Women’s Mosque of America hosts first Friday Prayer in Los Angeles

Women attend the first jumma prayer at the Women's Mosque of America in Lose Angeles on January 30, 2015. (Photo: Religious Dispatches)
Women attend the first jumma prayer at the Women’s Mosque of America in Lose Angeles on January 30, 2015. (Photo: Religious Dispatches)

On Friday, January 30th, 2015 the Women’s Mosque of America hosted its first Friday Prayer at its location in Los Angeles. Founders and co-Presidents, M. Hasna Maznavi and Sana Muttalib welcomed the group of worshipers, journalists, and curious guests stating that at this new mosque, “we will not be policing any bodies.” According to Maznavi, the “policing” of bodies was one of the primary reasons that led her to creating a mosque for women.

The mosque itself is symbolic of the struggle of young American Muslims to create their own identities that are not only compatible with Islam but also reflective of the social progress that they are a part of. Young Muslims are pushing back against rigid social and gender norms brought to the country by their parents and grandparents that are only tangentially related to Islam. Maznavi notes that although they respect the orthodox beliefs, they also want to stretch them to be more inclusive.

 

Unity in a Strange Land: Photographing New York City’s Islamic Communities

July 13, 2014

Philip Montgomery calls his photographs of New York City’s various Islamic communities an unfinished project, one driven by changing perspectives and questions. He began in 2009 as a new arrival from California and fresh from photographing Sufi Muslims in Kashmir. In an unfamiliar city, Mr. Montgomery, now 26, said he felt a yearning to “work my way back to the kind of connected communities I saw in Kashmir.”

What he found in New York was an incredible diversity of cultures and practices: West Africans in Harlem; Indonesians in Jamaica, Queens; Palestinians in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; large and small congregations from all over the Islamic world.

“They were all keeping the traditions of where the individuals came from,” Mr. Montgomery said. “These are Americans, but this is their connection to home. I was looking at people bound together by faith but also by the city they lived in.”

After a break, Mr. Montgomery returned to the mosques during the holy month of Ramadan, which this year is June 28 to July 28. In 2009, many of the Muslims he encountered were still navigating the anti-Islamic sentiments that arose after the Sept. 11 attack. This year, the world event moving many of the congregants has been the increasingly bloody conflict between Palestinians and Israelis in Gaza and the West Bank.

But he was struck by the scenes of unity, as at a mosque on West 29th Street, across from the hipsterish Ace Hotel. “You had creative directors grabbing coffee at Stumptown or pork-heavy food at the Breslin, and then you had cabdrivers praying in the street, breaking the fast,” he said. “I talked to Ghanaians, Yemenis, people from Mali, Palestinians and Americans, people from all over the world in a random spot in Manhattan. It was really a New York cross-pollination.”

In Virginia House of Delegates, a push for inclusive prayers

February 28, 2014

 

RICHMOND — Every day they’re in session, as they have for hundreds of years, the members of Virginia’s House of Delegates stand together and pray.

At least most of them do.

Nearly every legislature in the country begins sessions with a prayer, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as does Congress. It’s a tradition that dates back to the British Parliament. The Supreme Court ruled 30 years ago that legislative prayers were constitutional, as they were “deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country” as well as “a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people.” But a Jew and an atheist in Greece, N.Y., have challenged the prayers that began their town council meetings as violating the court’s requirement that prayers not favor one religion. The justices are reviewing an appeals court ruling that agreed with the women that eight years of almost exclusively Christian prayers violated constitutional protections.

“I’d like to be able to take part in the prayer,” said Del. Marcus B. Simon, a freshman Democrat from Fairfax County and one of the few Jewish lawmakers in the House who has made a point of standing in the back of the chamber when prayers are read. “I wish it was one I felt like I could take part.”

In part to reflect the seismic demographic shifts in recent decades that have helped JewishMuslimBuddhistHindu and Sikh communities take root in the commonwealth, prayers in the House are supposed to be “ecumenical” — not tied to a specific faith. Too often for some, they’re not.

“We start with a prayer to feel energized and rejuvenated,” said Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax), who is Jewish. “Why not be inclusive?”

This isn’t the only instance in which the legislature’s allegiance to Christian traditions — many of which are still championed by conservative lawmakers — have clashed with the changing sensibilities of the state’s population centers.

On Thursday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) vowed to veto a bill that would allow students to pray and make religious remarks in public schools. The measure was hailed by some in the legislature, including Sen. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun), who said that lawmakers should “give to our students the same religious freedom and same religious rights that we have granted ourselves.”

Prayers in the House have become contentious before. In 2010, delegates were urged toboycott a prayer from an imam because two of the Sept. 11 hijackers briefly worshiped at his Falls Church mosque — and because a former imam at the mosque is suspected by U.S. authorities of having aided al-Qaeda in terrorist activities. About a dozen delegates were not in the chamber for that day’s prayer.

That same year, then-Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) reversed a policy banning state police chaplains from referring to Jesus in public prayers.

Although the concerned delegates in Virginia appreciated Nardo’s response, prayers invoking specific Christian beliefs continue in the legislature. But signs of change are apparent.

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/in-virginia-house-of-delegates-a-push-for-inclusive-prayers/2014/02/20/25c1eb6a-9971-11e3-b88d-f36c07223d88_story.html?wprss=rss_story-courts_law-NW3&_monetaClick=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

Proposed medical office would accommodate Muslim-American patients

May 7, 2013

By Ashley Rueff,

 

Orland Park could become home to what’s described as a “first-of-its-kind” outpatient surgical center with a mission of accommodating the religious and cultural beliefs of Muslim patients.

Dr. Naser Rustom has applied for state approval to open an ambulatory surgical treatment center at 10 Orland Square Drive, the site of the former Plunkett Furniture store, according to a state permit application for the project. The medical office, Preferred SurgiCenter LLC, would welcome patients of all faiths and beliefs, but it would employ staff who are familiar with and facilities designed to accommodate the needs of patients who follow Islamic Divine Law.

“We’re going to service every race, every nationality. We’re not going to discriminate against anyone,” said Manager Robyn Fina. “However, in the Orland Park and the southwestern suburbs, there is a huge concentration of Arab-Americans. I think there is a lack of facilities for them to receive the care that they need while taking into consideration their special religious and ethnic background.”

In its permit application, the project is described as a facility “that appeals to the general population as a whole; but, to the trained eye, the ASTC will also be the first-ever surgery center that is designed and operated in a manner that is fully compliant with the Shari ‘a Law.”

The proposed 11,000-square-foot space would offer pain management, gastroenterology and general surgery, according to the project application. The total cost is estimated at about $5.5 million with an anticipated completion date of July 2014, but that will depend on approval from the state.

According to its application documents, the facility would be staffed with employees who understand Muslim-Americans’ needs when approaching health care. The facility would include a prayer room and additional washing facilities to more easily accommodate the prayer schedule and rituals followed by some patients.

As much as possible, she said the facility will also accommodate patients who would prefer to be seen by staff of their own gender and will attempt to offer increased privacy.

Fina said such a facility is expected to improve health behaviors of Muslim-Americans who may have had negative experiences when attempting to follow their religious beliefs while seeking health care in the past.

“There are individuals who feel uncomfortable going into facilities because the staff don’t recognize their special needs,” Fina said. “What we are attempting to do is to address as many of those needs as we can within the confines of state and national laws and health care.”

Imam Nazir Chahin of the Prayer Center of Orland Park said he is unfamiliar with the details of the proposed medical office, but he thinks the concept would be welcomed by the Muslim community of the southwest suburbs.

 

Chicago Tribune: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-05-07/news/ct-tl-0509-proposed-muslim-accomodating-medical-ce-20130508_1_health-care-patients-application

Prayer, Culture, meetings all within the glass house of Islam

We begin with a five-story building (possibly six), with the mosque or prayer hall on the ground floor, a tea room on the second, a large Islamic bookstore with books in more than ten languages ​on the third, a museum of Islamic culture and cultural center on the fourth and offices and international centers on the fifth. The space will be six thousand square meters, all in glass, steel and stone, as proposed by the architectural designers (who remain anonymous).

 

And no minaret, to avoid changing the profile of the waterfront in Darsena, the only building still to be finalized is the House of Islamic Culture. Or rather, the House of Peace, as it might be called.

 

Designs were directed by Alfredo Maiolese, a Genovese Muslim and president of the League of European Muslims who helped to create the possible home of the Islamic culture. These are the same designs that will be presented next week in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the Islamic Development Bank. This is the bank that maintains an international Muslim presence abroad, likely funded by the governments of Kuwait and Qatar, and could make available the 12-15 million euro needed to buy the building and renovate it.

 

And Genoa? Available. “If indeed there is a need then doors are open to all” says Stefano Bernini, Deputy Mayor and Councilor for Urban Planning “If Maiolese and the European Muslim League will be able to find the resources, the municipality would support the project including town planning procedures and helping to convince the ‘neighbors’ who have doubts that this is a major accomplishment, which would be a great for the entire city.”

 

Bernini explains that the center would be a point of reference for the thousands of Muslims, but it could also be appealing as a cultural point of attraction for cruise passengers. And the claim that this may jeopardize security? “If there is a place that is controlled, it is the port area” replies Bernini “not to mention it is where the state police headquarter is.”

 

“In every home there are those that pray but this does not mean that every home is a mosque,” says Maiolese , which he discusses is the point of the “Moussala” on the ground floor, a place of prayer, it is more than a “majid,” meaning mosque. The space could accommodate between 5 and 600 people, and it would be the only space exclusively for Muslims. The rest of the building, however, will be welcome to everyone.

 

“The tea room will express welcome by offering Arab tea and cakes” explains Maiolese “but in the 240 square meter space we will also sell cakes and tea from the entire Arab world, which will help people better understand different food cultures” Upstairs will hold 750 square meters of Islamic books. Books will be in Italian, English, Arabic, and also French, Albanian, Urdu, Persian, Bengali, this will be a store for the visitors of the Museum of Islamic Culture,

 

Another 2,400 square meters will host works of art, manuscripts, and also cultural events. “We have already established contacts with universities in Medina, and also Qatar and others, in order to have works exhibited” says Maiolese. Finally, going even higher, there will be 1,230 square meters of diplomatic and commercial offices.”

Muslim Prayer angers Mayor

Casalpusterlengo – Back again to the forefront is the question of an Islamic cultural center in a stable in Via Fugazza and, after months of silence, there could ignite a tug of war between Muslims and the administration. At issue is the use of a building on Via Fugazza, which was used as a place of worship until the center-right, who came to power in the spring of 2009, began a long struggle, which culminated in November 2010 with the pronouncement of Council of State who declared the space “unfit” as a center of prayer. To date, however, faithful Muslims still pray in the space.

“The activity of worship is not possible” reiterates the mayor of Casalpusterlengo, the Northern League’s Flavio Parmesani. “I believe that the eviction of more than two years ago is clear: at this point I will urge them to get out of the space.” The measure would be at risk of appeal which has already happened before, but the mayor intends to proceed anyway.

The story now has its roots in time: August 26, 2009, the head of the a Private Construction Service in the town of Casale, performed an inspection, after which the service ordered the demolition of illegal works and the restoration of a commercial use building.  Following this, the building was used for worship, of which the Administrative Court of Lombardy had decided to “freeze” the case after which the Council of State has decided to pursue again.

Newcastle United Creates Prayer Room to Accommodate Muslim Players

3 April 2013

 

Newcastle United, a premier league side with seven Muslim players in its first-team squad, believed to be the most in the premier league, established a Muslim prayer room in its stadium to accommodate the pre-match spiritual needs of its players.

 

Missouri To Vote On Prayer Amendment 2 Known As ‘Right To Pray’

ST. LOUIS — Missourians will vote on Tuesday (Aug. 7) on a proposed amendment to the state constitution that supporters say would protect residents’ right to pray in public, and if a recent poll is any indication, it could pass by a mammoth margin.

 

Supporters say the so-called “right to pray” ballot measure — known as Amendment 2 — better defines Missourians’ First Amendment rights and will help to protect the state’s Christians, about 80 percent of the population, who they say are under siege in the public square.

 

Opponents, meanwhile, say that the religious protections Amendment 2 would offer are already guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution, and that it will open the door to all manner of unintended and costly consequences including endless taxpayer-funded lawsuits.

State Rep. Chris Kelly, a Democrat who opposed the original legislation, called Amendment 2 “a jobs bill for lawyers.”

 

Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have questioned how disturbance or disruption would later be defined. What if one person’s “right to pray” intrudes on another’s right to abstain from prayer, or to pray according to the tenets of his or her own faith?

But Episcopal Bishop Wayne Smith of Missouri said prayer in public schools “becomes the vehicle for a sectarian agenda, typically Christian and typically Protestant, in violation of the no-establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.” Leading Jewish and Muslim groups also oppose the measure.

Imam marries gay couple in Paris

News Agencies – March 2, 2012

 

Ludovic and Qiyaam were married in South Africa last August. This week they got married by an imam in Paris. More than forty friends and members of HM2F – Muslim gays of France – attended the event. Christian and Jewish LGBT organizations were also invited. The ceremony was conducted by Jamal, originally from Mauritius, who heads the Prayer and Meditation group in HM2F. Christian and Jewish clergymen then added their blessings.

Ludovic says he received the blessings of his family, who reside in Marseille and came for the occasion. He added that he has more problems with French law.

Hertz Suspends 34 Muslim Drivers In Prayer Dispute

SEATTLE (AP) — Thirty-four Muslim drivers for auto rental company Hertz claimed they were suspended for praying during work hours, but the company contended they were reprimanded for abusing break times. Backed by their union, the drivers protested Wednesday outside the Hertz counter at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where they are based.

“This is an outrageous assault on the rights of these workers and appears to be discriminatory based on their religious beliefs,” Tracey A. Thompson, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 117, said in a statement. Observant Muslims pray five times a day.

Hertz said the workers suspended last week were violating provisions of a collective bargaining agreement and a settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached two years ago. “The breaks were getting extended way beyond prayer time,” said Rich Broome, a spokesman for Hertz Global Holdings Inc. “It’s important to understand that several Muslim employees who are complying were not suspended. It’s not about prayer, it’s not about religion; it’s about reasonable requirements.”