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A Muslim Woman Led Prayer


Syed Ebrahim

On Friday, March 18, 2005 I attended what was termed as a 'historic Jum'ah' led by a woman named, Dr. Amina Wadud in New York city. Perhaps, a big deal for Muslims; a small deal for kafirs all around the world!

While I have in the past shunned these meaningless hate-mongering  jihad-screaming paradise-promising hell-fearing Fridays Jum'ah for as long as I can remember, I felt compelled to attend it to witness and experience this historic event called and organized by a handful of brave sisters who finally refuse to sit in the shadows. It's as though they felt 'enough is enough' and began loudly and clearly paving the way toward a new beginning for a new generation of muslim women all over the world. They know they can't afford to hide their heads in the sand any longer. They know for every single breath they take, there is a muslim woman being violated, oppressed, and murdered somewhere in this world by the muslim men in the name of Islamic traditions, customs, and beliefs.

Despite the fact that we are in the 21st century and in the United States, Dr. Wadud was not without slight apprehension and nervousness for leading a mixed genders Jum'ah prayer participated by 150 men, women, boys and girls while dozens of media people took photos. For an uncivilized world, the only crime Dr.Wadud committed was to stand and pray to her God sending a message that she, along with millions of other females, is one of HER important creations and wants to be counted as a person rather than an object. Did Allah hear her prayers? I am not certain. But she was watched and heard by millions of people in the Muslim countries with fatwas flying as shock-waves protesting Dr.Wadud for committing blasphemy.

After her an hour-long sermon, Dr.Wadud began her prayer. I stood in the row with two males on my left and about ten women on my right side while almost the entire front row was occupied by sisters. I admit it was the first time in my life that I had an opportunity to pray with women around me. Except for their nice smell oozing off from various perfumes, a condition so lacking in all-male mosque, I honestly failed to notice any significant difference of a Jum'ah led by woman. At the end, I stood up and shook hands with a few sisters around me. Perhaps, it was because of the way I was conditioned growing up and living with women around me. As my biology teacher once said, "the most important sex organ is in your head; not between your legs". In contrast, Muslim men are raised to wire-transfer their hormonal needs instantly when they see a woman's skin, thus allowing as simple as a handshake to be considered a temptation into mini-ejaculation. I have male cousins who refuse to have an eye contact with my sister when speaking to her.

After the prayer was over, surrounded by reporters from as far away as Bangeladesh, I wanted to grab the microphone and thank the sisters with a few words. But an American convert stopped and whispered, "hey, watch out! the world will be watching and it only takes one fanatic to hunt you down". I stood and hesitated. But if I had a chance, I'd have said these:

------" to all my sisters! I thank you for organizing this historic event today. It's like Rosa Parks who refuses to give up her front seat to a white man on a bus about 50 years ago. You have been in the shadows for too long. You have been wiped out as if you don't exist. Now is the time for you to take Islam from the hands of those one-dimensional seven century minded mullahs and imams who claim to speak to Allah with no credentials. Today was a small step towards your human rights; but perhaps also a giant opening to the gate of Muslim women's freedom. We are here today to support you, stand by you, to stand with you, and to stand behind you. But we are not going to stand in front of you any longer. We will take a one step back and you will take two steps forward. Starting today we urge you to take off your hijab, chador, and abaya. What mullahs call,' protection and modesty', is nothing but 'mind-control' and 'subjugation'. You have been in a physical/mental straitjacket for too long. Set yourself free, sisters! The global train with people of all religions on board has left a long time ago. We are left behind at the station with little means to support ourselves except to listen to the mullahs who give us rewards more for 'death' than for 'life'. Snap out of it today and join the modern world. You are half of our population and we can afford to leave you in the dark no more. You are our sisters, our aunts, our mothers and our teachers. Our whole society for too long has been wrapped up in the 'modesty blanket' and we are breathing now for air that is filled with commonsense, real equality, humanity and freedom. Girls all over the Islamic World are suffering and their place in history is marked by what their clothing is rather than their achievements in society. You lead the way and the rest will follow.  Thank you for coming out to pave the way for Muslim girls of tomorrow...."

As I came out to the street to head back to my office, I realized there were dozens of protestors with signs such as, "mixed genders today; Hellfire tomorrow". And later I read on some Islamic sites which comment that if Dr.Wadud were in their country, she'd be stoned for apostasy. Show me a good Muslim man; I will show you an obedient good-for-procreation-only wife behind him.


 

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