This is a selection of articles written by Shamima Shaikh.
Most of her articles published in Al-Qalam (the Muslim community newspaper of which she was editor for three years) are not included here.

Women and Islam – The Gender Struggle in South Africa: The Ideological Struggle

This was transcribed from Shamima Shaikh's presentation at the Muslim Youth Movement's Islamic Tarbiyyah Programme held from 19 to 23 December 1997. Her presentation was made 17 days before her death on the 8 January 1998. Most of the talk was prepared while she lay in hospital having her lungs drained. During that time as well as when she presented the talk she was drugged with morphine and cortisone.

 

17 Days before her death delivering a paper on women and Quraan

 

Read more: Women and Islam – The Gender Struggle in South Africa: The Ideological Struggle

Hajj and Freedom - not for women, it seems

Women are often the sacrificial lambs when Muslims have to deal with "problems" in our community. Men are unable to control their libidos so women are punished – confined to the homes, relegated to galleries (in mosques) and their voices suppressed. That women fall victim to chauvinistic laws is not surprising, considering that the community, men and women, are often fed with selective information.

Regulations around gender and haj starkly illustrate one type of chauvinism. Not too long ago the Saudi Government introduced a law that forbade women under the age of 45 from undertaking the haj without a mahram (either a husband or a man she cannot marry, like a close relative). This meant that women under 45 could go for haj only if there was a mahram willing to "take her" for haj.

Read more: Hajj and Freedom - not for women, it seems

Woman's role in contemporary society

Presented at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, on the occasion of the Islamic Week organised by the Muslim Students Association in 1994

 

I would like to thank the Muslim Students Association for giving me this opportunity to speak with you on the issue of women which is close to my heart and which is, I believe, one of the biggest challenges facing us today as we move towards a better and just society.

The role of woman, her position and status in society, and her nature have been issues of debate and discussion informed by religion, tradition and culture, misogyny, feminism and - many times - downright ignorance and bigotry.

I am a Muslim and Muslims seek guidance from Allah through his book, the Qur'an, and His messenger Mohammed (pbuh). Muslims believe that the word of Allah is supreme and takes precedence over all traditions cultures.

Read more: Woman's role in contemporary society

Shamima's Dialogue with the 'Ulama

Sometime in July 1995, Shamima Shaikh was a guest on "Religion on the Line" on the SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) radio channel SAfm. She was being interviewed on various issues regarding Islam, but with a focus on women's rights. Not long after the programme, the United Ulama Council of South Africa wrote to her objecting to certain statements she had made on the show. Shamima responded to the letter in writing and received a second letter from the UUCSA. Those three letters are reproduced here

Read more: Shamima's Dialogue with the 'Ulama

23rd Street Women's Jamaah statement

This was a pamphlet authored by Shamima and distributed at Johannesburg's 23rd Street Mosque on the 28th night of Ramadan in 1993. The pamphlet has a history, of course, and you may read about that in Shamima's Profile or in "Death of a Muslim Joan of Arc"

 

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace

Statement by the 23rd Street Mosque Women’s Jamaah

(28 Ramadan 1413)

Muslim women in the Transvaal have been for long denied our right of performing our salah in jamaah. We were thus very grateful to the trustees of the 23rd Street Mosque last year when special facilities were provided for us on the 27th Ramadan.

This year Muslim women have been performing salah at this mosque on this level since the 1st Ramadan. We exercised great tolerance, especially on the first night, just so that we could fulfil this Sunnah of our Nabi Muhammad (saw). On the first night we were shouted at, intimidated, and some women’s salah was broken, after which they left to perform salah at another mosque over five kilometres from here. We did not expect such behaviour from a trustee of a mosque. Yet we continued attending salah here, and this practice enhanced our appreciation of Ramadan.

Last night we were shocked and disappointed that after performing tarawih here for 26 nights we were forced to offer our salah behind the mosque in a marquee with wet mats. There were about 150 women, and there would have been enough space here for all of us.

Read more: 23rd Street Women's Jamaah statement

Denying women access to the ‘Main Space’ - A Betrayal of the Prophet

Presented to the Jamaat Khana Committee of the University of the Witwatersrand - 1995. Shamima was a ‘community member’ of the committee which was negotiating with the university administration for a new Mosque complex and participating in decisions regarding the design of the complex. She argued for women to be accommodated in the ‘main space’ of the mosque.

 

An ‘Ignorance’ that’s frightening

I was prompted to put together these few thoughts after a meeting with a group of architects (who are also popular mosque designers in South Africa) and students who presented their proposals for the WITS mosque. The architects expressed their certainty as to where a woman may be located in a mosque, saying that any other accommodation was bid’ah (innovation). A young student presenting his design said women and men reading alongside was unacceptable; they had to be completely separated (he said that women should be accommodated in a gallery). His other assumption was that men at WITS could not control their libidos.

It was their certainty that their beliefs and perspectives were actually the Prophetic tradition and that anything else was bid’ah, that I found frightening. I was in no doubt about the sincerity and love these men have for the Prophet (pbuh). It is because of this and my own love for Islam and the Prophet (pbuh) that I feel the need to inform them about what I’ve come to learn about women and the space they occupied in the Prophet’s mosque.

Read more: Denying women access to the ‘Main Space’ - A Betrayal of the Prophet

Journey of Discovery:
A South African Hajj

by Shamima Shaikh and
Na'eem Jeenah

 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Download a .pdf version