Book Explores How Muslim Women are "Americanizing" Mosques

May 10, 2006

Source: Reuters

On May 10, 2006 Reuters reported, "The face Muslim women present to America is as diverse as the faith itself -- and one that is changing as waves of often impoverished immigrants come to the United States. That is part of the picture that emerges from a new book shedding light on the lives of Muslim women by way of well-crafted profiles of more than four dozen of them, cutting across cultures and lifestyles. 'Part of what we found is that the United States is one of the best places in the world for women to practice Islam because they do have freedom, because of our ideas about women having careers and a voice in houses of worship,' said Donna Gehrke-White, author of 'The Face Behind the Veil' (Citadel Press). 'Muslim women here have much more to say in how the religion is practiced,' challenging some traditions such as separate entrances and second-rate worship spaces in some mosques, she said in an interview. 'In some countries women don't even go to mosques.' 'The other thing is that women are Americanizing the mosques, bringing in Brownie (scout) troops, self-help programs' -- common adjuncts to other houses of worship but not often seen in places where mosques were there for prayer and nothing more, added Gehrke-White, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at the Miami Herald newspapers. She estimates there are 3 million Muslim women in the United States. While earlier immigration patterns brought in the educated and affluent, whose children have moved easily into middle or upper class society, more recent trends have brought in the poor and desperate, many from Africa and Asia."