Progressive Islam and Women’s Religious Leadership: Analysing the Emergence of New Models of Shared Authority


  • Lisa Worthington Western Sydney University



Islam, Authority, Progressive Islam, Women's Leadership


In response to radical interpretations of Islam numerous progressive Muslim movements have emerged in order to demonstrate that Islam can be both equitable and inclusive. This paper is focused on two progressive organisations: Muslims for Progressive Values and El-Tawhid Jumma Circle and their practice of shared authority. Shared authority necessitates that leadership responsibilities are shared among the congregation and that religious leadership positions are open to all. In practice this means that women can assume religious leadership roles. Using field work data, this article will examine the experiences of progressive Muslim women who take up leadership positions in new Islamic organisations. It will be argued that progressive Muslims are creating alternative shared authority structures within their congregations in order to construct egalitarian worship spaces and open religious leadership to women.

Author Biography

  • Lisa Worthington, Western Sydney University
    Lisa is a PhD candidate in the Religion and Society Research Cluster at the University of Western Sydney where she also teaches in both the School of Social Sciences and Psychology. In 2013 she was a visiting scholar at the City University of New York Graduate Center while she undertook her PhD fieldwork. Her PhD research investigates whether forms of cosmopolitanism and pluralism are present in the religious practices of progressive Muslim communities in North America.


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How to Cite

Worthington, L. (2016). Progressive Islam and Women’s Religious Leadership: Analysing the Emergence of New Models of Shared Authority. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 29(2), 167-181.