Mosque Pray-Ins Against Segregation Of Sexes Are Springing Up

May 22, 2010

Author: William Wan and Michael Laris

Source: The Washington Post

Last Saturday, five women took off their shoes and walked across the padded carpet at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque, one of the Washington region's largest Islamic centers.

For weeks, they had planned for this moment, to stand behind the men in the main prayer hall of the Falls Church mosque as an act of protest. Usually, women at the mosque pray in segregated spaces away from the men, but these women, who came from outside the Dar al-Hijrah community, wanted to make a point.

It was the third time this year that the women had staged a protest at a Washington area mosque, and, as before, the conflict began almost immediately. By the end, angry words would be exchanged, the police called.

Such "pray-in" protests have sprung up in Muslim communities across the country in the past decade as women's rights advocates and feminist Muslims have agitated for more shared spaces in mosques. One of the women at the Dar Al-Hijrah event, author Asra Nomani, was even featured in a 2009 film documenting her protest at a mosque in Morgantown, W.Va.

See also: Islam, Women