UK: Muslim group seeks mosques for all sexualities

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A group called the Inclusive Mosque Initiative (IMI) are looking to set up mosques in the UK that would be open to LGBT members and women.

Many mosques do not allow women to take part in Friday prayers or lead ceremonies, and are unwelcoming towards openly gay people.

The BBC reports that IMI’s UK group now have a small following, which is part of a global network based in India, Malaysia, the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Sweden.

UK co-ordinator Tamsila Tauqir said: “We want to offer Muslims an alternative space in which they can pray and meet.

“We will not discriminate against anyone, they can be Sunni or Shia, straight or gay, people with families and people without.”

She added: “In some people’s view it is controversial. For us what we are trying to do is to create a space that is welcoming. We want to show the mainstream community that we are not all extremists, we are a variety of people.”

Imam Adnan Rashid, from the London-based Islamic think-tank The Hittin Institute, opposed the goals of IMI.

He said: “The orthodox values of Islam are very clear. Muslims already believe in things that have been established for them for centuries and they are not going change.

“The Koran is not going to change, the prophetic position is not going to change. Muslim thinking and practices are not going to change. So I don’t know what the point of this mosque is.”

At a mosque in Blackburn, Lancashire, attendee Shazad Khan said: “I don’t think homosexuals should be allowed in to the mosque, they are not Muslims. How can they go for prayers?”

Another worshipper, Ali Noor, said: “I think it’s a good idea, it promotes equal opportunities especially for the disabled. Provision should have been made for them a long time ago but it hasn’t.”

A member of IMI in London, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, said: “We have issues with patriarchy in the mosques, whereby even if women are allowed in they are not given any representation. They have to speak through a male figure which I don’t think is Islamic or fair.”

Last year Europe’s first ‘gay-friendly’ mosque opened in Paris, but was condemned by Islamic leaders.