AUSTIN, Texas – A new nonprofit launched Sunday to provide an inclusive space for Muslims in Austin, Texas, planning to host a variety of faith-based, service-based, and social programs.
“We really need to think about the community and the spectrum of American Muslims living here,” Muslim Space executive director Shadia Igram told The Daily Texan.
“We want to create a space with a sense of fluidity, that you can be in and out of the Muslim space and you don’t feel like you have to change yourself … We are not trying to compete with a mosque or draw folks away, we are just simply trying to create a complementary institution.”
The new group will offer community potlucks and game nights, as well as Qur’an classes taught by community members rather than scholars.
It also aims at addressing the lack of gender inclusivity inside mosques, resulting from different cultural practices rather than religious teachings.
“One of the issues I have personally is that there’s a separation between men and women (in mosques) with some sort of wall or curtain,” advertising sophomore Yasmeen Aossey said.
“I feel like it’s more of a cultural thing that we have to do that, and a lot of the cultural aspects are being brought in the mosque which should only be just religion-based — it should not have any cultural influences on it.”
Computer science freshman Aafia Ahmad said Muslim Space would be a good way for her to meet the Muslim community outside of UT.
“I like the Muslim Student Association, but I think [Muslim Space] is also a good way to get involved and meet people throughout Austin and not just UT,” Ahmad said.
Though Muslim Space does not have an office, Muna Hussaini, president of the organization, said they hope to have an office once they have more members.
“We are hoping to have a permanent space,” Hussaini said.
“But our plan to get there is to build a membership base … If we can get to (a) certain amount of sustaining members, then we will be able to build a plan to get us a space.”