Paris Opens Europe's First Gay-Friendly Mosque

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Europe's first gay-friendly mosque opened last week in the suburbs of Paris, located within the confines of a small room inside the house of a Buddhist monk. According to its founders, its doors are open to Muslims of all backgrounds and sexual orientations, including those who are transgender and transsexual. Women will also be allowed to lead the congregation in Friday prayers.  

Islam has a long tradition of condemning homosexuality. But that tradition stems not from scripture, but from cultural attitudes, according to Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, the founder of the mosque.

"Islam is a philosophy of life, a spiritual quest," says Zahed, who is also a gay-rights activist. "It has nothing to do with controlling sexuality." 

Zahed argues that it is not the religion itself that discriminates against women and homosexuality, but rather that Islam has been manipulated by men over the centuries. "You will never see homosexuality - that term - used in the Qur'an, you will never see a verse of the Qur'an forbidding women to be imams. Just the opposite," Zahed says. "It's not Islam."

Similar efforts have also begun in the United States, where a handful of gay-friendly mosques are already open in North America. Ani Zonneveld, who is the co-founder and president of Muslims for Progressive Values, says the idea of inclusive mosques and prayer spaces is catching on around the world. 

"When you go to Mecca, we don't segregate when we pray," she says. "We have always had female imams in our heritage, but what happened was politics, what happened was power, what happened was misogyny took over Islam."

Zonneveld says she gets emails from Muslims and ex-Muslims, from all over the world, saying that they did not realize that Islam could be so open-minded. "We get emails from the Middle East even, in regards to women leading prayer," she says. "As far as they're concerned, they've had their Arab Spring, now the next step in an Arab Revolution."

But many conservative Muslims have already condemned the idea. Dalil Boubakeur, the rector at the Great Mosque of Paris, told Reuters that Zahed's gay-friendly mosque is "built upon foundations which are condemned by religion." And he said the mosque "will not be one that others will visit."

Guests:

Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed and Ani Zonneveld

Produced by:

Ibby Caputo and Arwa Gunja

Comments [5]

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Mar. 07 2013 03:25 AM
Bader from Jeddah

I'm happy to hear about this new development. I know there may be lots of people opposing a mosque for the homosexuals and female Imams. And to those people I simply say, don't attend their mass. Allah the almighty "has written on himself AlRahma (compassion)". And in the midsts of 1000's of mosques and Imams across the globe preaching hate of a certain groups of fellow humans, I see this new development as a beacon of hope. Not only is learning to accept each other an essential Quranic virtue, but learning to accept your "enemies" is the practice of the perfect man, one who's heart is the Quran. If Pharo allowed Prophet Mussa to preach, how then should the Muslims treat opposing-preachers?

I agree with the author and here are my 3 points on why.

1) All the chapters of the Quran begin with the mysterious Basmalah. In the name of Allah the compassionate, the merciful. So any hateful perspective is not Allah's but yours. Allah's perspective is always absolute compassion and mercy.
2) اقرأ كتابك كفى بنفسك اليوم عليك حسيبا سورة الاسراء آية ١٤ Chapter Alisra' Verse 14. Rough interpretation: Let people be. Focus on your story.
3) As for those who think that the story of Prohet Lot in the Quran is about a homosexual orgy. ّYou may be reading some words literally, covering others and forgetting that Allah speaks to us in the Quran via pictures that he paints with words.

Feb. 07 2013 12:16 AM
Alfredo Maiolese from italy

Mr. Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, I pray Allah that can guide you in the right path. What you have done it is not correct in Islam. There are some rules to be followed. Those rules are inspired directly from almight Allah, so you cannot give an interpretation or comments to the decisions of the Creator.
As President of European Muslims League i have to condemn your choice. I respect you as human being and I remember to all muslim brothers and sister that: religion is not compulsory, but.....
If you like to live according to Islam ask to the scholars to find out that your conviction is wrong. In the same time the Christians have their Cardinals or the Pope, who are in charge to give advice and guides on religion matters. So in Islam as you know is not permissable to pray Allah and in the meantime to break His commandments.
I tell you a story of a person that he use to raise his hands to ask Allah whetever he needs. He made this efforts for long time. At the end he asks: "why God did not meet my requests?"
A scholar replied: how Allah can satisfy his requests, if his eat is not halah ( lawful) his work is not lawful, his actions are against the willing of God, the money that he gains are not halal. All his actions and behaviours do not follow the will of Allah.
So I do not want to interfere in your personal choice but please do not speak in the name of Islam or the Muslims in reference of opening a muslim place of worship for transgenders and transsexuals because is a contradiction. May Allah bless all the sincere.

Feb. 06 2013 06:22 AM
Ihtasham Khan from Houston

I read the full story and appriciate the effort BUT there are some things the story those were totally in correct. I don't know what branch of Islam does Mr. Ludovic-Mohammed Zahed follow I might not be a scholor to the religion but yet a learning student of islam. I would like to know what guide does he follow for the sake of argument what Quran do you read my friend because I think you need to come and get a authentic copy of it because it is clearly mentioned "THE ERA OF PROPHET LOT may God be pleased with him) why was his times civilization destroyed. Secondly the Haditis clearly state that Ladies can head a gathering for ziker and tableeq to other ladies .But they cannot lead the prayers in a mosque.there are many examples that can be put forward.if any one would like they can contact me and I will give you the proofs rest it will be on your choice what someone keeps and what they throw away.
Regards

Dec. 19 2012 06:51 AM
Imam Daayiee Abdullah from Washington, DC

Dalil Boubakeur's comments speak to the religious dogma of conservative Muslims in France and numerous other Muslim states...and he cannot say with clear conscious such thinking meets the standards of Quran. Again, such limitations remains human interpretation and not divine direction.

Dec. 06 2012 09:41 AM

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