March 20, 2005

Women Leading Prayers

This is a bit of a link and run, but do read Mona Eltahawy's Friday Post op-ed about Amina Wadud, a female professor of Islamic studies who yesterday became the first-ever woman to lead a Friday prayer service. I'm hardly an expert, but Eltahawy doesn't seem to be entirely right in saying "nothing in Islam... bars a woman from giving Friday sermon." Here's Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah's reasoning on the subject, hinging mostly on one of the sayings of the Prophet: "Pray as you see me praying." But on the other hand, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, one of Egypt's most respected scholars, recently said that there was no consensus on the matter and that each case should be left up to the individual congregation. (In the past Gomaa has spoken out against abortion and caused an uproar when he suggested that women cannot be head of state.)

UPDATE: Ah, as I suspected, the suspiciously quick praktike beat me to this earlier today. Well, hmph. In a related vein, Joseph Braude has a decent-but-kinda-thin TNR essay on how the U.S. could really be doing a lot more to promote women's rights throughout the Middle East. Also take a look at this semi-contrarian take by Marina Ottaway, noting that "[t]he battle for women's rights and the battle for democracy are both important and must both be fought, but they are not the same battle." Worth remembering. And yes, okay, this wasn't really a link-and-run post after all.
-- Brad Plumer 12:28 AM || ||