For many years, Seyran Ates dreamed of going to a liberal mosque where Muslims can united and pray together, regardless of whether they are a man or woman, Sunni or Shiite, heterosexual or homosexual. Ates’s vision has finally come to fruition, as people came together recently in Berlin, Germany to celebrate a new house of prayer.
Ates is women’s rights activist and lawyer. She had the opportunity to preach in front of the crowd that filled the mosque. Ani Zonneveld, a female imam from the United States, said a prayer as everyone turned in the direction of Mecca. The daughter of Turkish workers, Ates had led the fight for years to establish somewhere that progressive Muslims throughout Germany can head to while escaping religious conflicts and focusing on their shared Islamic values. In the face of Islamic terror, it is important that all Muslims have the opportunity to unite.
The name of the mosque is Ibn-Rushd-Goethe-Mosque, which combines the names of German writer Johann Wolfgang Goether and philosopher Ibn Rushd. The mosque is located in the neighborhood of Moabit, which has a number of Middle Eastern cafes and Indian restaurants. The mosque is in a large room inside a Lutheran church. Millions of Muslims live in Germany, and they come from areas such as the Balkans and Northern Africa.
Many immigrants came to Germany as workers looking to help rebuild the economy after the second World War. Germany’s intention was for the immigrants to head home after a few years. However, many immigrants stayed and brought their families along. Germany continues to take in immigrants from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Relations between the Christian population and the Muslims have been complicated. Several terrorist attacks in Germany by Muslims on behalf of the Islamic State group have created tension. There have been raids of Muslim associations and arrests of suspects.
Ates hopes that the mosque will promote liberalism and equality. Women will not be required to wear head scarves and can preach as imams just like the males. Ates was attacked by an angry male, but brushed off concerns about how conservative Muslims will react to the Mosque. Ates notes that despite the hate filled message, the feedback has mostly positive.
Arabs, Kurds, and Turks have donated money, and business people have offered to help through advertisements. A few restaurants have delivered some food as well. Ates’ sister brought prayer rugs from Turkey. Looking to the future, Ates hopes to build a real mosque with different prayer rooms for believers of every Islamic sect, as well as an academy that will promote the education of liberal imams. Ates wants to become an imam herself.