Chatter: Prayer room controversy

Written by  //  July 25, 2012  //  Blog, Chatter  //  15 Comments

     A closed and open view of the women’s prayer area. (Amer Taleb)







Apparently, there’s some controversy brewing on the women’s side of the Islamic Center of Tucson.

Based on a very long and commented on post by a Tucson Minaret Facebook user, it seems that problems are occurring because of a curtain that separates female and male prayer areas.  Some prefer the barrier, while others want it removed to have a view of the men’s section, which is where prayers are led and lecturers speak. It was also said that a significant amount of women talk and cause disruptions when the curtain is closed.

What’s the solution to satisfy both sides of the issue?

Contact editor Amer Taleb at


15 Comments on "Chatter: Prayer room controversy"

  1. Hussein Jeffrey John Mohamed July 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm · Reply

    The solution is very simple: Leave the curtain open! They are behind us and so, from my perspective, keeping the curtain closed serves no purpose.

    • UmmTalal July 25, 2012 at 7:53 pm · Reply

      If only it was that simple. It never is. This is a yearly, on-going challenge for those who want at least one curtain open. Hopefully this year both sides will be satisfied with one side open & the other closed. Hopefully no one will impose their views on those of opposite views just because their attendance may be lower on certain nights.

      I understand your viewpoints and agree. But for those sisters who want a closed curtain, for whatever their reasons are, their requests must be respected as well.

      I’m not being snarky or mean towards those views when I write I’ve never witnessed any of the brothers cross the invisible line to interact with the sisters on any social level during Ramdan.

      The few times any brothers have come to the invisible line to talk to the sisters have been when they have relayed lectures w/translations (the shaikh w/br. Burhan) or for any ICT related business from an ICT rep or a shahada has been performed by a new sister in the community.

      If the noise levels do go up, I see nothing wrong with the shaikh or any ICT rep coming to the invisible line to remind the sisters to quiet down. I would be embarrassed that we have to be reminded as such but sometimes you have to play hard. Asking them to do so from the minbar is not always successful. Location, location, location.

  2. UmmTalal July 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm · Reply

    From last night’s isha:
    For some reason the microphone was not working during isha prayer. Because of that error, the sisters who prefer to pray on the closed side of the prayer hall did not hear the prayer was in session. Since the curtain was closed then, of course it was not visible to them either. They talked thru a good 30 seconds or more during the first rak’aa of the prayer. Not a few sisters talking, a lot of sisters talking. Sr. A came in the room to remind them it is prayer time. If they were able to hear the prayer they would of known it had begun. If their curtain was open, even just a little bit, they would of know it had begun too. But they decided they wanted to keep one side closed. Alhumdulillah for compromise.

  3. UmmTalal July 25, 2012 at 6:28 pm · Reply

    From last night’s taraweeh:
    One curtain was closed. One was open. Only one sister asked us to close the open curtain more (it was not open completely as the front prayer row is right under the tarp where the leaking roof spot is). I told her, that is why you have that closed area to pray from, pointing to that area, and she said ok, went over to that side to pray. We did not have a confrontation over this at all. Alhumdulillah.
    Taraweeh prayer was quiet. Sisters formed prayer lines faster and more efficiently than in previous nights. Sister A is a Blessing in reminding everyone to move forward to fill the prayer rows, to fill in the gaps, to pray on the closed side or the open side of choice. Last night I did witness that there is a balance of views, meaning, many were on the closed side while just as many were on the open side of the curtain. It was a very comforting Taraweeh prayer. The recitation is beautiful. Alhumdulillah.

  4. UmmTalal July 25, 2012 at 6:28 pm · Reply

    From last night’s lecture:
    Over the past few nights there has been a very nice improvement on the issue of sisters talking during the lecture. Last night the talking was less. There was a bit of a murmur of chatter but that did not last long as some sisters would remind them to quiet down. And they did quiet down, Alhumdulillah.

  5. UmmTalal July 25, 2012 at 6:29 pm · Reply

    Take into account that every night there are different amounts of sisters who attend. Generally, during week nights there are less. Weekends are full. Also, during summer Ramadans, attendance is up both during week nights and week ends. I hope we are making progress in quieting down during the lectures as the days go by. One of the young attendees mentioned that through repetition, we may see and hear some change towards respecting both choices of closed or open curtains and keeping the noise levels down or to zero during the lectures. Alhumdulillah for a loving, generous community.

  6. UmmTalal July 25, 2012 at 6:56 pm · Reply

    “What’s the solution to satisfy both sides of the issue?”

    We had to hash it out. At times not so pretty, but that is what happens when change occurs. Life is messy. Understanding that and not taking it personal are essential in respecting the choices of both sides of the issue.

    And we really did have to lay it all out there on the prayer line. Each side has to stand their choice and learn not to impose their views on the other.

    I hope that each night will continue to improve and not one side or the other will impose their choice because of low attendance from one side of the curtain or the other.

  7. Umm Osama July 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm · Reply

    Many sisters would like to pray behind close curtain. understanding the need of both sides is what makes us successful and good muslims. I can tell more sisters are respecting the rules and cooperating with each others when it comes to keep place quiet and clean. indeed we are working as community following prophet Mohamed model by being merciful with each other and by helping each other.

  8. hamisah July 25, 2012 at 9:22 pm · Reply

    These differences in views between wanting a closed-curtain area and opened-curtain area to pray occured everywhere. Here in Kuala Lumpur at small mosque, they would try to accomodate everybody by allowing the curtain removed a little so that the sisters who wants it opened can make salat peacefully and for sisters who would rather the curtain closed have their spaces too. Of course for bigger Mosque they would have two separate sections for women. If they wanted a closed area they can pray downstairs while those who prefer the opened space could use the first floor of the Mosque. Since the ICT only have so much space then the current practice is really good for both sides :-)

  9. UmmTalal July 25, 2012 at 11:07 pm · Reply

    And like I wrote Umm Osama, many sisters want to pray in the area with the curtain open as well. When you look at the room during prayer time, there is more of a balance of women on each side.

    But since the open side of the curtain has to deal with the leaky roof, those sisters get less space and may have to move closer to the other side. So they have been more than accommodating, Alhumdulillah.

  10. Abo Nawas July 31, 2012 at 11:59 pm · Reply

    After being in Mecca AND Medina and witnessing how separated the section and CLOSED between Women and Men I say that we are due to follow and respect that. If that’s whats being done in the Mosque of the Prophet (PBUH) where thousands of people come to pray then we have no argument to come forward with in our community mosque. However, if its a matter of personal choice and ignoring the clear evidence of Islamic Laws and Teachings then thats a totally different story.

    First things to mention before talking about keeping or removing the curtains are the following:

    Abu Hurairah reports that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Any woman who uses some scent should not be present with us during the night prayer.”

    Related by Ahmad and at-Tabarani

    Umm Salamah, the wife of the Prophet (PBUH) and the mother of the believers, related that the Prophet (PBUH) came to the mosque’s courtyard and said at the top of his voice, “The mosque is off limits to menstruating women and the sexually impure persons.”

    Related by Ibn Majah and at-Tabarani.

    , these are just to hadith of many others of what to be aware of when attending the Mosque

    Going back to the main topic I will Quote the following:

    Sayyida Umm Salama (Allah be pleased with her) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “The best Mosque for a woman is the inner part of her home.” (Musnad Ahmad & Tabrani)

    Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Do not prevent your womenfolk from attending the Mosque, even though their houses are better for them.” (Sunan Abu Dawud)

    Sayyida Umm Salama (Allah be pleased with her) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “A woman’s prayer in her inner room is better than her prayer in the outside room, and her prayer in the outside room is better than her prayer in the courtyard, and her prayer in the courtyard is better than her prayer in the Mosque.” (Mu’jam of Imam Tabrani)

    Indeed, women in the time of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) did attend congregational prayers in the Mosque, and they were not prevented from doing so. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) himself advised against preventing women from attending congregational prayers, for example:

    Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “If your wives seek permission from you to go to the Mosque at night, let them.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no: 827)


    Salim narrates from his father that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “If the wife of any one of you seeks permission to go to the Mosque, he may not prevent her.” (Sahih Muslim, no: 442)

    However, the understanding of the various classical and contemporary Hanafi Fuqaha is that women in the time of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) had the unique opportunity of praying behind the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) himself- an act that cannot be paralleled today. Secondly, they used to observe all the requirements of Shariah including those of proper covering (hijab), hence they were not prohibited from attending the congregational prayers. Despite this, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) still advised and encouraged them to pray in their homes.

    To read more you can go to:

    Salam Alikom
    Brother Abo Nawas

  11. Mariyah BintHoras August 2, 2012 at 4:28 am · Reply

    Salaam alaikum to all:
    It seems that the issue of closed areas vs open areas for prayers in the masjid always has its pros and cons.
    I appreciate the comments regarding the practices in Makkah and the city of Al Nabi wa alayhi wa salaam: but may I remind you brother that KSA is a muslim majority country and there are plenty of opportunities for Muslimahs to interact with others of their own culture and religious origin. It is interesting that you quote the Hanafi Fuquha yet cite the practices of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in their Masjids. I find that quite the contrast. In America, which religiously is of an other dominant faction.,the time at the Islamic Center may be the only time a Muslim woman sees others of her religion, hence women tend to find attending congregational prayer the only time she sees her muslim friends. I applaud the tolerant men of the ICT who are forward thinking and tolerant of the women in their community. Alhamdullilah that we live in such a loving community where men do not feel the need to force their women into a closet! In fact I have heard more support from the men than the women in this respect! My family comes from a land of Tolerant masjids, iA ours will always remain so! I do not find some KSA practices regarding women Islamic, in fact many nuances of local culture are often injected into religious life and interpreted as “Islamic” When in fact they are not. :) It is a matter of preference.

  12. Mariyah BintHoras August 2, 2012 at 4:38 am · Reply

    9:71 (Y. Ali) The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.

  13. TCM August 21, 2012 at 7:49 pm · Reply

    Since when do the current practices of the modern nation known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia constitute our source of law? They also have laws in place preventing Saudi men from marrying foreign Muslim women without express permission from the king? Is that a rule that should also be following elsewhere?

  14. mike November 7, 2012 at 7:53 pm · Reply

    How would a one way mirror work?

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