At the end of February, a Muslimah “pray-in” led by Fatima Thompson at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. created a stir in the media. A small group of women chose to pray in the back of the men’s section of the prayer area, rather than use the separate women’s section. Mosque leaders proceeded to inform the police after unsuccessfully asking the women to move to the small women’s “area off to the side and gated off by a solid seven foot partition.” The women were eventually asked to leave.
Masjid prayer areas for women are frequently criticized as shockingly unequal from men’s. Over at altmuslimah, Sarrah Abulughod eloquently writes about women’s place in the masjid:
When speaking to the multitude of women who complain about the accommodations and treatment they receive in the mosque, one common thread runs through their criticisms. They want a decent, clean, quiet space to reflect on their Lord, a space that does not pose a barrier to education or ideas, just as the male worshipers enjoy. Yes, some prefer a separate space altogether and we’re not discounting those among us who do, but regardless of whether the women’s prayer room is separate or not, the second-class nature of the back door, the dingy basement room, or the cluttered storage hall will not do any longer.