The Muslim sisters of Rosa Parks: they won’t go to the back of the mosque

Muslim American women are starting to engage in acts of feminist civil disobedience against mosque gender segregation. This is what an assertion of subjectivity, humanity, dignity, equality, and conscience looks like:

Here’s Asra Nomani on the recent act of civil disobedience in Washington:

Shortly after noon on a recent Saturday, Fatima Thompson, a Muslim convert, and three other women prayed in the men’s section of the lavishly decorated Islamic Center of Washington, in a moment akin to Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat.

A bearded, middle-aged man scolded one of the women. “Sister, go there!” he said, pointing to a back corner, dubbed the “penalty box” by one disgruntled woman. The seven-foot wooden barrier separated the men and women’s sections in a visual metaphor of gender apartheid. She ignored him.

Right on.

Of course the patriarchal authoritarians are more than outraged. They’re livid. Here’s Nomani on the reaction of a fundamentalist Saudi cleric:

Just this week, a hard-line Saudi cleric issued a fatwa on his Arabic-language Web site calling for the killing of Muslims who don’t enforce strict gender segregation.

Read Nomani’s full article here. The future of Islam belongs to these moderate women insisting on their subjectivity, equality, humanity, right to conscience, and dignity—and not to that ridiculous anachronism of 21st century cultural history, the fundamentalist medievalist.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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