Recently, Black Muslim Canadian Spoken Word poet Key Ballah wrote a piece for Love, Inshallah about her experience in a predominantly Pakistani mosque in Toronto where she was interrupted during prayer and told that “This is an Urdu-speaking mosque” and “There is another mosque where you can go not too far from here. There are more people like you there.” In the piece, she reflected on the need to honestly and openly address anti-Black racism in the Canadian Muslim community. Muslim Link invited Key to speak more in depth about what she thinks needs to be done to address anti-Black racism.
On Saturday May 10th, close to 200 members of Ottawa’s Muslim community attended a screening of the documentary UnMosqued at Carleton University and stayed for the discussion that followed. Exploring the ways in which Muslim women, converts to Islam, Muslims from various racial background, and youth in their teens and twenties often feel unwelcome and alienated from their local mosques, the film asks critical questions about the future of the mosque as an institution in North American Muslim communities.
“UnMosqued” portrayed various scenarios that I have personally experienced as a young Muslim woman in Ottawa. The documentary made me realize that most of us didn’t know that many others are bothered by the same issues in our mosques: the unequal prayer spaces between men and women and the separating wall, the less convenient backdoor entrance for women, the dominance of one ethnic group, male-dominated board members, the lack of and quality of English programs, the awkwardness of interacting with the opposite gender etc. For these reasons and others, I have personally felt disconnected to local mosques or “unmosqued”.
Screened to sold-out audiences across North America, Unmosqued explores why more and more Muslims feel unwelcome at their mosques. On Saturday, May 10th at Carleton University, local Muslims will get a chance to watch and discuss this thought-provoking documentary.