Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year, or stranded on a desert Island, you must have heard of the #MeToo movement. Although, its roots were laid at least a decade earlier, the ‘MeToo’ movement went viral in October 2017 after women were encouraged to speak out about the magnitude of the harassment that women have faced, and continue to do so, in all aspects of their lives. Whilst many positive outcomes have been created as a result of the movement, this has highlighted the wisdom of gender segregation in Islam.
As a Muslim woman, the most frequent question I am asked is regarding the segregated nature of our events. Nowhere is this more apparent than at our 3-day, annual conventions, commonly referred to as Jalsa Salana. Today, these conventions are held in countries all across the world. The purpose of these conventions is for Ahmadi Muslims to come together to increase their religious knowledge and to renew ties of kinship.
One distinctive feature of this convention is the segregation. As soon as one enters the vicinity, men and women go their separate ways and spend the whole day with their respective genders meeting again only at the end of the day. The convention allows women the ultimate freedom to socialise with one another without fear of being objectified or harassed. For 3 days, women not only focus upon their own spiritual growth and enjoy the company of female friends and colleagues, but the full management and organization of the women’s gathering is also the sole responsibility of women. It is a fantastic show of work-womenship. From providing security and medical attention to serving meals and managing the audio-video, all roles and duties within the ladies section are conducted by ladies. Throughout the year, Ahmadi women attend workshops and training sessions to ensure they acquire and update their skills for their respective duties.
Every year, more and more women and girls are empowered with new skills and the opportunity to use those skills in a safe and nurturing environment.
Maidah Ahmad, Barrie, Ontario, Canada