What is a mosque? What are women's mosques specifically? What historical values do women's mosques offer, and what is the relationship between mosque spaces and women's religious work? How do women leaders themselves identify with and conceptualize their leadership roles? Why are women's mosques around the world, both historical and contemporary, omitted from both popular and scholarly discourses on women's mosques? Jacqueline Fewkes
' excellent and theoretically sophisticated book, Locating Maldivian Women's Mosques in Global Discourses
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), offers answers to these questions and more. Complete with images from Fewkes' research, the book is an ethnography of women's mosques in the Maldives, an almost unheard-of phenomenon. It situates women's prayer places, the Nisha Miskiis, the physical buildings in which women lead prayers for other women, as complex sites of sociohistorical and cultural significance. Ultimately, Fewkes explores the ways in which these spaces relate to, contribute to, and fit in larger conversations about the transnational Muslim community—the global ummah—rather than being limited to the local with no historical significance.
Locating Maldivian Women's Mosques in Global Discourses
may be assigned in graduate courses in Anthropology, Islamic Studies, Women's and Gender Studies, or any combination of these; it would also make an exciting and inviting read for those generally interested in questions of gendered spaces, women's religious works, and specifically in women's mosques.
Shehnaz Haqqani is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. Her primary research areas include Islam, gender, and questions of change and tradition in Islam. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.