Women finding education in mosques
The mosques which have the highest number of women on Friday include Diwan Bigi in central Faizabad, the Wahdat mosque in Orgo district and Salman Farse mosque in Baharak district.
Last year, there were only about 20-30 women at Friday prayers in each of these mosques, but this year, the number has increased to about 100, the women say.
The women say they learn many things from Friday sermons, including religious issues, their rights as a woman and as a wife and how to act according to Islam.
Some women were drawn to the mosque after hearing the imam’s speech by loudspeaker from their homes.
At the Diwan Bigi mosque in central Faizabad, the entire second floor has been set aside for women for the past six months.
Bibi Hajira, 35, a resident of Diwan Bigi, has been going to Friday prayer along with her two neighbours for six months.
“My family does not try to stop me from going. They are happy to see me pray five times a day. Many women are so busy with their household chores they cannot go to the mosque. But Friday prayer has more reward than housework.”
Basira, 45, a resident of Khair Abad village of Baharak district, said it takes her one hour to walk to the mosque. “I don’t feel tired. More than anything my interest and enthusiasm grows.”
Basira has a third-grade education and six children. “I have learned many things at Friday prayers, especially the rights of wife and husband, children’s rights and parents’ rights.
“I try to encourage other women to go to the mosque, that’s why there are more women attending Friday prayers.”
“Scholars preach about religious issues, the rights of men and women and the elimination of violence against women. This is why we want more women to attend the mosque,” he said.
The number of girls attending madrassas is also increasing.
Mullah Mazharudin, an imam at the Salman Farse mosque in Baharak, said there were 800 students at his school, including 300 girls. Last year, there were only 100 girls, he said.
Because of the influx of new students, the school is struggling to provide enough text books. “The Iranian consulate has assisted us with 400 volumes of the Quran which is not enough, we need more help,” he added.
Fatima, 18, said she has memorised the Quran and is learning the hadith.
“When I get home from school, I go to the religious school for one hour. When it is winter, and there is no regular school, I go to the madrassa all day, every day.”
She is also interested in attending Friday prayer, but wants to wait until she has more knowledge about Islamic issues.
Mullah Abdul Kabeer Majidi, head of accountability at the Badakhshan court, said there were no legal or other restrictions against women taking part in Friday prayers.
“In Friday prayers, women learn how an Afghan woman should act different from others; they should pay attention to their veil, raise their level of knowledge, they should know about their own and other’s rights and they should know the pillars of Islam.”
Hajj and Islamic affairs authorities say that there are 2,600 mosques in Badakhshan, and over 300 madrassas.
Two mosques have been built by the Ministry of Hajj and Islamic Affairs, one in Faizabad and the other in Kash district. A third mosque is being built with funds from Saudi Arabia in Shuhada district. Many other mosques have been funded by locals in their areas.
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