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Salaam Canada and the El-Farouk effect June 20, 2006

Posted by Taleb Haqq in Proggies, Queer Muslims.
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The Toronto Star, in a recent Pride Week special section, ran a story about Canada's very own Salaam "queer" Muslim support group.  The article is very strange in that it provides very little insight into what the group does and what its stances are, but from what we can gather there are two main themes that emerge. First, is that El-Farouk Khaki, who is  a lawyer and is featured in the article as the leader of Salaam, helps "queer" Muslim refugees to obtain legal status in Canada. (Canada is one of the countries that recently passed laws to allow same-sex marriage). Second, the group seems to provide "support" to anyone and everyone. I find this hard to believe because the group's stances are not clear. In passing, El-Farouk says the following:

One of the difficult parts of coming out as a Muslim — or in any religious tradition — is the religious condemnation and the religious interpretations of text, which demonize same-sex relationships. As a believer, that was a problem for me, so once I moved to Toronto and began meeting other people, I started the original Salaam in 1991.

Salaam adopts alot of the ideologies that Al-Fatiha endorses, yet they seem to be more lost (if that is at all possible). It would be very difficult to run any sort of support group if it features both believers and non-believers – what, exactly, would be their source of guidance? Al-Fahisha, at least, has Daayiee Abdullah, but El-Farouk says about Salaam's membership:

Salaam is a unique organization because we have a true diversity in gender, as well as a diversity in orientation. Our co-ordinators, as well as our membership, come from diverse racial backgrounds: We have Iranians, Indo-Pakistanis, Turks, Ismalii, Shiite, Sunni, people who are religious and people who are not, people who are believers, people who are not. We've also had non-Muslims or people who don't identify as Muslim.

Right, so what exactly is going on here? The group seems to be a hodgepodge of everyone and anyone who wishes to stir up some religious or non-religious rebellion against anyone and everyone. As is stated in the article, while Salaam is for "building bridges" with anyone, this doesn't seem to apply to the mainstream Muslim community as Khaki says that Salaam is not interested in "debating, challenging or confronting them".  Why exactly is that? "Build bridges" with others but avoid other Muslims?

We urge anyone and everyone who has any questions about Islam and its texts to come forward and share their ideas and thoughts.  However, we must realize that religion is something that is both studied and lived. We cannot simply ignore Islam's teachings and pick and choose the things that we need in order to create our own "Islam". This is not a challenge nor is it a confrontation – it is an invite to Salaam, or anyone else, to talk and share ideas with all other Muslims in an open and respectful environment.

Peace.

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