Svend White on "Lessons Learned from the PMU Experiment"
Svend White has an article at Alt.Muslim on lessons to be learned from the short-lived PMUNA organization.
It is unfortunate that the Progressive Muslims have seized upon the issue of prayer as a way to highlight gender discrimination against Muslim women. There is profound wisdom in following the Prophetic command, "Pray as you have seen me pray." Our prayers, more than likely, cannot favorably compare with the prayers of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and those around him. Why jeopardize the quality of our prayers even further by making this pillar of Islam a platform for social rather than spiritual activism?
The Progressive Muslims raise valid and relevant questions about women's issues, especially those pertaining to women's space in the mosque and gender relations. However, there is a way to address these issues from within the Islamic paradigm, without compromising the authority of the Quran, the integrity of Prophetic practice, and the intellectual heritage passed on to us by the great scholars of old.
I believe that it is time that Muslim women reclaim their rights from within Islam. I humbly suggest that our scholars be more aware of the sensitivity of women's issues. The Progressive Muslims raise some important points, and while we may not accept their philosophy, we do ourselves a disservice by dismissing legitimate concerns that affect Muslim women today.
This topic really hit home for me, because as a woman, I too have experienced discrimination in the mosque. I simply ask that when our scholars discuss the issue of women's leadership, they keep an open mind. Many brothers use the hadith of Abu Bakrah as a weapon against women. Did the Prophet, peace be upon him, intend to prohibit women in all places and all times from assuming any and all types of leadership positions? History points to many examples of positive female leadership, and, indeed, many examples of negative male leadership. Consider what the Qur'an has to say about Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba. Look at the example of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and how he routinely consulted his wives in matters of utmost importance.