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Muslim Women: You Want Change? Create it!

21 May, 2022
Q As I live in a small community. There are no formal classes at the local mosque. How can we encourage more women to participate in learning about Islam or in teaching what they have learned? They don’t even come to Jumma. Last two Fridays I was the only lady. I’m very disappointed in this community that never show up, except during Ramadan.

Answer

Short Answer:

  • Talk to the imam/sheikh and ask if you can put fliers around the masjid, to try to garner interest in having a women’s group start. Perhaps there is already a group for converts or for women that you don’t yet know about! Mosques aren’t always very good at keeping websites and general communication up to date.
  • It is possible that what you are seeking already exists, even if attendance for women at Friday prayers isn’t high. Absolutely encourage other women to join you for Friday prayers and/or other activities, but be prepared for a lack of interest. We shouldn’t force anyone to do anything they don’t want to just because you feel participation is insufficient.

………….

Salaam alaykum, sister. Thank you for the question.

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It can definitely be disappointing when one is hoping to find a thriving community as a convert, and is met with one that is less than active. This problem is most prevalent for women, as there are unfortunately some cultural rules that discourage women from participation in the mosque. So, what can be done?

You Want Change? Create it!

Really, the only way to guarantee any change is to make the change yourself. If no women are showing up for Friday prayers, it can be difficult to connect with other women. But if you approach some of the married men and ask if their wives would be interested in getting in touch, you may have some luck. In my own experience, Muslims are eager to connect converts with others in the community. Let the men know that you are a convert and looking to get to know some women in the community.

Talk to the imam/sheikh and ask if you can put fliers around the masjid, to try to garner interest in having a women’s group start. Perhaps there is already a group for converts or for women that you don’t yet know about! Mosques aren’t always very good at keeping websites and general communication up to date. It is possible that what you are seeking already exists, even if attendance for women at Friday prayers isn’t high.

If women are not attending the mosque, I definitely think your biggest hurdle will be getting in contact with the women you are hoping to engage.

Encourage Others, but Don’t Be Invasive

If and when you do manage to get in touch with the women of the community, while it is definitely worthwhile to encourage them to engage in halaqas and other ways of spreading knowledge – it is important to respect that not everyone may be interested.

It is entirely possible, or even probable, that the dominant culture of your mosque discourages women from participating. This is un-Islamic, of course, but cultural influences can be strong and women may simply not want to participate in the mosque.

It is also possible that it just so happens that the women in your area feel they are too busy to be active in the community, or they are too shy, etc.

My point is: absolutely encourage other women to join you for Friday prayers and/or other activities. But be prepared for a lack of interest. We shouldn’t force anyone to do anything they don’t want to just because you feel participation is insufficient.

I, myself, only attend my local mosque on Eid. Why? I work fulltime, I have other obligations, and I don’t have a community I am interested in engaging in. On the other hand, if there was a nearby sister who wanted to get together at one of our homes on a bi-weekly basis or so, it would definitely be something that would interest me.

Make sure to respect people’s space, and also come prepared with alternatives to your ideal solution.

What if I Can’t Find Anyone?

Maybe you don’t succeed in getting in touch with any women nearby. Maybe you do get in touch but are met with a lack of interest. If this happens, don’t despair!

While it can feel lonely not to have a physical community to participate in, we are so blessed that in this day and age to have online communities quite literally at our fingertips. About Islam has a thriving Facebook group that focuses on converts. I have connected with a number of Muslim women on Twitter.

It isn’t quite the same as having an “IRL” community, but it can definitely help in those moments when you are feeling down about being the only woman at Friday prayers.

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archive)

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About Leah Mallery
Leah is a Muslim convert of almost a decade. She has two kids, an intercultural marriage, and half of a French degree in her back pocket, looking to switch gears to science and medicine. She has lived abroad for over a decade, having just recently become reacquainted with her roots in America. She currently lives in Michigan near her family and – masha’Allah – a sizeable Muslim community.