabitants are that grand gesture. It also states that the animals all form communities and social units, just like human beings. This is something that science is just now starting to understand, and Islam revealed it over 1400 years ago!

Here is the kicker: at the end they will be gathered up to Allah! So, just like us humans the animals will be gathered up to Allah on the last day.

This reveals to us that animals have a soul, and that is huge!  They are not just mindless beings created for our use and abuse, they have souls, families, duties and functions. We know that if human beings were wiped from the earth that all the animals and plants would continue to exist and probably flourish on scales never known before. If all the animals, or even a few choice ones, disappeared, humans and plants would cease to exist entirely. So where do we get this egotistical idea that we are so grand?

Mind = Blown.

The Prophet said that anyone who harms/kills any creature even so small as a sparrow or smaller without just cause will be answerable to Allah for that action on the day of judgement. When asked what is just cause he replied: for food. (Ahmad & Al-Nasai) I think it is also important to note that the Prophet was not in the habit of eating a lot of meat. Meat was a luxury, not like now in the states where we have 17 portions of meat in one day. When he did have meat in his house he sent it to other people for various reasons. Meat is not a requirement in a meal, it is permissible but within moderation as was his example.

Abu Huraira reported that the Prophet told a story about a different prophet. This previous prophet has been sitting near some ants and one stung him. He became angry and demanded the entire colony and structure be destroyed. Allah scolded him saying"Because one ant harmed you, you have destroyed an entire community that worshiped Me." (Bukhari and Muslim)

This is something we could learn many things from. On the surface there is the obvious, do not destroy the entirety of a group of animals because one of a few pose a threat. Also, maybe us humans should not destroy or discriminate against entire groups of people because one of a few offended us.

The Prophet was sitting and noticed a kitten asleep on his robes. He did not want to disturb the kitten so he cut his robe around the kitten so he could get up.

The prophet is said to have mourned when his beloved camel died.

A boy had a pet bird and the bird died. The Prophet went to visit the boy and asked about his beloved bird. When he heard the bird died, he said a prayer for the bird.

The Prophet spoke of a prostitute who was getting water from a well on a hot day and she saw a dog by the well panting in thirst. She put water in her shoe and gave it to the dog. For this reason alone all her sins were instantly forgiven. (Muslim)

The Prophet said he had a dream of a woman being tortured after her death (in the here after) because she had kept a kitten caged and did not give it any food or water, nor did she at least free it so it could go get food or water on its own.
My darling baby girl, Nephi.

This one in particular got me. I work in animal shelters and all day everyday I am confronted with this exact situation. It is heart breaking and it is very hard to not burst into tears and fall apart. The extent of human cruelty is ever baffling. It is a comfort to know that Allah sees their suffering and just like my own suffering, it will be accounted for on that day and justice will be had.

Do not burden an animal more than he can bare
Islam forbids the beating or branding of any animal, for any reason. The prophet once saw a donkey with a brand on his face and he said "May Allah condemn the one who did this" (Muslim)

The prophet once saw a camel that was so emaciated that its stomach was touching its back. He admonished us to fear Allah in our use of work animals and instructed us to only work them if in good health and to retire them while they still have health. (Abu Dawud)

The Prophet said many times that over burdening an animal is sinful and abusive.

The Prophet also told us that it is a great sin for anyone to imprison animals in his care. (Muslim)

The Prophet also forbade any fighting of animals for sport, (Abu Dawud) and  using them as target practice. (Muslim)

Motherhood is beautiful
We are told that if we are on a journey with animal and in a fertile area we should go slow to allow them to eat as they go, but if the land is dry and infertile we should speed up to avoid them becoming hungry and to not make camp for the night close to main pathways as nocturnal creatures will be enticed by our animals (Muslim)

The companions were on a journey and the Prophet had was away for a few moments. They saw a bird with her babies and they took the babies. The mother bird was flying around them crying out for her babies, in grief. The Prophet returned and asked who had hurt the feelings of the bird and ordered them to return her babies to her. (Muslim)

This was 1400 years ago. Even today, even among bird enthusiasts there is debate on whether birds feel emotions like fear, grief, stress, love, longing. 1400 years ago Islam gave us the knowledge that indeed, of course, birds, and all animals feel these things.

We are told that any bad deed done against an animal is the same as it being against a person, and any good deed/charity done to an animal is the same as doing it to a person. (Muslim, Boukhari)
Not just a nice thing to do, it's WORSHIP!

We are forbidden to store milk in the utters of animals (Muslim)

Aisha (the Prophets wife) was once riding a stubborn camel and she turned the camel roughly. The Prophet admonished her that it would be better for her if she were kind to the beast. (Muslim)

We are instructed not to clip the forelock of a horse as the horses decency is in it, and not to clip its mane as its beauty is in it and not to clip its tail as it uses it to flap flies. ( Abu Dawud)

And finally...

Abu Hurayrah was a close Companionof the Prophet and it is from Abu Hurayrah that we get a majority of our religious knowledge. He was known among the people as being a compassionate man who loved animals. His given name was Abdu Rahman but most of us do not recognize him by this name at all, because he was always called Abu Hurayrah. Abu Hurayrah means father of the kitten, he was called this because he had a cat that he took in and cared for and he used to carry it everywhere he went. 
This brought tears to my eyes! This strong man, battle worn man, rough neck Arab bedouin man was known for carrying around a kitten, so much so that they named him for it! 

Alhamdulillah!  (All thanks be to Allah(God))

Until one has loved an animal, apart of one's soul remains unawakened.



Unmosqued, Unseen & Unloved

There is a documentary in the works called "Unmosqued". ( see the trailer for it here:Unmosqued)

This documentary speaks on the scores of Muslims, both men & women, who feel unwelcome at the mosque. There are many reasons why we feel unwelcome. There are very few activities to bind us a a community, to build relationships and fellowship, the facilities are lacking to say the least, youth are shunned, women are shunned, converts are shunned, children run wild. The mosque often seems like it is just a place for old men to pray, nothing more, nothing less.

There is a brief explanation of this phenomena here: Muslims unwelcome at the mosque.

This begs the questions: If Muslims feel unwelcome at the mosque, how do non Muslims feel?

I am a Muslim woman so I will speak from my own perspective and speak of my own experiences with the mosque.

I remember being a child and going to the mosque with my father. I did not always go with him, but when I did, it was such a treat. The mosque was so big, and had so much open space, which to a small child is an open undeniable invitation. I was allowed to be free, to run around with other kids, but I was not allowed to disrupt people. I was taught to have manners, to not interrupt people, to speak with a whisper. If I was not abiding by these rules, I was scolded by my father. I agree that children should be welcome at the mosque. The Prophet used to pray with his grandsons on his back. He never rejected their presence. However, I do think we need to teach mosque manners to children from a very early age. The mosque is not a playground, and there is a certain level of respect that should be given. I also think it would be fantastic if more mosques had a small play area outside so that children can have a safe place to go wild with other Muslim children. A play room indoors for the smaller ones. Mosques usually have many class rooms, and they are unused, why not use them to occupy, educate, entertain and welcome the children of our communities?

As a woman I am obligated to seek knowledge 'even if it means going to China', just as a man is obligated to do. This instruction did not say men only seek knowledge, it was for any and all Muslims, male or female. I am in just as much, if not more need of Islamic instruction, and knowledge as any Muslim man out there. The Muslim women in our communities are the primary care givers of the children, the creators of atmosphere in the homes and the backbone of our community as a whole. Women go out in hijab and broadcast to the world their Islam, their dedication and submission to Allah. We  are harassed, belittled, insulted, sometimes assaulted, degraded, and disrespected all day every day out in the world. We have no safe space, no respite, except our own homes & let us be honest, in many cases that is not at all a safe space. We are in desperate need of reassurance, encouragement, uplifting fellowship, and education.

Often when women work up the courage to go the mosque, they are not even greeted with 'Assalaamu Alaykom'. The men shy away from us, walking in other directions, putting hands in the air when near us, as if we have a plague. It is the obligation of every Muslim to greet another Muslim with Assalaamu Alaykom, there is no such teaching that says men only say it to men and women only say it to women. I am a woman, and I am in just as much need and deserve it just as much to have salaams said to me. In fact, we are taught that the best among us is the one who says it first, not the one who runs the other direction.

I have said salaams to men in the mosque before only to be shunned, they rarely even return my salaam and usually look in horror as if I have just asked them for a quickie in the wudu area.

Relax brothers, Assalaamu Alaykom means may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon you, it does not mean I want to jump your bones!

If we have all this responsibility, should we not be welcomed in mosque?
 It is our duty to teach our children about Islam, their jannah is out our feet.

What a heavy responsibility that is!

Our children will get to jannah via us, our instruction, our dedication. It is upon us, as women, to ensure they are brought up to be strong adults who can then carry on this deen to the world.

I should be able to pray behind men, not behind a wall. The hadith says that the best among men are in the front rows and the best among women are in the back rows. This hadith came about due to men and women intermingling and gawking at each other at the mosque during prayer. The prophet was an intelligent person, he was capable of making rulings and those rulings are the most perfect system of personal and communal governance this world has ever known. So, would the prophet have not created a barrier, or a wall on his own, should that have been the wise thing to do? He never created such a thing, never mentioned it, nor did any of the sahabah. The women were in the mosque, with the men, with the prophet, praying, listening to lectures, visiting, having fellowship with one another. We should not behave any different inside of a mosque than we do outside of a mosque. If it is not OK to purposelessly mingle with women in the mosque, then it is also not OK to do so outside the mosque. The mosque has no spiritual value. It is a building. It is not holy. It is not a relic. It is simply a space for us to gather, safely. During the time of the Prophet people actually lived in the mosque, they slept there, hung out, studied, read books, debated issues. The mosque was a community center. A place for Muslims to handle all kinds of life issues, for men and for women.

The women came to the Prophet and told him they felt left out, that the men occupied all of his time and they had questions too, that they did not want to ask in the presence of the men. The Prophet realized he had been neglecting them and set aside a day that was only for them, to come, obtain his advice and ask him questions. This did not mean the women only were allowed on that day, or that they were to be separated. This was simply because sometimes women have delicate issues that we need advice on and we do not want to ask in the wide open room with hundreds of ears listening, and this is what is best, to seek advice in private, not to broadcast your business to the world, for men and for women.
What is more beautiful than our mothers praying?

The Prophet never shunned women away from him, he never turned his nose up at them, never degraded them, never treated them badly. He accepted anyone that came into his presence. Should we not be doing the same?

These same men who separate women from the community, make the mosque unwelcoming, are the same ones who stand on their soap boxes 24/7 bellowing about SUNNAH, SUNNAH, SUNNAH. It is sunnah to do this and sunnah to do that. They seem to only want to enforce or focus on the burdensome parts of the sunnah, the laws and regulations. The sunnah is also filled with love, mercy, a welcoming salaam and kindness, inclusiveness and respect are mere minimums. 

As a Muslim woman, I fear the mosque. Astaghfirallah!!

I fear it because it is scary, it is dreary, depressing and I am clearly not welcome there. I get a more welcome greeting and acceptance from the greeter at my local Wal Mart than I do from my local Mosque. That simply should not be the case.

I love mosques, they are beautiful and they display the beauty and creativity of the religion I love so much. The main prayer room is always so well decorated, beautiful clean carpet, windows that let in strategic amounts of natural light, a dome with murals and calligraphy and mosaics. The men get to enjoy this. The women are shoved off in a dark room, with Styrofoam ceilings, horrid lighting, no air flow, no space to actually pray, and a speaker that transmits to us sacred knowledge, yet sounds like a drive thru speaker. Yes, we are instructed that it is better for women to pray at home. That instruction was given in reference to jummah prayers, and it also says forbid not the women from attending. Allah gave me the right to enter a mosque, to pray in a mosque, to receive education,
advice, guidance and support from the mosque. Allah gave these rights to me, not a shura council, not a board of directors, not a group of curmudgeons. I should not have to fight for these rights. I spend my whole life fighting for rights, fighting for a seat at the table, the mosque is the last place I should have to fight for.

What is the difference between these two signs?

I should never have to enter the mosque from a side door, I should never be sequestered into a dark room, totally void of beauty and disconnected from my community. If I am good enough to marry a Muslim man, and raise Muslim children then I am good enough to sit a modest distance behind those same men and obtain the same information, in the same fashion as they do.

I truly believe the saying 'as go the women, so goes the community'. This is because women are the teachers. We set the tone, not only in our homes, but in our friendships, work places and our society. If women feel disconnected, disenfranchised and unwelcome, so will their children. We have a serious problem in the ummah of unhappy, uneducated, Muslim women. These women want to learn, they want to pray, they long for support, acceptance, respite and a safe space.

So if mosques would hold classes, events, have a sisters group, have a sisters shura council that works as a liaison between the board of directors and the sisters, have committees of sisters that work to fulfill the needs of the women in the community.

The mosque needs to offer safe, fun, modern, Islamic alternatives for single Muslims. Have mixers, offer match making services, have classes on various topics of finding and being a spouse.

All of these activities should be free. There should be no cost. I realize things cost money, but every mosque I have ever been to has found a way to ask me for money. Stop asking for money for the building fund, there is no point building a building that no one wants to enter. Ask for donations to support education and activities to build relationships, a sense of belonging, ownership and pride in our community, the building fund will follow by default because when people have pride in something, when there is a real need for more space, people rise to the occasion.