Friday 30 June 201709:24 pm
A place that takes ibn Rushd and Goethe for its own name. The liberal mosque is located in a hall within the Protestant church of St. Johannis-Kirsch. It was founded by lawyer and writer, Seyran Ates, in Alt-Moabit neighborhood in Berlin as a temporary location, until she is able to build “a full mosque” in the near future. The new mosque bans women wearing the niqab or burqa from entering for “security reasons”, and because Ates believes that covering the face has nothing to do with religion, but is rather a form of political expression. The mosque allows women to pray without head veils alongside men, and to lead prayers and deliver sermon. Raseef22 met with Dr. Elham Manea, activist, jurist, and professor of political science at the University of Zurich. She is one of the women who helped establish the mosque where leads the prayers sometimes. Her experience with the mosque is not the first of its kind, as she has previously delivered a sermon in a prayer, for both men and women, pushing for similar initiatives to take place in several countries. What does she have to say about her experience in the mosque? How did you get the idea, and what is the purpose? The mosque is named Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque and its founder is the German lawyer of Turkish origin, Seyran Ates. The mosque has seven female and male founders, as well as male and female Imams leading the prayers together. Our goal is to send a message that we all stand equal before God, the law, and society. How do you expect people to react to this setup for a mosque? The mosque has an official location and prayers will be held in their regular times. Many young men and women, who are searching for a spiritual message that does not exclude a person because of gender, sexual orientation, or ideologies, find it appealing. All prayers are led by a woman and a man together. Have you received any threats? Of course we did, which is expected, because people fear the new and unconventional. What I want to emphasize is that our message is a message of love, and while we understand the reactions, we insist that our initiative has its roots in Islam and our goal is to revive, not to destroy. How were you chosen to lead the prayers? Seyran Ates, who came up with the idea, met with me in Switzerland and asked me to inaugurate the mosque by leading a prayer for both men and women. Then we realized the importance of leading the prayer alongside a male Imam so that our message is made clear: Together we belong in this mosque and together we can lead it. Will this stance be taken elsewhere as well? The Inclusive Mosque in Britain was the first to invite me to lead a mixed-gender prayer, and it has branches in Kashmir and Malaysia. Of course they hold their prayers in secret, but it is only a matter of time before these mosques become a norm and are accepted in our society.