After studying the Rashaayda Bedouin in cultural anthropology class, our prof asked us to ask a question about Islam that related to our studies of the Rashaayda people. My question is: How is the spatial structure of a Mosque mirrored in the spatial structure of a Rashaayda tent. I suppose my question is how are men and women organized/separated in a mosque (east/west). Do their location within the Mosque represent anything? What is the reason for separating men and women? And any other information that you may find suitable.
Our knowledge regarding the Rashaayda Bedouins is limited to generalizations. Their ethnicity, language and environment in Eastern Sudan lend themselves to develop their culture. Some of their cultural mannerisms may or may not reflect Islamic practice. Thus, we cannot comment on how or why the Rashaayda organize their tents, nor can we comment on how the people within the tents are situated and for what reasons. However, during Islamic prayers there are postures which the adherents take. These movements include standing, kneeling and prostrations or bowing down/bending over. Hence, it is common sense that the men and women within the Mosque, due to the nature of worship rituals, are segregated by sex. However, this in no way implies that one group is better than the other. Nor does it imply that one is inferior or superior to the other. It is a simple case of avoiding the potential deviation, of the persons attending the congregation, from the spiritual link with the Almighty. It is easier for people to concentrate on their prayers when the opposite sex is not in front of them prostrating. How the sections are divided up are of no particular significance. It can be east, west, in another room, upstairs or downstairs. The only important position that the congregation must adhere to during prayer is to face the Ka’bah as a symbolic representation of the spiritual body of the Muslims offering their prayers.
I hope I have clarified the issue.
God knows best.