Source: The Guardian
By Amel Brahmi
While many have misinterpreted a hadith to mean women can’t enter a mosque, these women are covering progressive topics like sexual violence, abortion, pregnancy loss, domestic violence in their sermons
hen Tasneem Noor got on the stage at the Women’s Mosque of America in Los Angeles, she felt butterflies in her stomach. Facing about fifty women on praying rugs, ready to deliver a sermon – khutba in Arabic – she took a deep breath.
During the prayers, the women would follow Noor’s lead, but several would pray four more times after it ended, to make up for any potentially invalid prayers. 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.
“I don’t mind,” Noor told me later. “Some people function better with rules.”
Noor, 37, is part of a quiet revolution in America: at the all women’s mosque, she was celebrating its five year anniversary of practicing the female imamat, a rare and often controversial practice in Islam.
Women aren’t even allowed to pray in many mosques across the world. In some mosques in the US, women may enter, but are often forced to pray in separate rooms – leading some to call it the “penalty box”. Spiritual leaders who have pushed boundaries – by running mixed congregation mosques or running an LGBTQ mosque – have received death threats.