Fakhr – Pride

As Muslims, we realise that we are born with a purpose. A realisation that we live for a common goal, earning God’s pleasure by living true to ourselves, and positively with the world around us.

We are born knowing that God exists, but we also come to realise over time that we are also born queer. This can be a difficult journey, but the more we learn and experience, we allow ourselves to be proud of both sides of our identity. 

The time is now to be proud of who we are. Proud of being people of faith, and proud of being unique personalities, ours to dictate in our space and time. 

It’s time to have the conversation about queer people and their struggles and goals in life, as people of faith, and how existing organisations need to open their doors and minds to the ongoing issues in our community. 
Pride gives us strength in ourselves and together. 

Come out and live true, God willing.

Takabbur – Pride

As we come to the end of Pride month, it’s key to reflect on what Islam says about pride. Traditionally the word has been associated with the story of creation, and how Iblees singled himself out by not fulfilling God’s command of bowing down to Adam. 

It was this act of defiance that has allowed the word Pride to come associated with negative connotations amongst religious circles; this certainly does not help the queer cause! 

Pride in this sense, is when one acts in a way that belittles others, disregarding others based on invalid judgement, or a misconception. This can for queer Muslim people come from either outside the queer community from other Muslims that refuse to acknowledge the queer struggle, or even from within the queer community, that views queer Muslims as an inferior part of the spectrum. 

We can take this traditional view of Pride, and use it to our queer advantage, recognising the same negative characteristic within our communities and working towards a common goal.

Al Ibtisaamah- A smile

“Do not regard any good deed insignificant, even meeting your brother with a cheerful face.”

Positivity brings more positivity. Attitude dictates your outcome. Surround yourself with people that bring out a side of you that views the world with happiness and optimism. And don’t forget to smile! 

Al-‘Afw – Removal of Sin

The path to self acceptance is marred with doubt and questioning. Am I going to be rejected? Why does it seem like I am paving a path separate from others?

And ultimately, is Allah accepting and happy with me?

Many queer people feel as though their life choices make them choose to either live a life of sin, or work through traditional concepts of queer existence and associated negativity. Whichever part of the journey you are on, something that we can all benefit from is a specific prayer for the last part of Ramadhan.

“O Allah, You are the Remover of sin, You love to remove sin, so remove my sins” 

By acknowledging this attribute, it allows us to realise that regardless of how we choose to live our lives, Allah is accepting and ready to accept. Use this prayer this Ramadan and feel yourself increasing in your own self acceptance. 

Hidaayah- Guidance

In every prayer we constantly ask for guidance to God’s path. 
The path of our soul’s testifying to God’s existence. 
The path of those who are favoured.
The path to salvation. 

God says, that by following other than the right way, our community becomes separated and disunited. In exploring our queer identity, we are often searching for guidance, looking for role models of courage and success, and finding others who we can deem as allies, allowing us to unite for a common cause. 

Seeks God’s guidance when exploring your path, as any path towards finding yourself, will lead you to finding God, and ultimately being those who are rightly guided. 

Sadaqah- Charity

Ramadhan is a blessed time of the year, when Muslims seek to reconnect with their faith. It is a time that many choose to cleanse their finances, by paying a small yet significant amount to those in need. Obviously in doing this, you wouldn’t expect anything in return, with money going to those who would struggle otherwise. 

In realising this, we accept the concept of continuing similar selfless acts within our lives. Some are simple and close to effortless, but the result can have an equally positive effect. 

A smile from one to another. 
Removing something harmful from a road. 
Even planting a seed! 

All of these have the potential to benefit others, and if done with the right intention, will lead to us fulfilling a very basic human act, righteousness towards each other. 

Jannah – Heaven

Heaven is described as a place of ultimate contentment, where people will exist in a state of peace with themselves and God. 

When asking for heaven, we are told to ask for Al-Firdaus, the highest part closest to God, rather than just asking for heaven itself. The wisdom of this is to constantly be in a frame of mind of seeking and wanting the best. 
Living a queer existence forces you to choose between accepting a status-quo, non-progressive, passively phobic stance, for a true, positive, and forward thinking life. Never accept anything less than what you deserve, and what will allow you to live a life real to your truth. 

Always strive for the best. Always strive for Al Firdaus.

Ikhlaas – Sincerity

Be true to yourself and live your best life. 

The way to live modern life is to realise and then actualise what you yourself want from your life. To be true to yourself means to act in accordance with who you are and what you believe.

If you know and love yourself you will find it effortless to be true to yourself. 

As difficult as it may seem at first, have the courage to accept yourself as you really are, not as as someone else thinks you should be. Do not take action or pretend to be someone else for the sake of gaining acceptance. This is the path of sincerity towards oneself. 
As people of faith, we strive for sincerity towards God, showing our devotion and love. This devotion leads to a personal spiritual connection which in turn strengthens our sense of identity and purpose.

Husn uth-Than – Good thoughts

Many of us live filled with waves of shame and guilt, led by our experiences of navigating living queer life, in a traditionally hard-line faith. 
This can at times come coupled with blame. Blame on yourself for going against the expected norm, on those around you for not realising the struggle, and then to God, which can lead to a distance from faith. “I am what my servant thinks of me”. The way we think of and want our God to be is ultimately what will determine our relationship. By knowing of God as a queer-positive, gender accepting being, and channeling that into our prayer and faith, we are able to balance and enhance both our queer and faith aspects of our lives.

Expect good things. Expect your prayers to be answered. Have faith. God is on your side. 

From an outsider: The reality of being lesbian and Muslim

via Lacuna

My identity as a Muslim lesbian is one that I will continue to keep close to my chest.

For some people, that mere label is a misnomer – or, worse, an oxymoron. I’m not going to go into the interpretative religious nitty-gritty, because I can guarantee it will only serve to confuse or aggravate people further. But in case you’re wondering, the short answer is that, yes, I am Muslim, meaning I follow the five pillars of Islam, including five daily prayers and fasting during the month of Ramadan. Simultaneously, I identify as a gay woman, which means my sexual and romantic attraction is confined to other women.

I’m not bringing this up because I want to be considered special or different. In fact, I wish I was anything but, especially with how my community has been reacting to the No Outsiders education programme in primary schools.

Let me share a little something about when I was in primary school. Aged ten, believe it or not, I genuinely didn’t know being gay was a real thing. And when later in school as a teenager I learned it was, “gay” was used as an insult or joke – my classmates were not averse to laughingly or even fondly saying, “oh, you’re so gay” or girls in my class being “married” to each other on Facebook because it was just one of those silly trends. In short, gayness wasn’t seen as something serious but rather the butt of schoolgirl humour. The school I attended was all-girls and therefore infamous for its so-called lesbian reputation, which my friends could easily laugh off.

I’m an outsider in two senses of the word. Many of my fellow Muslims, including most of those holding mainstream so-called Islamic scholarly opinions, are either unsympathetic, disbelieving or worse of my sexual orientation. I think the majority of people reading this will know that much.

What you might not know, though, is that I also feel like an outsider in the LGBTQ community and the British gay scene. It’s not just because said scene is awash with alcohol and an abundance of mostly white faces, two things that mean my hijab and brown skin make me feel like even more of an odd one out. No, it’s the fact that the community is (understandably) apprehensive when they see someone claiming to be one of them yet wearing garb that is in their view symbolic of a system that has disdained and ostracised them for two millennia.

The thing is, I don’t blame either group. I can’t change my people’s preconceptions, especially when they relate to notions of my identity that seem constantly in conflict with each other.

I don’t out myself to many people. My close family, for instance, can never and will never know the real reason I was never boy-crazy as a teenager. They have no idea that the idea of sharing my life, my bed and my heart with a man repulses me.

They don’t know that for the first two decades of my life I felt like the label of “lesbian” was dirty and left a bad taste in my mouth. And they will never, ever know about the period of clarity I’ve had over the last two years, away from them, that has cleansed my palate and finally allowed for me to accept all of who I am.

Right now there are a multitude of people who think that the parents protesting against Anderton Park Primary School’s LGBT inclusion are valid in their objections, including most recently candidate for Prime Minister Esther McVey and the local constituency’s Labour MP Roger Godsiff. But the thing is, even if we accept – for the sake of the argument – that same-sex relationships are from a religious perspective morally abhorrent, why does it then follow that this means children should not acknowledge their existence in our society?

For instance, I distinctly remember learning, at probably the age of seven or eight, about Cleopatra in Ancient Egypt, where it was quite normalised for her to marry her brother. When I came home from school that day with a Horrible Histories book, wanting to learn more, that did not mean I suddenly wanted to marry one of my siblings. In the same way, I learned about Henry VIII and how he beheaded two of his wives – that did not mean I would one day behead my wife (or husband, if my family had their way). And I have never heard of a protest to this scale or at all against such teachings. Yet I see my family sharing the petitions, encouraging the protests, and I must keep my mouth shut, lest I let slip that I am one of those they abhor so.

Some might think that I’m being cowardly. On the byline of this article is a pseudonym and you could argue I’m hiding behind it. And maybe those people have a point. But I’m not hiding comfortably – far from it.

This whole story has brought to light a stinging truth, one made all the more terrible when it dawned on me that my family, if they knew my true identity, would think my very existence corrupts children, their children, purely on the basis of who I may fall in love with.

I want to finish by referring to something said at the sermon of the Eid prayer I recently attended. The imam spoke of the importance of unity among the Muslim community despite our differences, and the fact that unity was not at all tantamount to uniformity. He meant this in reference to the disputes that arise between Muslims about when Eid should be celebrated. He said that unity was about acceptance of different perspectives. And I think this could apply to a lot of differences that people – not just Muslims – allow to separate and splinter communities, seemingly beyond repair. I think that if the ummah [community], my ummah, seeks to stand by the principles and virtues of Islam as highlighted by Mufti Menk, of generosity, kindness and love, the first step in that journey is to accept that people like me exist, with a foot in each door, queer and Muslim both, or with both feet in one or the other.

I am stuck on the outside, doubly so, arguably. But I’m also caught in between, and in many ways that’s worse, being trapped the way I am.

And when I think of how the knot in my teenage heart could have been loosened if I had had even one lesson at school telling me I wasn’t broken or put together wrong, or how I could have lashed out less when my family constantly brought up marriage like it was a given and not a choice, I realise that this isn’t a religious or even spiritual debate. It’s a matter of human rights. My only hope is that my fellow Muslims, the people I call my people, come to the same realisation and that one day I can be who I am out in the open and still be wished peace, without the condition of heterosexuality attached.