Marginalization, Isolation & The Women’s Mosque

If you’re upset at the concept of women creating their own space, then you truly have no idea how marginalized, isolated and emotionally, psychologically and spiritually abused many women are in our community – because of our community.

If you’re angry, I hope you’re even more angered when you hear of a woman no longer attending the masjid because she cannot reconcile how a religion can be so empowering to women, yet some of its worshippers use the same texts she loves to justify pushing her out of the visible community fabric and space.

If you’re appalled by the concept, I hope you’re appalled at the throngs of women who are psychologically crippled into thinking they are fitna so much so that they begin to hate themselves.

If you scoff at the idea, I hope you scoff with vigor when organizers ask women to be moderators for all male speaker panels to “balance out” the genders on stage.

If you claim this stems from ignorance, I hope your claim and investment in providing paths to female scholarship, ensuring women have ample and easy access to safe, trustworthy, empowering male and female scholars of the community- is even stronger.

If you’re furious, I hope you take your emotions into addressing the lack of opportunities for women to institutionally change masajid policies on boards, or the reality of the silence and lack of resources related to domestic violence, or double-standards, or breaking women down simply based on a marriage status or the stereotyping and racism that affects women.

And if you’re assuming that this is an attack on men, then I hope you do come to realize that men are also victims when we relegate, isolate and sometimes in policy ex-communicate their mothers, spouses, sisters, daughters, loved ones and potential female mentors.

Men are victims when we make men out to be animals who cannot control themselves. Men are victims when we sexualize our relationships so much to the point that it’s traumatizing for them to speak to their own sisters. Men are victims when they struggle and have no one to ask for support because it’s a taboo, when they’re lonely but have no one to connect with, and yet with all their male privilege, have never been taught how to channel it into supporting their sisters as allies. Men are victims when they’re not shown in our building structures that being a father is valuable; that having a ‘father’s room’ is just as important as having a ‘mother’s room’. Men are victims when we make the plight of our sisters only about the plight of our sisters.

Communities have forced women out of masajid. At least try to understand their pain when they are trying their best to find some semblance of a way back into it.

This is not an endorsement or a lack of an endorsement for the women’s masjid or a discussion specifically on the issue of whether or not the khutbah is valid from a legal perspective. I understand the call for women to work within existing masajid spaces to improve the situation. Had we really been practicing the Prophetic model, we would not be having these systemic and institutionalized problems in our worship centers.

So many women have done so for so long, sometimes to little or no avail. Which is why sometimes people seek to do things differently, because they feel consistently misheard and misplaced. This post isn’t to talk about the fiqhi issues of that or even the maslaha issues of that. It’s only to validate the raw pain.

This is simply an appeal to the heart: If your daughter has felt marginalized, isolated, suffocated, and looked at you, tears in her eyes, pain etched on her face, her heart shattering into millions of confused pieces, asking with sincerity, “Why can’t I pray in the pretty hall too? Why can’t I learn to be a Quran reciter too? Why can’t I study with the Shaykh too? Why don’t I have female role models too? Why wasn’t I born a male, too?”

What in God’s name are you going to say to her?


Maryam Amirebrahimi received her master’s in Education from UCLA, where her research focused on the effects of mentorship rooted in Critical Race Theory for urban high school students of color. She has memorized the Quran and is currently pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies through Al Azhar University.


This piece was reprinted from a post on Maryam Amirebrahimi’s Facebook page.

(Photo Credit: Stuart Palley/WSJ)

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