13 August 2013, 15:45

‘Nothing in the Quran says women can't lead prayers’ – female Muslim leader

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A London-based group of Muslim women called Inclusive Mosque Initiative (IMI) is struggling to have the so-called “inclusive” Islam with mixed services, with both men and women praying together, and have women leading prayers as well as men.

It was launched by Tamsila Tauqir last November after she saw the situation with mosques both in Great Britain and in the rest of the Muslim world. She was upset to see that, by her own admission, the practices of Islam still follow “cultural traditions of patriarchy” based on texts that were compiled “three hundred years after the death of the Prophet”.

Tauqir argues that the Quran does not ban mixed services with men and women, and there is nothing in it that says women cannot lead prayers. However, not all Muslim women who know about Tauqir’s experiment agree with her. “What you saw is not Islam. It's corrupt,” Leila Bakkioui, 25, told AFP.

“Women can't lead if there are men in the room. And they stay behind. When you pray you bend down and you don't want to think 'he is looking at my bottom'! It's the last thing you want to think about.” Her friend Rasekh agrees. “You can't make things up the way you want.”

Sophia, a 33-year-old French woman who is new to the group, supports Tauqir, saying that “A lot of people forget to focus on the essential things. They just do what everyone else does without taking the time to read the Quran.” However, she does disagree with homosexuals attending services.

The group which now conducts services in what they call “a nomadic mosque”, has 500 members, but still didn’t succeed in finding a real mosque which would agree to provide space for their services. “We meet two or three times a month and we hire rooms,” Tauqir said. “We are looking for donations to have a physical space in London and somewhere else.”

Although the group did receive some disapproving messages none of them, according to Tauqir, were particularly threatening.

The leading Islamic organizations declined to satisfy AFP’s inquiries about the IMI.

In response to that, Hassan Wanini, a Kenyan man, recently introduced to the IMI sessions, suggested that should more people be willing to attend the group, “there will be a backlash”. However, he sees the group’s activity as a legacy of the Prophet, as he pointed out that “The Prophet himself suffered a lot to be Muslim. In his time he was seen as a liberal. We are just carrying on what he was doing.”

Voice of Russia, Dawn.com

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