Saturday, May 06, 2006

Women preachers in Morocco   posted by Razib @ 5/06/2006 02:51:00 PM

This is probably the most thorough coverage of the development that there are now government sanctioned women preachers in Morocco. Granted, they are not imams, but I think that development is inevitable now. One thing to note is that many smaller and Lefty Roman Catholic denominations in the USA depend on female parish employees for their day-to-day activities, but because of the special role of priests in Roman Catholicism, and its central organization, the elevation of women to roles equivalent to what has occurred in some Protestant denominations seems to be unlikely in the near future. But I think in Islam the imam is more like a rabbi or Protestant pastor, and, the lack of central authorities in the Roman Catholic mode makes the possibility of female imams more plausible. This development in Morocco is important because Morocco is a predominantly Arab country. While the rise of female imams in China is interesting in illustrating the elasticity of interpretations of Islam, when changes come to the Arab Muslim nations than you have something that reflects possible transitions toward the mainstream. It is not irrelevant the king of Morocco claims direct descent from Muhammad (though, most people in the Muslim world can probably trace their descent from Muhammad somehow if they were omniscient, and perhaps most people in western Eurasia).

Related: Here is a timeline when American Protestant denominations began to allow women into ministerships. Note that this trend is not limited to liberal groups, the Church of the Nazarene had a woman as a minister before 1900. John Ashcroft pointed this out to Patrick Leahy years ago when the latter was implicitly criticizing Ashcroft's religiouis extremism. Ashcroft contrasted his church's more open attitude toward women in positions of religious leadership than Leahy's own Roman Catholic church, and Leahy was not pleased. In any case, the point is that women won't necessarily make a church less fundamentalist, in fact, polls tend to show that women are more Creationist then men. Rather, I suspect women are more like to make the interpretation of the religion less violent. I would say pussyish, but I don't want to make this into a "unsafe space."

Addendum: A celibate priesthood might also make a religion less violent. Just a thought. The Roman Catholic church's turning away from a muscular form of Christianity might track the influx of, uhm, less masculine men into the priesthood.