Women places and spaces in contemporary American mosque
Author(s)Eskandari, Maryam, S.M. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
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There is an ever-present demand for Mosques in American cities to accommodate the more than 8 percent of the American population that are Muslims; the majority of which are American-born Muslims or American converts. However, Muslim-American communities have implemented the same architectural vocabulary of mosques seen in the Middle East into their American neighborhoods. Nevertheless, this architectural transplantation from the Middle East to America does not come without problems. The weaving of Middle Eastern architectural culture with an American application of Islam, which is prominent within Modern American society, gives rise to internal tensions felt within the community, in particular to the issue of Muslim women's' place in community mosques. Through the numerous case studies and investigations of the American Mosques that I documented, it is clear that the community does not provide adequate spaces for their women members. My thesis explores the process of modifying and developing a new architectural vocabulary for the American mosques within the confinements and boundaries in Islam, in particular, creating an adequate space for women. A lack of attention to the needs of American Muslim women in the states has caused a gender conflict over the adequacy of spaces for Muslim women within American mosques. For example, in the 2006 controversial documentary titled the "Mosque of Morgantown"1 , located in West Virginia, a significant dilemma was created dividing the Muslim community residing in the United States. The "Mosque of Morgantown" set the social precedent for some Muslim women to question some of the religious rulings regarding prayers and set the tone for numerous other protests, of which the most recent occurred at the Islamic Center of Washington DC. In early part of 2010, the Islamic Center of Washington D.C.2 had an outburst of escalating tensions between genders. Thirty Washington D.C. women united in protest and refused to pray in the basement of the mosque, which was their designated area of worship. Instead they decided to attend prayers under the same roof as the men during worship. This seemingly simple act of protest was frowned upon. The Imam of the mosque declared that the allocated rows were for men only. The presence of women in the rows resulted in the delay of the obligatory Friday prayer that is mandatory for men in Islam. Through these incidences, it is clear that an investigation of a new architectural expression, within the confinement of the religion, for women-driven spaces needs to be conducted.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 2011.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 104).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology