THE GUARDIAN - Monday 29 August 2016
When I informed some of the female imams in Henan, central China, of
the opening of women’s mosques in the US and in Europe, most recently in
Copenhagen (Female imams make history with a new call to prayer,
27 August), they were delighted. Delighted that their proud history of
female-led Islamic institutions, which can be traced back more than 300
years, has proved inspirational. By the same token, a more accurate and
nuanced knowledge of China’s unique Islamic tradition (now no longer
quite so unique) is called for. There is ample scholarship on the
history of women’s mosques in China.
This history is a long one. Its unique manifestation of independent
institutions, Nüxue or Nüsi – women’s (Qur’anic) school or women’s
mosque – emerged from complex historical and socio-political
negotiations over the nature of Muslim identity in the Chinese diaspora
and over means to keep faith alive and religio-ethnic identity intact.