For first time, Muslim woman leads prayer to Allah at Wisconsin assembly — invited by a Christian lawmaker

Democratic Rep. Mandela Barnes says, 'There is just so much for us to get over in terms of our fears.'(

For the first time, a Muslim woman was allowed to lead the invocation during a session of lawmakers in the U.S. state of Wisconsin on Thursday last week.

Christian lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Mandela Barnes had earlier extended an invitation to Janan Najeeb, the president of the Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition and founder of the Islamic Resource Center, to lead the prayer during the lawmakers' session.

Barnes told the Journal Sentinel that he made this decision to allay fears towards Muslims in the face of some politicians' comments linking them to terrorist activities.

"There is just so much for us to get over in terms of our fears," Barnes said, as quoted by Christian News.

Najeeb, for her part, said she hopes this initiative will increase lawmakers' awareness "that Muslims are part of the fabric of our society."

"We are adding our story to the stories of the many communities that came before us and created this country," the Muslim woman said.

Najeeb, who is married to physician Waleed Najeeb, also lamented how some Muslims are forced to quit their jobs because some companies choose to prohibit them from performing Islamic practices in the workplace.

"It's no longer than some other employees probably taking some bathroom breaks," the Muslim leader stated. "They're being basically asked to choose between their employment and their faith."

Aside from praying to Allah, Najeeb also read a verse from Islam's holy book, the Quran, on the Assembly floor.

"And among his Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours: verily in that are signs for those who know," Najeeb read. "O mankind, we have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you."