Femimam’s in Marie Skovgaard’s The Reformist

August 3, 2019

Marie Skovgaard’s feature-length debut profiles Syrian-Finnish Dane Sherin Khankan through the highs and lows of establishing Europe’s first mosque led by female imams. The film draws on questions of authority and legitimacy, of who has the right to speak on behalf of a faith community? How is the legitimacy to do so decided?

Everyone has an opinion on Khankan’s mission; academics, Islamic community leaders and the community itself. International audiences shouldn’t overlook the significance of this film being programmed in a Muslim majority country.

The polemic of female leadership in religion isn’t exclusive to Islam: the Catholic church doesn’t recognise female priests, women in Buddhism cannot reach full enlightenment, Orthodox Jewish women cannot be Rabbi’s. In an interview with Filmmaker Magazine, director Skovgaard identified her premise as, “…an interest in women who are on a mission, who want to create impact.”

Taking its title after the only woman named in the Quran, the Mariam Mosque became a reality in 2016. But Sherin is impatient. She wants change now! But her haste threatens to divide her organisation.

Jesus was a Jew and a reformist. He got crucified.

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