Monday, September 5, 2016

China’s proud 300-year history of female-led mosques is an inspiration to the west

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.