Women Lead Way for First Mosque for Natives in Panama
The first bricks of the Al Haqq Mosque are now being laid, after a 9 year campaign led by Muslim converts Josefina Bell-Munajj and Khadijah Jackson to get building permission.
Josefina Bell-Munajj and Khadijah Jackson also hope the mosque will be a center for Islamic education in the future. The two women have already been providing Islamic classes for Muslim women in a room borrowed by a local Muslim dentist since 2011.
Having started off as just a group of ten, there are now around thirty women attending classes with them. "We started feeling the urgency to get a new space because we were bursting out the room,” Bell-Munajj told Religion Dispatches magazine on Wednesday.
Although Muslims migrants who have settled in Panama from other countries have already set up a number of mosques, Al Haqq Mosque will be the first set up by native Panamanian Muslims.
Islam has been part of Panama from as early as the mid-16th century, brought over by Africans who were shipped over as part of the slave-trade. The twentieth century also saw migration of Muslims from the Middle-East and South Asia.
Approximately 24,000 Muslims are believed to be residing in Panama today, comprising 1% of the overall population.