The young American Muslims behind the Women’s Mosque are working to counter cultural practices that marginalize women, by linking their effort with established Muslim traditions
By Nick Street
Los Angeles: The first women-only mosque in the United States opened its doors in Los Angeles on a Friday, last fortnight with an inaugural jummah, or prayer, by Edina Lekovic of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. The mosque is housed in a century-old multi-faith worship space near downtown. Originally built as a synagogue, Pico-Union is now the home of the non-profit Women’s Mosque as well as several Jewish and Christian groups.
Even as the boards of directors at many American mosques are becoming more welcoming to women, the relegation of Muslim women to basements, balconies and other less desirable spaces in their houses of worship remains a common practice. That second-class status is the main force behind the founding of the Women’s Mosque.
While a mosque solely for women is a novelty among the roughly 2,000 mosques in the United States, mosques for each sex have long flourished in other parts of the world. The young American Muslims behind the Women’s Mosque are working to counter cultural practices that marginalize women, by linking their effort with established Muslim traditions and helping the disaffected reconnect with their faith. The desire to nurture that faith is what motivates Sana Muttalib, an attorney specializing in international anti-corruption law and a co-president of the Women’s Mosque, along with M. Hasna Maznavi, a comedy writer and director.