Striving for God's Attention: Gendered Spaces and Piety

Hypatia 31 (3):605-619 (2016)
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This article looks at the inadequacy of space available to women in the two most holy sites for all Muslims: Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and Masjid an-Nabawi in Madinah, Saudi Arabia. I argue that religious discourse, shaped by geopolitical factors, has framed piety for women primarily in terms of modesty, such that a woman is often considered a good Muslim if she is visible only within her female community but invisible to the larger society. Furthermore, I argue that the allocation of meager space affects not only the perception of women's religious standing in society, but also women's own perception about their moral selves. The article claims that by being relegated to small sections within religious spaces, women's collective worship is evident neither to the community at large nor can it be fully experienced by individual women, thus placing obstacles in women's path to seek to closeness to God.

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Saba Fatima
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville


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