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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


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NewsMixed at the mosque: a congregation led by an Imam

Mixed at the mosque: a congregation led by an Imam

Ahmed Shafi takes three multicolored prayer rugs from the bag, grabs the hands of his two daughters and makes his way among the faithful. For the first time, this practicing Muslim can pray in public side by side with them.

“At the mosque, we are usually separated, and they don’t like it very much, so I wanted to,” testifies this father, who attended Friday in Paris, at the inaugural prayer of the Fatima mosque.

This community, which is struggling to find a definitive place of worship, is one of the first Muslim congregation in France to be led by a woman and to advocate diversity, men, and women being able to pray together.

“It is an extraordinary moment which initiates a liberal current for the Islam of France”, comments, enthusiastic Kahina Bahloul seeing the first participants arriving.

“The members of our community feel that their way of life, their religion is not inadequacy with the mosques of today, which one would say left of the 7th century, it is more possible to continue to live like that “, estimates that which is one of the three Imams of France.

Thirty followers take their positions in the room rented for the occasion, sitting cross-legged on the carpets placed on the ground and oriented towards the south-east, towards Mecca.

Among them, a minority of veiled women, others in jeans or long tunics, two teenage girls, several Muslim converts, a business manager who came during his lunch break or a teenager of Pakistani origin stuck in his down jacket.

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“Ladies, don’t hesitate, you can put yourself in the front row,” says the co-host of this prayer, Imam Faker Korchane, a philosopher by training. Faced with the hesitation of the participants, her sister, Kahina Bahloul tempers: “We understand that for prostrations, it is not easy to be in contact with the opposite sex”.

  • “invisible Islam” –

For almost an hour, the imam Bahloul, her calm and solemn voice, pressing the silences, led the weekly Friday prayers. First the call, then the ritual invocations, preaching dedicated to the theme of “universal love” and finally prayer, punctuated by prostrations.

“I follow her on the networks, and I find the idea great, I totally adhere to progressive Islam. I practice at home, this Islam which is invisible to the rest of society”, says Aicha Rabah, 60, who says to go to the mosque only for the big festivals.

At the back of the room, Hanifa, a young student is delighted with this first office. “I have been waiting for this moment for a year and I have the feeling of recovery, something that corrects this injustice of having to pray separately,” said Hanifa, a student. Her husband, Adel, an Algerian artist recently immigrated to France, had not set foot in a mosque for more than ten years.

“I did it because my wife can accompany me there because she can be by my side and not in a cellar”, asserts, with a little provocation, the young man with reference to the prayer rooms for women, often installed in the basement, or on a mezzanine in the mosques, which he deserted.

The young imam then takes a moment to greet the assembly, collect the impressions or pose for a selfie, which must immortalize this “historic” moment.

“What touched me a lot was to see that many people in the room closed their eyes and listened. What interested them was not to see a woman minister of religion, but to take what I told them. gave and nourished spiritually no matter my gender, “concluded Kahina Bahloul.

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