KUN0010 4 GEN 0380 KUWAIT /KUNA-HST4 REL-US-FEMALE-IMAM Imam, others criticize woman leading mixed-gender Friday Prayer NEW YORK, March 19 (KUNA) -- Imam Omar Abu Namous at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York strongly criticized in his Friday sermon Amina Wadud, Professor of Islamic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, for leading a public mixed-gender Friday Prayer in a New York Art Gallery belonging to a New York Cathedral. Wadud was also criticized by the Muslims who attended her Friday prayer. While Abu Namous' criticism focused on Wadud's job as Imam, those who attended her session were furious at the setting and at how Wadud and the organizers of the event behaved. An American-Egyptian lady cited the Athan (call for prayer) while unveiled and facing the cameras rather than Makkah. Wadud had no podium, so she put her papers and the Qura'n on the floor. Some women came out of the prayer saying they were disappointed because that was not what they expected. The event, attended by more media people than worshipers, was held under tight security. Three mosques in New York refused to have the event on their premises because of bomb threats. Abu Namous told KUNA that the job is not "suitable" for a woman. Islam is a complete religion and any attempt to add things to it is "unacceptable." He said the US has had 43 presidents; none of them was a woman. "It's OK for her to lead prayer for women only or in her family, but not for men or mixed-gender prayers." "Can a man take care of a one-week old baby?" he asked. "In this case it is just a distribution of roles in the society." Wadud, author of 'Qur'an and Women: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective," affirms the right of Muslim women to be prayer leaders and stresses that the custom of having only men leading prayers is "pervasive and goes unchallenged." Today, "Muslim women will reclaim their right to be spiritual equals and leaders. Women will move from the space tradition has relegated them in the back of the mosque and pray in the front rows," said a statement by Muslim WakeUp! and Muslim Women's Freedom Tour - two organizations promoting cultural and spiritual diversity and tolerance among Muslims and non-Muslims in the United States. (end) sj.aj KUNA 190929 Mar 05NNNN