Toledo mosque Masjid Saad has elected a female president, the first woman to hold the leadership position at the 30-year-old mosque.
Salmenna Sediqe, a businesswoman and mother of five, was elected last month and will serve a one-year term as president of the mosque on Alexis Road in Sylvania. The administrative position is separate from the mosque's religious leadership.
Mrs. Sediqe said Monday hers was not a landmark election for Muslims, but she hopes it will change some negative stereotypes among non-Muslims.
"For local Muslims, there is no doubt in the minds of the mass majority that they are supportive of a female in a leadership position. For non-Muslims, this will help them break down misperceptions they have about Islam," she said.
It is the second time a woman has been elected president of a Toledo-area mosque. In 2001, when the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg Township elected Cherrefe Kadri as president, it was believed to be the first time a U.S. mosque elected a woman to that position.
Mrs. Sediqe said Islam has a long history of treating women equally and with respect, beginning with the Prophet Mohammed, who founded Islam 1,400 years ago.
There have been some misinterpretations of the Prophet's teachings and the Qur'an, including in her native Afghanistan, she said.
Women at times have been denied equality, but that is a distortion of Islam, she asserted…
Julia Shearson, executive director of the Cleveland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said, "We're very pleased, of course, and I think it's important that competent women are advanced in our community. But I don't think it's an anomaly.
"There have been four women presidents or prime ministers of Muslim-majority nations, and we have yet to have a woman president in the United States." (More)