SHAFAQNA – Muslim Women’s Council boss Bana Gora says the mosque would be “run by women” and is in response to inadequate facilities in Islamic religious buildings dissuading females from attending.
The radical move, to be carried out in Bradford, promises to challenge traditions in the Muslim community and could provoke controversy.
Many traditional Muslim women living in Britain pray in their homes because they are dissuaded from attending mosques by conservative scholars.
Ms Gora said: “In the Prophet’s time the mosque was the centre of community life and learning and we hope to replicate that model including women-led congregational prayers for women.”
Traditionally men and women share mosques but sexes are segregated for prayers.
Ms Gora said women needed their own buildings as facilities were “not always adequate for women”, according to a recent audit in the Bradford area.
“Rather than just complain, we decided to do something about it,” she said.
It comes just months after America opened its first women’s mosque, which it said would “inspire and empower” Muslim women.
However, the move in Britain could prove contentious with Muslim leaders, who are yet to decide their views on the proposal.
Dr Mohammed Iqbal, of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, said: “The mosque is a mixed community and involves the whole community, men, women and children.
“It is for bringing people together.”
The plans come amid a furious backlash after five senior Labour Party figures spoke at a meeting where it appeared women were banned from sitting with men.
Parliamentary candidates Tom Watson, Liam Byrne, Khalid Mahmood and Jack Dromey, along with MEP Sion Simon, attended the political rally in Birmingham.
Pictures posted on Twitter showed Muslim women sitting in a small cluster on one side of what looked like an Islamic community centre with the men seated opposite.