Finding the Women's Space:Muslim Women and the Mosque

Cambridge Scholars Publishing
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Beyond the Hijab Debates: New Conversations on Gender, Race and Religion, 2009, First, pp. 52 - 66
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When Muslim communities migrate, becoming minorities in western countries, a dilemma arises: should traditional norms be rigorously preserved in the new enviromnent, or should changes be allowed to adapt to the new circumstances of a society with much more liberal attitudes towards women? Muslim communities in Australia were established by first generation migrants who tended to recreate as far as possible the conditions of their home communities. In most cases, these communities made little provision for the participation of women in mosques and Islamic associations, relying on the practices of their home countries and traditional interpretations of religiOUS texts, which stressed the need for segregation of men and women and encouraged women to stay at home. Now a new generation has grown up of active, educated Australian Muslim women, many of whom are no longer prepared to be limited by the conditions of the past. This· chapter examines the participation of women in Sydney mosques and Islamic societies, and the attitudes of Imams and religious leaders towards women's involvement in religious spheres that traditionally have been reserved for men.
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