Raffia Arshad is a 40-year-old British Muslim woman who become the first hijab-wearing judge in the United Kingdom.
She got her early education from grammar school in West Yorkshire. Raffia is the only person in her family to have studied at a university. Judge Arshad is also the author of the book titled Islamic Family Law.
A mother of three, Arshad was a practising family lawyer for 17 years. She said she was grateful to her husband for supporting her throughout her journey.
Arshad grew up in West Yorkshire, and admits that although in a powerful position, she still has to face discrimination and bias, “sometimes on a daily basis.”
She told the Metro.co.uk: “Recently, an usher asked: ‘Are you a client?’ ‘No I’m not.’ ‘You must be the interpreter?’ ‘No I’m not.’ ‘Are you here on work experience?’ ‘I’m actually the barrister.’” She said of the experience, “I have nothing against the usher who said that, but it reflects that as a society, even for somebody who works in the courts, there is still this prejudicial view that professionals at the top end don’t look like me.” She continued, saying, “I think one of the things that hold women back is imposter syndrome. There are many times I’ve been in a courtroom and I suddenly think: ‘Am I good enough?’”
A defining moment in her life was one in 2001 when a family member had asked her to not sport a headscarf for an interview for a scholarship at the Inns of Court School of Law. The relative claimed that her headscarf would affect her interview, but she said she decided to wear the headscarf because it is necessary for people to accept her how she is.
The rest, as you know, is history — or rather, herstory.
Congratulations, Judge Arshad!