Muslim women can be religious leaders: study

Muslim women can be religious leaders: study
Photo: Ruth Livingstone (File)

A new Swiss study has found that some Muslim women have more say in their communities than many Christian or Jewish women.

Researchers from the National Science Foundation wanted to know which women had the option of taking on leadership roles within their religious communities.

The results obtained by Sunday newspaper SonntagsBlick, found that while some Islamic groups were conservative, many others were surprisingly liberal. 

“Particularly in the Alevi and Sufi groups, women have more opportunities to advance to positions of spiritual leadership,” Jörg Stolz, professor of sociology and religion at the University of Lausanne, told SonntagsBlick.

The study found that women could be restricted in their roles across all types of religion. Although many associate Islam with the oppression of women, the study found that in fact many ultra-orthodox Jewish communities or conservative free churches prescribed very conservative roles for their female members.

“Some churches have an image of women that has not really changed in Switzerland in the past 100 years,” Stolz said.

Those religious groups found to be more open to women included Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics, liberal Jews and those from the Reformist Church. Nevertheless, the study also concluded that women were playing an increasingly important role even in the more conservative communities.

The study also found that, on average, women in Switzerland are more religious and spiritual than men, based on participation in religious ceremonies and rituals.

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