A South African Oxford University professor is set to defy tradition as he establishes what he calls an 'open mosque' in Cape Town, but he has drawn flak from many Muslims.
Taj Hargey, director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, a group of "forward thinking" Muslims, revealed that the new mosque will allow women to lead prayers.
The open mosque will welcome anyone who comes in peace, including homosexuals and non-Muslims, South Africa's Eyewitness News reported.
"You go to churches and often see the sign 'All welcome.' This is the single mosque in the whole country that sadly has the words 'All welcome' underneath it."
"Women will enter the same doors as men, women will take part in the service" said the 60-year-old. "This is the first time you'll see men and women praying together."
Cape Town born Hargey said he envisions a mosque that reflects 21st century South Africans and noted that the country needs a religious revolution especially in the Muslim community.
"We do things according to the Qur'an, not according to Islamic Shariah. The Shariah is not God's law, it's a concoction of medieval interpretations and to project that as immutable is nonsense," he stressed.
Many Muslims are not happy with Hargey's plans and said that what he is doing is totally contradictory to Islam and all its teachings.
"Islam is based on the Qur'an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Whoever negates any of the two are considered apostates," said one concerned Muslim.
The Muslim Judicial Council, a non-profit religious advocacy group, said that the establishment cannot be called a mosque because it does not practice full Islam.
The Telegraph reported that last week, the deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council praised the Muslim community for their "vigilance."
"We see and feel the anxiousness in our community," said the council's deputy president Riad Fataar, to local radio station The Voice of the Cape.
Hargey said there has also been praise for what he is doing. He cited a 77-year-old grandmother who called him up to say she has been waiting all her life to enter a mosque and to be warmly welcomed.
"We wanted a mosque that reflects 21st century South Africans not some seventh century utopia that never existed."