Thursday, February 14, 2013

Women praying in mosques: Girls mostly visit mosque for Eid prayers

The two occasions when you see maximum number of children in the mosque are the two Ids viz. viz. Id-ul-Fitr and Id-uz-Zuha.

There is the special attraction for the day: the joy of getting new dress, 'idee' and elders buying them toys from vendors outside the mosque.

Parents also take children of all ages including toddlers to the mosque on these occasions. Some of the kids are two young and during prayers, start crying.

Girls go dressed in new attire and sit along with their younger siblings. Most of them are below the age of ten years, though it is no rule.

When they show each other their bangles or toys, a snooty one in the rows nearby, may give a disapproving look, just as they do to boys talking or running.

Also, there is a third occasion. On the day of Alvida prayer [the last Friday of Ramzan], you get to see large number of kids including girls.

Though scores of boys are visible in mosques for Juma prayers, girls do not generally go to the mosques of Friday. Only if the family has to hurry up somewhere along with all the kids, and the mosque is on way, then the girl may also go.

The other day saw a girl along with her brother in the mosque. Though she was aware about how to offer Namaz, he kept on trying to tell her about how it is slight different than from praying at home. Children are often at the last row.

The most colourful sight is at rural Eidgahs or mosques in small towns, where you see really large proportion of girls among children at the mosques. Many of the girls carry their infant brothers while they play and  enjoy the festivity outside on Id day. One recalls Prem Chand's story Idgah about the boy Hamid at such places.

For men, they have to pray in the mosque. Women have been given liberty, there is no constraint, they can pray at home. Of course, they can go and there is no bar at all on their entry. When they visit a mosque, they pray separately. 

Mostly it is at historical and big mosques where they go to take a look, when they use the opportunity to pray there as well. Some journos in local Hindi papers were astounded when women prayed in Tajul Masaajid, Bhopal--that has clear space for women, from the days of the Begums of Bhopal. 

People on social networking sites keep asking strange questions regarding these aspects. An acquaintance [non-Muslim] asked me if women can enter mosques.I told him, yes they can. Haven't you seen women going to Haj'? He nodded but still seemed unsure about what I had said about mosques.

Arrey bhai, if even you are not a Muslim, you can step into any mosque. If you visit Jama Masjid [Delhi], Mecca Masjid [Hyderabad], Tajul Masaajid [Bhopal] or Atala Masjid [Jaunpur], chances are high that you may spot solitary woman or a group of woman praying. 

In some places, there is renewed interest among women, who are going to their own mosques for prayer. However, a majority of the women pray at homes. And if you are outside home or for picnic, the prayer time comes and you can offer Namaz anywhere,  provided that it's a clean place.

Also, in mosques that are along side Dargahs, you see more women praying. In medieval times, there were  mosques exclusively for women, in India. Also, in certain big mosques in India, there were areas marked for women to pray.