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Inclusive Mosque Initiative Plans To Open ‘New Mosques’ For All

June 14, 2013

I have just read about the Inclusive Mosque Initiative, a group that was set up in November 2012.

The group wants to open ‘alternative Mosques’ in the UK that, according to its UK co-ordinator Tamsila Tauqir, “will not discriminate against anyone.” She also said: “We want to offer Muslims an alternative space in which they can pray and meet.”

At these new Mosques, men and women will be allowed to pray side by side, where at traditional Mosques they pray in separate rooms. Women will also be allowed to lead the prayers. People following all denominations of Islam will be welcomed.

Gay people will also be allowed to attend.

 This is part of a growing global network, with sites in India, Malaysia, the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Sweden. Their ultimate aim is to set up a network of Mosques internationally.  In the UK, the main language used in their Mosques will be English. They are not trying to discourage traditional community languages, as Tamsila Tauqir told BBC 5 Live, but want to be more applicable to converts as well as younger Muslims.

The plans have been criticised by imams and practising Muslims, with one Muslim man telling the BBC “I don’t think homosexuals should be allowed in to the mosque, they are not Muslims. How can they go for prayers?”

No Muslim will be surprised to see these plans being criticised, since all Muslims know how strongly Muslims feel about tradition and about most of the groups the IMI plan to welcome. However, personally, as a lifelong Muslim who believes in equal opportunities and is not very religious, I think the IMI Mosques sound like a very good idea.

As a lifelong Muslim who has also been disabled since birth, the comment on the IMI’s plans that most interested me came to the BBC from a practising Muslim man in Lancashire who said: “I think it’s a good idea, it promotes equal opportunities especially for the disabled. Provision should have been made for them a long time ago but it hasn’t.”

In 2008, I covered on Same Difference the case of Mohamed Khatria, a blind Muslim man from Leicester,   who was not able to take his guide dog into his local Mosque, because dogs are considered unclean in Islam. This meant, of course, that he could not access the Mosque himself- until he asked imams to change the rule.

They agreed, and the Shariah (Islamic Law) Council UK passed a law allowing guide dogs inside Mosques, but not into prayer rooms.

I wonder if the IMI’s planned Mosques will take this big piece of progress one step further and allow guide dogs into the prayer room?

I certainly hope any IMI Mosques will be fully wheelchair accessible and that Muslims in wheelchairs will be welcomed and made to feel comfortable by everyone while praying.

This has got me thinking about one more disability-related point. I wonder how Deaf Muslims  pray at traditional Mosques? I hope any IMI Mosques will translate the call to prayer, any religious speeches or lectures, and prayers into British/Arabic Sign Language.

islam

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2013 2:40 pm

    It should be quite easy for a deaf Muslim to follow the prayer in a mosque (it is the same as when any group of people are praying together). The prayers follow a formula and all but two things — the recitation from the Qur’an in some of the raka’ats (‘units’ of prayer), and the sermon on Friday — are entirely predictable. In most mosques in the West, particularly those run by Asians, the sermon is always the same: it is a short, stock Arabic sermon. In an Arabic-speaking country, a proper sermon is given here which could be any length.

    Since the prayer is in Arabic, no other language, including sign language, will do. There is often another sermon before the adhan on Fridays, to make sure there is a meaningful sermon, and this can be given in any language. This may or may not be translated into sign language — it’s something that can be arranged, but usually isn’t.

  2. Alia permalink
    June 14, 2013 3:30 pm

    great article Sarah! i like the idea of this inclusive mosque

  3. Sania permalink
    June 14, 2013 10:35 pm

    Hi Sarah,

    IMI do sign the adhan for each of their prayers. Although we do not have any Deaf members yet, we would be very happy to welcome them into our community and could certainly look into translating talks etc.

  4. samedifference1 permalink*
    June 14, 2013 10:46 pm

    Many thanks for taking the time to comment Sania.

  5. Naseem Jivanjee permalink
    June 16, 2013 8:39 pm

    Wonderful initiatives, long over due. Islam is all inclusive and flexible but our Maulvis have made such rigid interpretations of the teachings. I would love to see Christians and Jews also being invited into the mosques for prayer and discussions. Best of luck.

  6. Shamoun permalink
    June 17, 2013 12:49 am

    islam should be all inclusive and not exclusive if it is to appeal to all mankind.

  7. Shakira Ali permalink
    June 17, 2013 11:18 am

    I am glad you think for so many individuals! there are so many forms and we need to adapt to all. May Allah help you to guide others love cho

  8. Iqbal Abdulla permalink
    June 17, 2013 12:17 pm

    Great writing Sara. Truly inspiring

    Iqbal Abdulla
    Karachi

  9. Farrah permalink
    June 23, 2013 8:55 pm

    Inspiring thoughts, wonderful to have faciities for the handicapped members of the society
    Farrah Jivanjee

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