Muslim women should not wear trousers, leave the house without their husband’s permission or use Facebook, according to controversial rules published by British mosques.
The Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham said that women were not allowed to wear trousers, even in front of their husbands, while the Central Masjid of Blackburn called Facebook a ‘sin’ and an ‘evil’.
One Islamic organisation also stated that Muslim women must not leave the house without their husband’s permission.
The controversial ruling was published this week by the Blackburn Muslim Association, an affiliate member of the MCB, telling women that they should not travel more than 48 miles without a male chaperone. A document written by a mufti at the Croydon Mosque and Islamic Centre, entitled ‘Advice for the husband and wife’, also stated: ‘A woman should seek her husband’s permission when leaving the house and should not do so without his knowledge.’
In another article, the mosque calls abortion ‘a great sin’ and describes acting and modelling as ‘immoral acts’.
Moderate Muslims and anti-extremism campaigners have slammed the statements as ‘disgraceful’ and ‘outdated and patriarchal’, according to The Times.
Campaigners called for the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body that represents hundreds of mosques, bodies and schools, to order its affiliated institutions to delete online advice that restricts women’s freedom.
An article entitled ‘Dangers of Facebook’ was published on the Central Masjid of Blackburn’s website, stating: ‘Facebook has opened the doors for sin. Muslim girls and women alike have become prey to this evil.’
In a Q&A, one Muslim asked the Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham if women could wear jeans. Citing an Islamic scholar, the reply was that women were not permitted to wear trousers, even in front of their husband, as they show off ‘the details of her body’.
It said: ‘The ones who wear trousers are men, and the Prophet . . . cursed women who imitate men.’
None of the organisations responded to The Times’ requests for comment.
Justine Greening, the international development secretary, called the travel ban on women ‘disgraceful and unacceptable’ and urged the Blackburn Muslim Association to withdraw its comments.
A spokeswoman for Greening’s department said that such views have ‘no place in Britain’.
Sheikh Howjat Ramzy, a scholar and former MCB education committee member, told The Times: ‘[These interpretations of Islam] are totally wrong. It is nonsense. And Islam has no objections to Facebook, just as a woman can wear trousers or not wear a scarf and can still be a Muslim.’
Speaking about the MCB, Dr Ramzy said: ‘They should ask the organisation to withdraw their statement or advise them that this may not be applicable for use in the United Kingdom.’
Salah al-Ansari, from the Quilliam Foundation anti-extremism think tank, told The Times: ‘These are typical examples of literalist interpretations of Islam which are extremely fundamentalist and exclusivist.’
A spokeswoman for the MCB said that it ‘does not dictate jurisprudential positions to its affiliates’, but that there was a rise in the number of Muslim women taking roles as political figures and religious scholars.
She said: ‘Rulings that belong to different historical periods and cultural settings get superseded. We encourage affiliates to actively consider this.’