The Hadassah and Daniel Khalili Memorial Lecture in Islamic Art and Culture – Spaces for women in mosques: Past, present and future

Key information

7:00 pm
Russell Square: College Buildings
Khalili Lecture Theatre (KLT)
Event type
Seminar, Lecture & Event highlights

About this event

Up until around the middle of the twentieth century architects rarely designed mosques that contained spaces marked apart for women.

Shortly after the middle of the twentieth century it became the norm to include gender-separated areas for prayer within mosques. What were the societal impulses or changes that led to this?

This paper explores first the historical debates around the presence of women in mosques, and the extent, if any, to which these have been reflected in mosque design. What forms did these separated areas take? What are the architectural consequences of this separation? What discussion around this issue has arisen in both Muslim majority and Muslim minority countries? What role might the architect have in designing for greater gender inclusivity in the mosque? This talk explores some of these issues with references to mosques from around the world.

Chaired by Professor Scott Redford. The lecture will be followed by a reception in the KLT foyer.

This is a hybrid event; to join online, contact

About the speaker

Bernard O'Kane is Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at the American University in Cairo, where he has been teaching since 1980. He has also been a visiting professor at Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of eleven books, among the most recent

being Studies in Persian Architecture (2021) and Mosques: the 100 Most Iconic Islamic Houses of Worship (2019), and the editor or co-editor of five books, the most recent of which is Inscriptions of the Medieval Islamic World (2023).

Image: Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque, Shah Alam, Malaysia. © Bernard O’Kane.