Muslim women gather at an interfaith center in Los Angeles to inaugurate what might be the first all-female mosque in the United States. Mana Rabiee reports.
At the Pico Union interfaith center in Los Angeles, some 150 Muslim women may be making history. They've gathered for what just might be the first all-female Mosque in the United States. They call their community the Women's Mosque of America -- and, unlike traditional mosques that are led by male Imams -- their mosque is led by a woman; creating an alternative space for all-female prayer. (SOUNDBITE) (English) M.HASNA MAZNAVI, FOUNDER, WOMEN'S MOSQUE OF AMERICA, SAYING: "We just wanted to have a safe space where women could come and get inspired and hear from a female khatiba or someone who delivers the khutbah or the sermon and that's an opportunity that we don't get in other mosques...This mosque gives us a chance to connect with our leaders and also with one another in a way that we wouldn't in another environment." Traditional mosques separate the men's section in the front from the women's section -- usually in the back or maybe to the side or in an upstairs area, and often cordoned off by a curtain. Here, the women ARE the center of the prayer service. Word of the event spread to Muslim women across the U.S. on social media and at various leadership retreats. They traveled from Nevada, New Jersey and other states -- to be a part of what they consider is a historic event. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NOOR-MALIKA CHISHTI, WORSHIPER, SAYING: "It's been such a long struggle for women to get a voice in so many religions and women in Islam have had the same struggle. So, to be here in a time where we get to see this breakthrough...it's just so exciting." The traditional Friday prayer is scheduled to happen once a month. But the women hope, eventually, the prayers can be held every Friday -- giving Muslim women a spiritual space of their very own to connect with their faith.