A female Muslim religious scholar who led Friday prayers in the Indian state of Kerala last week is now facing death threats, Indian media has reported.
The 34-year-old Jamida, the general secretary of Quran Sunnath Society, had led the congregational prayers in defiance of norms which allow only men to be Imams.
“It’s written nowhere in Islam that women will be barred from leading prayers. We have to wean the religion from the hands of a patriarchal band of Imams and preachers,” she told the Hindustan Times.
“Quran is not discriminatory against women. People who interpret it do this. There is nothing in the holy book that prevents a woman from being an Imam,” she added.
After garnering initial praise for her act, Jamida is now facing death threats on social media and otherwise, and has sought police protection.
“I have received many threatening calls. On social media, too, people are openly speaking against my decision,” she says, undeterred.
The Quran Sunnath Society, which Jamida is a part of, was formed by “reformist preacher Chekanur Moulavi who was allegedly murdered by extremists in 1993 for questioning some […] customs and practices,” the Hindustan Times reported.
A fan of Amina Wadud, the scholar who led prayers in New York more than a decade ago, Jamida believes men have interpreted Islam for their own convenience and that she is hopeful of change.
“Changes are visible in the community. Women will have to come forward to end the dominance of the clergy who interpret religion as per their own way to enjoy an upper hand.”