Muslim Women Gain Religious Authority

April 27, 2005

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

On April 27, 2005 The Christian Science Monitor reported, "Covered in a pink and gray head scarf that tightly frames her round face, and adorned in a long, dark-blue overcoat, Zuleyha Seker hardly seems like a rebel. But as one of 400 women preachers, known as vaizes, currently working in several of Turkey's state-run mosques, Ms. Seker is making waves. 'The vaizes like me are seen as revolutionaries in religious circles - we are always pushing for change,' she says with a gentle smile. Indeed, women have brought significant change to Turkey's Muslim order in recent years. Two years ago, women were appointed for the first time to lead groups of Turks making the pilgrimage to Mecca. And last year, Diyanet, a government body that oversees the country's mosques and trains religious leaders, added 150 women preachers across Turkey. Now, Diyanet is selecting a group of women who will serve as deputies to muftis, or expounders of religious law. From this post, they'll monitor the work being done by imams in local mosques, particularly as it relates to women."