SOC 885 Lecture Notes - Zarqa Nawaz

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19 Apr 2012
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Friday April 13th, 2012
Tutorial 10
What do you think is the main message of Zarqa Nawaz in this film?
In Me and the Mosque, Zarqa Nawaz visits mosques throughout Canada and talks to scholars,
colleagues, friends and neighbours about equal access for women (specifically covering the
concept of mixed prayer). She discussed her research of the historical role of women in the
Islamic faith. Nawaz wanted to illustrate her perspective of the current state of mosques in
Canada by using personal stories of anger, fear, acceptance and defiance.
We believe that her main message in this film is that men and women should deconstruct
gender roles that have developed in religious institution. By deconstructing gender roles women
and men will be able to understand equality between the sexes. She feels the mosque is the heart
and soul of the community and therefore Muslim women must be an active participant in the
functioning of the mosque.
Zarqa especially focused a lot on activists or feminists also fighting for the removal of the
barrier as well as praying behind men. One of the activists had her complaint heard by ISNA but
this unfortunately lead her and her family to be ostracized by the community. A woman
interviewed felt powerless in raising awareness to fight for equality as she already feels 'not
strong' and will not be heard.
Zarqa also exposed Men in different communities on their view of gender equality. It ranged
from extreme partriarchal beliefs that a woman's place is at home to permitting women to pray
behind men. The famous scholar in Kuwait who is also an Imam of a mosque allowed women to
pray behind men and this stirred up a few complaints but he countered doubts by proving hadiths
from the Prophet and clearing the misinterpretations of the Quran regarding prayers.
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