Some 144 women have been appointed as preachers by Al-Azhar University since 2014, with 2,000 more due to be instated before the end of 2017.
Egypt is becoming one of the few countries where women can now become Islamic preachers. According to analysis completed by the Egyptian religious authorities, a mother or a wife can be responsible for the transmission of regressive or radical ideas within the home.
Educating Muslim women according to the precepts of Islam through official preachers is therefore part of Al-Azhar’s global struggle against radical speech.
Breaking the historical rules of Islamist preachers where there is a male monopoly, but where women are present today, is countering extremism and fundamentalism by women too
Riadh Sidaoui, director of Arab Center for Political and Social Research and Analysis, explained.
The female preachers’ main role will be that of educator with the mission to “democratise social issues such as marriage, children, sexuality [and] menstruation,” according to L’Orient Le Jour.
“Political power may be tempted to impose stronger control, hence reforms on women,” says Naima Bouras, a researcher at the Cairo-based Centre for Economic, Legal and Social Studies (CEDEJ).