WOMEN AS IMAMS
CLASSICAL ISLAMIC SOURCES AND MODERN DEBATES ON LEADING PRAYER
Author(s): Simonetta Calderini
The book under review is divided into two parts: The ‘Past’ and the ‘Present’. The first part consists of three chapters while the second part has only one long chapter which is the final chapter.
The first chapter in the first part contextualises the debate on female imamate and provides the definition of terminologies as well as narratives and concepts that are employed throughout the book. The author believes that the discussion of ‘narrative’ is important because Prophet Muhammad’s prayer, his role as an instructor of prayer and then as a leader constitute the basis of the theological, legal and, to a degree, political past and present debates on the legitimacy of female leadership of prayer. This chapter also aims to examine whether semantic developments can be identified in some key terms linked to ritual authority, and whether this has changed over time, and whether some of the requisites of being imam were connected to auxiliary issues whether social, ethnic or sectarian. It is also argued that theological and legal discussions on the imamate took place in a political leadership connection because of its link to genealogical origins, piety, tribal affiliation and social status.