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Payback time
A woman leads prayers? What's left of Moslem men's dignity?

March 21, 2005

On Friday March 18, 2005, something interesting happened. Amina Wadud, a professor of Islamic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, led an Islamic prayer service before a congregation of 100 Moslem men and women at Synod House at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan. As expected, a few hours later, all hell broke loose.

The imam of a London mosque declared the practice against Islam. A woman should never lead prayers, he elaborated, because during the menstrual cycle, there is always the possibility of an accident during the service: if a man happens to glance at the female imam's behind and spots blood, then the gates of heaven will forever be shut to the poor chump.

Thank you, dear imam, for clarifying a few things for me. First of all, I had no idea women bled from their behind during the menstrual cycle. I guess that means I was pulled out of my mother's ass. Silly me... I was completely in the dark.

Secondly, as an avid ass-looker, I can assure the good imam that in all my years of looking at women's behinds from all different angles, I've never spotted blood. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough. Who knows? Maybe the imam is a better ass-looker than I am! I've never claimed to be good at anything.

And by the way, I didn't know there's a shortage of tampons in London. What's up with that?

Meanwhile Soad Saleh, who heads the Islamic department of the women's college at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, said women should not lead prayers because "the woman's body, even if veiled, stirs desires."

What can I say? Like many of my Middle Eastern brothers, I have a lifetime subscription to Play Veil magazine. Miss January was absolutely gorgeous and even though I couldn't see anything behind her veil, in some perverted way, she stirred my desires.

I can't explain it. Only we Middle Eastern men are capable of looking at women who are covered under lumps of unforgiving black sheets and feel aroused. Heck, I sometimes look at drapes hanging from windows and get horny!

According to Ms. Saleh, we Middle Eastern men are sexually so out of control that there's a strong chance we might hump a female imam in the middle of Friday prayers. Thank you Ms. Saleh! Thank you very much for your in-sight!

But I think the best line came from the cleric of a mosque in Saudi Arabia. The honorable sheikh expressed outrage by mentioning several times, "how can a woman who touches her husband's organ lead a prayer... it is inconceivable!"

Obviously the sheikh is unaware that married women do not touch their husband's organ. As a matter of fact that's the main reason women get married ... so they don't have to touch, fondle or stroke any part of a man's body. In fact women are done with sex the day after they get married. Obviously the sheikh is enjoying an unusually active sex-life with his wife.

I feel the anger of my fellow fundamentalist brothers. We're not only challenged by an intellectual who knows her Islam but, even worse, we're challenged by a woman. The very fact that a woman is more intelligent, and makes no apologies for it, insults our very existence.

This has nothing to do with Islam; it's about what we've learned from our fathers and grandfathers. This is about money and power -- the very essence of our manhood. This is not about menstrual cycles, stirring desires or fondling organs. It's about fear and insecurity. Nothing is more intimidating to a man than a woman who sees right through him.

Personally, as an Iranian Moslem man, it would be a privilege and honor to stand behind a female imam and pray to my God. I promise I'll never glance at her behind -- unless, of course, God has blessed her with one that is too divine to ignore.

Who knows? Maybe one day women can have several husbands too. Reversal of fortune is entertaining -- don't you think? Maybe we'll see the day when women with their Gucci purses and Prada shoes walk in front and we follow them two steps behind covered in thick dark sheets, pushing strollers and gasping for air.  Imagine me and the sheikh and a couple of other fellows being some woman's bitches. Oh, the payback!

Siamack Baniameri is the author of The Iranican Dream, ( Publishing, December 2004). Also see

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