At the most recent pray-in at the Islamic Center of Washington DC, we made progress with some of the mosque officials. One male staffer held the front door open for us as we entered the main prayer hall. And when the women began to offer their sunnah prayers, the acting imam for that day defended our presence and our right to pray in the main hall outside of the “penalty box.“
The acting imam also overruled one male staffer who said he wanted to call the police to remove us. The imam mentioned the hadith referring to the best rows for the men and women to pray and told the small circle of men who had gathered around that it was none of their concern where we prayed.
It’s so inspiring how the simple act of praying can be both an act of complete submission and revolutionary. Pray-ins present a direct challenge to those who wish to keep women marginalized in the Muslim community.
In today’s USA Today, journalist and author, Asra Nomani argues that mosques and other houses of worship should lose their tax-exempt status if the discriminate based on gender. The local and federal government has already legislated non-discrimination clauses for a variety of protected classes.
Going forward, I’m going to discontinue posting to my Oursides: Muslim Women’s Prayer Spaces photoblog and post here instead.
Sorry for the blurry pictures, one of the mosque officials (pictured left in an orange fleece from an earlier pray-in) was harassing me to not take photos while he himself proceeded to take photos of me. He encouraged us to pray in the penalty box, which was closed off more than usual with yellow caution tape.