Thursday, September 27, 2007

Inserting Culture Into Islam

Alhamdulillah, the month of Ramadhan is here!

But one issue bothers me every year. It has to do with the community iftaars at the masjid.

I have been to a few different masjids where it is the practice to have the men go through the line and eat before the women.

Where does this come from?

Is there an Islamic basis for this?

If so, someone please show me the daleel because it really burns me up. I think it may have more to do with culture, than with Islam.

At my current masjid, there are at least 5 women/children to every man.

While the men are going through the line, the children are usually crying because they are anxious to eat. The sisters have resorted to sending their children through the line with a father, older brother, etc.

We have two floors at the masjid. As is the case at most masjids, the men are upstairs (in a large, roomy area), and the women are downstairs (in a small, cramped space). We used to have the food upstairs and downstairs. There was no problem then. But then I suppose that someone thought it was too much work to haul the food upstairs to the men.

The solution?

Have them come downstairs and go through the line first.

I remember sometime ago, watching a TV documentary about food aid to poor countries, some of them Muslim countries. They mentioned that one of the problems was that when the food aid got to the villages, towns, etc., the men ate first and not much at all was left for the women and children. They were still starving. I felt angry hearing that.

argggggggggggggggggg! I know I am complaining. But ...

I just don't think there is an Islamic basis for this. If there is, someone please tell me and I will ask Allah for forgiveness.

The adab of America is "ladies first" lol!


otowi said...

I've seen that too in certain groups, and it is definitely cultural not Islamic. Islam would say all together or the most needy first.

If enough people said something about it, perhaps they would change their behavior, I don't know.

bb_aisha said...

It's so cultural & soooo annoying. Rant away! Here in South Africa, women don't even go to the masjid, since it's considered 'wrong'. AArgh!

Btw, I linked to your blog from my friend Moe da Merlin (wonderofitall) & smiled at the coincidence- I 'know' u from IWA by name.

Nice to read ur blog

Safiyyah said...

A sister at my masjid told me that when they have iftaars at their homes that they let the men eat first. This is because they want to eat and leave for the masjid for Taraweeh. Perhaps this is a cultural carryover? Allahu Alim.

Anonymous said...

It is a cultural thing. My husband (Pakistani) is even always asking people at family/friends' gatherings why they don't let the ladies go first! I'm glad at least he agrees with me.

Anonymous said...

If the iftar is being served downstairs where the women are, whats wrong w/ serving it to the men first so they can get it and go upstairs. And then let the women chill and take their portion?

As for the children, they should go ahead and take it too w/ the men. Nothing wrong w/ that.

Also, I get hte feeling you have a slightly preconceived notion of WHY they're doing this, so yur having issues w/ it.

It may just be purely logistical issues. Trust me, from what I hear from various brothers, and from what I have SEEN with my own two eyes working in MSA, is that the norm is that unfortunately us women are SUPER sensitive to every little thing, and THINK the brothers are somehow always plotting against us, subjugating us, SOMEHOW disrespecting us :-)

Why not make istikhara about going to talk to the people at your mosque about it?
And then, Why not just go to your mosque people and TALK to them about it?
Have you tried that yet?

Now on teh flip side, I completely understand that there are in fact men that are slightly mysoginistic and feel that somehow they deserve more importance/preference over women, so don't get me wrong.

I'm just trying to also give a picture of what I saw with my own two eyes.

Sometimes that makes me wonder about how the women will be the ones more affected by the dajjal than the men. Cuz fitna does affect us first. Trust me I didnt think like this BEFORE my time in MSA :-)

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Anonymous:

You bring up good points.

I laughed to myself when you said about fitnah affecting us women first!

I also have seen this first hand at the masjid. When the imam takes control, it's a different story, lol.

Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Salaam alaikum,

I'm a convert from a European-American background. In my family the men usually eat first at family occasions because we women are cooking it and making sure everyone else has what they need and that everything's done in the kitchen. If there's any worry that we'll be short of something, my mother or I don't take any so there'll be enough for other people. I'm kind of OK with this, but it can have weird undertones for me. What bothers me more is the fact that men usually dominate the conversation at the table and start talking about things the women aren't interested in. I think the only reason I have an issue with these things is that I'd like to see some reciprocity in terms of taking a little effort to be considerate. Like noticing that the women have stopped participating in the conversation and politely starting a topic everyone can enjoy. So it is cultural and yet not just Arab/South Asian, but I do think it's also biological that women are more aware of other people's needs, and then additionally since most men don't know how to do things in the kitchen it's easier to do it ourselves. Rambling, inconclusive comment, sorry...

Um Nour/Hollie Moore said...

Assalm Laykom:

I have also been to masjids like this. But, I have also been to masjids where woman have their section and serve themselves and men have their sections and serve themselves. This is the best way.

Um Nour

A. said...

So if there is an Islamic basis to this you will just accept that men get the first and best of everything? Of course they like it, and they are mostly in charge of everything at the masjid and other religious organizations.

One of the reasons why I left Islam was because of the way women are treated. I am glad you speak out against this.


Safiyyah said...

Thank you for your comments everyone, and especially Anisah.

Anisah: I am sorry that you left Islam. And sorry that one of the reasons you left is due to the treatment of women.

I speak out against this (and so do others) because this is NOT Islam. Islam has the best treatment of women.

The problem is not Islam but it is Muslims.

If we women (and men) don't speak out about these kinds of things, men will "get away" with treating Muslim women badly. It happens all over the world unfortunately. And then we have the media defining Islam and Muslims.

Anisah, I am also a recovering addict. I have been clean for 25 years, Alhamdulillah, in a certain 12-step group. The fellowship and its principles are great, Masha Allah, but some members (addicts) still have a lot of issues. If I would have given up my seat to some of these addicts, I wouldn't have the clean time and great recovering life that I now have.

Please stop by often, Anisah!

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