Last night, I had the opportunity to be Muslim.
On Monday nights, I’ve been taking a class called Perspectives at a local Presbyterian church. I invited my friend Annie to come along last night since the speaker was renowned missiologist Don Richardson. As we neared the classroom, I noticed a sign on the door I normally enter: “Men enter here.” We continued walking to the next door, which displayed a “Women enter here” sign.
We were instructed to leave our shoes outside the room since we were entering “Muslim Land.” Next, our neatly-done hair was covered by a black cloth, leaving not a strand showing! Upon entering the room, we noticed that the women’s section was actually roped off from the men’s section. We read signs instructing the women not to address the men unless they were your husband or family member, as is enforced in Muslim culture. If the women had a question for the speaker, we were to write it down on a note card.
The most humbling part of the experiencing for me was sitting behind the men. In the U.S., if there aren’t enough seats in a room, the men are traditionally supposed to give up their seats for the ladies. Overall, we American women are pampered and treated a little better than men. We are the first out of the elevator. We are the ones who have doors held for us.
But in Muslim cultures, the women sit, humbled like little children, sometimes unable to even see the speaker, having no say in intellectual or religious discussions. They are to keep quiet both vocally and in appearance. Their outward beauty is masked behind long garments and head coverings. Their role is truly to bring sexual gratification to the men and to produce offspring, not to impact culture.
I was glad when I was able to take off the head covering, when I could sit in a comfortable chair instead of being cramped on the floor, when I could once again join in discussion with the men. I was thankful that I am an American, that I am a Christian. But my heart hurts a little more for the women who have no voice, for the culture who prays so faithfully to a god who does not answer them.