India just got its
Prior to her, there have been other women who have tried to do the same thing in other places.
Here are five countries where Muslim women have attempted to lead Friday prayers.
The United States of America
In 2005, an American Muslim lady named Amina Wadud caused a major controversy when she led the Friday prayer in New York.
On Friday 18 March 2005, the professor of religion and philosophy led the prayer for a congregation of about 60 women and 40 men seated together in Synod House.
Afterwards, she spoke about the location, owned by and adjoining the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.
Wadud said, “I don’t want to change Muslim mosques. I want to encourage the hearts of Muslims, both in their public, private and ritual affairs, to believe they are one and equal.”
Her action was received mix reactions. While 15 protestors gathered outside during the prayer, she also got some support from some Muslim academics.
Khaled Abou El-Fadl, professor of Islamic Studies at UCLA, California said: “What the fundamentalists are worried about is that there’s going to be a ripple effect not just in the U.S. but all over the Muslim world. The women who are learned and frustrated that they cannot be the imam are going to see that someone got the guts to break ranks and do it.”
Islamic scholar Ebrahim E.I. Moosa added that the prayer is a “wonderful move.”
The United Kingdom
In 2010, Raheel Raza led a mixed-gender British congregation through Friday prayers.
Wikipedia reports that this resulted in a drastic change as an Inclusive Mosque was set up.
Here, a woman or man is permitted to lead prayers for a mixed congregation on any Friday and through Ramadan.
The aforementioned activist, Raza, has also led Friday prayers for a mixed congregation in Canada.
She did this in 2005 as a form of “silent revolution”. As Canada’s first woman to act as an Imam, she got a lot of death threats.
Still, Raza continues to dream of becoming a real imam and owning a mosque “for women by women”.
South Africans got to see a female Imam in 1995. This happened in Johannesburg.
Reportedly, this was followed by a regular gathering of a mixed congregation for about two years. This change was primarily led by Muslim women’s rights activist Shamima Shaikh.
When she died, her female friend, Farhana Ismail, granted her wishes by leading one of her four funeral prayers.
This was done in January 1998.
Bahrain (Middle East)
In 2004, a 40-year-old woman tried to deliver the Friday sermon (Jum’ah khutbah) on the last Friday of Ramadan.
She was disguised as a male Imam, wearing a full male dress, false beard, and mustache.
The congregation was able to see through her disguise and she was handed over to the police by the mosque’s imam, Sheikh Adnan Al-Qattan.