Is an East Bay mosque changing the face of contemporary Islam or eroding the faith?
Qal’bu Maryam — Arabic for “Maryam’s heart” — opened in Berkeley in April 2017. The mosque represents a stark departure from orthodox Muslim tradition, welcoming LGBTQ congregants, allowing women to lead prayers and deliver sermons (called khutbahs), and encouraging all genders to pray shoulder to shoulder. Bennett-Bose stumbled upon the congregation online and was drawn to its inclusivity. “I know that I was meant to be Muslim,” she says. “But I also knew that I was gay before I converted.” Although many mainstream strains of Islam shun homosexuality, Bennett-Bose took the shahada, the Muslim declaration of faith. Soon after, she visited Qal’bu Maryam. This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Magazine’s June 2018 East Bay Issue. It was later republished by Berkeleyside. Photos by Talia Herman.