Mosque's 1st Female Leader Tackles Stereotypes

June 9, 2009

Author: David Yonke

Source: The Toledo Blade

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.