Magazine article Herizons

The Courage of Conviction

Magazine article Herizons

The Courage of Conviction

Article excerpt

(TORONTO) A Pakistani-Canadian Muslim who broke with tradition and led a congregation of 40 Muslim men and women in prayer has a simple goal.

"My intention was to achieve spiritual equality between men and women and a direct connection with God," says Raheel Raza, who received support for her actions. "I received a balance of criticism and support."

While prohibited in Muslim tradition from leading mixed-gender prayers, women are permitted to lead women in prayer. Aware that some conservative Muslims think she is setting a bad precedent by leading men, Raza did her homework.

"I was conscious of the fact that my followers would be watching me, which led me to be impeccable in my dress and speech," she recalls. "I rehearsed the act several times."

Raza opened the gates to Muslim Pakistani gays and lesbians in her congregation, which gathered in a friend's backyard instead of a mosque. She is striving for inclusivity. …

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