BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Middle East
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Tuesday, 1 August, 2000, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
Iranian women to lead prayers
Iranian political rally
Iranian women play a central role in Iran's reformist movement
Islamic religious leaders in Iran have lifted a ban on women leading prayers.

They will now be able to lead congregations of women worshippers for the first time.

The measure is intended to counter declining interest in Islam among young Iranians, particularly young women.

Until now only men have been allowed to lead congregational prayers in both the Sunni and Shiite Muslim traditions.

'Major development'

The religious decree, or fatwa, was issued by six senior clerics, or 'marjas' (sources of emulation in religious matters).

Mohammad Khatami
President Khatami owes his election win to the women's vote
Women are to be allowed to lead congregations of women in prayer, particularly on Fridays, the main weekly communal prayer.

Ali Asghar Nuri, an Education Ministry official, said the hope is that the decree will encourage young women to join in prayers.

"The employment of women as leaders of Friday congregation prayers at the head of other women during prayers held at schools constitutes a major development," Mr Nuri told the Iranian news agency Irna.

Women's victory

The change in law and practice is being seen as a victory for women's movements in Iran, where the traditional male privileges in politics and in the clergy are being challenged.

Women have played a central role in recent years in the reformist movement that now dominates the Iranian parliament, and in the election of reformist president Mohammad Khatami in 1997.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

30 Jul 00 | Middle East
Iranian diva finds her voice again
23 Feb 00 | Middle East
Iran's youth: Force for change
23 Feb 00 | Middle East
Iranian women seek equality
08 Sep 99 | Middle East
Iranian women get image boost
03 Mar 99 | Middle East
Iran's women show political muscle
03 Mar 99 | Crossing continents
Feature: Iranian women take to the field
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories