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.

What hurts us is that while we had performed salah here for the whole month, and many of us arrived at 7:30pm last night, men that arrived late – many of whom had possibly not regularly attended the tarawih – got preferential treatment and performed their salah in the area we had, we believe, earned through our perseverance. Why were the late men not directed to the marquee?

It is about time that our community, especially the men, begins educating itself about issues that are crucial to our lives and survival as a community. Women and children are not second-class citizens to be denied access to mosques, to be hushed up whenever we begin talking, and to be shunted around at the whims of men.

It is the Grace of Allah that liberated women through Islam 1400 years ago. It was this expression of Allah’s Grace that the Prophet Muhammad (saw) ordered that women not be prevented from attending mosques.

We will not depend on the grace of some men above that of Allah. We have performed salah here for this month and will continue to perform salah here in the months to come. This mosque does not belong to a committee, or to the men in our community; it belongs to the whole community: children, women and men.

Women’s attendance at this mosque for all salawat will, insha Allah, become a regular feature!

Journey of Discovery:
A South African Hajj

by Shamima Shaikh and
Na'eem Jeenah


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