‘Inclusiveness’ at heart of innovative proposals
Bradford could soon be home to the UK’s first purpose-built mosque for women as plans to develop a new site continue to progress in the city.
Announced initially last month by CEO of the Muslim Women’s Council, Bana Gora, at the group’s ‘Daughters of Eve’ conference, the project brought much interest from the hundreds in attendance.
A consultation process is expected to take place over the next few months to discuss the correct ways to move forward, with dialogue between the MWC and local, national and international scholars and experts.
‘A space for women, managed by women’ was how Ms Gora initially described the idea, and she says it is important women to feel no sense of ‘alienation’ from their religion.
“We’ve carried out an audit of local mosques focussing on services provided to women, above all ‘access’ was the biggest problem,” she said.
“Our results highlight that the majority of mosques follow a patriarchal model, poor access for women; 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.
“In an era in which many young people feel that their faith is no longer relevant, or are going to extremes, we want to be able to provide a safe space for them to question, learn and grow whilst having an appreciation of their heritage as well as the opportunity to make informed choices relevant to the 21st Century.”
Ms Gora adds that it is ‘inclusivity’ that she hopes to bring to Islam yet accepts certain duties would still have to be carried out by men.
“We disagree with the view of women leading mixed congregational prayers and this will not take place under the MWC umbrella,” she continued.
“Our intention is not to be divisive, nor to go against the values and principles of Islam, but to provide a space for the community which shows how women can lead and be included in places of worship and also impact positively on their families and communities.”