After 15 years in the making, a small mosque in Denmark has Friday prayers led by a woman. Traditionally, this is limited to and led by men.
Although some mosques have women’s sections, these areas are accessible only from a side or back entrance. The Mariam Mosque in Denmark is one of the few by women and striving to maintain as a space for women.
In August, Sherin Khankan, founder of the mosque, sang the adhan – call to prayer – and Saliha Marie Fetteh delivered the sermon which was about “women and Islam in the modern world.”
About 70 women of various backgrounds attend the service in solidarity which sets above a fast-food restaurant. Curtains hang with a simple mosaic motif, a Qur’an verse displays, and flowers and candles arranged.
Khankan, the daughter of a Syrian father and a Finnish mother, came up with the idea 15 years ago when she was just 26 years old. It was an effort to attract a new generation of Muslim women who felt left out of traditional mosques.
The project was delayed after the events of the September 11 attacks in the U.S. However, after many hurdles the mosque is officially open and is a new global community. The world’s oldest women’s mosque has been around since 1820 in China and South Africa has had one since 1995. The Women’s Mosque of America opened in Los Angeles last year.
Sherin Khankan said, “We’re still in a process of learning. We’re on a journey and we’ve only taken the first step.” In the past few months, the mosque has seen five weddings, including some inter-religious marriages. There have also been a couple of divorces, one of which was conducted after prayers on Friday.
This movement in Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, is a modern, spiritual approach to Islam. A place for everyone to come and flourish together. “What happens in a mosque goes way beyond the mosque itself – it affects society.”