Monday, April 30, 2018

Groundbreaking and Exclusivity

Yesterday, Gossips was invited to attend the groundbreaking for a mosque in Hudson. In addition to Gossips, representing some form of media, there were reporters from the Register-Star and Columbia Paper, Dan Udell with his video camera, and a woman who said she was making a video about the building of the mosque. It seemed every elected official in Hudson, near Hudson, or representing Hudson had been invited to attend, along with the city judges and the superintendent of the Hudson City School District, and all of them were asked to speak. The picture below shows the lineup of elected officials in place when I got there at noon. Others arrived during the next half hour.

Before the actual groundbreaking took place, people gathered in a tent for speeches of praise and congratulations. Displayed about the tent were renderings of the mosque to be constructed which show that the design has been somewhat altered, mostly in the type of materials to be used, since the project was granted area variances by the Zoning Board of Appeals in October 2015.

2015 rendering

Rendering displayed on Sunday

Rendering displayed on Sunday

Construction of the mosque is expected to take 12 to 14 months and to cost $1.5 million. Alderman Shershah Mizan (Third Ward) told the 
Register-Star that less than half the money has been raised. Mizan is quoted as saying, "We've got a big, long way to go."

Despite the challenge of having to raise another $750,000, there was an air of celebration and achievement as members of the Islamic Center, some wearing hard hats, broke ground with shovels and a pick axe. 

What seemed odd, though, on this day of community celebration was that, with the exception of one, the only women present were non-Muslim, not part of the Bangladeshi community. This morning I learned that yesterday, while the groundbreaking event was happening, Jabin Ahmed Ruhii, president and co-founder of Hudson Muslim Youth, posted a comment protesting the exclusion of women on her Facebook page. The following is an excerpt from that post, quoted here with her permission:
Today the Muslim community in Hudson will be celebrating the Ground Breaking of our Islamic Center. After +20 years our community is finally ready to start building our center. Words cannot describe how happy and excited I am for this new chapter. This establishment is an essential part of my life, as it is for many others. But despite how much this community center means to me and many other Muslim women--we were excluded from today's celebration. The board did not think it was necessary or important to include more than half of the Muslim community which consists of women and young girls. During the planning process of this gathering it was announced that the men in our community cannot accommodate for the women. Although the invitation letter said "dear brothers and sisters," the men were explicitly told that women are not a part of this gathering. It is so upsetting that the beautiful religion of Islam--that promotes equality, equity, and peace--is being misinterpreted and promoted as a religion that only serves men. . . .
The Hudson Islamic Center is a space for everyone regardless of age, gender, spiritual standing, faith/no faith, political affiliation, nationality, or social status.
But unfortunately it has been turned into a social center for Bangladeshi men ages +40.
I ask my fellow community members to question, ask, and demand that Muslim women be at the forefront of this establishment. I ask that the women who were invited, who were respected and seen as equal, speak for the women who were not seen at all. I ask that my Muslim sisters demand equality! Because Islam is for everyone not just those with a particular reproductive organ.
The following explanation for the absence of women at the event, attributed to Mizan, appeared in the Register-Star: "No female Muslim worshipers were in attendance at the ceremony as a separate space is needed for female worshipers and the center couldn't accommodate it, Mizan said." 

Earlier today, Dan Udell published his video of the groundbreaking ceremony, with this explanatory statement:
Last week, I was asked by Shershah Mizan, City of Hudson 3rd Ward Alderman, if I would like to videotape the groundbreaking ceremony of the Islamic Center. It seemed like a good idea, and this is the result. In the interim, a firestorm has erupted about the lack of Islamic women at the event. I guess I'm naive: the thought never occurred to me.
I have since read the wonderful, courageous Facebook statement by Jabin Ahmed Ruhii. I came to do a simple videotape, but I left with a profound appreciation of a young generation of Americans who continue to uphold our cherished values of equality and freedom for all our citizens--male and female.
Udell's videotape of the groundbreaking event can be viewed by clicking here.


  1. Sorry, let me rephrase. I find myself speechless, wide-eyed and slack jawed.

  2. With Jabin Ahmed Ruhii, and all other women in our small community, I look forward to the fusion of American values and Muslim tradition in the evolution of the Islamic Center in Hudson.

    1. One way to do that might be to help Jabin Ahmed Ruhil to register as many Muslim women as possible to vote in the next elections - for Alderpersons and Supervisors who respect and include them.

  3. So much for inclusivity. I presume the mosque can raise the remainder of the required funds absent contributions from the weaker sex.

  4. Men and boys only in the renderings, as well.

  5. The only surprising thing is that anyone's surprised.

  6. Better to keep in mind that this kind of subjugation and frequently oppression of women is characteristic of all major religions, including Judaism and Christianity. All of them are run by men and reflect male values.

    1. Islam's systemic and credal subjugation of women is not "characteristic" of Judeo-Christian traditions, nor is the oppression limited to women.

      You'd better "keep that in mind" if you ever choose not to believe in God at all. In other words, don't make Ayaan Hirsi Ali's mistake, though I have no doubt you'll subjugate just fine.

  7. Isn't the wearing of hard hats on a Sunday strictly forbidden by Muslim law?