Denmark is opening its first female-led mosque

56bf5a65c461888d468b45a3Mosques are male-dominated and patriarchal places, where a man is at the
speaking platform, a man leads prayer, a man is in focus and dominant,
says Sherin Khankan, an academic and one of four female imams in Denmark.
It is for this reason that she has set up Copenhagens first female-led
mosque, a feminist project designed to facilitate worship on womens
terms.

Having come up with the idea more than a year ago, Khankan who has a
Muslim Syrian father and a Christian Finnish mother is determined to
broaden Islams appeal to her fellow countrywomen. I have never felt at
home in the existing mosques. The new grand mosques are unbelievably
beautiful, but I have the feeling of being a stranger when I am there, she
told Danish newspaper Politiken.

The majority of Danish imams do not want female colleagues, Khankan said
in another interview with Dagsbladet Information. In my youth, I
experienced women being distanced in the Muslim communities in Denmark. And
I feel strongly that I am not alone.

Men are invited to worship at the Mariam Mosque, but on Friday nights, a
service run both for and by women only will take place.

Involving more women in management and prayer-leading roles in mosques has
proved to be a small yet nascent trend around the world, with such
organisations being set up from Berlin to Los Angeles. There has been talk,
too, of a place of worship in the UK that could better cater to the needs
of women in the Muslim community, though this is yet to materialise.
[image: Bana Gora, chief executive of the Muslim Women’s Council]Bana Gora,
chief executive of the Muslim Women’s Council CREDIT: MICHELLE HESELTINE

For Shelina Zahra Janmohamed, author of *Love in a Headscarf*, having
mosques which are more gender-equal in their approach is an issue that can
no longer be ignored. Women have reached the end of their tether in terms
of wanting their voices heard
<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11790681/Muslim-women-problem-unveiled-within-patriarchal-mosques.html>,
wanting mosques to accommodate their needs and finding, in many cases, the
reaction has not been very responsive. The idea is to trigger a response in
mosques by showing that there may be fresh perspectives.
The majority of Danish imams do not want female colleagues
Sherin Khankan

Khankan is confident that her project will ease the barriers between
traditional Islam and a more modern rendition of the faith that can better
relate to young worshippers. Many imams in this country belong to the
traditional school which does not account for the culture we live in.
Instead, they help to construct contradictions between being a practicing
Muslim and a young person in Denmark. But you can love and honour several
cultures and influences at once without betraying one or the other camp.

Denmark has long had a thorny relationship with Islam: satirical magazine
Jyllands-Posten published a cartoon
<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/denmark/1509887/How-clerics-spread-hatred-over-cartoons.html>
of
the prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban in 2005 a move that caused
global outcry, and worsened months of violent tensions between Pariss
Muslim community and the French police when it was republished by Charlie
Hebdo
<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11331506/Cartoonists-show-solidarity-after-Charlie-Hebdo-attack.html>
the
following year.

Copenhagen opened its first mosque in 2014 an unveiling at which the
Scandinavian countrys leading politicians were noticeably absent. Given
that there are some 270,000 Muslims living in Denmark, the fact their first
purpose built place of worship was funded by Qatars former emir, as
opposed to the government, was perhaps not the reconciliatory move many
might have hoped for.

Yet not everyone is so encouraging about this blurring of lines between old
and new: I do understand that [women] dont feel that they are being
addressed, Imam Waseem Hussein, chairman of the Danish Islamic Centre,
explained to Politiken. But part of the problem is that they are being
portrayed as if they are the good and righteous ones while all the rest of
us are malevolent. The objective truth of the matter is that they are a
very small minority.
Many consider the idea of a women-led mosque as quite radical
Shelina Zahra Janmohamed

Why should there be a specific need just for women? Are we also to create
mosques only for men? That would cause outcry within the Danish population.

Many consider the idea of a women-led mosque as quite radical, Janmohamed
counters, but a lot of Muslim women think that such a step is really
needed in order to shake the community out of the stagnation it seems to
have found itself in.

 

 

reference: (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/denmark-is-opening-its-first-female-led-mosque/
Charlotte Lytton
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/authors/charlottelytton/)

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