Seyran Ateş

Seyran Ateş
©Seyran Ateş

Throughout the Reformation Year 2017, this site offers trendsetters and thought leaders a place to present their notions of change and innovation. What are the potentials and needs for current and future-oriented “reformations”?

One of the greatest problems of Muslims is that they do not really know their own religion. So-called “popular Islam”, in which each believer passes on his smattering of knowledge to the next, is rife. Muslims must therefore urgently begin to read the Quran and its traditions in their own language, to pose questions about it and, if need be, discuss their doubts, using their own understanding and reason in matters of religion. They must also say good-bye to rigid patriarchal and misogynistic structures. An historical-critical exegesis of Islam is imperative so that a gender-equal interpretation of Islam has a chance. The stranger or the Other is not invariably an enemy simply because he belongs to a different religion and culture. It is important to seek an amicable and cordial dialogue with other people so as to establish peace amongst religions, without which there will be no world peace. To put all this into practice, we have founded the Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque GmbH in Berlin. In addition to teaching the Quran in many languages, we stand for the equality of the sexes and all identities and orientations.

We want to set an example of this by, for instance, letting men and women pray together and having a woman prayer leader (imam) lead the Friday prayer and give the sermon. Moreover, in our mosque there will be no separation of Sunnis, Shiites, Alevis and other branches of Islam. Ibn Rushd and Goethe were bridge-builders between East and West. We are committed to this legacy and to the legacy of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi.
“Come! Come! Whoever you are.

Even if you are idolaters or fire worshippers.
Come! This is the door of hope, not of hopelessness!
Even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.

Come! Come again!”
 – Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi



Seyran Ateş is a lawyer, political activist and journalist. During her law studies she worked in a counselling centre for Turkish women, where she was very seriously injured in 1984 in an assassination attempt. In 1997 she began working as a lawyer, but withdrew from this activity between 2006 and 2012 because of murder threats; she supported, among other things, the criminal prosecution of forced marriages.

In June 2017, she founded the liberally-oriented Ibn-Rushd-Goethe-mosque in Berlin. In numerous books, Ateş has repeatedly treated issues of gender and integration within the context of Islam. Her work has brought her many awards, including the Federal Cross of Merit First Class in 2014.