Woman who led Friday prayers in Kerala faces threat

Woman who led Friday prayers in Kerala faces threat

Two days after scripting history by leading Juma prayers in a Malappuram village, Jamida K is standing up to social media abuse and threats with defiance.

"I'm not scared. I'm not sitting at home and releasing videos to communicate my point. What I say and do is out in the open; I can't be bullied to silence by cowards on social media," the 34-year-old general secretary of the Quran Sunnath Society told DH on Sunday.  

On Friday, Jamida led the prayers for a group of over 50 people at the society's central committee office in Cherukode, near Wandoor.

While she is celebrated as arguably the first woman in the country to have broken centuries-old strictures that have kept Muslim women away from leading the prayers, she has also invited criticism from some clerics and on social media.

"I knew how they would react, I was prepared. Attempts at reform in Islam have in the past been met with similar reactions. That has been the pattern but it's heartening that many have also come together to support me," she said.  

The Quran Sunnath Society is an organisation that campaigns for reforms in Islam.

Jamida maintained that selective interpretations of the Quran have been used to establish what she called discriminatory practices in the religion.

She pointed out that the Quran does not stipulate that a woman cannot lead the prayers and contended that interpretations had to be based on evidence.

"The text doesn't discriminate, it's people who want to exercise a patriarchal power who do that. When I asked one of my critics if he could prove that what I did was not in accordance with the Quran, he changed his line of argument," she said.

Jamida has been a critic of the triple talaq and maintained that changes in accordance with times are the way forward for the religion.

"The problem is that in many cases, what is being interpreted as the Quran is distancing the believer from the real text," she said.

The backlash has continued in the form of threats and attacks on social media, some of them even tracing Jamida's act to "support" from Hindu right-wing groups.

She denied the charges. "I'm only asking for dialogue based on evidence. I'm ready for a debate," she said.

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