A while back there was a big debate in global Islam as to whether women could lead prayer. The debate was set off by Amina Wadud’s decision to lead a mixed-prayer in New York. (Here is an excellent interview with her). Conservatives bashed the ‘progressives.’ Wide-scale debate raged all over the blogosphere and in Muslim homes. [Interestingly, and ironically, the largest read Muslim woman blog seems to be against women leading prayer; although this is just an inference based on her comments about women masjid reformers, because she doesn’t directly address the subject]. I am categorically supportive of women leading prayer. I used to lead prayer at my house starting from the age of nine. If I could do it then, why can’t women who are older, wiser, and who run the household anyway, do it too? When I was seventeen I was giving community sermons. Again, why couldn’t women do it? They had higher GPA’s; they knew more Quran! The only criteria for leading a congregation is knowledge (or consent of the congregation). It’s not about gender.
Anyway, I’m not revisiting the debate to hash out its history or arguments. Recently, I read a piece on Progressive Islam which identifies an article (warning: pdf) by GF Haddad that venomously attacks those who supported the female-led prayer (and their entire agenda). The vapid and vampiric Haddad does not come to this matter with a cool head. In the tradition of the great flame throwing frothing fundos, he reaches the heights of fire-breathing by the middle of the first paragraph, labeling Progressive Muslims the anti-Christ (Dajjal). From thereon, no person, past or present, is free from Haddad’s diarrhea, oh, sorry, logorrhea. (I mistook his ass for his mouth). Ibn Arabi the mystic, Tariq Ramadan the academic, Abu el Fadl the jurist, and Aminda Wadud the hermeneutist, are all conflated in the great cauldron of Haddad’s hate and rendered, you guessed it: heretics. Oh, but wait, Haddad is permitted to speak like this, because he has “done a lot of good for Islam.” Really? If making your pen into the pietists middle finger is doing good for Islam, then I am the second coming of the Mahdi. GF Haddad, perhaps you and I both need to learn the etiquette of good manners. (I even dumbed it down for you, it comes from the mouth of Hamza Yusuf). You, being the Muslim scholar, should lead by example.