Everyone Is Welcome at Germany's First Liberal Mosque

At Berlin's Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque men and women pray together and gay, lesbian, and transgender people as well as all Muslim denominations are welcome.

(Courtesy of Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque/Marlene Löhr)

It’s been a little over two months since the Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque opened on June 16, 2017 in Berlin, Germany, and it has already become known worldwide for its unique approach to Islamic worship. Almost everything about this house of prayer is unique, from its location on the third floor of the St. John's Church near Berlin's Tiergarten, to its female founder Seyran Ates.

Ates, a well-known women's right activist and lawyer has been dreaming of opening an inclusive mosque in Berlin for over eight years, and with a lot of help from the local community, her dream has finally become reality.

At the Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque, men and women pray together, women are allowed to lead Friday prayers, and gay, lesbian, and transgender people, as well as various Muslim denominations like Sunnis, Shiites, Alevis, and Sufis are all welcome.

Other liberal and inclusive Islamic places of worship already exist all over the world - some in private homes, others in changing locations - but Ates says the Berlin mosque is a major step forward for inclusive Islam, as it is the first permanent liberal mosque, with a sign on the door, open to anyone.

The Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque is named in honor of the Arabic Islam scholar, physician and philosopher Ibn Rushd, and the German poet and philosopher, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and hopes to spread a liberal islam with freedom of speech, democracy, education, and welfare.

While the mosque has experienced its fair share of controversy, the vast majority of responses have been beautiful and positive. Ates’ next big step is to fulfill her second big dream: in fall 2017 she will start to study Islamic theology and Arabic in Berlin and become an Imam herself.

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