His wife woke him up at five in the morning, even though she had no intention of getting up herself. He asked her for a wake-up call so that he would not be late for the Eid prayer. “I don’t think if it’s wise for you to come with me. I don’t want your whole day to be ruined if there isn’t a space for women again,” he tried to spare her bad mood with bitterness in his mouth.
In the short period since they arrived in this country, they realized that it is not worth getting into debates with the existing community. That’s just how it is. “That’s how we do things here, women don’t go to Friday prayers, even less so to Eid prayers,” they kept hearing.
They came to the realization that they had fallen for the pretentious promises about the community for all Muslims and promotional photos and the floor plan sketches with the caption, 》prayer room for women《.
That’s just the way it is here. Two summers ago, when they were in this country just visiting and wanted to go to Jummah together, the wife was stopped at the door. “There are too many men, there is no room for women. It is too hot for us to pray outside,” a small group of worshipers told the woman, who was asking them, why can’t she go inside. Once she realized that she was not going anywhere, she kept to herself the last bit of how bizzare their point about hot weather and their inability to pray outside was. From where she came, from the land of the Prophet, where the scorching heat and desert sand are unrelenting, Eid and Friday prayers welcome thousands of believers even outside the mosques. Above all, it does not cross anyone’s mind that the space for women would be occupied by men. Or to put it another way, no one dares to discourage someone from joining the prayer in congregation.
During the biggest holiday, Eid, the courtyards and parks around the mosques are filled with families already at sunrise. Everyone gathers, old and young, to pray together and then exchange good wishes with everyone.
That’s just not the case here. On Fridays, when the number of Muslim men to the mosque is too high and the place for women is therefore occupied, the woman must wait for men to finish the ritual. The security guard then warns her that she has five minutes before he jingles his keys and starts badgering her to leave. Two summers ago, husband and wife weren’t the only visitors from a foreign land that Friday. A few other women were ushered away from the women’s entrance, which was being filled by men. Arriving home distraught, husband and wife naively hoped for some explanation from the community’s decision-makers. A sharp and sarcastic voice on the other end of the phone infuriated the wife to even write to the other people in charge at the mosque. She did not receive a response to either her first or her second written inquiry.
Eventually, she came to connect with others in this new land who confided in her similar stories. She could feel their reluctance and disappointment. The wife wanted to speak about it out loud. “It’s not right what’s going on,” she kept saying. At the same time, she did not want to denigrate the community, to alienate herself from it, to stay behind the closed doors of the mosque even on other occasions. “But with such an attitude, they are spitting in their own bowl,” her friend kept agreeing with her, who herself had repeatedly experienced the inexcusable jingling of the security guard with the keys, as if she were some mischievous little schoolgirl and not a grown-up Muslim woman who wanted to pray in the one and only mosque in the city.
This year, the wife did not go to the Eid prayer with her husband. She stayed at home, like other wives in this land. When her husband returned home, he brought her a red rose. “Some women were standing by the mosque, selling roses after the prayer.”
“Did they at least pray with you, perhaps somewhere in the back…” his wife asked him with a glimpse of hope for that moment.
“No. They have their own way of doing things. That’s just the way it is.” Then the wife suggested that she and her husband come up with their own new traditions for the upcoming holidays. They will recreate the atmosphere from the Prophet’s land, they will pray together, and celebrate Eid for two.