Here’s Everything You Need To Know About the First Muslim-born Woman to Lead a Mixed-Gender British Congregation
By Karim Sheta
During the past few weeks, social media was ignited with a flame of mixed emotions regarding an imperative social and religious matter. A matter that enraged heckling protestors causing the probability of potentially harmful riots. Raheel Raza became the first Muslim-born woman to lead a mixed-gender British congregation through Friday prayers at a small session in Oxford when she delivered the khutbah and led the prayers.
So who is Raheel Raza? Raza is a 60 year old Canadian rights activist and author. She is also part of a “small but growing group of Muslim feminists who have tried to challenge the mindset that has traditionally excluded women from leadership roles within the mosque” based on the grounds that the Koran does not explicitly state any restrictions on female imams. The author received death threats when she executed a similar attempt 5 years ago in Toronto. According to the Telegraph, she was invited by Dr Taj Hargey, a self-described imam who preaches an ultra-liberal interpretation of Islam which includes, among other things, that men and women should be allowed to pray together and that female imams should lead mixed congregations in prayer.
Raza stated in a telephone conversation from her home in Toronto, “It was a very profound experience. It’s not about taking the job of an imam. It’s about reminding the Muslim community that 50 per cent of its adherents are women who are equal to men. Women are equally observant, practicing Muslims who deserve to be heard.”