When Muslims are brick walls May 15, 2006Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Islam, Proggies, Responses, StraightWay.
The StraightWay Foundation, and this blog run by an adviser to them (i.e. yours truly), take among our aims to inform the Muslim community about the realities of same-sex attractions (SSA) and how they affect many Muslims, and how these Muslims deal with the situation – whether silent struggle, flagrant disobedience or any of the many shades in between.
We speak as mainstream Muslims ourselves, believing in and practising Islam just as our brothers and sisters do. We don't have some unique interpretation of the religion, nor is our position on homosexuality any different from the accepted view: except that ours is thought out more clearly and in more detail, and expressed better!
Among us are some people who personally experience SSA, and are just as 'qualified' to speak on the subject as those who affirm a "gay" identity for themselves. Some have even committed what Islam regards as among the most serious of sins. But all of us agree on the Islamic prohibition of homosexual acts, and are committed to the ideas of self-restraint and self-development; our work helps individuals in their struggles along this path.
LISTEN, O MUSLIMS: the phenomenon of same-sex attractions exists, and it affects Muslims too! (Even if it is to a lesser extent, as you prefer to assume.)
You can ignore this all you want, but it will not go away that way. Listen to what we, your faithful brothers and sisters, are saying to you – and engage in fruitful discussions so we can work towards a way out of the growing problems of homosexuality amongst Muslims, and the "gay Muslim" movement.
Here I'll furnish you with two recent examples of Muslims who have dealt with us in an inexplicably negative manner.
The first occurred when one of our colleagues in Canada, Taleb Haqq, sent a simple message out to a number of e-mail groups, informing people of this blog and and the StraightWay Foundation's support group. There was at least one positive response leading to discussion, and one moderator seemed unhappy with the link to gaymuslims.org – so we graciously purchased another referring URL: straightstruggle.com.
However, the Muslim Students Association of Carleton University did not approve the message. Our friend enquired as to the reason, at which he received this reply from the moderator:
Emails that have benefit to the Carleton University MSA general body are the only ones that are approved. The email that you have sent out was actually discussed amongst the members of the MSA body, and they feel that no benefit can be derived from it being sent on this list. That does not seem to be a problem that faces any Carleton MSA member Alhamdulilah, and given the above reasons the email was not approved.
How, pray tell, do they know that no Muslim student at their university experiences attractions to members of the same sex and would benefit from Islamic guidance on this matter? Statistically, they are pretty much bound to be wrong. I don't see why the proportion of affected Muslims would be significantly lower than the figure for all students at Carleton, or indeed for the Canadian population as a whole – much as we wish Muslims were immune from the causes of these feelings! Taleb wrote back to them:
I'm sorry to tell you but the statement "That does not seem to be a problem that faces any Carleton MSA member" really upset me. I mean I know some of the MSA executive and I respect you and your work, but such a statement is a slap in the face of every Muslim sufferer because you refuse to believe that they exist! I know for a fact that there are MSA members who suffer from this…and it's not something that you can go around and tell people, is it?
Quite. Well they have chosen not to reply to him further, but perhaps the response of the Islam-Gatineau group was worse: they kicked Taleb out and refused to let him re-subscribe, saying:
In your first demand, I added you. But you sent a message about a non-accepted Topic (Gay muslims). That's why you are deleted from our mailing list, and you will not be added again.
We'll keep you posted on any updates on the e-mail moderation struggle worldwide. It's hard enough to get our voices heard on the Queer Muslim groups (we generally don't bother trying), so it's more of a shame that mainstream Muslims are silencing us too: probably due to a basic unwillingness to acknowledge this very real problem.
As for my second example, well it actually occurred a few weeks ago. I look at many Muslim-run blogs, and one I popped by was that of Haseeb Ahmed. It's a good read, and he refers to work by various respected scholars, including Imam Zaid Shakir. Given that he takes authentic scholarship seriously, I was a little surprised to note how glowingly and repeatedly he wrote about Reza Aslan, the young Iranian-American author of "No god but God".
The surprise for me, despite not knowing much about Aslan, was caused by my recollection of reading another glowing endorsement, that one from Faisal Alam, founder of Al-Fahisha. Remember that's the same Faisal who forwarded round a link urging his friends to watch the "really really powerful" film by vicious Islam-hater Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Of Aslan, Alam wrote:
Reza Aslan is actually v. pro-LGBT rights … I've talked to him personally and he's very supportive of Al-Fatiha and the struggles of the queer Muslim community…Definitely worth getting his book.
I decided to reproduce this endorsement as a comment on Haseeb's blog, but he deleted it. I asked: "Care to explain why?" He responded: [EDIT: I removed his message at his request, after he apologised. Don't worry, it wasn't all that rude!]
It saddens me that someone who apparently respects these scholars – and presumably accepts their position on homosexuality and their opposition to false "progressive" movements – would endorse one of the proggies' spokesmen (however nice of speech and manner), and censor someone who questions him in such a simple way. I think Haseeb needs to clarify, and not just send terse e-mails. What's so great about LGBT rights, from an Islamic perspective?