Tuesday, February 14, 2006
I received a call yesterday. The former Mufti of Marseilles, Soheib Bencheikh, who is currently the Director of the Institut Supérieur des Sciences Islamiques (ISSI) is going to be visiting Toronto this weekend... and he specifically requested that he be able to meet with Raheel Raza and I, and to be led by one of us in prayers as a sign of his solidarity with the movement for gender equity in muslim societies.

So I'm off to Toronto this weekend, with the intention of leading the former Mufti of Marseilles and God knows how many other folks in prayer. Given that it is to be held in conjunction with a press conference about the Danish cartoons, I expect we may have a good sized congregation.

I doubt that a year ago, when Amina Wadud gave her historical friday sermon and led the prayers for a mixed gender congregation, anyone would have predicted the progression of events -- first Amina's prayer, then a few local gatherings, then the first friday services in a mosque officiated by a woman, and now the backing of a man who has impeccable credentials as a scholar. All in the space of one short year! Alhamdulillah!

Mr. Bencheikh is a graduate from one of the most prestigious universities in the world of Sunni Islam -- Al Azhar. He has been certified by this university as competant to make religious rulings -- that is, he has been authorized by one of the most respected Islamic institutions to issue fatwas. For ten years, he was the mufti (a legal scholar and religious leader) of Marseilles, and he's now the Director of a Institute of Islamic Sciences. Needless to say, his support puts a big hole in the argument of those who say that no "real" scholars support women leading prayers.

Of course, there will be people who try to discredit Mr. Bencheikh, just as they tried to discredit the scholarship of Amina herself, or the various people who presented Islamic legal justification for the prayers. But many will see Mr. Bencheikh a voice of genuine authority, a person who has gone through the orthodox training programs, a person with whom one may disagree, but who cannot be ignored or relegated to the realms of "ignorant" lay people.

Obviously, this development is incredibly important for Islamic feminists everywhere. That I have been so blessed as to be able to witness the events of the past year is incredible; to have the honor to have been a part of it... it's beyond words.


For those who are interested in attending:

Date: Sunday, February 19, 2006

Location: The Host Restaurant,
14 Prince Arthur Blvd
(North-West corner of Avenue and Bloor in Yorkvillearea of Toronto)

Times: 11 am: Chat and mingle with the Mufti
12 Noon: Press Conference
1 PM: Prayer
1: 30 Lunch

Looking forward to seeing all of you at this event.The event is taking place with the help of the Montreal-based organization, " Rights & Democracy."
Good for you! and may Allah t'ala bless your effort.

Watch your six though, there are crazy people out there.
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too.
MoveOn.org. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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