Blending Muslim Tradition with American Reality

November 27, 2006

Author: Janet I. Tu

Source: The Seattle Times

Uzma Siddiqi has visited many mosques, both locally and in other cities where she's lived.

But none felt quite right for her.

Some, for instance, devoted 90 percent of their space to men's prayers and activities, setting aside only 10 percent for women and children.

But when she went to the prayer and gathering place of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound, or MAPS, she saw that the space was divided about 50-50 for men and women. There were women in leadership positions.

"Those are subtle but important things," said Siddiqi, 40, an engineer.

Leaders at the six-month-old MAPS, who are primarily younger Muslims on the Eastside working in the high-tech industry, formed the group because they want to encourage women to take leadership positions, hold regular social and cultural activities in addition to prayers and religious education, and organize activities for their kids that aren't necessarily focused on Islam. They want to be more involved in their larger communities.