From yesterday’s press:

Professor Amina Wadud is to give the sermon at a centre in Oxford today in what is being called a “leap forward” for equality in Islam. But there are expected to be objections to the sermon at the Oxford Centre in Banbury Road, with opponents understood to be planning protests. The move is controversial as the tradition is that Imams – always men – hold mixed services, with some believing it to be against Islam for a woman to do so. Mokhtar Badri, vice-president of the Muslim Association of Britain is opposed to the sermon. “With all respect to sister Amina, prayer is something we perform in accordance to the teachings of our Lord,” he said.

Much can be learned from the courageous Professor Amina. “Nothing in the Qu-ran bans women leading mosque prayers”, she says. But the weight of tradition is against her. It is a 1,400 – year – old tradition that only men lead prayers in mosques. The power of tradition in Islam is known as ij’ma – do what has always been done. In Jewish halachic law there is an equivalent concept: “Minhag”, custom, can be more powerful than law and becomes law. 

Innovation requires many characteristics: creativity, boldness, new thinking. But a sometimes-underestimated element is simply courage. Amina is endangering herself with her bold innovation.  

How many great new innovations are never born, because the innovator realizes that he or she will pay a heavy price for even presenting them? 

Do you have the courage to innovate? And can we all learn from the courageous Amina Wadud, taking on the entire male establishment of the 1.4 billion Muslims?

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