Scandinavia’s First Women-Led Mosque Opens in Denmark

Copenhagen is known to be one of the happiest places on Earth. It’s also one of the most progressive, too. The Danish city is sustainable, supports individuals’ gender identities and now is home to the first women-led mosque in Scandinavia.

Sherin Khankan created the Mariam Mosque in order to push back on patriarchal structures within all religions. In addition to opening the Mariam Mosque, Khankan is an author and political commentator who lives in Denmark. While the mosque is led by women imams–or Islamic leaders–it does not exclude men from worship on most days of the week. Friday is the only day that the mosque is open to just women, creating a safe and inclusive space for women to worship and feel welcome within their religion.

“I have never felt at home in the existing mosques,” Khankan told Politiken. “The new grand mosques are unbelievably beautiful, but I have the feeling of being a stranger when I am there. We women stand up in the balcony and look down on what is happening. Many women and young people don’t even go into the mosques as you enter into a male-dominated and patriarchal space in which a man has the floor, a man leads prayers, men are in focus and dominate. That is why we are now setting up a mosque on women’s terms.”

In many mosques, men and women have to sit separately with dividers between them, and the service is often very male-dominated, with all male imams. The Mariam Mosque, which Khankan calls “a feminist project,” is groundbreaking within the religion. Khankan not only hopes to create more of a gender balance within her religion, but create a balance between traditional and progressive Muslims. Mariam Mosque is the first of its kind in the Scandinavian region, but women-led mosques have been popping up all over the world. America has The Women’s Mosque of America, and China, which has approximately 21 million Muslims, has had women-led mosques for years. While the creation of a women-led mosque in Denmark is gaining a lot of media attention, Khankan is still looking for fellow women imams to volunteer their time and lead prayer.

In the past two years, Islam has gained traction in Denmark. There are approximately 270,000 Muslims living in the country, and Denmark’s first-ever mosque opened in 2014. Khankan herself is one of only four female imams in Denmark.

Photo Credit: agoolapulapu

50 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Vabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Alexander Hay-Whitton

Prisoners, demand longer sentences!

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Muff-Anne York-Haley

No comment!

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Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago

How many Women-Led Mosques in Islamic countries? So far there are no women led mosques in Islamic countries. [if you can find different please post] In most of the Muslim world, women pray behind a partition or in a separate room, but in the same mosque as men. Many mosques are male only. Interesting that mosques lead by women only happen in non- Islamic countries.

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Sue H.
Sue H2 years ago

Congratulations and best wishes to Sherin Khankan!

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Winn Adams
Winn A2 years ago

Thanks

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Sian R.
.2 years ago

JosA Saldiva - you are obviously not a traveller. All the muslim countries I’ve been to have Christian churches – sometimes even a cathedral. This includes Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, Sudan ….I wasn’t looking in Iran, but did visit a Zoroastrian temple there so I assume that there would be a Christian church or more if needed. Many of these countries have – or did have – synagogues, too.

Elizabeth Koenig - "Muslim Academic Receives Death Threats over Mosque that Welcomes Women and Gay People" I’ve read the article. It doesn’t go into detail about the ‘death threats’ so I assume they’re from a few crazy people , and are primarily aimed at the gay people who might visit. There are always one or two, and Africa in particular is known for its extreme anti-gay bias, even within the Anglican community.

Maria L – you may have left your church, but you still sound like you’re carrying a rock on your shoulder. Let it go, dear. All that spite and venom will poison you eventually – if it’s not already doing so. And maybe read some non-prejudiced, genuine information?

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Beth M.
Beth M2 years ago

Love it!

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Will Rogers
Will Rogers2 years ago

On one hand it sounds progressive but in reality it's still some medieval superstition crap. They would be better off reading books on science. Seriously, learning and worshipping imaginary deities is weird. And perpetuating belief systems that are made to only oppress women is probably not the best thing. Baby steps I suppose, knowing that religious people do terrible things in the name of good! Personally I think religion is a symptom of mental illness and I would never allow another Church Mosque or temple to be built. The so called religious leaders are nothing but con artists.

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