The purpose of a mosque is to serve, educate and inspire. So mosques are not just ‘places of prayers’ – in modern terminology, they are community centres as well.
I had noticed though that my local mosque in Nottingham for many years has seen low numbers of women attending – and this prompted me to look at local women’s views of their mosques. I wanted to understand why women were not using the mosque, and why the mosque was not at the heart of their community. So I embarked on a research project in 2013, ‘Women’s attitudes towards attending masjid’. (research was conducted with women in Nottingham and published 2014).
(For anyone not familiar with the term ‘masjid’, it is the term used by Muslims for mosque, and it means ‘places of prostration’).
My findings were interesting. I found women do actually think it’s important for them to attend mosque – and that they do so for a number of different reasons, such as praying and worship, educational classes, social events, and to meet other people in their communities.
It was clear however that there are a number of barriers that prevent women from attending mosque, such as management of mosques, accessing the mosque, women and children, culture, fear of being judged, engagement, accessibility of Imams, experience of Imams, and British society and culture.
Based on these findings, I compiled recommendations and an action plan which can be used by mosques and Islamic centres to increase the participation of women. If you want to read a full report with the outcomes of my research, please contact me.
An outcome for me from this research has been the formation of An-Nisa Network in 2014.
We are pleased our research was replicated nationally by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).
We are also pleased to be supporters and on steering committee of the “Women in Mosques Development Programme” in 2019. More details here https://mcb.org.uk/project/women-in-mosques-development-programme/.