I am concerned about the segregated seating arrangements in colleges and Universities for seminars and other educational activities organized by Muslim Students Associations in the United Kingdom.
Students Association in the United States, where both men and women
manage and participate, the MSA's in UK seem to be run over by the boys.
These boys become instantaneously
Sanctimonious Muslims when they have a responsibility to manage a
Muslim loaded event. The more they "control" women to go sit elsewhere,
the greater the Muslim they become! What a phony Muslimness!
not only the boys, some of the Imams who come around to give Sermons at
special events, invariably make a comment to women sitting somewhere in
the darkness in the back to quit gossiping! Darn it, when your lecture
is so idiotic, men do the same, either gossip or go to their i-phones
and Samsungs. I am glad I don't go to these events, but when I do, I
will tear them apart for such an abusive and disrespectful comment
towards women. Remember, our silence gives them permission to continue
doing the wrong. Speak up; the other goats will jump in later.
women and men to different sitting areas in the name of Islam needs to
go. A man or a woman should have the freedom to choose, where he or she
is comfortable to sit, nothing should be forced on. There should be no
Do they teach that Islam is about regulating your own
behavior to be a kind, gentle, truthful, trustworthy and caring and
just individual, the Amin, as the Prophet was called. Indeed, that
should be the first foundational Sunnah for Muslims to follow. Islam is not about controlling others personal behavior. Islam
is about freedom - you are individually rewarded or deprived with the
grace of God for your acts, neither the Muslim Students Association nor
the Mufti of your town is even remotely accountable for your acts. Even
Prophet Muhammad, let alone your parents, spouse, siblings, or your
Imam will not come to your rescue in your reflective solitude or the Day
of Judgment. Prophet Muhammad did not assign the responsibility to
teach Quran to anyone either.
The Hijab or segregation is a
cultural product of predominantly Muslim nations, there is no sanction
for it in Islam. The very first and foremost place of worship does not
have segregation, even to this day. Men and women perform Hajj
together, God wants all of us together without distinction.
living in UK, US, France, Canada or elsewhere have their own culture,
or modified culture without any reluctance. Unlike Saudi Arabia, where
women are taken care of, the women living in other nations have to learn
to live on their own, earn their own and support their kids if they
have to, and their culture should be based on their needs and not the
needs of Saudi Arabia.
Shame on those parents who make their
daughters dependent on men, and when that man dies, or runs off - it
puts the woman in a difficult situation. Is that how the parents care
for their daughters? She should be free and able to handle her own
affairs. The prophet had said to Fatima, you will not get a free ticket
to paradise just because you are my daughter; you have to earn it like
If a woman is trained to live in segregation how
would she handle in situations when her father, brother, husband or son
is not around. Love is not making a dependent out of the loved ones. If
we love, yes, if we love our loved ones, we make them independent, free
and able to stand on their own in contingencies with the least
By the way the stories are similar with Sikhs, Hindus, Jains, Christians and others from Asia.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a
writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work
place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers
pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in
Standing up for others
and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on
national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on
Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to
the Texas Faith Column at Dallas
Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and
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through many links.
How do universities deal with gender segregation?
University chiefs are struggling to decide whether they should try to stop events where women can't sit with men
wish to sit only with their own sex while others regard this as 'gender
apartheid'. How can universities win? Photograph: Jeremy
day before the event, we got an email to say it was segregated and we
were very shocked," says Razana Abdul, a Muslim student, who is at
university in London. She's speaking about an event at University
College London in March, run by an organisation called the Islamic
Education and Research Academy (IERA)."I wanted to sit with my
boyfriend. And there was a man ushering men to the men's side and a
woman ushering women to the women's side." She was upset by the
experience. "It was gender apartheid," she says.
are struggling with the ethical dilemma of how far they can or should
intervene to prevent distress caused by such situations. How can a
university's equality and diversity policy be enforced at events where
some audience members want to sit only with their own gender and others
wish to exercise their right to sit wherever they want?
Reports of a
gender-segregated event run by Leicester University's student Islamic
society, together with media coverage of the UCL event, prompted
monitoring group Student Rights, which works to counter university
extremism and is funded by private donations, to re-analyse the 180
campus-based events it had logged between March 2012 and March 2013 as
"of concern" because of the nature of the speaker.
report states that 46 out of the 180 events at 21 separate university
campuses "were found to have either explicitly promoted segregation by
gender, or implied that this would be the case, with six of these
cancelled before taking place".
the events were either organised by student Islamic societies or were
focused on issues of interest to Muslims. There is now considerable
concern - including from the report's author, full-time Student Rights
researcher Rupert Sutton - that subsequent media reporting of these
findings made out that gender segregation was itself evidence of
radicalism. "It's important that this issue isn't conflated with
extremism itself," says Sutton. "We as an organisation are not
conflating gender segregation with extremism."
not right to say that any kind of gender segregation is necessarily
wrong," says Jo Attwooll, policy adviser at the vice-chancellors' group
Universities UK, which has just launched the Safe Campus Communities
website, offering higher education institutions advice on how to
exercise their legal responsibilities on safeguarding for students and
good indication of the sensitivity around gender segregation is that
universities are not keen to discuss it openly. Of the seven
universities named in the report that were contacted by Education
Guardian - Aston, Queen Mary, London South Bank, Portsmouth, Kingston,
Leicester and UCL - only UCL was willing to put forward a senior member
of staff to answer questions. The others issued statements.
is clear tension between the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 -
which says universities must help to eliminate unlawful discrimination
and harassment, advance equality of opportunity and foster good
relations between different groups - and their duties under the
Education Act 1986, which says university premises must not be barred to
anyone on the grounds of their beliefs or views. This was brought in
partly to stop Labour-controlled student unions denying a platform to
Conservative student associations and the speakers they wanted to bring
in. But campaigners now argue that universities hide behind the 1986 act
to avoid antagonising faith groups, or opening themselves to possible
litigation by giving equality legislation higher priority - in the case
of gender segregation, this would mean saying plainly that this must not
happen on university premises.
The phrase institutions are now
hanging on to for dear life is "voluntary segregation", meaning that
separating the sexes is permitted, even if some of those attending wish
to sit with the opposite sex.
University says in its statement: "Where there is a public event and
individuals attending wish, by their own free choice, to sit separately
in the same hall, then that is a matter for them." Aston, LSBU,
Portsmouth and Kingston follow the same line.
the March event that upset some students at UCL, the university banned
the IERA from campus. The vice-provost, Rex Knight, points to the form
of words agreed by UCL that is now sent to anyone wishing to book rooms
on campus. While enforced segregation will not be permitted, UCL states
that "it is acceptable for individuals attending events to choose to sit
with members of their own gender. If individuals attending an event
wish to segregate themselves on a voluntary basis, it is not acceptable
for other members of the audience to compel them to mix, and to do so
may constitute harassment."
might sound like a reasonable compromise, but Abdul points out that
voluntary self-segregation has serious limitations, most importantly for
Muslim women like herself who may feel it is impossible to go against
the flow. "If you don't want to be segregated, there's social pressure. I
do actually regret not standing up and going and sitting in the men's
section as a form of protest." For mixed groups [at the UCL event] there
were just two rows in a huge auditorium made available for "couples".
Abdul says anyone choosing to sit there would have been very obviously
rejecting the "norm" being imposed. "We'd look like the evil ones,
choosing to sit there in the middle," she explains.
she says, are anxious not to "discriminate against Muslim people's
practices, but this is a minority of Muslims. I'm a Muslim, an Asian
woman, and I felt intimidated."
a good point, agrees Knight, but it is a view that university senior
management has to hold in balance with others. "I was contacted by other
female Muslim students who said they'd felt very upset that some male
students had tried to sit with them," he says. "One would hope that
common sense and good behaviour would prevail. We are making our view
clear to organisers that no pressure should be made to 'voluntarily'
PhD student Michael Jathe, who also attended the UCL
event, says universities must define very clearly what they mean by
"voluntary" so that heavy-handed "encouragement" to segregate does not
creep in. "I believe some religious groups are trying to carve out areas
of public space where they can set the rules. This is why universities
have equality and diversity policies."
says the approach many universities now take as part of their
room-booking process is to ensure their policy on equality and diversity
is sent out and that organisations say they are willing to abide by its
conditions. Bradford is one institution that goes further - it
explicitly requires that "the advice of the Equality Unit must be sought
before planning a segregated or single-sex event or part-event."
need to arm themselves with facts about events taking place, says
Attwooll. "As part of a booking process for external speakers, UUK would
say that there should be an examination of how that event is to be
run," she says. "Groups that may have a desire for there to be some sort
of segregation, whether enforced or voluntary, should be entirely
transparent about that, and allow the university to make a judgment."
gender segregation becomes more prevalent at university events, with
some students wanting it and others deeply opposed, vice-chancellors may
struggle to find a solution that keeps everyone happy - and themselves
within the law.
Some names have been changed
HOME : We will explore if misogyny is religiously sanctioned or men took it upon themselves to make it work for them, and in the process made a villain out of God and religion. One sentence that I have been repeating lately is "for every Muslim ass, there is a Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh or other ass" add hole if you need to.You cannot single out or blame any one religion or tradition, the representatives of religions make us decide about religion. We need to rise about stereotyping. We should not relish in putting down others. Finding the truth is our own responsiblity. Mike Ghouse