Her Turn to Pray

A historic service signals a new push by Muslim women to reclaim their rights in the mosque

The worshippers face Mecca. "Allahu akbar." Hands lift heavenward. "God is great." They bow as a voice leads them through the litany. "Alhamdulillah." From the familiar words to the leader's call and the 100-strong congregation's murmured response, the prayers sound much as they always do. "Praise be to God." Except that the voice leading them is a woman's.

The prayer leader is Amina Wadud, an Islamic scholar at Virginia Commonwealth University, and the organizers who invited her claim that she is the first woman to have presided over a mixed-gender prayer service in public since Islam's earliest days. The event was...

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