DEBATE: ARE WE READY FOR FEMALE IMAM (PART 2)

 

The following are our responses to the points brought up against Women Leading Prayer:

 

MOG: What she didn't recognize was that God dignifies both men and women in their distinctiveness, not their sameness. And on March 18, Muslim women made the very same mistake.

 

ICBH: God created Man and Woman from the same good essence and both should have equal chance to become Imam, Judge or President.

 

MOG: For 1,400 years, there has been a consensus of scholars that men are to lead Prayer. As a Muslim woman, why does this matter? The one who leads Prayer is not spiritually superior in any way. Something is not better just because a man does it. And leading Prayer is not better just because it is leading. Had it been the role of women or had it been more divine, why wouldn't the Prophet have asked Lady 'A'ishah or Lady Khadijah, or Lady Fatimah-the greatest women of all time-to lead? These women were promised heaven and yet they never led Prayer.

 

ICBH: The Person, either Man or Woman, who leads Prayer must be Momen and Pious. Revelation (Quran/Sunnat) does not prohibit Female Imam. Reason dictates that it is time to have Female Imam.

 

MOG: But now, for the first time in 1,400 years, we look at a man leading Prayer and we think, "That's not fair." We think so, although God has given no special privilege to the one who leads. The imam is no higher in the eyes of God than the one who prays behind. On the other hand, only a woman can be a mother. And the Creator has given special privilege to a mother. The Prophet taught us that heaven lies at the feet of mothers. But no matter what a man does, he can never be a mother. So why is that not unfair?

 

ICBH: In 21st century, with Religious Freedom, we must convince our sisters that being Imam is not good for woman.

 

MOG: When asked who is most deserving of our kind treatment? The Prophet replied "your mother" three times before saying "your father" only once. Isn't that sexist? No matter what a man does, he will never be able to have the status of a mother.

 

ICBH: We all respect our mothers. We must allow her to become Imam if wants to be one.

 

MOG: And yet even when God honors us with something uniquely feminine, we are too busy trying to find our worth in reference to men, to value it or even notice it. We too have accepted men as the standard; so anything uniquely feminine is, by definition, inferior. Being sensitive is an insult, becoming a mother is a degradation. In the battle between stoic rationality (considered masculine) and selfless compassion (considered feminine), rationality reigns supreme.

 

ICBH: Half of our Ummah are Female (Population: 600 million). How can you tell all of them they do not deserve to be Imam?

 

MOG: As soon as we accept that everything a man has and does is better, all that follows is just a knee jerk reaction: if men have it, we want it too. If men pray in the front rows, we assume this is better, so we want to pray in the front rows too. If men lead Prayer, we assume the imam is closer to God, so we want to lead Prayer too. Somewhere along the line, we've accepted the notion that having a position of worldly leadership is some indication of one's position with God.

 

ICBH: God says the Dearest Person to God is the Pious One, not Male or Female. Best Person to be Imam is the Pious One, Male or Female.

 

MOG: A Muslim woman does not need to degrade herself in this way. She has God as a standard. She has God to give her value; she doesn't need a man here.

 

ICBH: God gives right to Woman, but Woman can give it away if they want to. Women have to decide if they want to be Imam or not.

 

MOG: In fact, in our crusade to follow men, we, as women, never even stopped to examine the possibility that what we have is better for us. In some cases, we even gave up what was higher only to be like men.

 

ICBH: If you do not want to be Imam, it is your right, like if you do not want to be Judge. What about the Lady who wants to be Imam?

 

MOG: Fifty years ago, we saw men leaving the home to work in factories. We were mothers. And yet, we saw men doing it, so we wanted to do it too. Somehow, we considered it women's liberation to abandon the raising of another human being in order to work on a machine. We accepted that working in a factory was superior to raising the foundation of society-just because a man did it.

 

ICBH: The important thing is Freedom to Choose. You have a right to become Imam if you want to.

 

MOG: Then after working, we were expected to be superhuman-the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect homemaker, and have the perfect career. And while there is nothing wrong, by definition, with a woman having a career, we soon came to realize what we had sacrificed by blindly mimicking men. We watched as our children became strangers, and soon recognized the privilege we'd given up.

 

ICBH: You are right if you want to stay home and raise your children, which is honorable. But, if you want to lead prayer, no one can tell you not do so.

 

MOG: And so only now-given the choice-women in the West are choosing to stay home to raise their children. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, only 31 percent of mothers with babies, and 18 percent of mothers with two or more children, are working fulltime. And of those working mothers, a survey conducted by Parenting Magazine in 2000, found that 93 percent of them say they would rather be home with their kids, but are compelled to work due to "financial obligations." These "obligations" are imposed on women by the gender sameness of the modern West and removed from women by the gender distinctiveness of Islam.

 

ICBH: The important point is that you must have a choice. You and, nobody else but you, must decide to become Imam or not.

 

MOG: It took women in the West almost a century of experimentation to realize a privilege given to Muslim women 1,400 years ago. Given my privilege as a woman, I only degrade myself by trying to be something I'm not, and in all honesty, don't want to be-a man. As women, we will never reach true liberation until we stop trying to mimic men and value the beauty in our own God given distinctiveness.

 

ICBH: Liberation is equal chance, nothing more, nothing less. You do not have to become Imam if you do not want to.

 

MOG: If given a choice between stoic justice and compassion, I choose compassion. And if given a choice between worldly leadership and heaven at my feet, I choose heaven.

 

ICBH: You can have Heaven at your feet and Equal Chance to become Imam. But, if a Man tells you that you cannot teach, that is hard to accept.

 

WAH: I really don't think he (Ali) ever reads our responses. One reason is that he never replies. ISLAMIC CENTER OF BEVERLY HILLS is like having The DANCING DISCO CLUB OF QOM. They both don't have much credibility. There is Islam of Ahlul-bayt or American Islam. Which do you follow?

 

ICBH: Islam of Ahlul Bait (SA) says that we need teachers and Imam, like Zaynab (SA), not Wahabi Male Chauvinist who say women cannot Drive a car, women cannot eat in the same restaurant with their husband and son and women cannot vote.

 

The following are a set of points brought up in favor of Women Leading Prayer:

 

LAW: Thank you for bringing up this controversial issue.  Unfortunately any religion is limited by the vision of the people who receive their message.  It is presumptuous to believe that people living 1400 years ago were ready to comprehend all concepts represented by our beloved prophet or as a matter of fact if we are ready for it today.  So our limitations such as our up bringing, education, socioeconomic, national, geographic, etc., should not limit our understanding of Islam.

 

LAW: Whatever was not prohibited by Quran and Sunnat is open for the Moslims to decide for themselves indeed Allah is more forgiving than people.

 

LAW: I'm not an Islamic scholar, but I'm a female Moslim with a legitimate question that who wants to be responsible for alienating a large portion of Moslem population in the generations to come.  The excuse for not confronting new challenges at the present time because they have no precedent and it was not done by our fathers and ancestors before.

 

LAW: I have sympathy for those people that their view of Moslim men is so degrading.  As a person who lacks self control and mental state with higher values. In their version men are obsessive compulsive sexual creatures that are distracted with every thing that slightly resembles a female such as voice, figure, scent, etc. This makes one wonder that who have a better standing in their attitude toward opposite sex a Moslim man or a sexual predator.

 

LAW: Contrary to that view in my life experiences with Moslim men, I have found little truth to that perception.  It is sad to watch sacrificing the rights of one part of population based on a convoluted perception of the other one. (Surah 81: verses 8&9)

 

LAW: It have to admit that as a female professional Muslim, I cannot ignore the fact the every time I enter a mosque. I was treated as a second class citizen. Do not get me wrong, I do not lack self-confidence; however, I'm not a fool either.

 

LAW: I understand that transformation takes time and good things comes when the time is ripe.  I thank Amina Wadood for her courageous act.  I also take your suggestions as a small step in the right direction.

 

LYN: I SAY AL-HUMDULALLAH FOR THIS BREAK THROUGH. AND MAY WE KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.!!!!

 

Please let us continue dialogue for the first time in the History of Islam. We are enjoying Religious Freedom in America. We can discuss any issue logically and see what is the consensus. We do not have to worry about Government Agents beating us or putting us to jail. Let's discuss issues as we do in Universities and not become impolite as they do in the streets. We would like to ask you to send us an email answering the following questions:

1 - Would you accept a Female Imam in Friday Prayer? Yes or No?

2 - Are you Male or Female?

3 - Are you Shia or Sunni?

4 - Are you American born or Immigrant?

5 - Are you below or above age 40?