Video: First female-only mosque open in US

Over a hundred women gathered on Friday to celebrate the opening of the Women's Mosque of America

Rose Troup Buchanan
Tuesday 03 February 2015 12:41
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Women arriving at the mosque
Women arriving at the mosque

The first all-female mosque in the US opened on Friday as more than 100 women from all over the country travelled to worship at the site in Los Angeles.

Housed in a multi-faith worship space, originally built as a synagogue, Pico-Union now homes the Women’s Mosque of America, as well as Jewish and Christian groups in California.

Founder M. Hasna Maznavi decided change was needed after she became disillusioned when her place of worship began separating the women from the men during prayer.

“I just wanted to have a safe space where women could come and get inspired and hear from the khatib,” she said.

A khatib is the individual who delivers the sermon, known as a khutbah.

She explained it was an opportunity that women would not otherwise have. “The speakers are always a male imam and not only that but it is very hard to access the imam because of the way that mosques are structured architecturally.”

Ms Maznavi added: “This mosque gives us a chance to connect with our leaders and also with one another in a way that we wouldn’t in another environment.”

There are roughly 2,000 mosques across the United States, although this is believed to be the first intended solely for women.

Approximately two-thirds of these uses a divider to separate male and female worshippers during Morning Prayer, according to a 2011 study, and the number may be higher for Friday prayers.

The Women’s Mosque plans to hold one Friday evening prayers a month, but may extend that if possible.

One of the new worshippers was Samantha Haikal, from Las Vegas in Nevada. “Islam is a religion of diverse peoples,” she said.

Ms Haikal continued: “To have something that can represent, even more specifically our women, and the strong sense of community that we have amongst the women of our community is very, very important.”

Islam is the third largest faith in America, after Christianity and Judaism, representing 0.6 per cent of the population.

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