tisdag 23 april 2013

A mosque for everyone; LGBT, feminism, peace, progressive values, tolerance

I've noticed an increase in international visitors, and it seems to be the idea of establishing a mosque that is unconcerned with gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, confession and other possible grounds for discrimination that has spurred this interest. Since automated translation is still in its infancy and may render a faulty result I've decided to write an english summary of our project.

In Sweden most mosques are as resistant and adversive to feminist and queer thought as anywhere else, with a particular antagony against gays being present in the swedish muslim community. Also, mosques and islamic cultural centers in Sweden are often entirely centered on teaching orthodoxy and what constitutes orthodox muslim behaviour. Usually this is expressed as a narrow focus on certain sunni teachers, quite often the salafist variety. As a result mainstream swedish islam alienates many persons that regard themselves as muslims, and probably many that has an interest in islamic thought and history.

During the last years me and some friends have discussed the need for a place to meet the public and other muslims for dialogue and worship, without the constraints conservative islamic culture puts on who's allowed to talk to whom and about what. Those who are content with the established mosques and cultural centers have their places for gatherings and worship, but to some of us this is not enough. We would like to reach those who are uncomfortable with the rigidity of unforgiving orthodoxy, or the fanaticism of salafists, or the categorical resentment of gays, queers, feminists, liberals, jews, other muslim subgroups, and so on, that is to a varying degree widespread among swedish practicing muslims.

In the last weeks we have announced openly that we would like to open a mosque and cultural center that welcomes everyone on equal terms. We will have tolerance, peace and dialogue as a platform for our way of reflecting upon and communicating islam. Besides regular meetings for prayer and dhikr we plan to arrange cultural and social activities, from inviting interesting speakers to helping kids with homework. Poetry, literature, art and music is an integral and important part of islamic history, and will therefore be an important part of our activities. We also have a specific interest in sufism and muslim free-thinkers.

We lack a place to arrange our meetings at, hopefully we'll resolve this quite soon. We have already named our mosque and the proposed cultural center, we'll call it the Rumi Mosque. It will be located in Uppsala, some seventy kilometers from Stockholm.

This far we've mainly recieved positive response, and we're very grateful for that. Those who are negative have been pretty civilized, and we hope they will remain as such. The next step is to find some accommodation for our project, as soon as we have one we'll get started with meetings for prayer, discussion and study.

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