On women-only mosques

On Sunday, the Muslim Women’s Council had a public consultation on proposals for a women-only mosque in Bradford. It follows the opening of a women’s mosque in the US earlier this year. There are also plans for something similar in India.

You would think that in a city where there are many people of South Asian and Muslim origin, this would go down a treat. The proposal has been met with a mixed response. Bradford West’s newly-elected MP Naz Shah has already come out against it, writing in the Guardian that she does not want to see “greater gender segregation, or women’s involvement pushed to the margins”.

When this idea was first proposed a few months ago, the topic was discussed on the BBC Asian Network’s phone-in show.  On their Facebook page, one comment read: “Islam has given rights to women but within limits not to abuse and go on the feminist band wagon. I know of plenty of mosques in Bradford that cater for women so I don’t understand why the need for women only run mosques?”

Another read: “Hmmmmm a mosque for woman [sic]! Aren’t woman [sic] better praying at home? They have a lot of family commitments hence it’s never been made [obligatory] for her to pray in a congregation. 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! Therefore, not sure how this can be called a mosque.”

You know what the disheartening thing is? These were women commenting, not men.


Continue reading on Iram Ramzan’s blog.


  • Aaaliyah says:

    I’m not into the idea of mixed gender prayers, of women leading men in prayer or of women praying uncovered. Anything which openly contradicts Islam should not be supported even in the name of Muslim feminism. That said, I’m in full support of a women’s only mosque. While conforming to Islam’s teachings of gender segregation its a great idea which gives women a free space to be themselves and discuss issues that are important to us. So what’s the fuss about? The sad reality is that the limits to which Muslimahs may be involved in daily Islamic life is dictated by our Muslim brothers many of whom take a paternalistic attitude, e.g forcing women to stay at home to pray and allowing us freedoms which they choose to give us. There is something seriously wrong in the Muslim community. When Muslim women fight for their religious rights, we’re told to stop causing a stir and are labelled as “westernised feminists” and mocked by our own communities. Even if what we’re asking for is aligned with Islamic teachings. I’m also saddened by the Muslim women who are degrading the Muslim women who support the women’s only mosque. If you’re happy praying at home in a little room, good for you. If you’re happy living under the thumb of someone else’s dictates without really understanding your own rights and potential under Islam, then bravo! But why force your ideal of how a Muslim women should behave on someone else? I firmly believe that the Islam as taught by the Prophet gives us immense freedoms and the sphere to be ourselves as moms, savvy businesswomen or amazing scholars. However its interpretation by male scholars has brainwashed some women in believing that their freedom lies in conforming the male ideal of what a Muslim women should be and hiding in their homes. I feel sad right now. Islam is so much more than this…

  • asmauddin says:

    Agree totally! And yes, it’s saddening, but I love to reflect on our evolved conversations around these issues (the entire purpose of altM!) and the slow, but sure, change we’re seeing in our communities – the emergence of The Women’s Mosque of America being one of them.

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