While most mosques across the world continue to follow the tradition of separating women from male congregants, a mosque in downtown Los Angeles is strictly for women and forbids men, making it the first of its kind in the US.
While female-only mosques exist in China, Chile and India, Muslim women haven't had a forum in the US. According to the LA Times, Hasna Maznavi and Sana Muttalib, followers of Islam, were tired of the double standards for men and women in most mosques and decided to start one on their own, where women would feel welcome.
Yasmeen Ruhge, a cardiologist from Pasadena who was among the women attending the inaugural prayer on Friday said, "When we go to the mosque we have to sit on one side. Not that we aren't equal, but this gives us a freedom to talk as all women [sic] and create an independent role."
Following the first prayer at the unique mosque in LA, many women felt overwhelmed and called the experience "liberating".
Female empowerment in the Muslim community has been in the pipeline for a while now because of extreme punishments dealt out to women who do not follow the Islamic code of conduct.
"One of the major ways that Islam is 'othered'— one of the major stereotypes — is how they treat women," said Ruqayya Khan, chairwoman of Islamic studies at Claremont Graduate University, before adding, "But there is a rich history of women in Islam, and it's often kind of sidelined or buried."
The trailblazing mosque is expected to succeed in emancipating women, allowing them to grow and succeed further. "Maybe out of this space we could find a woman who is able to think in terms of reform in Islam," Khan said. "Maybe we could get a female Luther out of this. Wouldn't that be exciting?" she added.