Becoming Lady Imam

Thursday, March 5th, 2020, 14:29 WIB


Wednesday Forum Report

Written By: Jekonia Tarigan

On Wednesday, February 19, 2020, the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS) and the Center for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies (CRCS) had the honor of receiving Prof. Amina Wadud as speaker at the Wednesday Forum, a weekly discussion forum held by ICRS and CRCS. Prof. Amina Wadud, a well-known Islamic scholar, is a leading figure regarding gender issues and feminism within Islam. Information about this event, announced a week in advance, spread quickly and was greeted with tremendous enthusiasm by many students and scholars across Yogyakarta. Due to this enthusiastic response, the venue changed from Room 406 to the auditorium of the Graduate School of Universitas Gadjah Mada in order to welcome the more-than-two-hundred attendees. 

Prof. Amina Wadud shared her ideas regarding the “Lady Imam” drawing on her experience, education and life context leading to the emergence of her thoughts. From one perspective it can be concluded that according to Prof. Wadud, the relation between human (men and women) with God or Allah is a personal relation. For her, God is omnipresent or present in every time and place. Therefore, according to Wadud, women also may become imams, because the greatest responsibility of an imam is to make sure that he or she leads the ritual and prayer well arguing that there is no prohibition of women leading prayer in Qur’an or Hadith.  Many, however, point to the fact that there is no account of women serving as imam in the public space within these texts. Wadud finds that whether or not there are stories of women becoming imam, there is no clear prohibition and moreover prayer is understood to be a personal relationship with God.  From this, Wadud developed her beliefs as to the possibility of a female imam noting this was a shocking concept for many Muslims around the world.

Prof. Wadud spoke for forty-five minutes and afterward received many questions from forum participants, moderated by Aziz Anwar Fachrudin, a staff member and alumnus of CRCS.  The questions ranged from her concept of the Lady Imam and other thoughts about various gender issues relating to Islam.  Wadud concluded that her ideas developed almost 25 years ago, and the younger generation needed to take up the task to develop their thoughts on this subject and more.  She noted the crises of human conflict, ecology, and many other issues plaguing the world of today as needing to be addressed by this generation.  Wadud encouraged the younger generation in attendance to striver for progress rather than being trapped by thoughts of what is permissible or not.