California activist Ani Zonneveld is one of them and takes positions that make her unpopular with America’s Islamic leaders. Not only does she lead prayers — a task normally reserved for men — but she is an outspoken advocate for gay, bisexual and transgender Muslims. Later this year, she plans to officiate at the Islamic wedding of a lesbian couple, which is perfectly acceptable by her reading of the Quran.
Along with feminist American Muslim Pamela Taylor, Zonneveld co-founded in 2007 Muslims for Progressive Values which is based on 10 principles. They include a commitment to equality of genders and for LGBTQ (or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) people, repudiation of militarism and violence and the need for “critical engagement with Islamic scripture.”
“The community we are building is very different from most of the mosques you would walk into,” said Zonneveld, a 49-year-old Malaysian-born singer-songwriter. “We are very inclusive of all Muslims, gay Muslims, mixed-faith couples. … We also don’t segregate (the genders) when we pray, and we allow women to lead prayer. Our values are very egalitarian and we really live those values out.”