What is IMI?
The Inclusive Mosque Initiative is a nomadic mosque with no fixed venue. We are a voluntary organisation of Muslims who put on events (mostly in London and occasionally in different parts of the UK) like workshops, seminars, socials and prayer events, much like the ones you’d find in mosques all over the UK. What’s unique about IMI is our inclusive ethos. We actively welcome all people of all sects, genders and sexualities. People of all religions and none are welcome at IMI and inclusivity is at the heart of our work. That means we prioritise disabled access,  mental health and emotional health. At IMI you will find imams of different Islamic backgrounds, races and genders who lead prayers, perform marriage ceremonies and share knowledge on Islam and Quranic interpretation. 

How is IMI different from other mosques?
We are building on the long-existing Islamic traditions of inclusivity and social justice by offering an additional space which is proactively inclusive of the diversity of Muslims and Islamic practice that is found globally.  We exist alongside more traditional mosques. Whilst some are absolutely fantastic, others are not particularly welcoming to women and people with mobility challenges (such as wheelchair users). IMI is different because it prioritises inclusion. At IMI men, women and non-binary people all pray together in the same space to allow families the opportunity to pray together in a communal setting. 

What do you do?
Like most mosques, we hold regular social events, participatory seminars and workshops, Quran discussion groups and prayers (salah). We hold Eid prayers and during Ramadan we host iftars (the meal that breaks the fast) and taraweh prayers (extended prayers). Right now, we are working towards establishing a permanent carbon-neutral mosque building. At the moment we hold events in a variety of hired, wheelchair accessible spaces. We also provide nikkah (marriage) services. 

What are your backgrounds?
We are a collective of practising Muslims who are part of many Muslim communities. We come from a range of Islamic backgrounds including Sunni, Shia, Sufi, Quranist, Salafi, Braelvi, Islamic feminist, traditional, secular and conservative. Our backgrounds reflect the diversity of ethnicities within the British Muslim community. Our team is made up of Arab, Central European, South Asian, East African,  North African, Persian, mixed heritage and white Muslims.

Are you all outsiders of the Muslim community?
Depends who you ask. We are part of a spectrum of the Muslim community in Britain. Islam is precious to us and it’s the reason we do what we do. We welcome non-practising Muslims to attend IMI events and our board members are all practising Muslims.

How large is your membership?
We have an email list of about 900 people and a Facebook reach of around 5,500 people. Our membership is growing rapidly in response to a critical mass of Muslims who need a mosque space that explicitly includes them, their practice and their family.

Who are you funded by?
We are funded by donations and recently received a grant from Arcus Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.  We put our own incomes into IMI and receive no government funding.

Are you a support group for people with mental illnesses?
No, unfortunately we don’t currently have the resources to be a support group but we aspire to be a supportive space.

Are you a gay mosque?
No. We are just as focused on rights for the LGBT+ community as we are on rights for other marginalised groups and those whose identities are at the intersections of multiple marginalised communities. Our understanding of inclusivity is very broad. We want everyone to feel welcome at our events, whoever they are. We are not a mosque specifically for gay people, but we are inclusive of everyone and all family structures. We exist for those who feel they need a place where their sexuality or their non-traditional family is included, highlighted and valued explicitly, we aim to be that space. Our inclusive ethos extends beyond sexuality.

Does your project perceive homosexuality as compatible with Islam?
IMI members hold a wide variety of perspectives. As an organisation, we believe in a compassionate God who respects all of us and does not discriminate against those of us who are not heterosexual.

How do you feel the majority of the Muslim community will feel about such an initiative?
We’ve been going since November 2012 and (Alhamdulillah) have had overwhelmingly positive responses from across Muslim organisations and individuals around the world. The Ummah, even in Britain, really is so diverse; Islam does include and welcome everyone and we believe that the British Muslim community is stronger together.

Free-mixing between males and females is disallowed by many Muslims. What do you say to them?
We are not unique in our position on free mixing of the sexes. Individuals will come to their own conclusions about gender segregation. For those who encourage segregation, there are plenty mosque spaces that cater to this. IMI exists for those who want to worship in spaces without gender segregation. When it comes to gender, our priority is to provide a mosque space where women and people of non-binary genders are equally as welcome, and involved, as men. Many Muslim organisations hold events where men and women mix, social events, discussions, talks etc. so our social calendar is not something unusual.

What about gender segregation during prayer?
We don’t force anyone to change how they pray. We recently started an event with salah led by a very knowledgeable woman. One attendee did not want to pray behind a woman; so he chose to pray separately and then we continued to have an inspiring discussion.