Last week was a historical one for the Muslim community of Copenhagen which saw the official opening of the Mariam Mosque, the first female-led mosque in Scandinavia, one of only a few outside of China. The mosque’s two imams, Sherin Khankan and Saliha Marie Fetteh, both led the opening ceremony. Ms. Khankan sang the adhan and made an opening speech, and Ms. Fetteh delivered the khutbah or sermon, discussing women and Islam in the modern world.
“We’ve had very positive reactions to the mosque – from Pakistan, Iran, Europe, Turkey, Arab countries,” reports Imam Sherin Khankan. Talking about her background, Ms. Khankan says that her father is a “feminist icon” who told her she could do anything in life. He was a Syrian refugee who settled in Denmark after being imprisoned for his opposition to the regime. Her mother was Christian and worked as a nurse. “I was raised between different religions and different cultures, and that has a lot to do with this initiative,” comments Ms. Khankan.
“We are seeking to create an alternative voice, without delegitimizing others, continues the imam. “We want the Mariam mosque to be a place where everyone can come, and we can flourish together. What happens in a mosque goes way beyond the mosque itself – it affects society.”