Inside Mustafa Center Mosque in Annandale, Virginia

Pictures from my first visit to the Mustafa Center in Annandale, Va.

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I went in the morning around 9am and no one was there. I went up the steps to what I assumed to be the front wooden doors and found them locked. I did not see any signs posted regarding operating hours or labeling the entrances. A friend later told me that the wooden doors are generally regarded as the “men’s entrance” and the side door as the “women’s entrance.” For a newbie to the mosque, there was no way for me to know that so I waited outside for awhile until a family arrived and went in the side doors, which were open.

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Discussion of Mosques on @KatieCouric

Asra Nomani, Khalid Latif, Zaib Shaikh, and Mohammed Hameeduddin spoke with Katie Couric to try to explain some of the misconceptions surrounding Islam and Muslims, and towards the end the discussion turned to mosques.

If someone visited your local mosque, what would they see and impression would the women’s area leave them with? Many Muslims are pleased to show visitors the main prayer hall but would be deeply embarrassed to show them the sections designated for women.

Thanks Asra for the “penalty box” shout-out!

I shared Asra’s incredulity when she asked what would happen if she came and stood in a parallel section in the front row and Khalid Latif claimed, “we don’t really have a front row.” Really? I find that hard to believe. I visited two mosques in New York City this past December and both had women’s sections on a completely separate floor with no visuals to the imam on main congregation other than through a television monitor hookup, which was always turned off during the prayer.