Danish women-led mosque holds first Friday prayers

Published: August 27, 2016
PHOTO: Harriet Sherwood/Guardian

PHOTO: Harriet Sherwood/Guardian

COPENHAGEN: Scandinavia’s first female-led mosque has held its first Friday prayers in Copenhagen, a milestone for an “Islamic feminist” project whose founder hopes will help combat Islamophobia.

But there was also criticism that the project did not go far enough in promoting women’s rights.

Scandinavia’s first women-only mosque opens in Denmark

The khutba, or sermon, was held in the Mariam Mosque in an apartment in a busy Copenhagen shopping street six months after it opened.

Temperatures soared inside on a balmy summer’s day as more than 60 women, around half of them Muslim, came to hear Danish-born imam Saliha Marie Fetteh.

Friday’s event was opened by the mosque’s founder Sherin Khankan, who is herself becoming an imam.

She said that she had originally wanted to open a mosque where female imams could preach on Fridays to a mixed crowd, but later changed her mind.

“It turned out that a majority of the community wanted a Friday prayer for women only,” Khankan, born in Denmark to a Syrian father and a Finnish mother, told AFP.

“Today I am very happy about the decision because when you try to create change it’s very important that you do it wisely and slowly,” she added.

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The decision to bar men from the prayers drew criticism from Syria-born Danish lawmaker Naser Khader, who told broadcaster TV 2 that it was not “good enough” in a country like Denmark — known for having a high level of gender equality — to shy away from letting women preach to a mixed crowd.

Five Islamic marriage ceremonies have been conducted at the mosque, which has issued its own marriage contract.

Under the agreement women have the right to divorce, polygamy is prohibited, men and women have equal rights to their children in case of a divorce, and the marriage is annulled in the event of mental or physical violence.

The mosque’s aim was also to fight Islamophobia by showing Muslim women could “take the lead,” Khankan said.

Similar projects exist in a handful of other countries, including in the US where “The Women’s Mosque of America” opened in Los Angeles last year.


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Reader Comments (14)

  • Kamran
    Aug 27, 2016 - 12:23PM

    This is a welcome event. Nowhere does it say in the Koran that an iman must be a man. I hope that Islam will start looking to the future and become a progressive faith rather than constantly looking backwards. When free thinking is encouraged the possibilities are limitless for advancement and growth of ones mind and spirit.Recommend

  • Menon
    Aug 27, 2016 - 4:54PM

    There are misguided people everywhere. Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Aug 27, 2016 - 5:27PM

    Woman Imam is a good sign but mosque should also allow men to pray there. Only for women thing is also segregation and against spirit of modern Islam. Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)
    Aug 27, 2016 - 7:04PM

    I wish one day people even hear Azaan from a mosque of our Khwaja saras and Khusras!Recommend

  • Babbarsher Khan
    Aug 27, 2016 - 7:58PM

    When this will happen in Pakistan, in 200 years from now? Recommend

  • khurram shahzad
    Aug 27, 2016 - 9:50PM

    This is new kind of Fitnah now….Recommend

  • A woman
    Aug 27, 2016 - 10:54PM

    Let us deal with fitnas created by men with beards first, [email protected] shahzad: Recommend

  • Khan
    Aug 27, 2016 - 11:37PM

    She will be harassed by immigrant Muslims and far fight Danes.Recommend

  • sterry
    Aug 27, 2016 - 11:52PM

    @Menon: But if this helps the refugee class of Muslims in Europe adjust and become more open minded, I think this is a good development. As it is, many European Muslims live in ghettos where they are radicalized since they don’t have jobs and are not integrated.Recommend

  • Babbarsher Khan
    Aug 28, 2016 - 6:06PM

    An “expert opinion” from Mullah Sheerani and his fellow medievalists so that Pakistanis are not also tempted to go the “same path” would be a “natural” expectation. ;-) Recommend

  • Mohammed
    Aug 29, 2016 - 1:45PM

    People are heading towards the day of ignorance.If you go to Makkah and Madinah there are no imaams led by ladies. This is a new form of fitnah. People must go and ask their Muftis and they will guide you Recommend

  • Pakistan Zindabad
    Aug 29, 2016 - 2:42PM

    Some laws introduced after 1400 years of Islamic Foundation. Every body can know about their Reason, Objects, Goals, Faith etc. All but other then Islamic.Recommend

  • zahid hissain ch
    Sep 18, 2016 - 4:20PM

    A muslim women can b. an Imam for just females..not for men..okay .for an instant just accept that men and women will offer prayer behind a female imam..then how will u deny the fact that am women’s voice should not go outside her home..A women can’t go outside eithout permition of her male members either father or husband..and these people want to do this in front of whole male members …i would like to clear that if it is just for women it’s alright..if not than its wrong..women donot need to come to mosque to offer prayers ..they can do so in their homes..Recommend

  • khurram shahzad
    Sep 21, 2016 - 11:24AM

    @A woman:
    Fitnah is Fitna it is not male or female. Better responding negatively to my comment if you are a Muslim please goes through Islamic teachings about Imamat of Jamaat (Prayer leading) and why it has Female gender are not allowed to lead any prayer. Beating around bush will not take you anywhere. Recommend

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