"Women's Religious Leadership in China: The Case of the Muslimah Ahong," an Asian Studies Research presentation by Debra Majeed
From site: News & Events
Date: Friday, February 10th, 2012
Time: 4:00 pm
Location: Room 150, Center for the Sciences
Sponsored by: Philosophy and Religious Studies
Contact: , Debra Majeed
Contemporary scholarship on women and Islam increasingly depicts female agency in ways that contradict traditional representations of Muslim women. Evidence of religious leadership, in particular, sheds light on the varied ways in which Muslimahs, female Muslims, strive to achieve the Islamic edict to "seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave." One of the forms of religious leadership most contested within Sunni Islam is that of prayer leader, or imam -- the religious leader who leads congregations in prayer, and often conducts the educational programs at a mosque. Traditionally this position is reserved for male believers, especially for congregations of men and women. China provides a more unusual case for female religious leaders; its provinces feature women's mosques, or nusi. At first glance, the appointment of a nu ahong, Chinese female religious leader, to guide the spirituality of Muslim women may not appear surprising, even within a Communist context. My recent visit to nusi in Henen province, however, suggests that their institutionalization symbolizes the agency and self-determination of Chinese Muslimahs and the struggles they face to engender and sustain their faith. While some Muslim American women characterize women's mosques as just another form of patriarchy, their Chinese counterpoints celebrate their religious autonomy as a path to emancipation that modernity is slowly closing.
This event is free and open to the campus and community.