Egypt fights Islamic extremism by allowing women leaders at mosques

Source: Religion News Service

By Jacob Wirtschafter and Amr El Tohamy

CAIRO (RNS) – Four years ago, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called on state-supported Muslim clerics “to improve the image of Islam in front of the world.”

In response, Islamic religious authorities are allowing Muslim women to be heard. Over the past three months, the clerics have announced that women can now serve as preachers in mosques and schools, serve on governing boards and sing in choirs dedicated to liturgical music.

Piety and Progress for Egyptian Muslim Women

Women attend Ramadan worship services at the historic Al-Azhar mosque on June 11, 2018, in Cairo. Nearby Al-Azhar University, the traditional seminary of mainline Sunni theology as well as the state-run Ministry of Religious Endowments are promoting women’s participation in preaching, mosque governance and liturgical music. RNS photo by Mohamed Salah

“These measures show that Islam can grow in an open encounter with other faiths,” said Wafaa Abdelsalam, a 38-year-old female physician appointed by the government’s Ministry of Religious Endowments to give two sermons a week at a pair of influential mosques in the Cairo suburbs. “The audience for my Ramadan talks has been mostly upper-middle-class women who until recently have felt they have had nobody to talk to about how Islam fits into their lives.”

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