A message from Anonymous
Have you been to the Sayeda Khadija Centre in Mississauga? If you haven't, I think you'd like it, there's no barrier between the men and the women and the Imaam is very friendly -- it feels welcoming towards women.

I haven’t! I wanted to go but moving insanity just didn’t allow me to visit all the mosques I wanted to. But I met a girl out where I live now, and she got married there! She said it was a beautiful masjid that was very welcoming to women. So I’m so glad that you and her have great experiences there. And I always love no barriers!! And I also love the fact when masajid are named after women =) Thanks for telling me this it makes me so happy when masjids are doing it right =)

Women’s Space in the Mosques of Toronto Photo Project

Masjid #23 **Winner of Best Women’s Space in Toronto**

Islamic Institute of Toronto - Scarborough

This masjid is the best masjid I have ever attended. Men and women pray in the same massive room. There is no barrier. There is equal space for women and men. They have extensive access for people with disabilities They have an ASL translator for the people in the Muslim community who are deaf. The wuzu areas for women are clean, bright and well-maintained. This masjid has sports programs for women. This masjid has programs for women, period! And not just one, but many. This masjid has an excellent speaker system, although since we’re all in the same room, it doesn’t even matter. If the speaker breaks, then none of us can hear it! Equality!

This masjid kicks the men out of the main prayer hall first if there is overcapacity. This is rare because this masjid is massive. I missed Eid here this year sadly, but I heard so many women showed up that some men were told to go and pray in the upstairs classrooms and the hallways and the women got to move into the men’s area a bit since their section was full. Can you imagine how many women that must have been mash’Allah!

This masjid breaks the whole argument of “well, no women come to the masjid, so why build a bigger space for them?” wide open. If you provide a masjid with equal space, no barrier, and show muslim women the respect and equality that we were given BY ALLAH and the prophet (saw), then you see women at the masjid. Women come to masjids in small numbers or no numbers at all when masjids are built to not accommodate women. Honestly, every time I hear the argument ‘oh but women never come to a masjid so why build a bigger space’, I tell people to go check out IIT. 

This is the masjid I got married in. This is the masjid where an imam signed off on my ‘muslim papers’, officially confirming my conversion to Islam. This is the masjid where I learned that men in the muslim community are willing to take a stand for women and despite criticism stand up for the way the prophet (saw) wanted things in his masaajid. I miss this masjid so much! I always feel respected here. I am not haraam, my body is not supposed to be hidden here, I am welcome. I am welcome here.

**important note: these pictures are from 45 minutes before jummah started. I tried to go early so I could get a picture of the prayer hall empty since during this whole project I tried my best to not actually photograph anyone out of respect (because I have no idea if people are comfortable being photographed, even without their faces showing, or not). So, since I go to this masjid every week (or used to before I moved), I kept going earlier and earlier and earlier trying to get a photo of the hall empty. But this masjid always has women in it mash’Allah! So I couldn’t get an empty hall picture. So, in these pictures is just about 5% of the women turnout just because I was so early, to help you visualize just how many women this masjid hosts every jummah**

Women’s Space in the Mosques of Toronto Photo Project

Masjid #22

Jame Abu Bakr Siddique Masjid - Scarborough, Ontario

This was the first masjid I ever prayed at after I converted to Islam, so despite its flaws, this masjid does have a special place in my heart. It has the best carpets I’ve ever prayed on, soft, well-cared for, and it also has an amazing and nice clean wudu area, which almost never happens for women. We also can see down to the men’s area pretty easily. I hate when it’s just a solid wall. But when we’re praying or attending jummah there is no visibility of the men or the imam.

The unfortunate aspects of this masjid are the side entrance for women, it’s obviously smaller than the men’s side, probably only one tenth of the size (I included a shot looking down into the men’s area for comparison, and there is more to the men’s section that you can’t even see there). There are signs everywhere saying that children shouldn’t be welcome in the prayer area and the speaker system to hear the imam is faulty and hard to hear through sometimes. It’s always pretty dark in this women’s area, even when the men’s section is lit right up, which it isn’t in this picture, clearly.

Women’s Space in the Mosques of Toronto Photo Project

Masjid #21

Masjid Usman - Pickering Islamic Centre - Pickering, Ontario

This masjid had a unique feature that I’ve never seen before. The women’s entrance door actually says ‘welcome’ on it. I guess I’ve felt so unwelcome at so many masjids just due to the fact that I have to use a side door or that I’m inherently scared of using a main door if I can’t find a side door, seeing something as simple as ‘welcome’ on the door really made me feel good. But sadly, we did have a side door and women don’t use the main entrance.

This masjid had clean carpets and a viewing window to the men’s section from the balcony where we prayed and our own window on the side of the building to let in some natural light.

The not so hot parts of this masjid was, obviously, the much smaller space for women and the cage-like covering over the windows to the men’s section that hindered view down. We had just missed dhuhr jamaat so I didn’t get to hear the speaker system. But this masjid is very new, so I’m hoping it’s decent.

Women’s Space in the Mosques of Toronto Photo Project

Masjid #20 **Winner of Smallest Women’s Space in Toronto**

Shiekh Deedat Centre Downtown Masjid - Downtown Toronto

Sadly, every time I think I’ve seen the smallest women’s section I’ll ever see, I always find another, even smaller one. This one was easily THE SMALLEST women’s section imaginable. It was an actual closet. It must have been! You could fit literally only five bodies in this room to pray, maximum.

Considering how small it was, it was fairly clean. But I have no clue how you would be able to hear the prayers. There was no speaker system. I’ve heard that women have to listen through the walls, since the men’s section is the door right next to this one.

There was no marker for the qibla that I could see. It did have a lot of books. The washroom was decent, surprisingly, but very small, obviously. There was just one toilet and one wuzu station.

I didn’t see the men’s section but my husband has prayed here and says it’s a decent size considering it’s just above a restaurant. So, this masjid stands for the record of the smallest women’s section in Toronto, at least out of the ones that I’ve seen. But honestly, a women’s section smaller than this would just blink out of existence and there wouldn’t even be one. At least we all used the same door and there was no ‘side entrance’?

Women’s Space in the Mosques of Toronto Photo Project

Masjid #19

Masjid Huzefa - Scarborough

This masjid had an aesthetically pleasing women’s space, bright carpets, pretty lights, a beautiful clock and nice lighting. But it definately dropped way below the bar in terms of the kketchy side entrance door, separate prayer room with no view of imam, much smaller space for women, windows were completely blacked out and the carpets were flithy. I think this was the worst washroom/wuzu area for women I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t take a picture because there were no lights, but the washrooms/wudu area was DISGUSTING and completely un-maintained. Also, the speaker system a little shaky and hard to hear the imam for salat.

I did meet a really sweet woman here from Afghanistan. She was blown away at seeing a white Muslim and was really happy, so that was really nice. She was asking why I was there and I explained and she said I hope I come back because there’s no women who pray here often.

Women’s Space in the Mosques of Toronto Photo Project

Masjid #18

Masjid ul Taqwa - Downtown Toronto

This masjid has one good thing going for its women area. Nice lighting. Look at that lighting! I can see every fibre in the carpet! However, the light switch is behind the curtain, technically the men’s space. So, if a woman wants to pray in here, she’s forced to go behind the curtain and turn the lights on. I could hear men speaker behind the doors, so I literally ran across the room, hit the lights, and ran back. Why am I scared? Why am I running? Because a man might see me in his space? Yes, I hate getting yelled at but honestly I need to not be worried about this and take space for myself. If they’re not going to have lights in the “women’s section”, then damn, that’s just not fair.

Pretty much everything else for this masjid was bad, bad bad. Sketchy side entrance door, disgusting wudu area, carpets not kept clean, insanely small area designated for women. This whole room, even behind the curtain, ended up being empty as I prayed. I went in assuming that the men would pray behind these curtains but no one came and my husband and the other men prayed upstairs. Apparently it is overflow for men to come down here behind those curtains. Don’t know why it couldn’t just be a women’s section down here and men upstairs. Imam forgot to turn on the microphone for me and remembered halfway through the salat so I missed the first half and was totally confused when there was no athan and we were suddenly in the middle of praying apparently. Not cool. But shockingly, not the smallest women’s space I’ve even seen, which is depressing.

Women’s Space in the Mosques of Toronto Photo Project

Masjid #17

Masjid Qurtabah/North American Islamic Foundation - Scarborough

This masjid has the same entrance as men into the building for women through a small side door. The main entrance for this building goes into the Islamic school. There was a very friendly imam, who said salaam to me as I went through the door to access the women’s section, behind a barrier. Due to the set up of the building where the prayer hall is very long and thin rather than wide, women and men technically pray side-by-side here. I’ve never seen that anywhere. We were separated by a barrier and the men were given 3/4s of the available space, but that was an interesting change.

The negative side to this masjid was the same as always, a smaller space designated for women, barrier to separate us, and not well maintained. But in all fairness, from what I could see of the men’s section when I walked in, their section was no better in terms of cleanliness. The building is old and they clearly did their best with the space they had. But the men’s section had access to some books and materials, the women’s space did not.

Women’s Space in the Mosques of Toronto Photo Project

Masjid #16

Masjid Dar us Salaam - Scarborough

Sadly, the only positive aspect I could find in this masjid was that woman in the chair. She showed me pictures of her recent trip to Mecca and was so friendly and sweet

I couldn’t find any redeemable qualities about this women’s area. Side entrance for women, hideously small women’s area, no visibility of the imam at all. I could actually capture the entirety of the room with only one shot for god’s sake. The carpets were extremely dirty, the books provided in that shelf were falling apart, the speaker system was horrible and made screeching sounds that made following the prayer very difficult, had a horrible smell, nightmare wudu area … yeah, this was no good. No shock that only three women showed up for prayer.

Women’s Space in the Mosques of Toronto Photo Project

Masjid #15

Medina Masjid - Downtown Toronto - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This masjid is also pretty famous in Toronto. It has very nice natural lighting in the evening (as you can see through the windows in the pictures here), beautiful colour of the carpets, and a “decent” sized women’s area, in that there are actually more than just two or three rows.

What I don’t like about this masjid is the really sketchy side entrance for women. It looks like a scary ally where someone would go to do a drug deal. The men’s door is this gorgerous, double-door and really nicely designed and nice-looking. But of course, that door is at the front of the masjid on the street.

There is a completely separate women’s space with no view of the imam or the men at all. There are signs warning women to stay out of the men’s section (we’re not stupid, okay), the carpets could use a vaccuming for sure, and very bad lighting (not as obvious here with the beautiful sunlight coming in at asr time). If the sun had not been setting while I was here, the only way I would have been able to see if from that tiny potlight on the ceiling.

Women’s Space in the Mosques of Toronto Photo Project

Masjid #14

The Islamic Foundation of Toronto - Scarborough, Ontario, Canada

If you live in Scarborough, you have been to this masjid. I don’t know one person who hasn’t at least been there. It’s Islamic School is regarded as one of the best and if you want your kid to go there, the waitlist is almost three years long. So, often, people put their child on the list at birth.

However, I am not impressed with its women section. In this masjid, we pray above the men and can see down to their section. I have it pictured above. The women’s section is pathetically small in comparison. The men have all the usual get ups of a chandelier, beautiful calligraphy, giant, bright windows, lots of books and resources. The women’s section is smaller, no windows, we’re in a separate room completely. I’ve prayed here many times and it is a fight to the death to get a space in the actual women’s section because it’s such a popular masjid but the space is so small. I’ve prayed in the hallway many times, getting trampled over as I try to focus on my namaaz.

You can at least say that it’s clean. The speaker system to hear the prayer is decent. It’s school has a good reputation. There is a side entrance for women, but men use it as well and it doesn’t seem to be a big deal. The main entrance for men isn’t in the parking lot, so I guess that’s why they’d rather just go in from our section.

I’ve talked a lot about this with my sister-in-law because she’s thinking of sending her daughter here for school. I know the school had a good reputation for education. But honestly, I wouldn’t want my daughter going to school here just because of the message sent to girls with the smaller section and having to be away from men. I feel like a masjid can have the best education possible, but if the actual set-up of the building is teaching women that they are not as important, not as valued, that our presence is offensive to men so we need to be stuck up in a completely different, smaller, darker room, what is the point? 

Women’s Space in the Mosques of Toronto Photo Project

Masjid #13

The Sunatul Jamaat of Ontario, Canada - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This masjid was amazing. As my husband and I arrived, this guy was also leaving. He stopped us in our car to say salaam and that he was the last one leaving but that we were free to go inside and pray and do whatever we wished.

This masjid is massive, but men and women have equal space, completely. There is a barrier, unfortunately, but the sheer size of the women’s section here was enough to make me really happy. There was even a little door in the barrier so that if women wanted to go through, or I guess if they were asked something, they could go there and speak. There were TVs all along the barrier, which I’m assuming are used to broadcast during salah so women can see the imam.

This masjid was clean, big, bright and beautiful and the men and women had the exact same conditions because it’s one giant room. i loved the equal division of the space. I loved that both the men’s section and women’s section had identical doors inside of the masjid so that everyone entered through the same door from outside and then went through their appropriate door. I loved that both doors were the same quality. It’s so often the men’s door is nice and decent looking while the women’s side entrance is sketchy as hell. 

Overall, the only downside I could see to this masjid for women was the barrier. I felt like running around in the women’s section, there was so much space! I only wish I could have been here for jummah, it must be awesome to see so many women together.

Women’s Space in the Mosques of Toronto Photo Project

Masjid #12

Baitul Mukarram Masjid Islamic Society - Toronto

This masjid’s front door aren’t open the majority of the time. So, both men and women access the masjid from a side door where men go to the right, up to the main, large prayer hall, and women go to the left, into the scary, dark basement.

The women’s section is small here. There is a brother’s overflow area right next to it, with scary warning signs to not enter, to not open the doors, etc. The prayer mats provided are dirty and the carpet is even worse. It’s dark and there are no working lights in the actually prayer section, even though they did work in the hallway, which was weird. There was a small window that let in some light, at least, but it was still sketchy as hell. 

The women’s section also clearly was doubling as a storage section. There were massive portable prayer mats that were stacked at the front. I didn’t pray in jammat here so I couldn’t hear the speaker system. I’m hoping it was adequate considering that otherwise it wasn’t so hot for us women in terms of size and cleanliness or light.

Women’s Space in the Mosques of Toronto Photo Project

Masjid #11

Baitul Aman Masjid - Toronto

I posted a picture a while back of the Sister’s Entrance with garbage all around it. A few people asked what masjid it was. Well, this was it. It was pretty horrifying.

I struggled through the garbage only to find the women’s door locked, of course. So, I just started picking other doors and going through them until I found another one leading to the women’s section.

It was small, but clean. It had good lighting. The speaker system was not so hot, but worked out the kinks pretty quickly.

They had scary signs saying that it’s haraam to talk during the khutbah and stuff. I hate that. I highly doubt the men have the same warning signs.

There was another lady there when I went and she was really friendly. She said salaam to me in between sunnah prayers and then went back to her namaaz.

So, yes, the visual of this masjid with the garbage surrounding the Sister’s Entrance was easily the worst of all the side entrances I saw in Toronto. Even though I was able to access the women’s section via another unmarked door, just the message this masjid is sending is horrifying. Is there literally no other place you can keep the garbage? As someone new to this masjid, I was totally shocked. How could I have known I could use another door? I might have thought this was the only one. This screams that they don’t care. It was really shocking.

Women’s Space in the Mosques of Toronto Photo Project

Masjid #10

Toronto Islamic Centre - Downtown Toronto

This is the famous masjid that’s right next to a sex shop. Welcome to Toronto!

This masjid had the same entrance for both women and men, love that. There was a barrier, unfortunately. The women’s space behind the barrier was probably 1/8th of the men’s space, which you can see pictured here since we’re at least all in the same room together. It was one of those portable barriers.

However, I don’t think it was too strict with the whole ‘we can’t see women’ thing, because there was a lady there who said salaam to me when I came in. She actually asked me if I was ‘Ashley’. I said no. I guess she was expecting another white convert to be dropping by? Either way, when I started praying, she prayed with me and then went back out into the men’s section where they have this table and she was just reading there with men around praying. So, at least the idea of seeing women’s bodies is okay here, even if we have to pray behind a barrier.

This masjid is also a bookstore, so there was lots of literature around that I was dying to check out. 

The barrier was made out of this weird material that we could see through but the men couldn’t on the other side. So, at least during praying you can see and hear okay. But obviously, no barrier would have been ideal.