The Inclusive Mosque Initiative Run By Women

In 2012, activists Tamsila Tauqir and Dervla Zaynab Shannahan launched the Inclusive Mosque Initiative (IMI) where they dedicated their time to creating spaces of worship for marginalised communities. Like any other mosque, they hold Friday prayers, seminars, and discussion groups. Though it is the same in function, IMI has created a non-judgemental space and an environment that welcomes single-parent families who come together along with others regardless of their religious belief, race, gender, impairments, sexuality or immigration status. These spaces have been created for spiritual practice as well as to promote inclusion within Islamic principles and the community.

IMI has five key aims:

  • Provide a peaceful, enriching environment for worship and remembrance of Allah

  • Create an inclusive sacred space that welcomes all people

  • Respect the natural environment

  • Value gender expression and gender justice as an integral manifestation of Islamic practice

  • Facilitate inter-community and inter-faith dialogue and collaborate with others who are seeking change for social and economic welfare and justice

Photograph: Sophia Evans for the Observer

Photograph: Sophia Evans for the Observer

Their Trustee Naima Khan shares that their spaces touch on many issues affecting the Ummah (Islamic community) such as “conversations on Islamophobia and resilience, on creativity and healing [and] on Islam’s feminist history.” Although the initiative was formed with others in mind- much of their motivation is rooted in their own personal experiences of exclusion. Members of the initiative have emphasised female engagement to be a core value driving the mosque, including management and access to its spaces, ensuring that every attendee is able to access the space and its content; “The Management committee is a majority percentage of women, and all together takes responsibility for the strategic vision and its implementation of the inclusive mosques.”

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IMI has inspired a global network of inclusive mosques, with similar projects emerging in Srinagar in India and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. They have also gained support networks in the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Sweden. “Their ultimate aim is to set up a network of international mosques”.

The initiative has been labelled as radical and may be seen as extremely progressive, but the matter of the fact is that these women have just highlighted that these needs and beliefs have always been present within muslim communities. While the Ummah has always been known to be diverse, the inclusion of this diversity within its institutions has been overlooked. It is these women who have taken charge to diversify and protect these spaces of spirituality. Khan notes that “Islamic feminism is overlooked in the mainstream but it is central to us,”...“We have not joined the committees of other mosques to try and change from within because the need was too great and immediate.”

You can donate to Inclusive Mosque Initiative here and check out their upcoming events here

Article by Social Media & Content Manager Yaz Omran