These female imams are breaking new grounds
In Pakistan, most mosques don’t generally accommodate women to pray because it is widely considered unwise for women to get out of their homes.. However, There’s an increasing trend of female Imams around the globe. This has, undoubtedly, caused a debate in the Muslim community. On the bright side though, it has also caused women to feel more empowered. In fact, it has increased the number of women in mosques, further benefiting the Muslim community.
These are some of the most famous female imams around the world
One of the Imams is Kahina Bahloul
The first French female Imam, Kahina Bahloul, has a doctorate in Islamic studies from France’s prestigious “École Pratique des Hautes Études”. Kahina speaks for women’s rights in Islam. She feels it is absolutely vital for women to step up and represent Islam. According to her, “The major problem with Islam today is that it is viewed through the lens of a man whose understanding of society is patriarchal, if not misogynist,”
She believes that women essentially require mosques to practice their religion as much as men do. She goes on to say, “It’s important that Muslim women make themselves heard, that they take their place in houses of worship.”
Another one of the very few female imams is Dr. Amina Wadud
Amina Wadud, a professor of religion and philosophy, is an American Muslim philosopher with a progressive focus on the Qur’an. She emphasizes that Quran promotes equality and justice. Although she is considered controversial due to her act of leading a Friday sermon, she is widely known for educating women to claim the rights that Islam gives them.
Sherin Khankan, the first female Imam in Denmark, led the foundation of a women-led mosque in Copenhagen called Mariam Mosque
Sherin is one of the very few women who has delivered the Azaan. She too faced opposition, but her determination and beliefs have caused her to ignore it. “It is possible to change patriarchal structures but it’s a long journey and we have met opposition. But we decided not to focus on the opposition and instead speak about all the people who support us. We’ve had very positive reactions to the mosque – from Pakistan, Iran, Europe, Turkey, Arab countries,” Khankan said.
Women only congregations are common in China and Lee Jing Ping has been serving as one of the female Imams for over a decade
While Lee Jing Ping does not lead prayers, she acts as a guide for worship, teaches the Quranic literature and to pray. “For every mosque for men, there is a mosque for women,” she says, “This benefits the family because women play a very important role in society. A woman’s hand has always rocked the baby’s cradle and it is the same hand that rocks the cradle of social development.”
Meet one of the first female Imams of India
In an area where male-dominant religious practices are encouraged she challenged the stereotypes and argued, “we follow the [Holy] Quran. It addresses humankind as men and women and does not discriminate between them. Both men and women have an equal role in religion.”
While the sole purpose of these women was to put an end to unreal patriarchal ideas associated with the religion, they faced massive opposition and even death threats. However, their spirituality motivates them to continue with their mission.
Cover image via: sksm.edu