On Friday, March 18, 2005, Dr. Amina Wadud, professor of Islamic studies at
Virginia Commonwealth University, will be the first woman to lead a public,
mixed-gender Friday prayer. She will also deliver the Friday sermon. Dr. Wadud,
the author of the groundbreaking book Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred
Text from a Woman's Perspective, is an esteemed scholar of Islam who affirms the
right of Muslim women to be prayer leaders. It is a generally held view in the
Muslim world and in the American Muslim community that women cannot lead
mixed-gender prayer. This custom is pervasive and goes unchallenged. Research
from the Qur'an and the customs of Prophet Muhammad demonstrate that there is no
prohibition precluding women from leading mixed-gender prayer and, further, that
Prophet Muhammad approved the practice of women leading mixed-gender prayer.
Over the centuries, Muslim women have lost their place as intellectual and
On March 18, 2005 Muslim women will reclaim their right to be spiritual equals
and leaders. Women will move from the space tradition has relegated them in the
back of the mosque and pray in the front rows.
Our effort will be part of a broader campaign to create communities in that rise
to the highest principles of Islam's teachings on tolerance, justice, equity,
and compassion. In the 7th century, the Prophet Muhammad built a model community
in the city of Medina, earning it a place in history as "the City of
Illumination" because of its progressive values. In the 21st century, we are
committed to creating modern day "Cities of Light" in that value inclusion and
About Dr. Amina Wadud
Amina Wadud is an Islamic studies professor in the department of philosophy and
religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is nationally and
internationally known for her ground breaking book Qur'an and Women: Rereading
the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective, the first interpretive reading of
the Qur'an by a woman. Dr. Wadud seeks to validate the female voice in the
Qur'an and bring it out of the shadows. Dr. Wadud will deliver the sermon and
lead the prayer.
The Sundaram Tagore Gallery was established in 2000 and is devoted to examining
the confluence of Western and non-Western cultures. They focus on developing
exhibitions of intellectual rigor and showcasing artists who are engaged in
spiritual, social and aesthetic dialogues with traditions other than their own.
Their interest in cross-cultural dialogue extends beyond the visual arts into
many other disciplines, including poetry, literature, performance art, film and
music. They host non-profit events that stimulate the exchange of ideas and push
the envelope of artistic, intellectual and cultural boundaries.
The Muslim Women's Freedom Tour educates and empowers Muslim women to reclaim
their God-given right to lead self-determined lives.
In 2004, we took on the issue of Muslim women gaining access to space and voice
in American mosques where they have traditionally been banned or relegated to
isolated areas of the mosque. On June 4, 2004, a group of seven Muslim women
marched to the mosque in Morgantown, W.V., to reclaim the right of women to use
the front door and the main hall of mosques; as in many mosques in the United
States, women had been told to take a back door and pray in a secluded balcony.
Our historic march was the shot heard around the world. Images and reports from
the march swept across the globe, and we have documented a positive shift in the
participation of Muslim women in mosques and communities globally as a result of
the march and the dialogue it sparked.
This year we are affirming the right of women to be spiritual leaders, including
imams, or prayer leaders. In a historic Friday prayer on March 18, 2005, in New
York City, women will go from the back of the mosque to the front of the mosque.
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