Europe

Europe’s First Woman Imam

25/10/2008

By  Hadi Yahmid, IOL Correspondent

 

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Fattah will supervise the preaching activities for women at the mosque. (IOL photo)

PARIS — A mosque in southern Belgium has named a female Muslim professor to the post of imam, the first such a move in the northwestern European country.

“Hawaria Fattah has been granted the rank of imam,” Abdel-Jalel Al-Hajaji, the curator of Al-Sahaba Mosque in the southern city of Verviers, told IslamOnline.net on Saturday, October 25.

“It is the first move of its kind in Belgium and Europe.”

Chosen along with two male imams, Fattah, a mother of three, will supervise the preaching activities for women at the mosque.

“But she will not deliver the sermon of the Friday prayers or lead the prayers,” stressed Hajaji.

“Her role will focus on supervising the preaching and guidance activities for women at the mosque.”

Fattah’s selection was approved by the Belgian Justice Ministry, which is responsible for the country’s religious affairs.

Born to an Algerian father and a Belgian mother, Fatah, 35, is a professor of social and Islamic studies.

She has worked as a preacher for Muslim women at a mosque in Verviers.

Pioneering

Muslim leaders said Fattah’s appointment shows that Islam is treating men and women on equal footing.

“Her selection stems from our conviction that men and women are equal in Islam,” said Hajaji.

The Muslim leader said that the move will help Muslim women gain a foothold at mosques.

“This pioneering move will help enable women gain a foothold in preaching activities, while abiding by religious teachings.”

Fattah’s selection won plaudits from Belgian Muslims.

“We welcome and praise this smart move,” Karim Chemlal, leader of the Muslim League of Belgium, told IOL.

“It will show the bright image of our Islamic faith.”

Belgian Muslims are estimated at 450,000 — out of a 10-million population. Most of Belgian Muslims are of Moroccan and Turkish origins.

Belgium was the first European country in 1974 to recognize Islam among other state religions in the country.