Islamic feminists denounce 'chauvinistic' reading of KoranIslamic feminists denounce 'chauvinistic' reading of Koran
The first ever international conference on Islamic feminism, held this week in Barcelona, denounced on Sunday what it termed as "male chauvinist" interpretations of the Koran and claimed that Islam could "liberate" women. "Islam can liberate women and change their status," the conference's final statement read. It also called for a more open interpretation of the Muslim holy book to take into account the context of twenty-first century societies. "Islamic feminism is an emerging reality that must be seen as an alternative to the dominant chauvinist readings [of the Koran]," the statement said, adding that the Koran "does not justify patriarchy". The October 27 to 29 conference was organized by the Catalonian Islamic Board, whose secretary Abdennur Prado called for a "gender jihad" to "struggle against male chauvinistic, homophobic or sexist readings of the sacred texts" during her presentation to the 400 delegates. The conference also saw Amina Wadud, a female Islamic studies professor in the United States give the Friday jutba (sermon) and lead prayers in front of a mixed audience. Wadud caused excitement in March when she led prayers for men and women in a Manhattan Episcopalian church, after three mosques refused her permission for the service. The conference attracted specialists from 15 countries, including Malaysia's Zainah Anwar of Sisters in Islam, and the Iranian director of UNESCO's anti-discrimination campaign, Valentine Moghadma. The event was funded by the Spanish work and social affairs ministry's Institute for Women, as well as the Catalan government.
Amina Wadud Leads Mixed Gender Friday Prayer in Barcelona
One of the world’s leading experts on the Qur’an and its discourse on gender led a mixed-gender congregation in a Friday communal prayer in Barcelona, Spain yesterday. The impromptu prayer came after Wadud, professor of Islamic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, was invited to lead a congregation by several Muslim women during a question and answer period following a talk by Wadud at the International Congress on Islamic Feminism. After answering a slew of questions on the historic mixed-gender prayer she led earlier this year in New York City, members of Spain’s Muslim community quickly organized a makeshift prayer in a conference room at the Alimera Hotel in Barcelona, where the Congress was being held. About thirty worshippers participated in the prayer. Before the prayer a minor controversy erupted about whether Spanish television cameras can record the event, with several congregants refusing to be filmed. Soon, the TV cameras were removed and the prayer began with the call to prayer followed by a short sermon by Wadud.