An “Open Mosque”
From Huffington Post 09/21/2014 by Antonia Blumberg
The Huffington Post reports in the article “Cape Town’s New Gay-Friendly ‘Open Mosque’ Welcomes All Religions, Genders And Sexual Orientations” that a mosque in Cape Town is now publicly known as the “first outwardly gay-friendly” practicing mosque in South Africa. The “Open Mosque” accepts (a) all Muslims “of all sects”, (b) those of “other faiths”, and (c) those “who identify as gay”. It also allows women to “lead prayers” and participate in prayers without gender segregation. This acceptance of diversity has caused protests and criticism from conservative Muslims.
This gender-equal, non-sectarian, ‘open’ mosque brings forth questions about the interpretation of Islam, the religiosity of ‘divergent’ mosques, and the ‘tampering’ of tradition.
Protestors claim that the Open Mosque speaks against Islam as its “interpretation … clearly contradicts Qur’anic and Prophetic directives as well as centuries of Islamic scholarship”.
Although, Taj Hargey, an academic working with the mosque, believes that it will be a “development in the area of religion” in South Africa as it: (a) is meant to encourage a safe prayer space for “‘open-minded people” and (b) does not go against the teachings of Islam.
But, who are these ‘open-minded people’? For Hargey, they are of “a younger generation”, which whom the Open Mosque is appealing to. With its roots in the Islamic tradition, its actions may be the first-step in welcoming a group of Muslims who struggle with conventional strictures or are advocates for gender, sexual orientation, and sect equality. These characteristics are arguably those of the younger generation, who may crave religious practice, but find tradition difficult to sustain when their socio-political ideologies are changing. The younger generation arguably is influenced by the progressive ideologies found worldwide – on their computer screens, in the news, or at school. These ideas on equality and interfaith could strain an individual’s tie to his or her traditions. Therefore, the Open Mosque acts as a place for the intermingling of socio-political ideology and traditional religious practice.
But then, what is the Open Mosque’s interpretation of the Quran? Hargey claims that there is no explicit mention of people praying “separately” in the Quran. Similarly, he argues that there is no mention of “men and women” being segregated. This reflects, arguably, how (non-) theisms have wide spectrums within. For example, there are spectrums in (non-) faiths based on how to interpret religious texts, how to act in a sacred space, and how conservative to be as a worshipper. These spectrums influence those in protest of the Open Mosque as it is the conservative Muslims who find the interpretation to be corrupt. Whereas, the Open Mosque seems influenced by a progressive interpretation.
This article sheds light on how conflict arises with a worldview, based on ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ interpretations and the struggle for traditions to remain the same while world ideology changes amongst worshipers. The Open Mosque is just one example of how important worldviews (religion and ideology) are.
*All quotations are from the article by Antonia Blumberg, which is linked.
– TK ; #200