The Lord Chief Justice has appointed Raffia Arshad – thought to be the first hijab-wearing Muslim judge in a Western country – as a Deputy District Judge on the Midland Circuit.
Arshad is a member of St. Mary’s Family Law Chambers in Nottingham. She was called to the Bar in 2002 and has practiced family law for over 17 years. She is an expert on and author of “Islamic Family Law.”
Educated at a Grammar School in West Yorkshire, she was the first in her family to go to University.
Arshad graduated in law, accounting and finance from Oxford Brookes University in 2001. The mother-of-three focuses on child law, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and any cases raising Islamic law issues.
St. Mary’s Family Law Chambers said: “This is an achievement not just for women but Muslim women. If there ever was a time to stand up and fulfill your professional aspirations, it is now.”
And writing on Twitter Raffia Arshad said: “This is not just a personal success, this achievement belongs to everyone from a diverse background and I hope this story inspires many others to achieve their goals…
“I stood for who I am throughout my career and though others occasionally tried to trip me up, it never caused me to fall or prevented me from achieving my goals.”
She also told The Metro: “It’s definitely bigger than me, I know this is not about me. It’s important for all women, not just Muslim women, but it is particularly important for Muslim women…
“I’ve had so many emails from people, men and women. It’s the ones from women that stand out, saying that they wear a hijab and they thought they wouldn’t even be able to become a barrister, let alone a judge…
“I decided that I was going to wear my headscarf because for me it’s so important to accept the person for who they are and if I had to become a different person to pursue my profession, it’s not something I wanted.”