Media and the Female Imam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Female imams are attractive protagonists in documentaries, books, and news stories. This article investigates the tensions that arise when ritual performance takes place before an audience and how symbolic events such as women-led Friday prayer and identities such as female imams are produced in the intersection of interests between women who want to re-claim Islam and commercial media, which produce narratives that are in demand among media consumers. These productions are compared with women who make similar performances but who for various reasons stay away from media. One of these reasons, the problem of translating meaning from an Islamic context to a non-Islamic mediated context, is explored in depth. Finally, the spread of Sherin Khankan’s and Seyran Ates’ narratives are analyzed with Henry Jenkins concept spreadability. The article is based on field work in the Mariam Mosque (Copenhagen), field observations in the Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque (Berlin), and interviews with 14 women who are engaged in nonconformist activities such as delivering the khutbah or leading Friday prayer.
Original languageEnglish
Article number159
Number of pages13
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar 5

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Media Studies
  • History of Religions

Free keywords

  • Islamic feminism
  • Muslim Feminism
  • Female imam
  • Islam and media
  • Seyran Ates
  • Sherin Khankan
  • Spreadability


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