Woman Imam
[Representative Image] Iranian women take part in Eid al-Fitr prayers at Tehran's Imam Khomeini Mosalla, 24 October 2006.BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

The Friday prayer or Juma Nawaz was with a difference in Malappuram city in northern Kerala on January 26. In a first, a 34-year-old woman Imam led the congregational prayer for Muslims.

Jamitha Teacher, the state secretary of the Quran Sunnath Society, became the first woman Imam in India to lead devotees in Friday prayers, NDTV reported.

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The Quran Sunnath Society in Kerala organised this event. Jamitha also led the Khutba — the speech delivered in the mosque — on Friday.

However, this honour has not come easy for Jamitha, who was criticised by elders for taking this step.

"I have been criticised a lot by elders of various factions for taking this step. There are men who will not like women taking these positions and being empowered. But the Quran is clear — there is no discrimination between man and woman. They have equal rights," she told NDTV.

She was also boycotted by several in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. She even received death threats for expressing her opinions. Following the backlash, she left the capital city in 2006.

In 2010, she was invited by the Quran Sunnath Society for a session and is now the secretary of the society.

"We started discussing this through deliberate discussions as well as Friday Jumu'ah's for almost five-six months. People had different opinions. But we based our discussions solely on the Quran and brought everyone on board. It should not be about which faction teaches what, but about Quran teaches. And Quran nowhere stops women from leading Jumu'ah," MS Rasheed, a senior leader of the Quran Sunnath Society, told the publication.

While this may be the first time in India, women Imams have been breaking barriers across the world. In 2016, history was made in Denmark when a woman Imam led the Friday prayers at a mosque run solely by women.