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Amina Wadud was born September 25, 1952 in Bethesda, Marylandmarker. Her father was a Methodist minister and her mother descended from Muslim slaves of Arab, Berber and African ancestry dating back to the 8th Century. She is a controversial Islamic feminist and scholar. She received her B.S, from The University of Pennsylvaniamarker, between 1970 and 1975. In 1972 she pronounced shahadah and accepted Islam by choice, not knowing of her maternal ancestry. She received her M.A. in Near Eastern Studies and her Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Michiganmarker in 1988. During graduate school, she studied advanced Arabic in Egyptmarker at the American University in Cairo, she studied Qur'anic studies and tafsir at Cairo Universitymarker, and took a course in Philosophy at Al-Azhar Universitymarker.

She is currently a visiting professor at the Center for Religious and Cross Cultural Studies at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakartamarker,Indonesiamarker. She achieved Full Professor of Islamic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth Universitymarker (VCU) in Richmond, Virginiamarker, in 2007. She is now retired from there as of 2008. She joined VCU after a three-year contract as Assistant Professor at the International Islamic University Malaysia, between 1989 and 1993. Wadud's research specialities include gender and Qur'anic studies. She wrote a book on the subject, Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective. The first edition of the book, published by Fajar Bakti, an Oxford University Press Subsidiary in Malaysia while one of the founding members of Sisters in Islam in Malaysiamarker, continues to be used all over the world as a basic text for activists and academics alike. After publishing her first book, she spoke at universities, grass roots level, government and non-government forums at various gatherings throughout the United Statesmarker, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe.

Her latest book, Inside the Gender Jihad: Women's Reform in Islam, was published in 2006. It not only continues her Qur'anic analysis but also provides extensive details about her experiences as a Muslim, wife, mother, sister, scholar and activist.

Friday prayer

Wadud was the subject of much controversy, debate and Muslim juristic discourse after leading a Friday prayer (salat) of over 100 male and female Muslims sponsored by the Progressive Muslim Union and held in the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divinemarker in New Yorkmarker on March 18, 2005, breaking with the tradition of having only male imams (prayer leaders). Three mosques had refused to host the service and the Sundaram Tagore Gallery withdrew its acceptance of holding the event after a bomb threat. (The event was not the first time in the history of Islam that a woman had led the Friday prayer. See Women as imams for a discussion of the issue.)

In August 1994, Wadud delivered a Friday khutbah (sermon) on "Islam as Engaged Surrender" at the Claremont Main Road Mosque in Cape Townmarker, South Africa. At the time, this was largely unheard of in the Muslim world. As a result, there were attempts in Virginia by some Muslims to have her dismissed from her position at Virginia Commonwealth Universitymarker.

There has been objection and some support from Muslims around the world to Wadud's imamate. In spite of the criticism, Wadud has continued her speaking engagements, and has continued to lead mixed-gender Friday prayer services. On October 28, 2005, following her talk at the International Congress on Islamic Feminism in Barcelonamarker, Spainmarker, she was invited to lead a congregation of about thirty people.

The majority of the Islamic community, whether laymen or Islamic scholars, are opposed to the idea of women leading mixed-gender congregations, but allow women to lead women only. However, some jurists, such as the Iranian Shi'i jurist Mohsen Kadivar have espoused her view on the permissibility of female imams. It must be clarified, however, that most Shi'is do not agree with Kadivar's views.

Media appearance

She was interviewed on WNYCmarker radio on July 14, 2006, to discuss her book Inside the Gender Jihad. She responded to questions and comments about other activities including women in gender-mixed Friday prayer service.

See also



  1. Studying Islam article on the incident
  2. Are Women Too Inferior to Lead Men in Prayer? - - Ask The Scholar

External links

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