She is being called the “shock Imam”, having stunned Muslim clergy across continents. In India, the shade of opinion over a Muslim woman leading namaz ranges from anger to flippancy to allegations of an American conspiracy.
On March 18, Amina Wadud, a professor of Islamic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, led Friday prayers in New York, where about half of the estimated 100 people were men. Clad in a hijab (veil), she also read out the Khutba (the holy sermon).
This has triggered a controversy as traditionally, women are not even allowed to offer namaz inside mosques. In exceptional cases, women pray in a separate room or behind a partition.
Muslim religious leaders in India have been dismissive about Amina, claiming that the event was aimed at hogging media attention.
“It’s a matter of modesty that prevents a Muslim woman from leading prayers,” said Lucknow-based Shia leader Maulana Kalbe-Jawwad. He pointed out that when Muslims pray, they form ruler-straight lines. Resting on their knees, they lean forward until their foreheads touch the floor. Both the worshippers and the prayer leader face west towards Mecca.
What’s that go to do with anything? I’ve got a newsflash for you, buddy, women have seen men’s rear ends before. So what?
Peer Sayeed Mian, the rector of Bhopal-based Taj-ul-Masajid, said the event was “un-Islamic” as women are not supposed to lead prayers. “It is not a question of gender equality,” he said, questioning the need for it.
What is it a question of, then?
“In Islam, the role of duties of men and women are clearly
defined. There is no such thing as aping men,” he said, terming it another “conspiracy” to create differences on gender lines.
Well, well, if it isn’t another conspiracy. I suppose the Zionists are whispering in Amina Wadud’s ear, eh?
Maulana Mohammad Saleem, a preacher in Bhopal, said offering namaz was an act between a person and God. “It is not that one who leads would go to heaven and those following would get a lesser reward.”
Meaning, women don’t have to worry their pretty little heads about big, weighty matters like leading prayers. They get to go to heaven anyway…maybe.
Kamal Farooqui, a member of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, said Islam has consciously-defined gender roles. “Women have been bestowed the greatest honour of giving birth to children. Does that mean that men start complaining about it?” he asked.
So since you don’t see many men complaining about not being able to have children, (except maybe “Stan” in Life of Brian) well, that means women shouldn’t complain about things like your everyday, average and very Islamic “sexual slavery” marriages. These things are ordained by Allah, you silly girls!
Amina countered that Prophet Mohammed had granted permission to a woman called Umm Warraq to lead her family in prayers.
That’s it? That’s the entire argument you’re putting up against Centuries of Islamic Law and Tradition? Good Luck, Amina, good luck. You’ll need it:
Scholars at Darul-Uloom, Deoband, and Nadwa-tul-ulema, Lucknow, said what Amina had failed to mention is that Umm Warraq led the people of her house in a prayer at one occasion only.
Imam Malik and Imam Abu Hanifa, famed commentators of Islam, considered it an exception….
Wouldn’t you know it.