Opinion Divided on Proposals for Female Mosque
Plans for Britain’s first female-only mosque have been revealed. The mosque, which will be run and attended by women, only, will see them try to break away from traditional cultural practices, establishing their own principles and responsibilities.
Announcing the news at the annual Daughters of Eve Conference, the Muslim Women’s Council has put forward proposals to create the mosque where they seek to play a larger role in their religion. The idea also includes women leading prayers and introducing female imams.
Chief Executive of the Bradford-based Muslim Women’s Council, Bana Gora, explained that their intention was “not to be divisive, nor to go against the values and principles of Islam.”
Speaking to The Asian Today, she said, “Muslim women have been marginalised for many decades by mosques in the UK which are male dominated patriarchal spaces. Rather than complain, we decided to do something about it.”
“We’ve carried out an audit of local mosques focussing on services provided to women; above all access was the biggest problem. Our results highlight that in majority of mosques women’s representation on governance structures was non- existent, on committees and boards, segregated spaces that are dated and unwelcoming.
“The alienation that women feel has profound consequences for younger generations who are taught that Islam treats both men and women as spiritual equals yet the practice within mosques contradicts the principles.”
The scheme, entitled Bradford Mosque Project, follows a year-long effort to find a suitable facility to host the development.
Shaz Manir, CEO of the Amirah Foundation, a women’s charity, said she welcomed the news. She told The Asian Today, “Islam liberated women from the shackles of inequality, 1500 years ago. For the first time in history, women were alleviated in status, able to inherit and given key positions in building society. Today, however, in modern times, women are not given key positions. Muslim women do not find themselves on the board at mosques committees. Many mosques do not even provide a prayer hall for women. I welcome that women are setting up women only mosques.”
Qari Sajjad from a Sheffield mosque opposed the idea. He said, “Females have the right to attend masajid’s, they do not have the right of having a masjid only based on their gender. These issues need to be addressed.”
However, public opinion on the idea is split. Salma Din said, “Women are not obligated to pray in congregation, they cannot be Imams. In fact, the best place for them to pray is in their homes, not that this means a ban from our mosques! Not sure how this can be called a mosque.”
Nashmya Imtiaz added, “Not to a debate but if a woman cannot give adhan how is it a mosque? It can be an ‘Islamic centre’ for women but a mosque per se, is questionable.”
Whilst Thamina Hashmi said, “There are some towns in the UK where there are mosques on every corner, but not a single one allows women to enter…some women have to travel to another City/town to offer Eid salah…it’s sad and shocking, our community is so backwards in so many ways.”
Both Bana and the Muslim Women’s Council should look at the recent all-women’s mosque opened in Los Angeles, where the success of female-led Friday prayers has doubled. In an age where men sometimes struggle to run mosques, a female-led mosque can go either way. However, most importantly, it is vital that we don’t cause more segregation within our communities, especially in a place which should involve the whole community, men, women and children.