Ron Csillag of Religion News Service (thanks to Anthony) makes much of this mosque where women pray together with men. And gee, it all sounds swell — until one realizes that the article says absolutely nothing about these modern, progressive Muslims addressing and fighting the roots of Islamic terror. We have yet to see a story about that.
Toronto, Dec. 21 – The handful of girls and women arriving for Friday prayers at the Islamic center make small talk before removing their coats and shoes, tying their head scarves and quietly filing into the prayer room — just as their Muslim sisters do the world over this day.
After the adhan, the call to prayer, they listen intently to the English sermon, then perform the qiyam, the standing posture. Like the men,they raise their hands to their ears and then fold them, right over left, over their hearts. Like the men, they prostrate and touch their foreheads to the ground, returning to the standing position.
The only conspicuous difference is that at the Noor Cultural Centre, females do not use a separate entrance, do not sit in a balcony or behind a partition, or languish at the back of the room.
The small, glassed-in prayer space in the center’s basement is believed to be the first place in Canada where Muslim men and women pray side by side — or at least, lined up with each other.
It’s not completely egalitarian — a three-foot aisle separates the men’s and women’s sections — but it’s being hailed as a major first step in the expression of a more flexible form of Islam in the West.
Is it Osama bin Laden’s worst nightmare? The start of a renegade movement? Neither, says the center’s CEO, Roshan Jamal, who, as far as she knows, is the only woman to head an Islamic organization in Canada.
Come on. Osama bin Laden’s worst nightmare would be an organized global movement of Muslims who reject the jihad ideology and champion a new, anti-literal reading of the Qur’an and Sunnah. But Osama is sleeping soundly.
The Noor center “is an effort to show there’s another side to Islam … that God is not punishing but loving,” says Jamal’s husband, Husein, a 69-year-old physician who often leads the prayer service (there’s no full-time spiritual leader or imam). “If you want to reach people, there’s no point in being confrontational. This is a gentle, no-fault approach.”
The prayer space wasn’t created willy-nilly. Center officials say they consulted no less an authority than the Ayatollah Sistani, one of only five living grand ayatollahs and the most senior Shiite cleric in Iraq.
“He said it was completely permissible for men and women to pray together,” says Husein Jamal, “but there had to be three feet between them.”…
Both Jamals say there is nothing in the Qur’an or Hadiths that enforces the segregation of women and men at prayer.
So they’re still taking their cue from the Qur’an and Hadiths, which should be a cause of concern to Csillag, but probably he doesn’t know the right questions to ask.
Meanwhile, they’re also getting directions from Sistani. I wonder if he reminded them of some of his other rulings. Did he tell them that an unbeliever is one of the things that is essentially unclean? At his website, in accordance with traditional Shi’ite doctrine, he writes:
84. The following ten things are essentially najis:
The sweat of an animal who persistently eats najasat
“Kafir” is, of course, unbeliever. (There is no direct link. Go to “Najis Things” in the main title line to find this list.)
How modern! How progressive! It would have been interesting if Csillag had asked the Toronto folks if they believed that. I wonder if they shook his hand.