PLANS to create the country’s first mosque run by women, for women, in Bradford have been revealed at the start of a month-long consultation process.
Bana Gora, chief executive of the Muslim Women’s Council, made the announcement at this weekend’s Daughters of Eve conference.
She said that for the past year the group had been looking at facilities in the city's existing mosques, which led to the Bradford Mosque Project.
She said: "The aim of the Bradford Mosque Project is to build a mosque for women, and run by women. It would be the first of its kind in the UK.
"Over the last year we have carried out a detailed audit of local mosques and found that the services offered by mosques were not always adequate for women.
"Rather than just complain, we decided to do something about it.
"We hope that this is something we can start in the next couple of months."
She said the idea had already created some debate, such as whether women would be able to lead prayers in the new mosque, which would be developed along the model mosque as it was constructed in the days of the Prophet Muhammad Pbuh.
Ms Gora said the consultation would be respectful of everyone's religious sensitivities and its key goals were to be all inclusive and fully accessible to all communities, Muslims and non Muslims, and all schools of thought; a safe space for all women and a centre for learning and promoting shared values and social and political engagement.
Ms Bana said: "In the Prophet's time the mosque was the centre of community life and learning and we hope to replicate that model including women-led congregational prayers for women.
"Through the consultation process we intend to work with diverse groups, opinions and organisations including the Council for Mosques to create the ethos and spirit of the mosques during the Prophet's time."
In February, America's first women's mosque opened in Los Angeles and founders said the aim was not to compete with other mosques, but to "inspire and empower" Muslim women.
Bradford Council for Mosques declined to comment on the idea of a woman-only mosque, pending discussions.
President of Ahmadiyya Muslim Association for Bradford North Dr Mohammed Iqbal said as far as his religious group were concerned there was a tradition for women to lead prayers in their own groups.
"The mosque is a mixed community and involves the whole community, men women and children. it is for bringing people together," he said.
The idea has proven controversial to some people commenting on the Telegraph & Argus’ Facebook page.
Iram Ayaz-Kirkire said: "For those of you saying 'equal rights' and women should share the mosques that already exist. Need to understand that the mosques in Bradford are for males and females. Never has a woman been turned away from a mosque."