Editorial: Sikh Worship Space May Have Lessons for Muslims

February 18, 2004

Source: Muslim Wakeup!


On February 18, 2004 Muslim Wakeup! published an editorial on how Sikhs use worship space to separate men and women: "The Gurdwara is cut in two by an invisible barrier, one side for women and the other for men. Yet, there is no wall and no difference between the two spaces. This invisible line cuts the Gurdwara in half through its length, giving men and women the exact same amount of space and same distance to the front of the room... And thus, the point of this description is to show how a sacred place can be divided by gender, yet allow for complete equality between them. Despite the fact that some Muslims say that if men and women were to sit side by side they would be too distracted, I don’t believe this is always the case. In the Gurdwara, men and women sat side by side, albeit with some five feet of distance between them, and I never once noticed a lustful glance or nod from one side to the other. Rather, everyone sat in their groups, either talking among each other or focusing on the front of the room where the Granthi was performing the services. The debate among Muslims, especially in North America, over the rights to space in the mosque is a very hot and controversial issue. While some believe that women should either not be allowed in a mosque or should be relegated to a back room and others advocate no gender separation at all in communal prayer, the Sikh approach offers a good compromise."