By Sharon Sorour-Morris
Shamima Shaikh (37), who died of cancer in recent months, was South Africa’s leading Muslim gender-equality activist, highly respected for her tenacity and bravery in the face of fierce opposition from conservative elements in her community. She led a rebellion of Muslim women worshippers at a mosque in 1994 and started an ‘alternative’ congregation where gender equality and all its implications for lslamic thought and practice were the norm.
More recently when another Muslim radio station denied women the right to be on air, Shamima served as chair of the Muslim Community Broadcasting Trust which runs The Voice, a Johannesburg Muslim community radio station.
Even at the hour of her death she fought for a woman’s rights. She asked that a closefriend lead her funeral prayers, ensuring that for the first time in centuries, a Muslim’s funeral service was led by a woman. Shamima is survived by her husband, Naeem Jeenah, and their sons Minhaj (nine) and Shir’ah (seven).