While mosques are typically regarded as places of tradition and conservatism, there is an increasing number of liberal and progressive mosques around the world.

From queer-friendly mosques to ones featuring female imams, such mosques have been redefining what it means to be Muslim, challenging patriarchal structures, and offering safe spaces for marginalized groups.

Still, they have undoubtedly stirred controversy and have been accused of contradicting Islamic principles.

Here's a look at progressive Islamic mosques around the world:

1. Germany's Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque welcomes LGBTQI+ Muslims and female imams

Germany's Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque Source: Wikipedia

As Germany's first self-proclaimed liberal mosque, the Berlin mosque welcomes members of the LGBTQI+ community, features female imams, and allows men and women to pray in a mixed congregations. However, it notably bans women who wear the burqa.

In response to the mosque's inauguration, Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta issued a statement deeming the practice of men and women praying side by side as inappropriate in Islam, while Al-Azhar University responded with a fatwa against liberal mosques in general.

The mosque was so controversial that Turkish-German women's rights activist, Seyran Ateş, one of its founders, received several death threats and had to be placed under 24-hour police protection.

This comes as the overwhelming majority of Muslim jurists oppose the idea of mixed prayer congregations, let alone the notion of having women lead such services. In response, Muslim feminists argue that the Qur'an does not explicitly exclude women from leadership positions within mosques, according to The Independent.

2. The UK's marginalized groups are getting safe spaces thanks to the Inclusive Mosque Initiative

The initiative is dedicated to creating places of worship for marginalized communities and promoting inclusive Islamic principles.

"We will not discriminate against anyone, they can be Sunni or Shia, straight or gay, people with families and people without," coordinator Tamsila Tauqir said, according to the BBC.

The initiative regularly organizes events, which are usually held in London, and hosts regular Friday prayers, seminars, and discussion groups. 

"We aim to create a family-friendly place of worship that welcomes people regardless of their religious belief, their race, gender, impairments, sexuality or immigration status," its website reads.

3. In Canada, the Unity Mosque's name speaks for itself

Located in Toronto, the mosque is a sanctuary for queer Muslims, who are often marginalized in their communities. 

Hoping to establish a safe space for them, lawyer El-Farouk Khaki, religious studies scholar Laury Silvers, and Muslim gay-rights activist Troy Jackson founded the mosque in 2009.

The Unity Mosque holds weekly Friday prayers, during which anyone can give the call to prayer or lead it, plus there is no dress code, according to BuzzFeed.

4. California has two mosques that focus on empowering Muslim women

The United States is currently home to two women's mosques, both of which are located in the state of California.

Based in Los Angeles, the Women's Mosque of America - the first in the country - "seeks to uplift the Muslim community by empowering women and girls through more direct access to Islamic scholarship and leadership opportunities."

The mosque provides a safe space for women to actively engage within the Muslim community. It also hosts prayer services and events that promote female Muslim scholars.

Similarly, Qal'bu Maryam (Maryam’s Heart) Mosque in Berkeley, which is led by women, challenges the patriarchal customs in places of worship.

The mosque welcomes both men and women, does not enforce segregation during prayer, and allows women to lead prayer services. 

"Qal’bu Maryam will recenter and refocus on what our faith already embraces but has been obstructed by patriarchy. This is a mosque where women will find their place in the world and worship together," says the mosque's founder, Rabi’a Keeble, according to Berkeleyside.

5. The Mariam Mosque in Denmark also features female imams

Launched in 2016, the mosque is considered the first female-led mosque in Scandinavia, according to The Guardian.

According to one of its female imams, Sherin Khankan, the mosque aims to challenge "patriarchal structures within religious institutions" as well as the "patriarchal interpretations of the Qur’an."

"We represent a modernist, spiritual approach to Islam. We are seeking to create an alternative voice, without delegitimising others. We want the Mariam mosque to be a place where everyone can come, and we can flourish together. What happens in a mosque goes way beyond the mosque itself – it affects society," Khankan explained.