China's female imams carrying on ancient Islamic tradition
By China correspondent Huey Fern Tay
Updated Thu 6 Mar 2014, 1:52pm AEDT
A small group of women in central China's Henan province have been imams in their community for centuries.China isn't the heartland of Islam, but it is the only country in the world to have a long history of female imams.

This part of China is home to less than four per cent of China's roughly 23 million Muslims.

The believers are from an ethnic minority known as the Hui.

A group of Muslim grandmothers wander into a mosque behind an ancient city wall shortly before noon prayers on a Friday.

A crowd of 50 soon fill the prayer room.

Ge Caixia is their religious leader, a female imam in the mosque that's dedicated only to women.

About Mahmood Shaam
Mahmood Shaam is a writer, poet and journalist whose basic philosophy is that all good work is done in defiance of powerful and influential. After being in journalism for 48 years he says that the central dilemma in journalism is that you don't know what you don't know.
Shaam is one of the best known and most traveled journalist of Pakistan. After serving JANG GROUP for more than 16 years continuously as Group Editor, he joined ARY Group in September 2010 and later launched a new Urdu newspaper 'Jehan Pakistan' from Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore in 2012. After a brief stint there, he resigned after some differences with the management and is now focusing on his literary work and launched a new book 'Media Manzar' and another book is soon to be launched.

His search for truth and defiance shown to rulers landed him twice in jail during his carrier. He has written over 20 books including few poetry books. He has the distinction of interviewing global leaders including US President Gerald Ford, Indian Prime Minister Indra Gandhi, the legendary Yasir Arafat of Palestine and many others.