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Domestic Issues Dominate Inquiries of Women on Fatwa in Egypt Mosques

Domestic Issues Dominate Inquiries of Women on Fatwa in Egypt Mosques

Thursday, 2 June, 2022 - 07:00
Preacher Dr. Jihan Yassin Youssef. Asharq Al-Awsat

In a first-of-its-kind experience, Egyptian female preachers have been hired in mosques to give fatwas. Their mission is to listen to women seeking fatwa in religious and social matters, especially on the domestic level (marriage, love, work, family ties, friends, and relatives) in fatwa councils dedicated for women, and held every Saturday between sunset and night prayers.

These councils are aimed at giving women a shame-free opportunity to ask the questions they have in mind, especially in private woman-related topics, and consult female specialized preachers who attended trainings in fatwa, and graduated from the preachers institute affiliated with the Ministry of Awqaf.

This new experience started with four female preachers serving in four major mosques in the Egyptian capital: The Imam Hussein Mosque, Al-Sayyida Nafisa Mosque, Giza’s Al Istiqama Mosque, and Nasr City’s Al-Rahman al-Rahim Mosque.

Preacher Dr. Yumna Abu al-Nasr serves in the female fatwa council at the Imam Hussein Mosque, one of Egypt’s greatest historic mosques. This experience has placed her in a direct contact with the complex and sensitive matters of the modern era.

“The experience of female fatwa council has seen a remarkable turnout and interaction from women. Attendees’ ages range between 12 and 80, with questions and inquiries covering all aspects and challenges of our daily life, including religious matters about prayers, fasting, and Imams, as well as social topics such as divorce, marital relationship, and family ties,” she told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Abu al-Nasr notes that the age difference among attendees reflects a wide contrast in questions and concerns. “The inquiries of young women focus on makeup, accessories, clothes, and marriage plans, while older women show interest in deeper social matters such as divorce, disobedience to parents, and raising children,” she said.

Interestingly, according to Abu al-Nasr, more women have been asking questions about financial and economic issues, such as bank interests, loans, inheritance, independent financial disclosures for the wife, and savings.

Dr. Jihan Yassin Youssef, a preacher and gynecologist, who serves is the fatwa council at Giza’s Al Istiqama Mosque, combines her medical knowledge with her qualification for fatwa, when evaluating women related matters.

“I found a connection between the medical and religious issues, as many women related problems require religious opinion. My work as a gynecologist helps me explain many scientific topics, especially those related to private women issues, like the marital relationship, and the biological reasons that exempt women from prayers and fasting,” explained Youssef.

“Many women turn their counseling from religion to medicine when they know I am a gynecologist. They ask sensitive questions spontaneously and shamelessly, which transforms our sessions into conversations, medical consultations, and religious clarifications,” she noted.

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