A muslim scholar has opened the doors to what is believed to be the world’s only gay-friendly mosque in Cape Town, South Africa.

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According to a BBC report, Dr. Taj Hargey, a professor at Oxford University’s Muslim Educational Centre has completed the ‘Open Mosque’ which welcomes not only gay Muslims, but also invites women to pray alongside men, and even to lead prayers.

The opening of the mosque has been condemned by many in Cape Town’s Muslim community with one Muslim group unsuccessfully attempting to block the opening of the mosque.

Dr. Hargey has said that he hoped the mosque would symbolize the open nature of Islam during the times of Prophet Muhammed, who is said to have allowed prominent women like one of his wives, Khadijah to lead prayers.

"This idea of female invisibility is an innovation that came after Muhammad, unfortunately it has become entrenched," said Dr. Hargey.

Although South Africa’s body for Islamic groups, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), says it is investigating members’ concerns of the Open Mosque, several members of Cape Town’s large Muslim community have openly criticized the mosque and even labeled the Dr. Hargey an “unbeliever”.

Still, Dr. Hargey hopes the mosque will counter growing Islamic radicalism, and looks forward to the future.

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