I came across a fascinating article while I was in China about women imams in China. I had always wondered if there have ever been women imams but had never heard of any. There have been a few stories in the last few years about these ahongs, but they neglect to mention that women's mosques in China are not a new development. Some researchers believe they go back at least 300-500 years. The only thing that is new about them now is that the Chinese government didn't allow much religious expression for several decades. Male imams were a novelty too 20 years ago.
Arab Studies Journal reviewed a book on women's mosques in China a few years ago. Unfortunately, it is even more expensive now than it was then. ILL?
I think women's mosques are a great idea. Women are too often excluded from mosques. Not always, but often. Women should be able to take part in the religious life of a mosque, and if that requires women's mosques and imams, then that's the way to go. But I'd rather see a greater number of more inclusive mosques that allow women to participate in the mosque. They're already out there, but not enough.
More on Islam in China later. We visited several mosques this week.