Toward a genuine congregation: The form of the Muslim Friday Prayer, revisited

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In recent years, Muslim progressives have called for a gender-egalitarian approach to the Friday prayer. These efforts have focused on women’s leadership of this ritual, the most well-known example being Amina Wadud’s leading of the prayer on March 18, 2005, in New York City.1 In this chapter, I will argue that in order to attain a truly gender-egalitarian approach to the Friday prayer, women’s leadership is necessary but, in and of itself, insufficient. That is, women’s ritual leadership is a crucial step toward—rather than the summation of—a systematic rethinking of the prayer in the light of justice. The first part of this essay will lay the groundwork for my argument by unpacking what I call the “heart” of feminist critique, which is a critique not only of sexism but of all forms of gendered hierarchy and exclusion. I will then interrogate two problematic aspects of the prayer: namely, (1) the visual symbolism of the pulpit and the staff, which is often (though not always) held by the preacher; and (2) the marked absence of an analytic, participatory role for the congregation. In order to create a more inclusive space for the congregation within the service, I will propose an alternative, praxis-based model. This chapter sets the stage for discussion by providing a basic overview of the prayer and presenting a Qur’anic justification for how I, as a believing Muslim, am able to make such an argument in the first place.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLiturgy in Postcolonial Perspectives
EditorsCláudio Carvalhaes
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9781137508270
ISBN (Print)9781349703623
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NamePostcolonialism and Religions


  • liberation theology
  • gender hierarchy
  • participatory role
  • Friday Prayer


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