By Rebecca Spencer – Comment Editor
Imam Uthman, of the Al-Medinah Mosque, is a highly respected member of the Muslim community in Brighton. As the gay capital of the UK, Brighton’s community is diverse and vibrant, a quality that Imam Uthman admires about the city. He considers himself an inclusive leader, who champions an “open door policy” where “people of all sexualities are welcome to practice at the mosque”.
Although he admits “the Muslim community is trying to find its feet when dealing with trans issues” he stresses, “whatever you identify as, wherever you feel comfortable, with the men or the women, come and observe your prayers there”. The mosque teaches its attendees that “nobody is in a position to judge another person’s relationship with God”. It is this message of tolerance that makes him such a popular religious leader in Brighton.
His views are more liberal than one might expect, particularly as some Imams in the UK may not share his views. However, when asked if a female Imam will ever be welcomed into the Al-Medinah Mosque, Imam Uthman gave a steadfast “no”, and explained that “some things will remain impermissible forever”. Currently around 700 men and only 60 women attend the mosque, but the Imam believes this is because “a woman’s prayer is more rewarding from the confines of her home”. Imam Uthman has been criticised for this view, as some ask how an “open door policy” can be in operation when women are expected to pray at home.
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