Dr Usama Hasan led the Eid prayers at the “Inclusive Mosque Initiative” (IMI) – which is open to all genders and sexual orientations, allows men and women to pray side-by side and females to lead the salah.
Usama Hasan who is a senior researcher at the counter-extremism think-tank, Quilliam Foundation was gifted with a book by the IMI for leading the prayers.
The controversial IMI launched its project last year when its UK co-ordinator, Tamsila Tauqir said on a BBC radio show that: “We want to start our own mosques, we’re not aiming to change existing mosques or tell them what they should or shouldn’t be doing.
“The initiative is to create another space for Muslims who don’t feel welcome, disenfranchised with what currently exists. We want to start our own, reaching out to all Muslims regardless of sexuality, gender, gender identity, denomination, Shia or Sunni, ethnicity or language.”
Ms Tauqir also highlighted last year that not only will the IMI welcome the LGBT community but it will also allow men and women to pray side-by-side. All this goes against the orthodox rules on homosexuality, free mixing and gender segregation within traditional Islamic law.
The IMI launched its project in light of the outrage from the Muslim community about Muslim MPs voting in support of the Same Sex Marriage policy in 2013.
It’s an initiative that has angered many Muslims, but Ms Tauqir insisted that they will not “pressure other mosques to follow suit”.
IMI and the Safra Project
Although the IMI has a very small following in the UK, it is part of a global network with sites in India and Malaysia. They also have support networks in the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Sweden. The IMI aims to set up a network of international mosques based on the same ethos.
Safra Project is a resource organization working on issues relating to lesbian, bisexual or transgender women who identify themselves as Muslim. The Safra Project was set up in October 2001 by “Lesbian Muslim” (LBT) women.
They aim to deal with the issues faced by LBT women, prejudices based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, religion, race, culture and immigration status which they believe are currently insufficiently addressed.
Last year 5Pillarz spoke to numerous leaders of the British Muslim community regarding their views on homosexuality and IMI.
Director and Founder of Ebrahim College, Sheikh Shams Ad-Duha Muhammad told 5Pillarz: “There are three issues. Firstly, Islam does not accept homosexuality. Secondly, there is a consensus on the matter of free mixing and segregation in mosques, this will never change.
“Women who feel they don’t get equal access to mosques due to cultural biases need to know this is not from Islam. Women should be facilitated for, this needs to be addressed and is open for discussion.
“Muslims should always resist calls from outside to reform our religion which goes against the Quran, Sunnah, Ijma Sahabah and juristic traditions.
“Being a homosexual does not necessarily mean you’re an apostate. It comes down to whether the individual perceives homosexuality as ideologically justified, has committed isolated acts or gets homosexual urges.
“As far as we’re concerned, gays are like any other Muslims who sin, we are all sinners and sinners are welcome in any mosque. Whoever said homosexuals aren’t welcome in mosques is talking nonsense.”
Media Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir, Taji Mustafa said: “In the West, we see increasing attempts to invent a ‘Western’ Islam that claims that Islamic guidance from the All knowing Creator is not clear on matters such as same-sex relationships. An Islam designed to suit Western tastes, not the Islam revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (saw).”
iERA, MRDF, Hittin Institute among many other British Muslim organisations told 5Pillarz last year that they opposed IMI.