Women and men

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Procession at the mawlid of Sidi 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Awf, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, in Qalyub

In a patriarchal society like Egypt, religion is still largely viewed through the perspective of male dominance. Sufism, however, traditionally offers more space fort he participation and even leadership of women than many other forms of Islamic piety do. In Sufi meetings and pilgrims' tents at mawlids men and women often share the space and participate together in rituals. Some people criticise this and argue that the mixing of men and women leads to immorality. Sufis disagree and point out that the atmosphere at Sufi gatherings is well-mannered and that people there are concerned with spiritual matters and not flirt.

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Qalyub, July MMIII, small frame colour negative, scan from c-print
(c) Samuli Schielke