In the US, the trend of female imams leading prayers is increasing. The trend officially kick-started with the USA’s first all-female mosque, called Women’s Mosque of America. The mosque recently celebrated its fifth anniversary of female imams.
An article by the Guardian titled, “A quiet revolution: the female imams taking over an LA mosque,” tells the story of a female Imam named Noor. The article also notes how practicing the female imamat is a rare and controversial practice in Islam.
“That is the result of a 14-century-old disputed hadith, that leads some to believe women are forbidden to lead prayers and deliver sermons,” the article states. However, the Women’s Mosque of America seems to be pushing the boundaries.
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Muslims who advocate for female imamat often give the reference of Umm Waraqah, one of Prophet Mohammed’s female companions who led prayers in her house. According to them, the Prophet asked Waraqah to turn her house into a mosque. Therefore it legitimizes the practice of being a female imam today.
Despite this reference, majority of the Muslims do not accept the notion of a female imam. However, according to the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), female imamat is perfectly permissible in women-only mosques.
A quiet revolution: the #femaleimams taking over an LA mosque. While many have misinterpreted a hadith to mean women can’t enter a mosque, these women are covering progressive topics like sexual violence, abortion, domestic violence in their sermons https://t.co/pEDiz8trNL
— Timothy Karera (@Tkarera) November 23, 2021
Furthermore, the mosque does not only encourage female imamat but also gives sermons on important issues related to women. At the Women’s Mosque of America, women use their sermons to cover “untouched topics like sexual violence, pregnancy loss, and domestic violence.”
Female are imams taking over the world?
The idea of female imams is not exclusive to the US only. To clarify, in 2019, Eva Janadin, Anne-Sophie Monsinay, and Kahina Bahloul became the first female imams to lead Muslim prayers in France.
As per Bahloul, the idea that women cannot be imams came from patriarchal readings and interpretations of sacred texts.
“The Quranic text does not prohibit a woman from being an imam,” she said to clarify.