Thoughts on Free Mixing and More

Assalamu alaikum, sorry I know there’s more lol.

I think part of the “problem” I have with free mixing is the feeling of isolation I start to feel when my husband leaves me at the women’s section of the masjid, or, if we happen to be at someone’s home, when he sits me wherever the women are. Because I kinda feel like I want to sit with him, because he’s familiar, because he’s going to speak English, because I know he’s not going to make me recite Qur’an for him or tell my conversion story for the umpteenth time. Or ooh and ahh over my blindness, what I can do despite that, or ooh and ahh over my conversion story. I know people mean well so I’m not hear to criticize anyone, but I wish people knew how uncomfortable that sorta thing makes me feel. I know I’m not going to be sitting somewhere and people be talking around me, to their friends and I not be able to understand any of it. And knowing that even if I was spoken to, feeling like I have nothing in common with most of the people I’m talking to. I don’t have any kids, I work full time, I like and watch sports (football and basketball mostly), I like other types of TV like National Geographic and other channels like that. I’m just “different” from most of the rest of the women I normally encounter at the masjid. And “different” enough that it makes me uncomfortable.

I go to the masjid just so I can be at the masjid and Inshallah get the reward for praying in Jumua with people. Or, if it’s Ramadan, to break my fast with other people. And if I stay for taraweh, I enjoy hearing the qur’an being recited. I tried not to think about the things that frustrate me, the isolation, the being barely spoken too sometimes, the fawning over, the kids running around and using the prayer space as their own personal play ground, I just try to remember why I’m there. And if I do end up having a nice conversation with a sister, I say Alhamdulillah. I just wish I could keep up the ties even after Ramadan, or after the visit to the masjid. I really do wish I could form some meaningful and lasting bonds with the sisters in my community. But unfortunately, that’s been easier said than done. I’m an American, my husband is one of only two people from a West African background (not including the African-Americans there) so I guess I’m not part of the “right” clique or something? Because our masjid is made up of African-Americans (mostly men it seems or maybe their wives don’t come to the masjid), Arabs and South Asians both groups from various countries. The women are mainly Arab or South Asian of one sort or another, though I can’t tell you which country predominates. I’d say probably Jordan or Palestine or maybe Egypt, though I can’t say for sure. and it seems we have maybe some second generation Muslims, but again, I just seem to feel so different from all of them.

I’ve wondered if it’s me Maybe I’m not talking enough, not being outgoing enough. Maybe I’m not doing enough to establish communication. Maybe my body language gives the wrong impression and I don’t realize it. I don’t know. But I really have tried. And it’s easier to blame everyone else but maybe it’s me and not them? I don’t know.

But perhaps if I had a nice network of sisters, I do online, but if I had them offline too, and we could have meaningful and interesting discussions,
then maybe I’d not feel the need to want to talk to the men, but maybe not. Because I as a woman feel like I wanna be heard. Like with the moon sighting issue, I’ve made the suggestion to my husband that if this masjid is so keen on following the Sunnah, which is obviously a good thing, Mashallah, then why couldn’t we appoint a moon sighting committee and have them go out once a month, sight the moon, and post the results in the masjid? For every month? Even for Ramadan, Shawwal and Dhul Hijjah? I was hoping my husband would perhaps take this to the leadership of the masjid, but either he has and they’ve not considered moon sighting a “real” Sunnah, but of course hijab, shaking hands with men/women, and gender mixing are, or he considers it a mere “difference of opinion” and just doesn’t see the need to bring it up. And based on our discussions about it I’d dare say it’s the latter. And perhaps that’s why I’ve nearly felt as though I’ve blogged this issue to death. Because I feel there’s a real problem with following “country X” usually Saudi Arabia, because it’s not about calculation versus actual naked eye sighting, or global versus local, it’s about real issues and questions that people have had regarding the people that the government in Saudi Arabia considers to be acceptable witnesses for sighting, and adding to that the fact that absolutely no one else, not even Saudi Arabia’s own sighting committees in their own country, usually have seen the moon on the given night in question. Heck, if it was a local vs. global thing, I’d follow a global sighting if it meant I could be united with my masjid. I’ve done this before and I’d have no problem doing this again, because I already feel “different” enough from my community, not being united on the days of Eid is, well, even worse. But when someone supposedly sights the moon, and it’s only one person in the same country every year, that just makes me say “huh”? I feel a lot more certainty in my heart when I hear sighting reports coming around from various parts of the world, that the month has indeed begun, than I do when it’s one lone report from a country who has had a history of getting it wrong. But just as with many things islamic, I think “moon sighting” has become a political issue. and it is like although we like to say that we don’t have a Pope or Vatican, etc., all of a sudden we want to follow Saudi Arabia in this and sometimes many other issues, maybe because they’re Arab, maybe because “the two holiest places are there”, or whatever.
And moon sighting is just one issue that seems to set me apart from my local community. I follow a madhhab, the Maliki madhhab to be exact, because I have a dog, and let’s just say that the Maliki madhhab views all living things to be pure including dogs. and let’s just say this makes my life a whole lot easier. and I just kinda feel like why not follow the whole madhhab for everything. Because that just makes sense to me. However, as we all know, to many this is wrong, and you have to be careful who you mention this too. it’s like “following a madhhab” to some is somehow synonymous with “I don’t really follow the “real” or the “correct” Sunnah as you do ’cause I’m just blindly following a scholar and not the Prophet (pbuh). So maybe I keep quiet when I go to the masjid so I don’t say the wrong thing. I don’t know.

and so I’m not all negative and whatnot, my dream masjid would be a place where differences would be respected, where we’d welcome everyone, even non-Muslims, we could serve food, maybe tea or hot chocolate on a cold day, if we had the means, and people who were homeless or hungry could come and get something to eat. The masjid would be accessible, there’d be large print and Braille materials there if anyone wanted them. If someone brought their dog guide, and there was discomfort within the community, we could make a place for them. Because even if Chloe was welcome at the masjid, I’d probably not want her right in the middle of the prayer area, I’d be afraid she’d get stepped on or something. I’d feel more comfortable putting her on a bed chain in the corner out of the way, or to put her in a crate/kennel where she’d be safe until I could get her. Many different interpretations of Islam would be accepted and taught and OK, People could discuss and talk and share ideas. And that’s just some of my ideas.

About Ginny

A blind Muslim woman currently living in Florida, just trying to make sense of the world around me! !
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2 Responses to Thoughts on Free Mixing and More

  1. Sandy Dib says:

    The majority of those in the mosque here are Arabic, and in Ramadan, at iftaar, I tried to reach out. I would go get my food, and then try and sit, but when I tried to sit at a table inside, I would get, “That seat is taken”< or "You can't sit there, I am waiting on someone." So since my husband was inside with the men, I had no place to sit inside, and was forced to go eat alone on the benches outside. I mean, WHY separate the sexes at iftarr? Especially if the married couples? That is ridiculous. Are they really afraid someone will try to commit zina will eating at iftaar? This is why I no longer go to my mosque.

    • Ginny says:

      Hello, Sandy sorry this happened to you. Luckily I’ve not been forced to eat outside of the masjid, though we don’t have places outside to sit anyway lol. I tend to go to the masjid during iftar, but that’s just because I enjoy the food and the prayers and do enjoy being around people even if I’m not spoken to directly. And I think if I was made to sit outside, I’d think that my husband or one of the men would have something to say about that lol.

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