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Why Muslim women do not need to be Imams to feel empowered

Imposing the necessity of a female Imam movement on the Islamic tradition according to one specific reading and understanding of feminism is just as aggressive as patriarchy's experience in our modern societies.

Why Muslim women do not need to be Imams to feel empowered
person in blue jacket and pink hijab
Photo by john crozier on Unsplash
@arif_mahrukh
Mahrukh Arif-Tayyeb is a French Muslim currently living in the UK. She holds a Masters degree from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales – a prestigious School of Social Sciences in Paris. She has previously worked as a journalist for a french newpaper.

The newly elected Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Zara Mohammed, was asked – quite aggressively – how many female Imams are there in the U.K. during the live Women's Hour BBC interview. Much to the interviewee's disappointment, Zara Mohammed explicitly said the question of female Imams does not fall within the parameters of her role and responsibilities.

The growing discomfort went on as the presenter insisted on putting her point across.


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Acknowledged by the UK House of Commons in 2017, February 1 of each year marks World Hijab Day; a movement set up in an attempt to normalise the hijab and its practise by Muslims around the world.

Imams, in a general sense, are individuals who lead Muslim worshippers in prayer. In a global sense, imam is used to refer to the head of the Muslim community.

Muslim women do not need to be Imams to feel empowered. Islam does not require women to assert male roles: it has empowered women with rights to individual independence that has liberated them from such gender-related complexes. While there might be a necessity for female rabbis and priests, there is none for female Imams as female leadership has always been a part of the Islamic faith.

If some mosques fail to represent women within mosques, Islam should not be stained or blamed as a religion. Instead, Muslim women should combat patriarchy by reclaiming their role and space within the mosques without going against Islam's teachings.

Imposing the necessity of a female Imam movement on the Islamic tradition according to one specific reading and understanding of feminism is just as aggressive as patriarchy's experience in our modern societies.

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