Women’s mosques set up in China for women to learn about Islam

By Aida Zemani

GOMBAK, 26 October 2017: The establishment of the women’s mosques in contemporary China has served as a platform to spread Islamic education, according to PhD candidate and visiting academic staff from Leiden University, Rosati Francesca in a talk at the Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Law (AIKOL) yesterday.

In a session organised by International Institute for Muslim Unity (IIMU) titled ‘The Phenomenon of Women’s Mosque in China: Women’s Islamic Education in China’, Rosati Francesca elaborated on her research of ten years.

“Since the state downgraded the religious topic, there is only one religious school that is being recognised by the state. Even so, the school needs to change its name to School of Foreign Language,” Rosati said in her speech.

Rosati said that Muslims in China do not have imam and kadi whom they can refer to for syariah matters. They have to go to the supreme judge, and that became one of the major reasons why Islamic education is important in the country.

“Muslim women in China can become professionals and learn Arabic, however, they cannot be religious leaders, they cannot become imam to lead the prayer, what more to preach and deliver the khutbah,” she clarified.

She added that the people do not have an open mentality. The women are not supposed to go out, instead they are required to stay at home and learn how to be a good housewife. Women would only pray at home instead of the mosque. Therefore, the spread of Islamic education is very limited.

“These are among the reasons why they established the women’s mosques so that Muslim women can go out and learn more about Islamic education, as well as providing a space for women to pray outside the house,” she said.

“The Muslim women community in China considered someone who masters Islamic knowledge as nu ahong – female cleric. They can have Arabic classes, learn and memorise the Quran, and then teach the knowledge to others. Especially now in China, they already have schools for girls to enrol and learn more on Islamic education.”

Rosati Francesca is a PhD candidate from two universities at a time – Leiden University, Netherlands, and Ecole des Hautes Etudesen Sciences Sociales, Paris, and she started off by writing a thesis on mosques in China. This is not her first time presenting her research but it is her first to do so in an Islamic university.***

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