The emergence of a spiritual and progressive Islam, promoted by the authors of this text, is desired by many French Muslims. They demand innovation and freedom in their faith, paving the way for a spiritual journey informed by modernity. This vision exists as part of a project creating a place of worship, the Simorgh mosque, which would endorse certain founding principles. At this mosque, women are imams and lead all services, including those for men. The ritual prayer is not segregated. Any Muslim, male or female, may lead the prayer if he or she so desires. As such, there is no lead imam. Each woman, including the imam, may choose whether or not to wear a veil. All the sermons are in French, encouraging true ownership of Islam by French Muslims, allowing them a deep understanding of the discourse and giving them the opportunity to engage critically with the religious messages. Furthermore, Muslims of all denominations are welcome. This project is led by the Voice of Enlightened Islam (V.I.E.) movement, founded in September 2018 by the two authors of this memo and supporting the idea of an Islam which bridges the gap between loyalty to its legacies and openness to the future.
Eva Janadin and Anne-Sophie Monsinay are the cofounders of Voices of Enlightened Islam (V.I.E.) and leaders of the Simorgh Mosque project. In 2017, Eva Janadin cofounded the Association for the Rebirth of Mutazilite Islam (ARIM), which aims to re-discover this rationalist theological movement. Anne-Sophie Monsinay, who follows a teacher from a non-dualistic mystic tradition (proclaiming no separation between God and human beings), speaks at conferences on these topics. Both are administrators of the Facebook group “Progressive Sufism,” which aims to engage Islam with the present and provide spaces of open dialogue for Muslims who may need them, away from any community or family pressure.