The Independent recently published an article by Jerome Taylor, titled “First woman to lead Friday prayers in the UK,” talking about the mixed-congregation Friday prayers that Canadian Raheel Raza was to lead the following day. I read it, feeling confused: didn’t Amina Wadud do this already?
Well, yes, she did. The beginning of the article clarifies that Raza is the first Muslim-born woman to do so:
A Canadian author will become the first Muslim-born woman to lead a mixed-gender British congregation through Friday prayers tomorrow in a highly controversial move that will attempt to spark a debate about the role of female leadership within Islam.
Wadud’s role as the first woman to do this is only mentioned towards the end of the piece. Other articles from the BBC, Sify, and the Oxford Times, echo this language about Raza being the first “Muslim-born” woman to lead Friday prayers in the U.K. (The BBC link also includes a radio interview with Raza. At one point, the interviewer says about Wadud, “She wasn’t actually Muslim-born; she was a convert.” Raza’s response is “Yes,” without correcting the interviewer or questioning what it means to make that point.) A Comment is Free piece in the Guardian acknowledged Wadud as the first woman to lead mixed prayers in the U.K., but only after identifying her first as an “African-American convert.”