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Angela
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Quote Angela Replybullet Topic: Rights of Women in the Grand Mosque
    Posted: 31 August 2006 at 11:54am

 


 


Rights of Women in the Grand Mosque
8/30/2006 - Social - Article Ref: AN0608-3096
Number of comments: 20
Opinion Summary: Agree:16  Disagree:1  Neutral:3
By: Hatoon Al-Fassi
Arab News* -


Recently a number of Saudi newspapers carried a report concerning possible new prayer arrangements for women at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. The new arrangements are based on proposals made by a special panel formed according to directives from Makkah Governor Prince Abdul Majeed. The panel was composed of representatives from the Makkah Governorate, the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs and the King Fahd Institute for Haj Research. It proposed that the present prayer area for women at the mataf (circumambulation area) be shifted to two other locations on the ground floor on the northern side of the mosque. The panel members said that women would thus get a larger prayer space in the new area compared to the present one at the mataf. They said the new area was away from places of overcrowding, the mass movement of people and the focus of television cameras, thus ensuring the safety and privacy of women and allowing them to see the Holy Kaaba but avoid the disruption of tawaf (circumambulation).

As this proposal was made without considering the views of women, I thought it my duty to express my opinion of it with the hope that the panel's proposal is rejected. It not only goes against the message of Islam but also wounds the feelings of Muslim women.

The main problem of this proposal is that it denies Muslim women the right to pray at the holiest place on Earth, near the Holy Kaaba, where prayers are answered and where the faithful can achieve better devotion and closeness to God. This is also one of the factors that differentiate prayer at the Grand Mosque from prayer performed in hotels overlooking it. Throughout Islamic history - from the earliest days of Islam - women have never been banned from praying inside the mataf or any other parts of the two holy mosques. There have, however, been many recent restrictions on women praying and this new proposal is simply further evidence of this. 

The religion of Islam was revealed for both men and women. Both sexes are equal when it comes to performing their religious duties and in terms of rewards and punishments. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has instructed that women must not be banned from mosques. Despite these facts, we have observed that the general trend at the two holy mosques is to restrict the prayers of women and limit the areas where they can pray - as if they were a nuisance to others and unsuitable for those holy places. Some even think that the presence of women in the mataf will affect smooth television coverage of prayers inside the mosque and it would be better if the women had been confined to their homes.

We have also seen people widely circulating certain Hadiths, whose authenticity is doubtful, that it was better for women to pray at home than in other places as if the status of the two holy mosques is lower than that of a house. 

Women, especially those coming from distant lands, face many problems and constraints at the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah. The revered Rawda Shareef is open to women only a few hours each day while most of the time, it is for men only. Women, unlike men, are not allowed to face the grave of the Prophet and can only pass by the side of it. The same is also true for the graves of the early Caliphs Abu Bakr and Omar; women can only pass by them - not face them. 

Whatever the circumstances, no Muslim can seriously entertain the idea that the presence of women in the Haram disturbs worshippers and visitors. We don't hear the same said about the presence of men. Are the prayers of men somehow better than those of women?

Let us return to the Grand Mosque in Makkah where women are often driven away by officials - both male and female - who tell them to complete their prayers quickly and generally interfere with the women's prayers and meditations. At present, women are limited to an enclosed area in the mataf from which, if they are sitting, they are not able to see the Kaaba. The area is small, confined and similar to a prison and is often moved depending on seasonal demands and a variety of justifications. Now the proposal is to remove this prayer area from the mataf once and for all. 

My contention is that the panel should have made its proposal without denying the rights of women. In Islam, the only instruction regarding the prayers of women is that they should not pray standing in front of men and, in our times, woman pray in the last rows or on the upper floors of mosques. 

In order to allow women to pray in the Grand Mosque in the proper manner, let us allocate a special area for them beginning from the Kaaba and ending at masaa (the running area between Safa and Marwa). The width of this area could be determined based on field studies conducted by the Haj Research Institute on the number of women who come to pray at the mosque. If this were done, the equality of sexes promulgated by Islam would be achieved. 

It would also protect women from prejudice and ensure that no men prayed behind them. Moreover, women would be able to pray in comfort, sit closer to the Kaaba and achieve maximum devotion and closeness to God.

I hope the officials will base their final decision considering the rights of women. I pray they will not implement any proposal which violates the spirit and message of Islam that was sent for all of humanity without any discrimination.

 

Hatoon Al-Fassi is a Saudi writer and historian based in Riyadh. She can be reached at: Hatoon-alfassi@columnist.com



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Quote herjihad Replybullet Posted: 31 August 2006 at 4:25pm
Originally posted by Angela

 


 


Rights of Women in the Grand Mosque
8/30/2006 - Social - Article Ref: AN0608-3096
Number of comments: 20
Opinion Summary: Agree:16  Disagree:1  Neutral:3
By: Hatoon Al-Fassi
Arab News* -


Recently a number of Saudi newspapers carried a report concerning possible new prayer arrangements for women at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. The new arrangements are based on proposals made by a special panel formed according to directives from Makkah Governor Prince Abdul Majeed. The panel was composed of representatives from the Makkah Governorate, the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs and the King Fahd Institute for Haj Research. It proposed that the present prayer area for women at the mataf (circumambulation area) be shifted to two other locations on the ground floor on the northern side of the mosque. The panel members said that women would thus get a larger prayer space in the new area compared to the present one at the mataf. They said the new area was away from places of overcrowding, the mass movement of people and the focus of television cameras, thus ensuring the safety and privacy of women and allowing them to see the Holy Kaaba but avoid the disruption of tawaf (circumambulation).

As this proposal was made without considering the views of women, I thought it my duty to express my opinion of it with the hope that the panel's proposal is rejected. It not only goes against the message of Islam but also wounds the feelings of Muslim women.

The main problem of this proposal is that it denies Muslim women the right to pray at the holiest place on Earth, near the Holy Kaaba, where prayers are answered and where the faithful can achieve better devotion and closeness to God. This is also one of the factors that differentiate prayer at the Grand Mosque from prayer performed in hotels overlooking it. Throughout Islamic history - from the earliest days of Islam - women have never been banned from praying inside the mataf or any other parts of the two holy mosques. There have, however, been many recent restrictions on women praying and this new proposal is simply further evidence of this. 

The religion of Islam was revealed for both men and women. Both sexes are equal when it comes to performing their religious duties and in terms of rewards and punishments. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has instructed that women must not be banned from mosques. Despite these facts, we have observed that the general trend at the two holy mosques is to restrict the prayers of women and limit the areas where they can pray - as if they were a nuisance to others and unsuitable for those holy places. Some even think that the presence of women in the mataf will affect smooth television coverage of prayers inside the mosque and it would be better if the women had been confined to their homes.

We have also seen people widely circulating certain Hadiths, whose authenticity is doubtful, that it was better for women to pray at home than in other places as if the status of the two holy mosques is lower than that of a house. 

Women, especially those coming from distant lands, face many problems and constraints at the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah. The revered Rawda Shareef is open to women only a few hours each day while most of the time, it is for men only. Women, unlike men, are not allowed to face the grave of the Prophet and can only pass by the side of it. The same is also true for the graves of the early Caliphs Abu Bakr and Omar; women can only pass by them - not face them. 

Whatever the circumstances, no Muslim can seriously entertain the idea that the presence of women in the Haram disturbs worshippers and visitors. We don't hear the same said about the presence of men. Are the prayers of men somehow better than those of women?

Let us return to the Grand Mosque in Makkah where women are often driven away by officials - both male and female - who tell them to complete their prayers quickly and generally interfere with the women's prayers and meditations. At present, women are limited to an enclosed area in the mataf from which, if they are sitting, they are not able to see the Kaaba. The area is small, confined and similar to a prison and is often moved depending on seasonal demands and a variety of justifications. Now the proposal is to remove this prayer area from the mataf once and for all. 

My contention is that the panel should have made its proposal without denying the rights of women. In Islam, the only instruction regarding the prayers of women is that they should not pray standing in front of men and, in our times, woman pray in the last rows or on the upper floors of mosques. 

In order to allow women to pray in the Grand Mosque in the proper manner, let us allocate a special area for them beginning from the Kaaba and ending at masaa (the running area between Safa and Marwa). The width of this area could be determined based on field studies conducted by the Haj Research Institute on the number of women who come to pray at the mosque. If this were done, the equality of sexes promulgated by Islam would be achieved. 

It would also protect women from prejudice and ensure that no men prayed behind them. Moreover, women would be able to pray in comfort, sit closer to the Kaaba and achieve maximum devotion and closeness to God.

I hope the officials will base their final decision considering the rights of women. I pray they will not implement any proposal which violates the spirit and message of Islam that was sent for all of humanity without any discrimination.

 

Hatoon Al-Fassi is a Saudi writer and historian based in Riyadh. She can be reached at: Hatoon-alfassi@columnist.com

Bismillah,

Thank you, Sister Angela, for posting this.  It's a very important subject.

Salaamu Alaykum

Al-Hamdulillah (From a Married Muslimah) La Howla Wa La Quwata Illa BiLLah - There is no Effort or Power except with Allah's Will.
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fatima
 
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Quote fatima Replybullet Posted: 02 September 2006 at 4:55am

Bismillah irrahman irrahim

Assalamu alaikum

Thank you angela, its really sad what bit of authority does to human nature. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is helper of the helpless ones and He is enough for me and inshaAllah all my sisters in islam. Praying near Ka'aba and on maqaame ibrahim is right of muslim regardless of sexes. I pray to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala that He guards our right inshaAllah.

wassalam

Say: (O Muhammad) If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults, and Allah is Forgiving, MercifuL
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najamsahar
 
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Quote najamsahar Replybullet Posted: 02 September 2006 at 9:34am

 

This report is simply stupid. The rules were changed because of pressing circumstances and though I am usually skeptical of the way the government operates here, I am more surprised at how this journalist has used her skills to present a wrong and baseless argument!

 

Alhamdulillah I visit the Grand Mosque at least twice a month with my husband and children. One of the Hajj that I was blessed to perform, I did it with a VIP(?) group from US. Part of my second Hajj was with a VIP group from Saudi Arabia and part of it was with the poorest people on the street, InshaAllah I will tell my lovely experiences with these beloved people later.

 

The major hurdle in controlling the issues of security and discipline is the huge numbers of people, we are talking about hundreds of thousands at any given time in the Haram. At prayer times, we are talking in millions. Add to this the characteristics of pilgrims

 

-They speak many different languages, English and Arabic speaking pilgrims are rare

 

-Many are here as a result of years of saving up, this is indeed once in a lifetime opportunity for most. Hence their zeal works up into a frenzy

 

-They have information which is generally believed to be true but is not. For eg,After the seven circuits of tawaf, the pilgrim prays are maqqm e ibrahim, true. But these days, the circle of people that are doing the tawaf is so big that this particular place is taken up by them. Now if a pilgrim insists on doing the rakats at this place, he/she is creating a potential for stampede. There are many fatwas and the scholars are unanimous that if there is a crowd and if a person fears that praying at this place will cause harm to himself and others, praying anywhere else is perfectly acceptable.

 

-They refuse to follow rules. The religious police ask for very simple things, “don’t pray in walkways,

don’t pray where people are doing tawaf,

don’t stand for long periods of time praying at hateem and other strategic places and allow others a chance as well.”

I have seen people simply refuse to understand and they think that this is their right as they are praying, they do not realize how much they are becoming a hindrance to others”

 

These are the basic flaws in the above article

 

The main problem of this proposal is that it denies Muslim women the right to pray at the holiest place on Earth, near the Holy Kaaba, where prayers are answered and where the faithful can achieve better devotion and closeness to God. This is also one of the factors that differentiate prayer at the Grand Mosque from prayer performed in hotels overlooking it. Throughout Islamic history - from the earliest days of Islam - women have never been banned from praying inside the mataf or any other parts of the two holy mosques. There have, however, been many recent restrictions on women praying and this new proposal is simply further evidence of this. 

 

This restriction is only for the time of the congregation prayer. Five times a day and 10 minutes max each time. The other times women can go as close to the kaaba as they want to.

There is no saying that mataf is the place where prayers as answered. The place of prayers being answered is about 5 meters wide near the Kaaba door, After the Isha prayer, men are restricted from going there and women can go and pray etc. The place is so crowded, it is hard to breathe. People are crushed against each other.

 The ruling for differentiation of prayer from other places is “that one is considered part of the congregation of the Haram as long as the space between the rows is not 2-rows away” During Hajj and ramadhan, the rows of worshippers extends from the first row right in from of the kaaba door through the mataf, though the three levels of the contructed areas, through the parapets and then the rows spill onto the streets, one kerbs and everywhere, the numbers are stagerring. The person about a mile away is not deficient in his worship when compared to the one in the mataf.

 

Also, if we look at the stats

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quote fatima Replybullet Posted: 03 September 2006 at 4:59am

Bismillah irrahman irrahim

Assalamu alaikum

JazakAllah khair sister for sharing this with us, well it shows what a one sided reporting can do. Most people who come back from Hajj and Umrah always say how strict the enforcement of law is in Saudi Arabia but my dad always says that they have to manage million and millions of people. It is right when its said that there are always two sides to each story.

wassalam

Say: (O Muhammad) If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults, and Allah is Forgiving, MercifuL
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Quote najamsahar Replybullet Posted: 03 September 2006 at 7:15am

 

In continuation-----------

 

The religion of Islam was revealed for both men and women. Both sexes are equal when it comes to performing their religious duties and in terms of rewards and punishments. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has instructed that women must not be banned from mosques. Despite these facts, we have observed that the general trend at the two holy mosques is to restrict the prayers of women and limit the areas where they can pray - as if they were a nuisance to others and unsuitable for those holy places. Some even think that the presence of women in the mataf will affect smooth television coverage of prayers inside the mosque and it would be better if the women had been confined to their homes.

The sexes are not equal when it comes to congregational prayers. Men are to pray in the front rows and women at the back rows, women are not allowed to pray alongside men.

However during the time of Hajj, men and women pray together, interspersed with each other, wherever they can find the space. Women are even in the front rows.

 

I have never seen any trend to restrict women. I feel the two grand mosques are women friendly and child friendly. In the Prophets mosque, there is a womens sections which is further divided into sections for women with kids and women without kids. I have felt this to be a great blessing. Whenever I went to a mosque, I would hate it if my kids created a disturbance to other worshippers and with this new rule, I have a place where there are other moms like me and many times the older children watch and play with the younger ones while the moms pray. Women who are without children and want to pray in quieter surroundings can go to “no kids” section. This does not mean that children are not welcome in the mosque or that they are a nuisance!

 

 

We have also seen people widely circulating certain Hadiths, whose authenticity is doubtful, that it was better for women to pray at home than in other places as if the status of the two holy mosques is lower than that of a house. 

Yes, these Hadiths are in circulation and fatwas too which are exhorting women to pray at home. There is a background to this. The Mosques are huge, there is a flourishing “lost children” office in each of them. During prayer, women are absorbed in prayer while the children run around and get lost. In the smaller mosques, children often open the doors and even run out to the street. In this scenario, even I would advice some women with unique circumstances to pray at home as it makes sense and islam makes a concession to them. Secondly, women are not obligated to perform the prayer in congregation and women cannot try to equal men here.

 

 

 

Let us return to the Grand Mosque in Makkah where women are often driven away by officials - both male and female - who tell them to complete their prayers quickly

 

Men as well as women because the officials want to start organizing rows for prayers about 30 mins before each adhaan and for cleaning.

 

Here’s another thing that the officials do. They get some volunteers from among the worshippers about 10 mins before each prayer and the volunteers move among the ranks of seated worshippers and offer to take their Qurans and put them away. Most worshippers refuse to comply and want to read the Quran right up until they stand for prayer and many may feel this is wrong and they feel that the officials are denying them the right to read Quran.

BUT this is a big misconception, the wisdom behind doing such is that, people read right till they stand up for prayer and then leave the quran next to them on the floor. Some other person may step on it (it happens a lot) unknowlingly! The Officials or religious police are simply put in bad light because people do not understand the wisdom behind what they do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and generally interfere with the women's prayers and meditations. At present, women are limited to an enclosed area in the mataf from which, if they are sitting, they are not able to see the Kaaba. The area is small, confined and similar to a prison and is often moved depending on seasonal demands and a variety of justifications. Now the proposal is to remove this prayer area from the mataf once and for all. 

Women are not limited in this area, when it is not time for congregation prayer, no one asks them to move UNLESS they are in someones way. There is an etiquette for prayer and meditation which applied for men and women alike. If someone acts as though he or she is the only one who is present in the Haram and do not respect others convenience, they will and must be asked to move where they wont be a trouble to others.

 

Women are allowed unlimited access throughout the Haram and there are many places where one can just sit down alone or with their husbands and kids and pray. There are 3 levels which are easily accessible by elevators and ramps and what have you. If you would like to be in peace, one should go to one of the upper levels which give a lovely view of the Kaaba.

 

Infact, women are never stopped from going into any place. Rather it is the men who are dealt with harshly should they try to go into the womens areas.

 

 

My contention is that the panel should have made its proposal without denying the rights of women. In Islam, the only instruction regarding the prayers of women is that they should not pray standing in front of men and, in our times, woman pray in the last rows or on the upper floors of mosques. 
The proposal is based on this very principal. By having an area in the mataf for women, there were men praying behind women and with women having a separate sections, it will ensure that the hadith she refers too is acted upon.


In order to allow women to pray in the Grand Mosque in the proper manner, let us allocate a special area for them beginning from the Kaaba and ending at masaa (the running area between Safa and Marwa). The width of this area could be determined based on field studies conducted by the Haj Research Institute on the number of women who come to pray at the mosque. If this were done, the equality of sexes promulgated by Islam would be achieved. 

Well, my experience throughout has been that there is never any shortage of space for women. Women have never been moved to allow convenience for men, it is the other way around. And women have been given enclosed spaces for those that want to take off the niqaab or rest or nurse their babies. There are open spaces for those that want to sit with the men accompanying them. It’s all a very reasonable and just arrangement. There are great numbers of people to consider and the greater good is always given priority.

 



It would also protect women from prejudice and ensure that no men prayed behind them. Moreover, women would be able to pray in comfort, sit closer to the Kaaba and achieve maximum devotion and closeness to God.

There is no prejudice. Even with the proposal women can go very close to the Kaaba right up till the door! No one can dare to stop them based on their gender., Even the officials except when the congregational prayer has started. For those women who want to avoid being crushed with men while going close to the kaaba, they simply have to go around 10 Pm when the place is reserved for women.

The picture that this lady has presented of women in the Haram is untrue. Women are neither oppressed or anything like that. I have seen women argue with officials if they were asked to move, women admonishing men who dared to drink from the water fountains exclusively for women.

Also, any regular visitor knows that the Saudi guards are extremely cautious when dealing with women. The culture is that they do not even look up when they talk to women. There are many women that put their prayer mate wherever they like, even in the walkways and the poor gaurds are requesting, “sister please, time for salat” and then quoting hadith about women praying behind men. These sisters are unfazed, they know that these guys can only request while thye take the opportunity of a life time and pray to their hearts fullest!:)

 

 

Najamsahar

 

 

 

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Quote najamsahar Replybullet Posted: 03 September 2006 at 7:23am
Originally posted by fatima

Bismillah irrahman irrahim

Assalamu alaikum

JazakAllah khair sister for sharing this with us, well it shows what a one sided reporting can do. Most people who come back from Hajj and Umrah always say how strict the enforcement of law is in Saudi Arabia but my dad always says that they have to manage million and millions of people. It is right when its said that there are always two sides to each story.

wassalam

 

 

Fatima,

Let me tell you an interesting fact. The newspaper Arab news where this article was taken from has an online edition which is not available to anyone trying to reach it from a Saudi server. Hence I can not vote to disagree with this article though I am in the right position to do so because this ruling effects me more.

This newspaper in many ways tells its readers what they like to hear. It caters to the western mind by saying that women are oppressed in Islam. I agree that women are oppressed in Saudi Arabia but that this because of the cultural and tribal mindsets and not Islam.

Its editorial section has more posts from US readers than local readers, not because the local people are not writing but because this paper feeds to the western audience.

It caters to the local population by publishing some tittilating stories in a very bad taste.

Well, I dont think we can trust any news agency these days, all are biased!

-Najamsahar

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Quote Angela Replybullet Posted: 06 September 2006 at 9:13am

Thanks Najam,

I'm grateful to see that its more of a space issue than a sex issue.  When I saw this one on the frontpage of IC, I gave it more weight than if it had been in another paper.  But, its always good to hear the other side.  I find most of the time, the truth is usually somewhere in the middle......

As Islam continues to Grow, the Hajj will continue to increase.  I wonder what will happen in 50-100 years when half the world is Muslim?

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