Excerpt:

Yassmine el Ksaihi doesn't see herself as a feminist rebel. She covers her head and wears modest clothing. She learned to read the Quran at age 5 and promotes traditional Muslim values.

Yet there is something pioneering about her nonetheless: At age 24 she is the administrator of a large mosque, an unusual position of authority for a young woman in the world of Islam, even in Europe.

In a first for the Netherlands, men and women pray together in the Polder Mosque — albeit segregated, with the women praying in the back of the red-carpeted prayer hall. Sermons are in Dutch rather than Arabic. Non-Muslims are welcome.

Across Europe, Muslims are seeking a formula that lets them fit into their country while maintaining loyalty to their faith, and el Ksaihi's mosque, which melds some Western secular values with deep attachment to Islam, is one solution toward resolving such tensions.


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