I’ve written several times about women and our lack of positive accommodation at the mosque. Where we are shunted into basements, balconies, behind barriers or simply told that there is no space for women at the mosque. These posts have generated positive comments, interesting dialogue and in some places, downright hostility. And while dialogue is important in influencing hearts and minds, or at the very least helping people find a community of support, there’s not much effectual change that a few obscure posts can bring about.
Enter the fantastic and brilliant Ify Okoye.
Her new(ish) photo blog has just been made known to me. Muslim Women’s Prayer Spaces is a visual exploration into the kinds of accommodations women are experiencing when they attend the mosque, and advocates for positive change.
And it’s working insha’allah!
Her latest post lamenting the gradual exclusion of women from the Prince George’s Muslim Association’s main prayer hall grabbed the attention of a board member, who took the time to explain how the board has started taking steps to change the situation. It may take a while to see the impact of these changes and how effectual they are — but it impresses me that someone within a mosque administration took the opportunity to rectify a perceived wrong within the community.
Natch, it happened after Iffy posted pictures and highlighted inequities and indignities within the mosque, and the board member is an apologist, excusing barring women by way of logistics — but it’s a perfect example of the power that pictures and words can have.
I’d love for her site to go viral and for mosques to realize that what goes on behind the curtain cannot be hidden.