new to ramadan - questions for you!

okay everyone, i’m new to ramadan and i have a few serious questions for you all. i don’t mean to raise any difficult issues, offend, or cause any controversy- these are genuine questions, straight from my heart…so please treat them as such.

this is my second ramadan, but the first one in which i’m actually participating. last year, i sort of just watched my now-husband and a few friends go through it and helped cook for them. this year, i am observing the fast myself. while i am not muslim, i am still fasting for my own religious reasons and not just to “keep up” with my husband or to challenge myself or anything. i was raised a Christian (fasting is a practice outlined in the Bible, too, for many of the same reasons as in the Quaran) - and i am now, let’s say, interested in Islam.

i made my very first trip to our local mosque the other day for breaking the fast and to watch the prayers (i did not participate in the prayers, i simply watched and privately said my own). i have to say that my experience was a little disappointing and i’m hoping to find some insight from you all! in this mosque, the men were grouped in the front for prayers and the women in the back, behind a low wall. afterwards, the women were relegated to the basement, while the men had free range of the mosque (but most stayed upstairs). is this common? i guess that the genders are segregated to promote concentration on prayers, and to reduce distractions. but it seems too symbolic for me to ignore that the women have to stay in the back, and eat in the basement, while the men are in the front and eat above the women. i had the understanding that Islam actually promotes the equality of men and women (despite what the media may say), but my visit to the mosque has made me wonder! is that just a peculiarity of this particular mosque? maybe i am just being too sensitive about this?

also, as you may know, Christian churches are designed so that men and women sit mixed together during religious services and prayers, usually grouped in families. in my experience, this does a lot to bring families together and feel closer (to each other, while feeling closer to God). i remember some of the most beautiful moments between my mom and dad coming from watching them together at church. i guess i was disappointed because i think my experience at the mosque would have been much greater had my husband and i been side by side. as it was, i sat in the back and felt self-conscious. the ladies all just looked at me, a stranger, as a curiosity and never even offered so much as a smile to make me feel comfortable. truly, i feel that these ladies were far more distracting to me and my own personal thoughts and prayers than being near my husband would have been. i guess i’m just looking for anyone’s (man or woman!) input on this matter. why do you feel like gender segregation in the mosque is a good thing, why it helps you, what i should consider to open my mind to this a little more. what do you think i could do to improve my next experience?

i have TONS of questions to ask, actually, but i guess some are better saved for later (or for an imam!). these are just a few of the ones that really are bothering me lately, and i’d love to hear what you all have to say about these things.

finally, of course - Ramadan Mubarak!

I know that men and women should be seperated, either right and left or back and front.
But of course women should not have to eat in the basement :blink: maybe this mosque was an exception… :hm:

although I know about seperation when I was in Mecca men and women weren’t seperated in in some parts of the mosque and I saw a family praying together :slight_smile:

I hope this helps :slight_smile:

i know that also christian had to be separated(for ex. in my country is still like this. in church women are separated from men and it’s like this also in funeral procession…)
so it’s common to both christian and islam…

Hello Sunshine,
I can advise you to read a lot of information about this, so that wil help you understand.
I m a converted moslima and I read a lot also before I converted it helps me understand my religion.
Unfortunat I’ve not been to a mosque I hope I will soon incha Allah, but that’s because
I’m not married and its not allowed for a woman to go single. And I have no mahram, because my family is not musilman.
But lhamdulillah I met a real nice sister and maybe I can go together with her family.

But I can tell you that there are some good reasons why men and women are seperated, I will try to find the information
in English for you.
Also when you are used to pray, you understand why women pray seperat. For me I would really feel uncomfertable when I
have to do the salat among many strange men.

About Mekkah, I have been told, its not allowed to to go there as a single woman. You have to go there with your husband or mahram.

I’m still looking for the text answering your question in English, but I will give you
this site, her you can find lots of interesting e-books, in English

And another English site for women in Islam, hope you’ll find some answers her that will help you understand more of Islam incha Allah.

hey Sunshine, i’m no sheikha or scholar or anything, but here’s my input:
men and women don’t pray together because in prayer, we’re supposed to stand RIGHT by eachother’s side [shoulder-to-shoulder, feet-to-feet, we catchphrase it :D] and if you had men and women praying amongst eachother, a lot of people [me, personally, too] would find that extremely uncomfortable next to a stranger man, as fatamorgana mentioned … and you might say you’d stand next to your husband, but who knows who could find their way on the other side of you :stuck_out_tongue: and besides, at the mosque, with lots of people, it can get quite hectic and then you may end up praying next to someone else, not the person you stood next to originally …
regarding the men at the front and women at the back … i believe there’s perfect wisdom behind it … we all know what men are like [sorry guys :D] and it would be distracting for them to have women in front [especially in salah when there’s all the bending down and prostrating going on] if you know what i mean :slight_smile: and not to mention, for the woman … maybe it’s just me, but i hate to be sat AROUND random guys … never mind in FRONT of them, where they can see my back and i can’t see them :s
but there’s definitely no symbollic reason as to why it’s men at the FRONT and women BEHIND, of course :slight_smile:
in prayer, khushoo3 is important - it’s the ultimate goal that we try and reach when praying, and it’s difficult, not many people get it [i can say i don’t] … that’s the arabic word and i’m not sure of the translation but essentially, it’s total concentration and forgetting anything other than Allah as you pray … i’m a girl, but i’m sure i’m not wrong in saying some men would find that quite difficult with all these ladies in front :unsure:
as for the women eating in the basement, that is DEFINITELY something that [i won’t say only, maybe some others do too but] your mosque does itself … there’s no islamic reason behind it, i guess, it’s just the way they do it … maybe they have space issues, God knows, i won’t try and justify …
but for my mosque, we have two halls for women and one for men [there’s two for women because some women bring children and some don’t, and sometimes the children shout and cry during prayer so they made a special room for the women with children, cos others find it hard to concentrate and want to pray where there are no children] :slight_smile:
and it depends on the event [some are even mixed] but generally the women eat in the women’s hall [above ground :lol:] and the men in the men’s hall :smiley:
and about the non-smiling ladies … wtf :blink:
if you came to my mosque, you’d be welcomed with warmth :slight_smile: and they wouldn’t make tooo much of a big deal that you’d feel, yet again, like a stranger :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:
but definitely, there’s something wrong there … i can’t see why they’d look at you like that and i guess it’s a personal thing of theirs, and they’re wrong and possibly ignorant :slight_smile:
i don’t think you could do much to improve your next experience cos you were doing all the right things, and what ruined your experience was, mainly, i guess, the other ladies … and we can’t do much about them :frowning:
but you could try visiting other mosques, cos from what i’ve read, this mosque doesn’t represent the majority at all … where do you live, by the way ??
andddd, i think i’ve done all i can … if you wanna ask anything else, i’m here, and i hope my response helped a little :hap: x

and thankyou :slight_smile: Ramadan mubarak to you too, love, and hope the fasting is going well :smiley: