Source: The Associated Press
A Muslim marriage in northern India officiated by women has sparked an angry debate, with one of the most influential Islamic seminaries in South Asia calling it an affront to the religion.
Naish Hasan, the 28-year-old bride and a women's rights activist, and Imran Ali, the 41-year-old groom, were married last week in a ceremony that is believed to be the first of its kind in India.
Muslim marriages are traditionally officiated by a man, often a local community leader. The signing of the wedding contract is also witnessed by four Muslim males, two each for the bride and groom.
But the marriage last Wednesday in the northern city of Lucknow was presided over by a woman and all the witnesses were female. The only man involved in the wedding was Ali.
Women's rights activists have greeted the marriage as a symbolic step forward for Muslim women, but the ceremony sparked a firestorm of criticism from conservative Islamic institutions, especially the Dar-ul-Uloom seminary in northern India.