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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Stand for our sisters

Posted by: "G.Waleed Kavalec"
Wed Sep 13, 2006 9:21 am (PST)
<http://www.arabnews.com/>
The Middle East's Leading English Language Daily

Monday, 11, September, 2006 (18, Sha`ban, 1427)

Women's Petition Opposes Grand Mosque Plans
<http://www.arabnews.com/?artid=86351>
Razan Baker, Arab News —

JEDDAH, 11 September 2006 — Proposals to shift the women's prayer area away
from the Holy Kaaba and from out of the mataaf (circumambulation area) in
the Grand Mosque to two alternative places in the massive prayer complex has
faced stiff criticism from Muslim women across the globe.

In protest at the proposals, a petition has been posted at the
www.petitiononline.com website, which has so far attracted over 1,000
signatures.

Behind the petition is Aisha Schwartz, 45, the founder and director of the
Muslimah Writers Alliance in Washington DC. Schwartz says that the petition
is directed at the authorities in the Kingdom.

Speaking to Arab News, Schwartz said: "It is an undeniable manifestation of
Islamic belief and teaching that we are to uphold what is right and abhor
that which is inherently wrong."

The introduction to the petition states: "The religion of Islam was revealed
for both men and women. Both sexes are equal when it comes to the
performance of religious duties and in terms of rewards and punishments. The
Prophet (peace be upon him) also instructed that women must not be banned
from mosques."

In reaction to the proposed measures, the Muslimah Writers Alliance has set
up a group entitled the Grand Mosque Equal Access for Women Project, which
is currently campaigning worldwide via the Internet (
www.muslimahwritersalliance.com). The alliance hopes to lobby Saudi
authorities with the aim of ensuring the proposals do not materialize.

Supporting MWA's petition are Muslims from Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain,
Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Dubai, Egypt, England, France,
Germany, Hungary, India, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia,
Mongolia, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, the
Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden,
Switzerland, Turkey and the USA.

"The fact that the signatures on MWA's Grand Mosque Equal Access for Women
petition are, to date, representative of Muslim voices from 38 different
countries and 28 states across North America, is demonstrative of the fact
that the issue at hand must not be taken lightly," said Schwartz.

Referring to the proposals, Schwartz expressed alarm that "a small,
government-appointed group of men" could be allowed to make a decision
affecting hundreds of thousands of Muslims without hearing what they have to
say and think.

"They are not taking into consideration the truest of Islam's teachings on
equality and nondiscrimination in reaching their decisions. This leaves us
with a critically serious problem; and complacency will never resolve it,"
she said.

In addition to the international outcry, Saudi women are also up in arms
against the suggestion. Suhaila Hammad, research director at the National
Society for Human Rights, said: "Only the Qur'an, our Holy Book which has
established everything that is right, can solve this matter."

Hammad was referring to Verse 25 in Surah Al-Haj: "As to those who have
rejected (Allah), and would keep back (men) from the Way of Allah, and from
the Sacred Mosque, which We have made (open) to (all) men — equal is the
dweller there and the visitor from the country — and any whose purposes
therein is profanity or wrong-doing — them will We cause to taste of a most
grievous punishment."

Hammad added that out of three million pilgrims visiting the Holy Mosque in
1425 H, 46 percent were women.

"This means if they follow the holy book and aim at a sense of equality, 46
percent of the circumambulation area would be exclusively for women. But
instead from the 18,000 square meter space, for every man there is
53.06square cm and for each woman there is 17 square cm," she said.

According to Hammad women's prayer areas should be evenly spread throughout
the prayer complex.

"That way women would be close to their husbands as they pray, and most
importantly would have larger areas to pray like the men have," she said.

Citing traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Hammad
explained that in the time of the Prophet women would join men in prayer.
"This is a clear indication that there was no border between men and women,"
she concluded.

Many Saudi women have also joined their female counterparts in signing
Schwartz's petition. Lubna Ghalayini, 36, who works at a Saudi women's
empowerment organization, said: "If every woman were to deny herself the
opportunity of forwarding her voice and signature to make a difference, then
nothing would ever happen. But if we all participated and fought for what we
believe is our right, then each voice would positively contribute in making
a difference."

Another petitioner is Muna Alyusuf, 46, who is an intercultural training
manager. "This decision must be petitioned and vetoed against as it is just
one of the many ways to hurt the image of Islam and it is an indirect way to
restrict Muslim women's right to practice their own faith," she said.

Alyusuf added that the enactment of the proposals "would only serve to fuel
more subtle discrimination against Muslim women. Muslim women and men all
over the world must object to this decision."

Sakinah Warid, 50, development coordinator at the Muslimah Writers Alliance,
said she converted to Islam in July 2001. "There are many Muslim women out
there who want the full experience of Haj. Why should we not be allowed
this?"

--

Salaam All

Perhaps the only way to stand for the equality the Quran COMMANDS for our
sister will be for all of us to forgo hajj until this is corrected.

Allah tells us to undertake hajj when we are able...

Are we truly ABLE when the Holy city is under the contol of an un-Islamic
oppressive regime,
one that is clearly being PROPPED UP by the Muslim-slaughtering west??

--

G. Waleed Kavalec
-------------------------------
... the Muslims were horrified to see the way Western Christians treated
their women in the Crusader states, and Christian scholars denounced
Islam for giving too much power to menials like slaves and women.
-----Karen Armstrong, Muhammad A Biography of The Prophet,
Harper Collins Publisher, USA, 1992, p.199

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