“Most do not dare”

Rabeya Muller (l. Archival image) © version (epd)

The role of the Islamic prayer leader, the imam, is predominantly taken on by men in Germany – although women could certainly take on this task. Islamic scholar Rabeya Muller is one of them.

Cologne-based imamin Rabeya Muller hopes for more female Islamic clergy in Germany. She wishes more Muslim women the courage to take over a mosque congregation as imams, Muller told the Evangelischer Pressedienst (epd) in Cologne. "Most do not dare."Muller is Imamin of the Muslim Community Rhineland of the Liberal-Islamic Federation in Cologne.

Only four female imams in Germany

Rabeya Muller is, in her own words, one of four female imams in Germany. She is a pioneer in certain things, she said. "I can show that things that many consider impossible are not impossible after all." Muller was born in 1957 in the Eifel region, converted to Islam as a young Catholic and studied Islamic studies and pedagogy.

The imamin represents a liberal Islam. She is involved in the Center for Islamic Women's Studies and the Advancement of Women, develops assertiveness training for Muslim girls and has developed curricula and teaching materials for Islamic religious instruction at the Institute for Interreligious Pedagogy and Didactics.

Founded in 2012, the Muslim Community of the Rhineland, which she heads as imam, is the oldest mosque community of the Liberal Islamic Federation. Three others exist in Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg. The Cologne congregation is based in the Lutheran congregation. "There we found a place where our congregation could emerge," said Mueller. There is a very good cooperation with pastor Hans Mortter and the Luther parish, for example, there are joint evenings and discussion rounds.

Interfaith togetherness

Every year, a joint service is also celebrated, although officially it is not called a church service but an "interreligious encounter," Muller said. "Members of our congregations are there then, but also Jews, agnostics and interfaith couples." Especially for Christian-Muslim couples, this is something very special, the imamin said. "Because this is often the first service they attend together as a couple and not just as a guest of the other religious community in each case."

In Muller's congregation, women and men pray together. Marriages between Muslims and Christians are welcome. "And we have a different attitude to the ie of homosexuality," Muller stressed. "We are against any form of discrimination."The imam pays a price for this: "Of course there is hostility."According to her, they come from extremists from all camps: "From the right, for example from neo-Nazis, but also from the Islamic side."But that is just part of it.

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