Out of sight, out of touch: Women’s struggle to be heard in the mosque

Two Muslim women enter a mosque (no, this isn’t the opener of a lame joke).
Both sisters join the prayer, enjoying the Imam’s melodious recitation over the loud speaker – the only communication they have with the walled off men’s prayer area where the Iman stands, leading the prayer. They kneel down and touch their foreheads to the ground. Some time passes and one sister begins to wonder why the prostration, typically no more than 10 to 30 seconds, is now in its second minute. She had enjoyed the extra time to fit in some much needed supplication, but two minutes?

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The American mosque

It was 5 years after the events of 9/11. I was working as an architect and my current project had taken me to Seattle, Washington. For several months I had been out in the “Emerald City” and had gotten the opportunity to get to know the Muslim community through the iftars during Ramadan. During one of the fundraising iftars, the local community leaders asked me to be their architect for their new Islamic Center.

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