We used to want to go to mosques and community centers. As early immigrants, some 30 odd years ago, those structures served as a place where you found people like you. It’s where you met friends and availed the opportunity to give your children a piece of the culture you grew up with. I distinctly remember being a proud father of children who attended and even taught at Sunday school, encouraging them to speak their mind and ask questions. However, somewhere along the way our community centers began to change and our pre-occupation with rituals quelling the room for open discussion that allowed our children to learn.
I don’t know the precise moment when the disappointment took hold. Perhaps it was at Friday prayers when I saw that women had been given a sliver of space to pray, and were expected to keep a watchful eye on their children while praying. It could have been during a lecture where the reigning cleric chose to pursue commentary on “The West vs. Us” or the need for women to cover themselves. I thought about how my wife and daughter may feel about these sorts of topics and whether it was the reason that they preferred not to be heavily involved in the community building activities I so valued. Is this why my son chose to be peripherally involved in the mosque? After all, if I, as a grown man, felt judged by the clerics in these moments, it was not hard to imagine how my children must feel.
Editor’s note: A longer version of this article appeared on Alt Muslimah here. Rashed Hasan is a serial entrepreneur, management consultant and business executive. His recent book: Removing The Middleman, Volume 1: Deciphering Faith Without Ritual, is now available on Amazon (https://www.createspace.com/5075120). Book website: www.rashedhasan.com. His views are his own.