Asra Nomani, the author of a book on women in Islam and former Wall Street Journal reporter, is organizing the second women-led prayer service in a week. Nomani’s work organizing women-led services has sparked opposition from Islamic leaders, including receiving threats and what she describes as “violent e-mails” from people opposed to her work, reports Reuters. Despite the threats, Nomani is still planning to organize services across the United States.
Amina Wadud recently led a mixed-gender prayer in New York City to challenge the role of leading prayer that is historically held by men and to bring attention to the second-class status that many Muslim women face. According to the New York Times, during her prayer service men and women broke from tradition and prayed side by side. Some of the women, including the woman who sounded the call to pray, did not wear headscarves.
At a news conference before the service began, Nomani said, “The voices of women have been silenced by centuries of man-made traditions, and we’re saying, ‘No more!’ We’re going to move from the back of the mosque to the front of the mosque,” reports the New York Times. In the majority of mosques in the United States, women pray in separate rows than men. They are often relegated to areas behind the men, in other rooms, or on another floor where they listen to the sermon on television or over speakers.