Comparative Islamic Studies, Vol 5, No 1 (2009)

Contextualizing Arguments about Female Ritual Leadership (Women Imāms) in Classical Islamic Sources

Simonetta Calderini
Issued Date: 10 Jul 2011


This article focuses on legal arguments by medieval Muslim scholars concerning the permissibility of the imāma of a woman for a mixed congregation ṣalāt. In particular, the legal and theological context is discussed of three ninth century scholars who, unusually, did not consider invalid the prayer of a man when he is led by a woman. Some scholars quoted the ḥadīth of Umm Waraqa in support of women imams. It is argued that, beyond the historicity of Umm Waraqa herself, her precedent was used as a legal “case.” This, however, should be taken as evidence of legal theory rather than actual practice.

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DOI: 10.1558/cis.v5i1.5

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