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Making Our Islamic Centers More Sister-Friendly

How many mosques allow women on the executive board?Here are a few suggestions to try and make our Islamic centers more “sister-friendly”.

How many mosques allow women on the executive board?

If the sisters of most communities were surveyed, we would probably hear a lot of unhappiness from them. Of course, not every sister is unhappy with the “mosque/center situation”, but when I see problems in my own community center and speak with other sisters on an international level, the problems coincide.

Here are a few suggestions to try and make our Islamic centers more “sister-friendly”.


Allah created both men and women with certain qualities and human natures. In our communities, both men and women are considered members and are active in program attendance or regular activities. When programs are planned out and organized – topics of discussion, seating arrangements, or speakers – it is important to have the point of view and suggestions of both genders.

Have those who are in charge of our centers ever surveyed the community? Do they have any sisters on the board of directors, or executive committees? If not, how is that fair representation – if the sisters have suggestions and want to be involved, how are they to do so? To back this up, usually some centers create an “all-sisters” committee. Sorry to burst the happy bubble but having an all-sisters committee can only mean one thing in a lot of cases: drama. Women have generally not been created to be in positions of leadership, so when there’s a whole committee of sisters, the greed for and desire to be “president” is inexplicable. Just as women are nurturers and helpers in the home, they can be helpers on a board or committee, give great suggestions and represent the community’s women. Besides which, having both genders on a committee means that there won’t be complaints of one gender’s committee being overpowered by the other.


Having childcare services during programs, supplications, and prayers would do a big favor in allowing sisters to take part in these blessed rituals of our religion. It is also a great way to offer help and jobs to those in the community who may need it. Hiring a babysitter would allow mothers who are usually watching their sleeping children – or the running children – to take part in the activities they sometimes need to skip out on.


Many centers have a lounge area on the property – the usual basketball court or soccer field. Sometimes these are found at the front of the building, which usually becomes the men’s entrance. Children and adults can be found hanging out around the lounge area on their own time. But the young girls who may want to spend time at the center as well have nothing to do but run around inside the building since there are no leisure facilities for them. Having an equal amount of space and facilities for both genders is very important in all fairness.

If we believe that our centers are in place for educating our communities and cities about Islam, have we ever considered the keys and research of how to educate? A kinesthetic learner is one who needs to be actively involved – for instance in reciting supplications together. The learner who is auditory only needs to hear the supplication. Last is the learner who is visual and likes to see the words of the supplication – perhaps in a book or on a screen. Are we involving the different learners in our centers by arranging for their needs to be met? We need to do this for both the men and women in our centers.

Just another thought: usually we find that the men’s area of a center is at least double the size of the women’s section – why is that?

Sisters & Q&A Sessions

Many times at the end of the program there is a question and answer session, or private sessions with scholars that only brothers are able to take advantage of. It is important that sisters get the same amount of time and available advantage with scholars too. There are many issues that sisters have to deal with when it comes to jurisprudence, child-raising, and Hijab issues – it is just as important for women to get the chance to ask their questions.

Many times in meetings or programs, men are easily able to get a hand of the microphone so that they may ask a question. On the other hand, sisters have to figure out how to explain their questions in writing, and then cross their fingers that some kid who is young enough will come by and agree to take the index card to the moderator. What a hassle! If a microphone is being passed around, it is easiest to have two microphones on each side for brothers and sisters, and those who have questions can form a line behind their respective microphone. Those who can explain better through talking can verbally ask the question and get the answer, and those who are more comfortable writing can do that as well.

Of course, having a sisters-only Q&A session once in a while is an important program as well.

About Madiha Zaidi

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  • CaliMuslimah`

    8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8)

    I don’t like never getting to ask my questions after the speech and not having a place for kids to play. I love it when the imam says “Can you please keep it down back there” and its a baby crying….
    *eye roll*

  • Sarah Sayeed

    Thanks for this great article on a very important issues in the community-you may wish to also look at Women Friendly Mosques and Community Centers-http://www.womeninislam.org/Mosque.pdf

  • Hijabi_in_Wonderland

    @ Observer, you sound like a scorned brother. Please consider:

    “However much the faith (piety) of a man increases, his regard for (respect towards) women also increases.” – imam sadiq (as)

    • Observer


      You are becoming a sunni now? putting in brackets to try and spin the issue. When Imam (as) said ‘regard’ for women, what makes u think it means “respect towards” them???

      Obviously u dont speak arabic in the slightest. This hadith means that a man’s ‘interest’ in acquiring the love of women increases. Doesn’t mean he bows down to women. Please if you have no knowledge thaen refrain from making yourself look foolish.

  • Observer

    Um, why was my post removed???

    Are u any better then Western media if you folks can’t take criticism???

    Shame, shame…

    • The Islamic Insights Team

      Assalam Alaikum,

      Your post was removed because it contained rude comments towards the author. You are free to share your views and comments, but please observe the decorum and etiquette expected of a Muslim.

      • Observer

        Since when was stating the truth rude???

        I post Hadith from our Aimmah (as) and you call that rude???

        You guys are amateurs. You can’t take criticism and your writing is poor. Someone comes with hadith and out of shame, you remove the comments???

        Really sad that our SHia’s are poorly educated in our books and all we know is what our scholars teach us. Learn Arabic, pick up Al Kafi, Man lla Yadhurul fakih, Majma Al Bayan etc and see for yourself what our Imam’s (as) have to say.

        really sad u folks, what a disater this site is.

        • Dot

          If you feel so strongly about the site, why don’t you write an article then? I’m sure the II team would be willing to think it over if you approach them politely, especially if you have an Islamic studies background. I agree that lately some of the articles written by non-learned people and removal of posts is unlike the character of II displayed, but there is still lot to be happy with. It is hardly a “disaster”. I’m not sure what you said earlier because I didn’t see it, but you clearly need to relax because you seem to be making a bigger show out of your knowledge and how people are not as smart as you than trying to help,

          It’s fine to have opinions, but you hardly have brought anything but complaints to the table. I hope you will write an article soon instead of just arguing.

          • Observer


            I put up a few hadith from Man la yadhurul faqih that crushed the article and the team couldnt handle it and they removed my comments. anyways, You have a good point, maybe I will submit an article with full references from our books of hadith including majlisi and beboyah gradings and analysis of sanad as well of course ayats of Quran.

          • Dot

            Just a quick question: if you are not happy with other people relying on scholars, why do you rely on the verdicts of Sheikh Saduq and others? They are not masooms either. Also, those scholars you are supporting criticized each other’s ideas about what hadiths were accurate. A very respected classical scholar, like Sheikh al Mufeed, “destroys” Sheikh as Saduq’s ideas in different critiques.

            Definitely we should follow Qur’an and hadith, but there has to be more to that than simply doing whatever Sheikh as Saduq or Sheikh at Ta’ifa believed in. I hope you see my point.

          • Observer


            I think I know what u think I am. You think I am akhbari right? Lol…no no, I am Usooli and I do Taqleed. All I am saying is that if ur gonna get off ur high horse and start quoting hadith then u better do it academically and not just “I heard this and I heard that from this and that person or from this and that website”. Thats all im saying. Yes I know Sadooq had some strange beliefs and even Mufeed had some mutazilite inclinations but hey, thats what we have to deal with.

          • Dot

            No, I didn’t think you were Akhbari necessarily, just that you came across as relying too much upon earlier scholars and quoting them verbatim, which goes against your earlier statement people are just relying upon contemporary scholars too much.

            Regarding reliance on Quran and traditions, perhaps we should start with husn az Zan. You might not agree with II on some things, but you said a lot of very accusatory things. You even apologized for some of those things. I hope you have learned something from that experience.

            Anyway, I have to get back to work. Cheers.

          • Observer

            Excuse me, but you dont seem to realize that those ‘early’ scholars are the closest thing we have to the ahlul bayt (as). Lets not compare them to contemporary scholars. Its not fair to compare relying on Syed Sistani and Khamenei versus Sadooq, Mufeed, Kulayni, Majlisi, Toosi, etc. Our very on scholars of today rely on them and we rely on our scholars so why not go back to source code?

            And Plus, How can I not depend on them as they narrate the traditions, sp plz, understand the status of the early scholars and thank God everyday for their works.

            I apologized as I come across to strongly. I have high expectations of Shia’s thats all. I want to see us being the best. No different when a parent gets angry at their child when the child does poorly in school. Wrong response but right intention. I want to see the articles on here so solid backed up by refenrences from Quran and solid hadith that nobody can say anything. I dont like to see loosely written stuff that may be open to attack. Thats all it is.

          • Dot

            First of all, you’re not my parent or my teacher.

            Second of all, you are again being very judgmental in assuming things. You are not being “strong” in your views, you are opposing the Quran’s instruction to “say nice words to the people” (qooloo li nasi husna).

            In fact, the article you are attacking DOES list traditions from the sources you admire, but only the chains are not present. This is a very normal approach when dealing with lay people that goes all the way back to the beginning of our scholarship. Not everyone can handle a discussion about rijaal or whatnot.

            There is another problem with your stance: regarding the issue of the early scholars being the “source code”, what if that code is incorrect at times? Closer in time to Ahlul-Bait does not mean being correct or understanding them properly. As has already been covered, some of these earlier scholars have views on certain things that are very dodgy. They are NOT masooms, they are completely fallible, and they can make mistakes. If that scares you, so be it.

            We have a limited number of ayat and ahadith available, and every generation is free to analyze and think about those sources. This is far more inline with what Ahlul-Bait taught us to ponder and continuously reflect, than simply say the old scholars believed xyz, so we should believe the same.

            Finally, I would rather rely on Ayatollah Seestani to tell me what to do or not do than you. Because in practice that is what you want me to do, follow you and your views.

            Please read the notice below from the II team explaining why they do not list the full chains of transmission. Thank you for your comments, for me this topic is closed. Your good duas please, wa salaam.

        • The Islamic Insights Team

          Assalam Alaikum

          Thank you for your comments and kind words.

          The reason your earlier comment was deleted was not because it contained hadiths or arguments regarding this article. If you go through other articles on this site, you will see that we allow far harsher criticism. However, under no circumstances are personal attacks tolerated. Debate the merits of the article, not the merits of the author. You are welcome to re-post your comment without the personal attacks, and we will obviously allow it to stay posted.

          Secondly, there is an unofficial Islamic Insights editorial policy to not include full volume number/book number/page number for references. Most of our readers do not have access to books of hadith anyway, so there is little purpose in providing such detailed references. Rather, we suffice with simply the name of the book so that the flow of the article is maintained.

          If you have specific questions about the source of a particular hadith, please send us an email at editor [at] islamicinsights.com, and we will be sure to provide it for you.

          And yes, you have every right to have high expectations from others; similarly, others also have a right to expect the highest akhlaq from you. Thank you for your apology, and may Allah give us all the ability to conduct ourselves with the best of manners and etiquettes.

          Thanks again for your comments and feedback.


          The Islamic Insights Team

  • Observer

    Ok Sorry If I offended u folks. Its just I am so proud that our shias have a site like this and u guys are doing an excellent job. Seriously really well done.

    But I feel there is little progress since 2009 and I feel that the writers could be more in touch with Quran and hadith.

    Again I apologize if I have offended anyone. Sorry 🙁