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Raffia is a family law barrister, author, lecture and motivational speaker. She qualified as a barrister in 2002 and specializes in family law and Sharia law. She regularly lectures at universities throughout the UK on family law and delivers seminars and workshops to other lawyers and judges on Sharia law. In 2010, she authored the leading textbook on Islamic family law, which has received positive reviews both from the Muslim community and high court judges. She was Young Lawyer of the Year in 2009. Raffia regularly delivers Islamic circles, runs a Muslim parenting group and co-hosts a show on Radio Ramadan with her husband. Raffia was previously the youth ambassador for Mercy Mission UK and has traveled out to Palestine for voluntary work. Raffia is currently studying for a Diploma in Personal Development Coaching at University of Cambridge.

     |1. How did you start your career?

I have always wanted to be a Lawyer. Since the age of 11, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. As I enjoyed courtroom advocacy so much, the right step for me was to qualify as a Barrister. The competition is extremely tough with over 400 applicants for one job. I managed to secure a series of scholarships to fund the Barrister course in its entirety. Each morning I wake up and go to work I am very thankful to Allah for the wonderful job I have and the ability to make a difference in the lives of people. I love my work, but it does not make me who I am. I have been a Barrister for almost nine years now and within the next few years will be taking my judges exams as that is where I see my future role.

     |2.  I highly applaud your efforts to put just as much work into studying Islam as you did for your university education. Did you feel in any way the two complemented each other?

The pursuit of education is very much encouraged in Islam. I believe all practicing Muslims should continually seek to better themselves in both deen and dunya. The successful Muslim is the one who has deen in his or heart and the dunya in his or her hands.

     |3. As a Muslim woman with a career like yours, how do you explain the position of women in Islam to a non-Muslim?

The position of women in Islam is explained by my own actions. Every Muslim should be a walking advert for the deen. My work, my dress, my character insha’Allah are all embodiments of what Islam teaches.

(left) Raffia's name displayed outside the law firm (right) Raffia with Cherie Blair

     |4. How has your experience been wearing hijab in High Court?

I am in a highly competitive elite profession. It is unusual to see Asians in this field, let alone a practicing Muslim woman. Muslim women have received a dispensation from wearing the wig, although some women do still choose to wear the wig and a hijab. The courts have been very accommodating.

     |5. What do you feel is your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement is my ability to be in an elite and demanding profession without compromising my duties to my family. Despite being in the High Court, I will still manage to cook dinner, clean my home and make sure my son is on top of his hifz. I have always said and continue to believe that women should take care of their homes first and then go out to work. There is no point in helping society if by neglecting your household duties you become one of the problems of society.

  |6. What advice do you give to young Muslim women who are also looking to go into law?

Preparation is the key to anyone looking to achieve anything. 90% preparation, 10% execution. It is an extremely competitive field therefore you should aim to be the best candidate. The courtroom is not for the faint-hearted so if you’re a shy person and unable to think on your feet, this career is not suited to you. It would be advisably to get as much work experience as possible before making a firm decision.

     |7. What advice would you give to mothers who are also balancing a career and motherhood?

The advice I would give to mothers looking to balance work and family life is to put their family first, have tawakkal in Allah and everything else will follow.

     |8. What misconceptions about Muslim women would you like to see change?

The biggest misconception about Muslim women is probably that the hijab subjugates them. I loved the comment made recently by Tawakkul Karman, winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize who said:

“Man in the early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved he started wearing clothes. What I am today and what I’m wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved, and is not regressive. It’s the removal of clothes again that is regressive back to ancient times.”

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Comments

  1. Amal Alganem Says: January 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    very inspiring, I admire her a lot

  2. Ruqayyah T Says: January 21, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Pleasant to read about. Very inspirational, especially balancing family and work.

  3. Such a beautiful interview, with such a beautiful personality

  4. May Allah bless you and your family and give you more tawfiq. Ameen. Arshad

  5. A Remarkable women with a balanced approach to life

  6. Dr S Rafiq Says: January 22, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Extremely inspirational.
    In this day and age it is difficult to find such motivational and admirable muslim females who are and inspiration to the rest of us. Keep it up! May Allah make it easy for you and the rest of us. Ameen.
    Sobia

  7. Shama Jung Says: January 23, 2012 at 5:36 am

    By the grace of God, what amazes me about Raffia is not only her wealth of knowledge, but also her willingness to activlely engage with a whole host of causes, using her abundant energy and knowledge to serve the community. I’ve seen her in action and am always inspired. MashAllah, her quick wit and delightful sense of humour are an added bonus!
    Shama

  8. […] Posted by mosaicofmuslimwomen on January 18, 2012 · 8 Comments […]

  9. Raffia is an Inspirational example of what is possible when one has a goal and a commitment to realise it doing whatever it takes. Keep up th great work Raffia

  10. shagufta mirza Says: February 11, 2012 at 2:57 am

    raffia has always been able to discuss her way out of anything! she can really use her words to get anything, leaving my son with you for one year when he hits his teenage years! very proud of your achievements and dreams!!!

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  12. firdous choudhury Says: November 30, 2014 at 2:20 am

    Raffia i have learnt about and your work through internet. its praise worthy. Myself a practising lawyer based in the Supreme Court of India. will be glad to if you can spare little time to respond.
    firdouschoudhury@gmail.com

  13. Muhammad Aslam Bhatti, Advocate Says: January 25, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    very useful

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