Last night I had planned to attend Taraweeh at my favorite mosque. It is a mosque on the hills overlooking higher mountains. At night the lights in the mountains are enchanting. There used to be an elevated extension—sort of like a tree house—before the (much smaller) women’s area was built. The mosque itself is near a farm and an old abandoned house hidden in a downward sunken mess of overgrown trees. When I was a kid I would pretend the house was haunted. (Perhaps it is. My brother claims to have sighted jinn.) The farmhouse near has horses whom I sometimes feed before breaking the fast myself (which is not Islamically encouraged). The mosque is built on a slope of tall yellow grass.
When I heard it was being renovated years ago I was a little heartbroken. I liked my little mosque—quiet, unamusing, a humble part of the supreme nature that surrounded it. But I was hoping also that with the renovation the women’s area would finally be extended to be as large as the men’s.
Dear readers, I did not stay for Taraweeh last night. After the Maghrib prayer, a speaker announced that the new construction design provided three times as much space for the men as it did for the women. He did not say it in these words of course, but in numbers (393 for men and 160 for women). I cried at this. Quietly. Luckily it was dark. (I was outside during the announcement admiring the mountains.) My mother did not see either, but she had sensed my distress the entire night and informed me she was driving me home. I went with her. I suspect that she, unaware of my sorrow much less the cause of it, is terribly frustrated with me.
Here is an outline of the layout.
The men’s side, which is expansive, is labeled both “mosque” and “men’s prayer” while the women’s side is labeled “women’s prayer.”
At least they have daycare?
What I am asking is a little time to write to them. I have done it myself, just very briefly. The construction has just barely begun and is going very slowly (it has been about three years since they began and they still haven’t actually torn anything down or started building anything except for a fence.) So I take it it’s not too late. Offer your salaams, wish the project team Ramadan Mubarak, and request that they redesign the plan to provide an equal amount of space for both sexes and that they rid of any procedures to install a barrier separating the two areas. Of course an Islamic explanation for why this is critical may be provided in your request if you wish, but I feel I am asking too much from you already.
Here is their contact form, with which an email address is also provided. I would appreciate this very much. Please be polite.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Love, love love love,