Female imams precipitating discussion about the role of women in Islam
Until now, Friday prayer in Danish mosques has always been officiated by male imams, but from September 1, this will change, Jyllands-Posten reports.
A new mosque soon to open in the centre of Copenhagen will have Friday prayers for women led by female imams. This has drawn criticism from some imams, while other commentators are disappointed that the new mosque didn’t go further by having services for both men and women.
Muhammad Zakaria Khan, the imam at Nusrat Djahan mosque in Hvidovre, told the newspaper that he was against women imams, except where there were no men available. "If there are no men available, then a woman can lead the prayer for women, not for men,” he said.
Not far enough?
A former Konservative MP, Naser Khader, has campaigned for Islam to adapt to western circumstances. He would have liked to see mixed services. “Today women in various mosques come in and sit behind curtains in their own areas,” he said.
“If we are to end this, we need to insist on mixing the sexes, otherwise we’re just as far off. Imagine if when we fought for women ministers in Denmark, we had accepted that they could only hold services for women.”
But Brian Arly Jacobsen, a sociologist at Copenhagen University, believes that the mere presence of female imams is a significant step. “These women’s task is to broaden the interpretation of what is possible in Islam and, as the reactions have shown, it’s not just a little detail,” he said.