Born in Oslo into a family of Pakistani descent, he was raised in the St. Hanshaugen neighborhood in Oslo. His father Abdul Qayyum Raja (1937-) was a factory worker who worked at the Christiania Spigerverk steel plant in Nydalen, while his mother Akthar Nasim (1949-) was a homemaker. Raja describes his parents as someone who "used violence as a part of the parenting, violence was relatively common in my community". In 1992, at age 15 he was taken away from home due to the ongoing violence in the household. He was subsequently placed in a hospice for recovering drug-addicts, which he later would describe as a "hellish dump". After being relocated to a nearby orphanage, he dropped out of high school.
After six months at the orphanage, he was allowed to move back home, after which his parents sent him to Pakistan. Upon his return to Norway, he re-enrolled in high-school and according to him "had his mind set on becoming a lawyer" after seeing Kevin Costner in the film JFK.
After graduating from Foss Upper Secondary School, he enrolled at University of Southampton, and graduated with a degree in Human Rights and Behavioural Sciences in Law. Raja was in 2003 the first non-ethnic Norwegian to receive the Norway Scholar that have been rewarded since 1920 at University of Oxford, Wadham College and there he studied for the MSc degree in Psychology. He holds also an undergraduate degree in Criminology and Master of Law degree Cand.jur. degree from University of Oslo cum laude.
He has worked as a criminal defense lawyer for four years and been civil case litigator for two. During his years as criminal defense lawyer he was appointed by the court to be lead defense lawyer on several murderer-cases, in and abroad of the country, and he also had the lead defense on several largest drug cases in Norwegian history. While working as lawyer Raja also took advantage of the position a famous lawyer gets by advocating civil rights for all, defending poor peoples rights and helping ethnic minorities fight injustice.
In 2008 Raja was appointed by the Norwegian Government, King in Council, to be office bearer as Board Leader of Norwegian Immigration Appeals Board, equivalent to a judge in a refugee court. After this he also served as Police Presecutor at National Police Immigration Service, and later was posted as Norwegian diplomat at Royal Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi, India.
A member of the Liberal Party of Norway, he was at the end of 2012 nominated as the top candidate for Akershus Venstre in the Norwegian parliamentary election, 2013. He is thus the first person in Norwergian politics with minority background to be nominated at top of a ballot-list for National parliament election. He was elected to the National Assembly in September 2013 for four years term. He was in June 2016 re-nominated by Akershus Venstre as their top-candidate for the general election that are to be help September 2017.
Raja has been a well known person in the media since his days as student. From variety of position, spokesman for the Norwegian-Pakistani students, spokesman for the largest mosque in Norway - World Islamic Mission, positioned as famous lawyer and columnist at largest daily newspaper Aftenposten Aftenposten and weekly edition of Morgenbladet https://morgenbladet.no/ Morgenbladet] he has been eager debater in the Norwegian society.
In the years 2009-2011 he organized a series of dialogue meetings at the House of Literature, with controversial topics, such as why there is hate among Muslims, Jews and homosexuals. In these debates the leaders of Norway from all position participated; ranging from at that time Norwegian Secretary of State Jonas Gahr Støre, the chief of PST (Norwegian FBI), chief editors of largest Medias, even the Norwegian Royal Crown Prince. For this effort Raja was also rewarded the highest Freedom of Speech award.
Raja has been a lifelong opponent of spanking and corporal punishment of children. This stems from his experiences as a child growing up in Norway, where he was subjected to severe cane-whipping by the local Koranic teacher at the mosque as well as corporal punishment by his Pakistani parents and as a result contacted child protective services on his own, who took him into protective care for six months. In response to revelations about child abuse in a Mosque, he called for Koranic teachers which are found to have beaten children to immediately leave Norway, stating that "they are not welcome".
After a memorial service for the victims of the World Trade Center attack in 2001 (at the American Church, Frogner, Oslo), he said it is "important that moderate Muslims ... share the sorrow and distance ourselves from extremist violence and acts of terror".
He has voiced opposition to forced marriages as well as marriages based on the caste system within the south-Asian community in Norway. Also an outspoken opponent of arranged marriages, of which he said in 2013; "it is essential to break up the marriage pattern in the Norwegian-Pakistani community, so that arranged marriages becomes uncommon".
Raja founded the Norwegian thinktank www.Minotenk.no and has as member of Parliament been both founding member of and member of the steering committee of International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief www.IPPFORB.COM
Raja is married to psychologist Nadia Ansar. They first met while he was studying law, and she was studying psychology at the University of Oslo. They currently reside in the Ekeberg district of Oslo, along with their three children, twins Maya and Sara, and son Adam.
In 2010 he was awarded the Fritt Ord Award.