Friday, April 25, 2008

Islam in flux - female religious leaders in Morocco

Islam is not what it used to be. Morocco is training female spiritual leaders, in order to develop a more liberal form of Islam. The Telegraph published a long article about this matter. Interesting presupposition: are women indeed better at developing a more liberal form of Islam? I wonder. In the Muslim world, if not everywhere, women are the guardians of the family values and they whisper Islam in the ears of their kids. Are they not the one's who taught the present generation how to interpret Islam?

The education that Morocco offers seems to be popular. For 50 places in the training institute in Rabat, 400 women applied. They are not trained to be imams, Allah forbid, but they are called murshidaat, female guides. This term resonates with sufism, which is a more liberal brand of Islam indeed.

The initiative is part of a wave of liberal reforms begun by King Muhammad VI in 2004. 'This is a rare experiment in the Muslim world,' Muhammad Mahfudh, the centre's director, says. The murshidaat will help women with religious questions, with their education and give support in schools and prisons. The long-term hope is that by working face-to-face with the community, they will help foster a more moderate Islam. Insha Allah.

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