HOME : We will explore if misogyny is religiously sanctioned or men took it upon themselves to make it work for them, and in the process made a villain out of God and religion. One sentence that I have been repeating lately is "for every Muslim ass, there is a Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh or other ass" add hole if you need to.You cannot single out or blame any one religion or tradition, the representatives of religions make us decide about religion. We need to rise about stereotyping. We should not relish in putting down others. Finding the truth is our own responsiblity. Mike Ghouse

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

First woman to lead Friday prayers in UK

UK has its first (born) Muslim woman lead prayers
URL - http://genderpluralismcenter.blogspot.com/2013/12/first-woman-to-lead-friday-prayers-in-uk.html

The story is same with Muslims as it is with Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and others. A woman cannot lead the respective prayers. At the Parliament of world's religions in Melbourne in 2009, we pushed the panel of some 12 men representing each faith as to why? The best honest answer came from the Catholic Bishop, "this is what we are told to do". Indeed, the change has to ease into the new norms, it just cannot happen because some one wants it. As we go forward, we will present the stories of all faiths with similar stories.

However, the reformed movements in all the faiths have opened it up. Just this week in the UK, a Synagogue was severely criticized for letting women touch the Torah Scrolls and carry it to read in the Temple.

Muslims have raised hell and have gotten ugly when the first Muslim woman led prayers were held in New York by Dr. Amina Wadud in 2003 or 2004. They held disgusting placards outside the place of worship, it was embarrassing the way a few Muslims reacted to it.

There is nothing wrong in a woman leading the prayer. Islam is not a negative religion, it's positive. No where in Quran or Hadith it's banned women from leading the prayers. Just because it was not done before, it does not mean you cannot do it now. Prophet would have driven a car if there was one, that does not mean we have to ride camels. Men should feel secure, they are not losing their jobs.

Blaming the west is not true and it is a conspiracy spun by a few.  I have been a supporter of this movement since 2003, when Dr. Amina Wadud led the first Juma prayers - she was on my Radio show. A lot has been debated since, it will take another generation to accept this, but it will be over a period of time. It will take another three generations to get this change to become a norm in Asia and perhaps a century in Arab lands.  The Christians, Jews and Hindus need to gloat, on one can have the last laugh.

Islam is not a negative and restrictive religion... it started with a command to recite, learn, read.... and we must.

Mike Ghouse is a Muslim speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism
, Islaminterfaith and other topics. He is committed to nurturing pluralistic values embedded in Islam and building cohesive Socieities and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day, all his writings are at www.TheGhouseDiary.com   

First woman to lead Friday prayers in UK

A Canadian author will become the first Muslim-born woman to lead a mixed-gender British congregation through Friday prayers tomorrow in a highly controversial move that will attempt to spark a debate about the role of female leadership within Islam.
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Raheel Raza, a rights activist and Toronto-based author, has been asked to lead prayers and deliver the khutbah at a small prayer session in Oxford.

She has been invited by Dr Taj Hargey, a self-described imam who preaches an ultra-liberal interpretation of Islam which includes, among other things, that men and women should be allowed to pray together and that female imams should lead mixed congregations in prayer.

Three of the four mainstream schools of Sunni Islam allow women to lead exclusively female congregations for prayer, but the overwhelming majority of Muslim jurists are opposed to the notion of their presiding over mixed congregations outside the home.

Raza, 60, is part of a small but growing group of Muslim feminists who have tried to challenge the mindset that has traditionally excluded women from leadership roles within the mosque. They argue that nowhere in the Koran are female imams expressly forbidden. Instead scholars rely on the hadiths (the words and sayings of the Prophet Mohamed) to exclude women - although Muslim feminists and some progressive scholars argue that even these are not clear enough to say with confidence that women are altogether banned.

Ms Raza received death threats after leading a mixed-gender prayer congregation in Toronto five years ago.

"It was a very profound experience," Ms Raza said yesterday in a telephone conversation from her home in Toronto. "It's not about taking the job of an imam. It's about reminding the Muslim community that 50 per cent of its adherents are women who are equal to men. Women are equally observant, practising Muslims who deserve to be heard."

Ms Raza's appearance in Oxford is a repeat of a similar prayer session in 2008 which was led by Amina Wadud, an American-born convert and Muslim feminist. But this is the first time a Muslim-born woman will lead a mixed prayer service in Britain.

Ms Wadud's prayers were attended by a small congregation of less than 40 who were heckled on their way in to prayers by protesters, largely by fully veiled Muslim women. Once inside the prayer hall, meanwhile, they were comprehensively outnumbered by journalists.

But Dr Hargey, a divisive figure within British Islam who runs the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, said his congregation had since grown and attracted new followers.

"For Friday prayers we now receive about 100 people, twice that for Eid prayers and important occasions," he said. "I am expecting about 200 people to attend this Friday's prayers."

In recent years there has been a growing demand from Muslim women to be included and represented at their mosques. Earlier this week Faith Matters, a conflict resolution think-tank funded by the Government and private benefactors, released a list of 100 women-friendly mosques. The number of female Muslim scholars, meanwhile, often referred to as imamahs, are also on the rise.

Ms Raza, who is due to fly into Britain this morning, said she was aware that she would be preaching to the converted tomorrow. "But it's about opening one heart, one mind at a time," she added.

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Faisal Hameed on facebook shares this:

Umme Waraqa, may Allah be pleased with her, was a woman from Ansar of Madinah who embraced Islam in its early phase. She is one among the holy companions of the Prophet as she is reported to have offered her services for the Battle of Badr to the Prophet and requested him to take her along as she wanted to fight the enemy.

But there is a much more surprising aspect that she was appointed imam of a mosque in her locality in Madinah and that men prayed behind her. The muezzin was a man. It is therefore obvious that he too prayed behind the female imam. This account occurs in the Sunan of Abu Dawood and Masnad of Ahmad bin Hanbal. She was appointed the imam around the time of Battle of Badr and she was alive till the last years of the caliphate of Hazrat Umar, may Allah be pleased with him. This means that she led the prayer for nearly 17 years.

This has been quoted by Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah, the noted Islamic scholar and author hailing from Hyderabad, who located himself in Paris after the fall of Hyderabad. (Ref: Muhammad Hamidullah, The Emergence of Islam : Bahawalpur Lecture on the Development of Islamic Worldview, Intellectual Tradition and Polity, Adam Publishers & Distributors, New Delhi). There are also references to Nafisah Bint al-Hasan Ibn Zayd Ibn al-Hasan Ibn Ali leading Imam Shafii’s funeral prayers. Ahmed E. Souaiaia’s book Contesting Justice: Women, Islam Law and Society (Published by State University of New York Press, 2008) while quoting this says in bibliographical note that “the practice of women leading the prayers was common in early Islam”. (He refers to Ahmad Ibn Ali al-Maqrizi’s book al-Khutat al-maqriziyyah published by Dar Sadir, Beirut).

About Umme Waraqa the website http://www.wisemuslimwomen.org has the following to say:

Umm Waraqa bint Abdallah, or Umm Waraqa, was the Prophet Muhammad’s companion. She was well versed in the Quran and the Prophet trained her and allowed her to lead mixed-gender prayers. Whether the hadith refers to leading prayers in a residence or a community is open to interpretation. Even so, she was the imam of her clan, which was significant and large enough to have its own muezzin.

Umm Waraqa wished to be known as a martyr, so she asked Prophet Muhammad to allow her to participate in the Battle of Badr (624 A.D./ 2 A.H.) so that she could take care of the wounded; from that time on, Prophet Muhammad referred to her as “the female martyr.”

There is no question that the vast majority of jurists excluded women from ever leading men in prayer. Many jurists, however, permitted women to lead women in prayer, if no male is available to lead the prayer. Some jurists said women may lead women even if a male is available to lead as long as women lead only women. Up to the fourth Islamic century, there were at least two schools of thought that allowed women to lead men in prayer, if the woman in question was the most learned. Since the fourth century all schools of thought did not allow women to lead men in prayer.

The powerful clique that has arrogated for itself the right to interpretation of Islam today has inherited the bias against women handed down from centuries. It is more focused on narrowing freedoms and constricting liberties that were enjoyed by Muslims in general and women in particular, in the earliest period of Islam and allowed by the holy Prophet. The current clergy, which has no religious legitimacy in Islam, has worked overtime to usurp all rights of interpretation for itself. First it excluded women. So half the Muslims were barred from exercising the religious authority and putting to use their knowledge and rationale. Then it marginalized a vast body of Muslims who did not know Arabic. And finally it began to question the right of interpretation of those who were not educated and trained in madrassas. Today, the entire community is compelled to follow diktats of a few who have no knowledge of social, economic and political issues. Their patriarchal interpretation dominates the discourse delivering a daily diet of embarrassment to the enlightened Muslims. It is for people like you to counter such tendencies.

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