Imamhood and the Sexualization of Power


An imam, the leader of prayers in a mosque, is someone that holds great power. The imam is the all encompassing guru/judge/teacher that you go to. The imam is, in essence, the leader of the Muslim community. There is one big problem with the concept of imamhood; however, and that is that women are not afforded the opportunity to lead their community through this position of power. Essentially, women cannot become imams (except in all female settings which I will get to later in this post). For me, going to the mosque was a constant reminder of my subordinate position within the religion; being led by a man while confined to the back of a room can take a toll on one’s pride. What I hate even more about it all is the reasoning behind why women can’t become imams. Basically women are told that they can’t lead prayers because their bodies and voices are awra (something immodest that should be hidden). If a woman was to lead a prayer, her beautiful voice would be so distracting to the men that those poor souls wouldn’t be able to concentrate on their prayers. And just think about what would happen when she prostrates….her ass would be in full view! I believe that this excuse is out right bullshit. Men know damn well how to control themselves but we are using their apparent horniness to limit women’s access to power.

Like I previously mentioned, the imam is not just someone that leads a prayer, he is the leader of the Muslim community. People listen to whatever he has to say. After every Friday prayers, he gives a khutbah (speech/lecture in Arabic) to a large portion of the Muslim community. Could you imagine how much influence he has? Now imagine a woman as an imam. Think about all the things she could say in the khutbah. Think about the power she would have within the community. Now some of you would say that women are technically allowed to be imams but only if it’s in an all female environment. Yes I agree, but that means she only has access to 50% of the Muslim community. How is this fair? Ask yourself this, who is more powerful: the man that can be an imam for both genders or the woman? I think it’s time that Muslim women step up and take back their right to lead. It is time that they refuse to be sexualized and denied access to meaningful power.

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