Monday, March 21, 2005

Woman Leads Muslim Prayers in New York Redux

Following up on this article... From the Arab News. First, several opinions against the event:
Sheikh Sayed Tantawi of Cairo’s Al-Azhar mosque, one of the world’s leading Islamic institutions, said Islam permits women to lead other women in prayer but not a congregation with men in it.

Qatar-based Sheikh Yussef Al-Qaradawi, a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood and an influential conservative Muslim cleric condemned Wadud, saying Islam bans women from doing so unless the congregation is made up solely of women.

All Islamic schools “agree that women do not lead men in (performing) religious duties,” Qaradawi said in a fatwa, or religious edict, published in the local press.

Prayer in Islam “features getting up, sitting down and kneeling...It is not befitting for a woman to make these movements in the presence of men when worshipping requires a peaceful mind and concentration on communicating with God,” said Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born scholar.
But then the most interesting thing happens. The Grand Mufti of Cairo speaks out in support.
Egypt’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ali Guma, declared that woman-led prayer of mixed-gender congregations is permissible, so long as the congregation agrees to it.

According to a report by the satellite news channel Al-Arabiyya, Sheikh Guma declared in an interview on Egyptian television that there is no consensus among religious scholars on the issue of female imamat of mixed gender congregations, pointing out that respected scholars like Imam Tabari and Imam Ibn Arabi found the practice permissible.

“The Mufti added that, in such issues where there are disagreements, then the situation rests with the specific people concerned. If (the congregation) accepts a woman as imam, then that’s their business, and there is nothing wrong with that since that is what they are accustomed to,” Al-Arabiyya reported.
This is big!

H/T Crossroads Arabia.

UPDATE: 28 Mar 2005
In comments, Khalid writes
The Grand Mufti did not speak out in support. You can read his ruling for yourself.

Anyhow, there are already female imams, in China, where they have woman-only mosques; no one has a problem with this. And women have always been scholar/jurists and sufi shaykhas-- both of these positions are considered much more important than imams, whose function really is just to keep everyone ontime and in sequence.
I see that he actually reported that some scholars wrote that it was acceptable for a woman to lead men in prayer, but not in the Friday prayers.

Some prayers including men and women. Not Friday prayers. It's still colossal.
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