Months after opening Scandinavia’s first female-led mosque in Copenhagen, many questions still surround the worshiping house, with some praising it as a pioneer movement and others criticizing it as unnecessary. “It was fantastic and very moving,” Özlem Cekic, a Turkey-born Danish commentator and former lawmaker, who attended the first sermon, told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Wednesday, October 26. “I believe it will strengthen Islam.”
The Mariam mosque opened informally in February, and it took six months of further preparation before the first Friday prayers could be held. Khankan, one of the five female imams-in-training, and the mosque founder, Saliha Marie Fetteh, the mosque’s two imams, shared the Friday prayer in Mariam mosque in Copenhagen which was attended by more than 60 women. Khankan sang the adhan and made an opening speech, and Fetteh delivered the khutbah, or sermon, on the theme of “women and Islam in a modern world”.
“Talking about women’s rights is not a Western phenomenon, it’s an Islamic ideal,” Sherin said. Offering Muslim women a special place to address their religious needs, Khankan said that the mosque helped them to start inter-faith dialogue. Earlier this year publicly, she met with French female rabbi Delphine Horvilleur in Copenhagen. The mosque, however, was not welcomed by some religious leaders as unnecessary.
After the opening of the Mariam Mosque, Waseem Hussein, an imam from one of the city’s biggest mosques, suggested there was no need for it. “Should we also make a mosque only for men? Then there would certainly be an outcry among the Danish population,” he told the Politiken daily. The notion was challenged by Khankan. “According to the Qur’an, men and women are equal spiritual partners,” said Khankan, wearing a long, white skirt and a long-sleeved top but no veil, which she said she only wears while praying.
“We are re-reading the Qur’an according to our times and our society,” she added. Female imams have existed in China since the 19th century, and in South Africa since 1995. Last year, the first ladies-only Women’s Mosque of America in Los Angeles, Calif., opened to divide the opinions of American Muslim women. The new mosque raised controversy on the validity of conducting a women-only Jumu`ah prayer, being a female imam and the feasibility of the fruits for which the idea was initiated.