Women seek diverse paths to leadership in Islamic spaces

Asia's Tech News Daily

CAIRO — Shortly after Kholoud al-Faqeeh was appointed judge in an Islamic religious court in the Palestinian territories, a woman walked in, laid eyes on her and turned around and walked out, murmuring that she didn’t want a woman to rule in her case.

Al-Faqeeh was saddened, but not surprised — people have long been accustomed to seeing turbaned men in her place. It was only in 2009 that she became one of the first two women appointed in the West Bank as Islamic religious court judges. But she sees her presence on the court as all the more important since it rules on personal status matters ranging from divorce and alimony to custody and inheritance.

“What was even more provoking is that these religious courts are in charge of women’s cases,” al-Faqeeh said. “A woman’s whole life cycle is before these courts.”

Women like al-Faqeeh are increasingly carving out space for themselves in the Islamic sphere and, in doing so, paving the way for others to follow in their footsteps. Around the world, women are teaching in Islamic schools and universities, leading Quran study circles, preaching and otherwise providing religious guidance to the faithful.

———

This story is part of a series by The Associated Press and Religion News Service on women’s roles in male-led religions.

———

The formal ranks of Islamic leadership remain largely filled with men, but while women don’t lead mixed-gender congregational prayers in traditional Muslim settings, many say they see plenty of other paths to leadership.

“When it comes to knowledge, the leader who is the religious scholar, the spiritual guide, the one who is teaching people their religion … that can be done by women or men, and historically always has been,” said Ingrid Mattson, the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College in London, Ontario.

There are diverse views across the different regions, cultures and schools of Islamic thought about the permissibility and scope of women’s leadership roles in the faith.

Some of the Prophet Muhammad’s traditions and practices were preserved and transmitted by the women closest to him, such as his wives. Many women say that provides a foundation they seek to build on.

Mattson said that people always ask whether a woman can be an imam, but that framing reflects a Western context focused on the weekly congregational prayer rather than “what our Islamic heritage did in terms of providing religious leadership across society to meet many different needs.”

Aziza Moufid, a 40-year-old in Morocco, is one of those who have taken up the mantle of leadership within the faith, in her case by serving as one of the country’s “mourchidat,” or female religious guides.

The “mourchidat” are trained at an institute for male and female students founded by and named after Moroccan King Mohammed VI. Women graduates teach religion classes and answer women’s questions at mosques or during outreach work in schools, hospitals and prisons.

Moufid, who recalls looking up to the female university professors who taught her Islamic studies, has been working as a guide mostly via WhatsApp during the pandemic. She uses the platform to explain sayings of the prophet to children; to help women learning to memorize and recite the Quran; and to counsel teenage girls about a myriad of topics from modesty to prayers to menstruation.

“There are sensitive issues that some of them may not dare discuss even with their mothers or sisters,” Moufid said. “But there’s no such shame between us. I tell them, ‘I am your sister. I am your friend. I am your mother.’”

Mohammed VI institute director Abdesselam Lazaar, who is a man, said the services of the “mourchidat” have been in high demand: “The women here in Morocco are very keen on memorizing the Quran and learning about religion.”

Half a world away in the United States, Samia Omar, who became Harvard University’s first Muslim woman chaplain in 2019, said female students there similarly appreciate being able to bring questions about things like menstruation to her instead of to a man.

Omar also sees herself as saving them from being taught a version of Islam devoid of discussion of their rights.

“I’m serving and teaching these young girls and women the way I hope other women will help teach my daughters later,” she said.

Omar didn’t always plan to become a religious leader. But the twists and turns of her life, including an abusive marriage, a divorce and losing a daughter to cancer, led her to the calling she now practices alongside her current husband, who also serves as a Muslim chaplain.

During the divorce, some at her mosque tried to dissuade her from turning to the legal system. She ignored that pressure and ultimately won full custody of her kids, but the experience left Omar feeling that some men exploit the religion to oppress women.

That can have grave spiritual consequences, Omar said: “Many young women don’t understand that we’re important in Allah’s eyes.”

Many in the U.S. have advocated for a larger role for women in mosques, from better prayer spaces for female worshippers to more seats on governing boards and a more friendly mosque culture. Some are also calling for a more decentralized leadership model at mosques, one that includes a paid female resident scholar in addition to a male imam.

While there is hope for such advances, “things are not great for women in leadership … in our sacred spaces,” right now, said Tamara Gray of Rabata, a nonprofit working to empower Muslim women to imagine themselves as leaders, scholars and teachers.

Change takes “a lot of patience and a lot of discussion and a lot of just being able to be courageous,” Gray said, adding that Islamic scholarship by women is sometimes met with distrust in Muslim communities.

To that end she founded the Minnesota-based nonprofit, whose programs include online courses in Islamic sciences. Through virtual gatherings focused on spiritual growth and worship, Gray said, women are able to experience being in a sacred space and then “go back to their own mosque and insist, really, that their mosque make them feel valued, respected, seen.”

During a recent virtual event joined by dozens of women, there were tears, laughter and ululations as the group celebrated Gray’s receipt of a certificate authorizing her to teach certain sayings and traditions of the prophet.

“The words of the prophet … they are weightier than a mountain of gold,” Gray told the group.

Promoting women’s spiritual leadership is crucial to keeping Muslims connected to their faith in America, in the eyes of Celene Ibrahim, a chaplain who researches gender and Islam.

“You can’t carry this on your own,” Ibrahim said, referring to male religious leaders. “This is a big task, and it’s an all-hands-on-deck kind of task.”

Al-Faqeeh, the judge, said that women’s long absence from judgeships in the Palestinian Islamic court owed in part to custom and to the fact that many viewed the post “as a religious position, like that of an imam.”

On the contrary, she said she saw it as a judicial one that relies on the rulings of the Islamic Shariah, and argued that there are no reasons to exclude women.

There were bumps in the road, both big and small, after her appointment, as some male judges and court employees seemed less than happy about it. Opposition also came in the form of a Friday sermon that she did not attend but in which, she was told, the speaker railed against allowing women to hold the position.

But things have gone smoother since, and she often senses relief on the part of women with cases before the court who feel they can talk openly to her about sensitive personal issues. “The once-impossible dream became possible,” al-Faqeeh said.

Reem Shanti, 40, who recently applied to become a judge on the religious court and considers al-Faqeeh a role model, said the appointment of women has opened up a world of possibilities for her and others.

“It provided women with an incentive,” Shanti said, “and gave them a strong push.”

———

Khan reported from Boston. Associated Press journalist Mosa’ab Elshamy, in Rabat, Morocco, contributed.

———

Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

NHL Power Rankings: Time to step it up edition

It’s too early for a playoff race and we’re just starting to crack open the book of trade rumours, still two months out from the deadline. But if teams don’t ... Read more »

Kevin Nisbet: Shaun Maloney hopes connection between striker and Hibs fans 'is starting to change'

© Hibs manager Shaun Maloney congratulates Kevin Nisbet at full time The 24-year-old striker came off the bench to score the winner in the 112th minute after a difficult week ... Read more »

Tuskegee Airmen recognized with Top Gun honor 73 years after winning

Members of the Tuskegee Airmen are some of the most highly decorated military pilots in U.S. history. But there was one honor that was overlooked for more than 70 years ... Read more »

The Pokémon Company reveals Brilliant Stars pre-release promos

© Provided by Dot Esports Pokémon TCG’s first set of 2021 is just over a month from release and fans have finally has a sneak peak at the four pre-release ... Read more »

Jake reveals future Overwatch Experimental Creator Card details

© Provided by Dot Esports Overwatch is about to get another wild Experimental Card update at the hands of some of the community’s most vocal professionals and creators.  After the ... Read more »

UK consumers take fright at rising inflation and rates - GfK

© Reuters/Peter Nicholls FILE PHOTO: Shoppers crossing the road in Oxford Street, London LONDON (Reuters) – People in Britain turned more pessimistic this month in the face of fast-rising inflation ... Read more »

Teen charged with murder after 16-year-old dies following 'altercation'

A 17-year-old boy has been charged with murder after a boy’s death following an alleged altercation outside a Sunshine Coast home overnight. Queensland Police found a 16-year-old boy suffering a ... Read more »

MLB lockout: Owners, players set to meet again Monday

Major League Baseball’s owners and players will meet in person Monday in their latest attempt to find common ground amidst the owners’ lockout that already seriously imperils the scheduled start ... Read more »

Tearful Adele postpones Las Vegas residency due to COVID-related delays

Adele has postponed her Las Vegas residency indefinitely due to COVID-related production delays, she said in a tearful Instagram post. The residency was scheduled to begin tomorrow in the US ... Read more »

How do volcanoes affect the weather and what's going on with the Tongan eruption?

© Provided by ABC NEWS Despite releasing gases high into the atmosphere, estimates suggest no significant global climate impact. (Supplied: Maxar Technologies) How do volcanoes affect the weather and what’s ... Read more »

Motorcyclist fleeing LAPD dies in head-on crash broadcast live on TV

A speeding motorcyclist who was being tracked by a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter was killed in a brutal head-on crash during the chase. The unidentified cyclist was speeding down ... Read more »

A Complete Breakdown of Australia’s Border Restrictions

Since COVID-19 began in March 2020, the state and territory governments have been enforcing their own border control measures to limit travel from various coronavirus hotspots around Australia. Over the ... Read more »

Kelly Osbourne CONFIRMS romance with Slipknot's Sid Wilson

Kelly Osbourne has confirmed her romance with Slipknot’s Sid Wilson by sharing cosy snaps with the DJ to celebrate his 45th birthday. The TV personality, 37, took to her Instagram ... Read more »

Libya's central bank, torn by civil war, says it will unify

CAIRO — Libya’s central bank said on Thursday that it has started a process to reunify after being split for years during the country’s civil war. In a statement Friday, ... Read more »

7 Easy and Creative Layout Ideas That Will Level Up Your IG Stories

© Provided by Preview.ph Camera-ready and shy girls (or guys) alike love using IG stories, posting just about anything under the sun-from OOTDs, selfies, scenic photos, funny videos, and so ... Read more »

Australia news live update: NSW's deadliest day with 46 Covid deaths including one infant; 20 deaths in Victoria, one in Tas; WA delays reopening

LIVE – Updated at 00:19 Follow all the day’s news.   00:19 Christopher Knaus I’ve been speaking with holders of bridging visas who are still effectively barred from entering the ... Read more »

Bills enjoy safeties in numbers with Hyde and Poyer

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Coming off the excitement of a playoff win, while focused on prepping to interview for the Miami Dolphins’ head coaching vacancy, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie ... Read more »

The metaverse is just getting started: Here's what you need to know

© Provided by CNET Your entry to the metaverse doesn’t need to involve a headset mashed to your face. But it probably will. Getty Images You’ve probably heard a lot ... Read more »

Report: Dota 2 regional tournaments to replace DPC Winter Tour Major, TI11 to feature expanded roster

© Provided by Dot Esports The Dota 2 competitive scene has been in a strange state since Valve canceled the 2022 Dota Pro Circuit Winter Tour Major, but it looks ... Read more »

Alaska governor: Work with Murkowski endures after Trump nod

© Provided by Associated Press FILE – Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks with reporters during a news briefing on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. Dunleavy said he doesn’t ... Read more »

NY Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin pays back $25K in personal expenses to state senate campaign

ALBANY — Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin coughed up roughly $25,000 to cover car loan payments and other personal expenses he had charged to his old Senate campaign account, filings with ... Read more »

Exclusive-Myanmar junta backs Telenor unit sale after buyer M1 pairs with local firm - sources

By Poppy McPherson and Fanny Potkin © Reuters/Marko Djurica FILE PHOTO: Telenor’s logo is seen in central Belgrade BANGKOK (Reuters) – Lebanon’s M1 Group will partner with a Myanmar firm ... Read more »

Silver and Black Pride’s NFL Playoffs Divisional Round picks

© Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images Josh Allen vs Chiefs Well, the Las Vegas Raiders’ season is over but we’re moving onto the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs in ... Read more »

Castro Theatre will still show movies, new operator assures film fanatics

© Provided by San Francisco Chronicle Martin Scorsese jokes with journalists at the SFFilm premiere of “The Irishman” at the Castro Theatre. Photo: Kimberly White / Getty Images As a ... Read more »

Playoff DraftKings Picks: NFL DFS lineup advice for Rams-Buccaneers Divisional Round Showdown tournaments

© Provided by Sporting News We are loading up on the Rams passing game in our DraftKings Showdown lineup, and while there are obvious risks involved with that, it’s even riskier ... Read more »

Luke Combs' wife Nicole is pregnant with the couple's first child

Country music hitmaker Luke Combs, 31, recently took to Twitter to announce that his wife, Nicole, 28, is pregnant with the first child for the couple married in August 2020. ... Read more »

Bill Gates warns of deadly NEW pandemic even worse than Covid – as he invests millions in new vaccines

BILL Gates is investing hundreds of millions into vaccine research in the hope of avoiding another disastrous pandemic. The billionaire Microsoft founder has pledged $150 million (£110 million) to the ... Read more »

The Future of Squid Game Revealed

An impressive and ever–growing fandom has led to billions of clip views on TikTok, millions of memes, and even a recent Saturday Night Live parody starring Pete Davidson and Rami ... Read more »

Prince Charles opens adventure playground on his Scottish estate

If you are going to design a treehouse, then you may as well base it on one that’s fit for young members of the Royal Family. And that’s just what ... Read more »

Netflix stung by slowing subscriber growth

© Olivier DOULIERY Netflix sees slowing subscriber growth Netflix on Thursday reported cooling subscriber growth as fierce competition and the pandemic weigh heavy despite hits like “Squid Game” and “Money ... Read more »

Cup-Wahnsinn in Verlängerung: Real mit Unterzahl, Rückstand, Sieg – Barça scheitert an Bilbao

© Bereitgestellt von Blick Real mit Unterzahl, Rückstand, Sieg – Barça scheitert an Bilbao Elche – Real Madrid 1:2 n.V.In Deutschland haben sich die beiden grossen Bayern und Dortmund bereits ... Read more »

Rogue headteachers insist kids must CONTINUE wearing masks – despite PM saying they are no longer needed

ROGUE headteachers are insisting that kids must CONTINUE to wear facemasks – even though the government has said they are no longer needed. More than 100 schools have told parents ... Read more »

Mum relives horror of night her daughter died on the way to the chippy with her friend

A SCREAMING mum begged medics to bring her daughter back to life after the 10-year-old was killed walking to a chip shop. Lily Rose Morris was getting her tea with ... Read more »

Nassau Exec Bruce Blakeman issues bail reform reporting rule for county police

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman issued an executive order on Wednesday requiring the county’s police department to publish a daily report including the names of individuals arrested, their criminal case ... Read more »

Tan Chuan-Jin posts Rules For Conduct after telling PSP NCMP Leong Mun Wai to sit down in Parliament on Jan 11

© The Independent Singapore Singapore — A week after telling Progress Singapore Party (PSP)’s NCMP Leong Mun Wai in Parliament to sit down and not ask his final question, House ... Read more »

Belarus officials charged with forcing Ryanair flight to land to arrest journalist

When the Ryanair flight landed in Belarus, security forces took journalist and activist Raman Pratasevich into custody. AP Four government officials in Belarus were charged Thursday with forcing a commercial ... Read more »

Mitch McConnell says Black people vote just as much as 'Americans'

© By Pat McDonogh, Courier Journal Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., spoke at the groundbreaking for the new VA Medical Center on Brownsboro Road in Louisville. Nov. 11, 2021 U.S. Senate ... Read more »

Banorte analyzing possible buy of Citi's Mexico consumer bank

© Reuters/GINNETTE RIQUELME Logo of Grupo Financiero Banorte is pictured at its headquarters in Mexico City MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s Grupo Financiero Banorte is looking at whether to make ... Read more »

La. woman accused of defrauding NFL fund for ex-players

GRETNA, La. (AP) — A woman who had a son with former NFL defensive lineman Norman Hand was arrested Thursday on allegations of defrauding a healthcare fund for retired players ... Read more »

NFL fines Cowboys QB Dak Prescott for comments about fans throwing debris at referees

The NFL has levied a fine against Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott was fined $25,000 for postgame comments made in the wake of an NFL wild-card loss to the ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic