Qal’bu Maryam Women’s Mosque is set to open this Friday in Berkeley, California – making it the second female-led mosque in the country (Women’s Mosque of America in Los Angeles opened two years ago). Services will be led entirely by women though both men and women are both welcomed to worship (which is different from the Los Angeles mosque, which is women only).
The mosque’s website states: “This is a place of inclusivity. Everyone is welcome: new converts, reverts, born Muslims, immigrants, black, white, brown, all genders.”
“The Quran doesn’t say women can’t be imams, but it’s been the tradition,” says Qal’bu Maryam founder Rabi’a Keeble. “Women need to be empowered to do what they’re called to do.”
Surprising to some, women’s mosques have a history in many corners of the world. The oldest surviving women’s mosque dates back to 1820 in China, where women today continue to serve as imams (religious leaders). Women’s mosques also exist in at least a dozen countries around the world including Syria, India, Egypt, Palestine and Yemen.