Because I hate women.
No, don't give me that look, that just because I am a woman I'm supposed to think women are wonderful people. I don't think that. Clearly, I hate women. And I am in a fitless rage at the moment and have been unable to sleep out of sheer frustration at some women in my community. No doubt my post will anger, even infuriate some--most especially my readers in my own community.
But I just can't take it anymore.
The masjid here just opened a new portion of the building, including a musallah on the second floor especially for sisters (henceforth known as the fake musallah.) According to some people (men and women alike unfortunately) this means that women can't or shouldn't pray in the real musallah, the main one on the first floor. I tick these people off when I refuse to go upstairs to the fake musallah, and instead choose to pray behind the men. They usually let me know, as if I'm some poor stupid lass who can't figure out how to use stairs.
But in reality, every time I choose to pray upstairs in congregation (I have no problems praying up there solo), I become so angry, so infuriated that I cannot concentrate on my prayer whatsoever. Tonight I pretty much stormed out and threw a fit in my car, I was so upset. (After praying isha in the fake musallah tonight, that is.) I'm still throwing a fit 7 hours later, really.
Why do I get so angry at the women while praying upstairs? Various reasons... I'll list them.
First, because the women won't shut up. In the real prayer hall, people know better than to carry on their casual and audible conversations in the musallah--so they take it to the lobby. There is no lobby upstairs so the women use the fake musallah as their cafe to chit-chat when salaat is not going on. This is only a minor issue, because there is at least a private room secluded where I can pray in private if I show up and there is a group of sisters monopolizing the fake musallah with their pointless conversation.
Secondly, because the fake prayer hall serves as a dual-purpose play room. There is infact a play room upstairs, adjacent to the fake musallah. And there is a door to another secluded room for mothers to pray who have small children. And then there is a door from that room into the fake musallah itself. So this means that children can (and do) amuse themselves by running from the play room into the secluded room, into the fake musallah, into the hallway, back into the playroom... and so on. Despite having a play room, they also choose to run back and forth across the fake musallah. Usually this is behind the sisters praying in a row, but not always. Even when there is only enough room to prostrate, children still sometimes choose to run in front of this entire row! So they chase each other, giggle, scream, fall down and cry, and stomp around, all in the fake musallah, during the prayer. What is the point of a play room if the kids are still going to play in the prayer hall? Why can't the women control their kids!?
Thirdly, the sisters seem to have a problem observing basic congregational prayer etiquette. Like straighting the lines. And filling in the gaps. And starting the row in the center behind the imam. It isn't difficult to tell where the imam is downstairs, although it is not possible to actually see him. But still sisters insist on lining up starting sideways or in a corner instead of in the center. So tonight for example, the sisters somehow decided to line up in the front left corner of the fake musallah (against all logic) and as usual failed to fill in the gaps, and as usual could not manage to keep the line straight, despite having clear rows on the carpet!
Fourthly, the sisters collectively refuse to place their shoes on the shoe racks. They walk upstairs I suppose, take their shoes off as they open the door to the fake musallah, and walk right on in. Leaving their shoes in front of the door. Repeat after me: safety hazard!! And yes, already sisters have tripped on these shoes while exiting the fake musallah. (And can I point out that this is NEVER a problem downstairs where the brothers ALWAYS store their shoes?) And before you start telling me "maybe they don't know," be aware that after jummah sisters have repeatedly been instructed to place their shoes on racks. The racks are only three feet away from the doors!! Three feet! Why can't a person walk three more feet to put their shoes up instead of leaving a disaster pile of shoes at the doorway? Is bending down too much trouble? When I see this I've made a habit of removing them and putting them on racks--as have other like-minded sisters. We've also when seeing a sister leave her shoes there, informed her that she needed to use the racks. But still it happens... I exit the room and there are the shoes. I'm sorely tempted to collect them all and throw them in a dark room forcing the sisters to go on a search to find them. Really, it's absurd.
Fifthly, the audio/visual disaster. It is a disaster. There is absolutely no visual equipment (as had been promised!) to provide sisters with a view of the imam--for khutbahs or khaaterahs or even the salaat. There is a wall around the front of the room which is glass from about 3ft high up to the ceiling, so it is possible to see the imam if you look down from standing immediately against the wall. If you are far enough away from the wall to allow yourself space to prostrate, then you are too far away to have a proper angle to see the imam. So it doesn't count. No video equipment like I said, even though I had been told on several occasions that there would be a large screen television for sisters to see the imam. This results, quite naturally, in more chatty sisters who instead of listening to the talk will just carry on their own conversations! Leaving the other sisters with no recourse but to attempt to listen, without the aid of line of sight. This is a problem that DOESN'T happen downstairs. They brothers do not talk inside the real musallah during a lecture. Sisters do not shut up! Perhaps a television would not even help the problem--it's just another reason for me to hate women and their chatty selves. It is a problem that stems from the separation... or really seclusion of women in a separate and unequal (clearly deficient!!) area. And tonight I had to suffer from a very poor sound system. Whether it is the quality of the speakers or the volume being too high, the sound was clipping--very unpleasant to listen to... and anything that makes the Qur'an unpleasant to hear, and the salaat difficult to follow is not a good thing in my opinion. It's probably not a woman's fault, but the fact that women have to pray upstairs by themselves and it's men who control the sound system leaves me good reason to still hate praying upstairs in the fake musallah.
And last of all, praying upstairs in a separate room from the imam and congregation, does not feel like praying in congregation at all. The fact that anyone thinks there is a problem with women praying behind the men (when the Prophet saws said the best rows for women are the last rows) is another reason for my frustration at the fake musallah being upstairs and totally separated from the men. I am not even convinced that it is Islamically permissible really. I mean, does it make sense for my husband to lead me in prayer while he is downstairs and I am upstairs in my room with the door closed? Even if I can hear him? It doesn't. Does it make sense to follow a salaat while hearing the imam on the radio even if it's live? Or to follow a prayer on satellite television or streaming video on the internet? It doesn't make sense and I think what we're doing at the masjid now isn't much different--to be in a completely separate room from the imam, where it is not possible to see him (or the rows of the congregation), or to hear him except through artificial means (the sound system), hardly constitutes a single congregation, in my opinion.
So I hate it. I hate being up there with the women who don't like being part of the real congregation. I hate the women who leave their shoes strewn about for others to trip over. Who use the prayer hall as a venue for inane conversation, who leave their trash laying around, who and who talk during the lectures.
And worst of all I hate the people (this includes men) who come to me to say "Sister, there is a musallah for girls upstairs," as if I didn't know, as if to say I'm not welcome at the masjid if I can be seen, as if I am second class, and as if there is a problem with my praying behind the imam.
So I've done it now... made everyone angry. Oh well.