Shariah TV “keen” for gay couple July 15, 2006Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Media, Queer Muslims.
I’ve hinted previously that the UK’s Channel 4 seems to have a mild obsession with “gay Muslims”. They’re trying hard to prove me right. A researcher for their Shariah TV programme, Shariq Ali, recently wrote to Imaan (among many Muslim groups, to whom he tailored his appeals), saying to them:
We are also keen to find a gay/lesbian couple who could talk about misconceptions regarding how they live their life.
I’ve always thought Shariah TV is a very strange idea, and I really wonder who it’s meant for. I doubt that many young Muslims tune in for religious guidance. It’s more like entertainment, of an odd kind. Some people would laugh at the Muslims’ expense.
It’s such an artificial environment: a few scholars of varying levels of expertise sit among a group of supposedly perplexed teenagers who put their carefully prepared questions forward for answers that they’re probably not that interested in taking. The scholars disagree with each other on air, leading to the impression that they don’t really know what they’re talking about. Sometimes that is actually the case. At other times, if they’d talked amongst themselves before filming, they would have come across much more coherently and helpfully for the audience.
This would not be the first time Shariah TV tried to highlight the plight of Muslims who want to live the gay way – they had such a tortured soul on back in 2004. In this, their third series, they are filming at the end of July and one of their four topics is, according to Shariq Ali, “Relationships; sex, marriage, what is/is not permissible in Islam.”
Of course, Imaan see this as a prime opportunity to be seen (hey, didn’t waving from a float with rainbow t-shirts do the trick, as last year too?) I’m tickled by Ubaid’s attempts to speak for Islam, so here I’ll take a look at his latest rallying call. He says:
It is a good way of facing scholars and other Muslims to talk about the experiences you have about being LGBT Muslim and mentioning how important it is to point out Islam is not an oppressive hateful religion but accepting under the submission to Allah SWT.
Yes, and submission (Islam) means putting His commands about your wishes and desires, and prioritising obedience over any kind of worldly fulfilment. Some people have decided that anything against homosexuality must be described “hate”. This is as rigorous an intellectual process as labelling any criticism of Israel or Zionism as “anti-Semitic”.
As Muslims, we should think for ourselves, and take the revelation as our basis and inspiration. Islam is not “hateful”, but it is against homosexuality – now can you respond with a proper argument? You say Islam is “accepting”; I say: What are the limits to that acceptance? And what is your evidence?
Scholars and non-scholars point out that LGBT Muslims are unnatural and spread diseases, ruin families, sleep around, and other such unfounded unscientific arguments. By coming face to face to LGBT Muslims and listening to our stories and experiences they can come to tolerate or even better accept that no matter what our sexuality we are Muslims and deserve to be treated as such.
Those are not the arguments we use here, putting aside their respective levels of correspondence with reality. You say “no matter what our sexuality”, but remember that it is not your inner feelings that you are criticised for, nor will you be judged by Allah (SWT) on their basis. No, it is your actions, which are entirely in your control. Behave as Muslims, and you will be treated as Muslims. Sin, and you might be treated as sinful Muslims (we are all sinners, but not equally flagrant). Work openly in the cause of sin and corruption, and you will be held in contempt in this life and the next, until you repent.
May Allah SWT help us in our quest to understanding and acceptance. May Allah SWT support us in our movement to peace and safer place in the world for all Muslims regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, age, and gender. As Islam does not discriminate under any of these grounds then why do fellow Muslims and non-Muslims discriminate?!
Islam is not a discriminatory religion. Those Muslims who think homosexuals are not welcome then they prove to the world that Islam is an oppressive religion. These are the people who take pure Islam and twist it to promote the status quo. It is such people who need to be challenged on this programme and therefore your brave attendance on this show is important.
Again, this talk of “discrimination” obscures the issue. On the one hand, the Qur’an and Sunnah affirm the value of human diversity in the spheres of gender, colour, language, age and even creed. The Islamic sources also teach us to care for people with any sort of disability. We could extend this to say that we should have compassion for people struggling with SSA, and give them every assistance they seek.
On the other hand, the Qur’an and Sunnah clearly “discriminate” against all sorts of actions that our Creator has deemed harmful to the individual and/or the society. Among these are many things in the sphere of sexual relations, including any sexual contact outside of marriage, and any sexual contact between people of the same gender. This reality won’t be changed by rhetoric about “discrimination”, just because we deem “discrimination” to be a bad thing.
Let’s keep the debate focused. Let’s hear more details from you about this “pure Islam”, which everybody else has “twisted”. Somehow (based on experience), I think my call will be met with silence.
We are often oppressed because we are seen as ‘lusting’ after other men. What such people fail to understand is that the medical and society in general have moved on with this thought and realise that homosexuality is not solely to do with having sex. It is about the love felt towards and between same sex people. Muslims around the world are being persecuted by non-Muslims, and yet we continue to fight amongst ourselves and put other Muslims down for not being ‘Islamic’. Why?! Wake up and realise that we should be coming together regardless of our differences. Differences will always be there but we must join together and work together to make the world safer for Muslims, and stop persecution.
Lovely. But see my invitation to dialogue above. Let me remind you of something Mujahid informed us of back in January:
It’s a shame that, when I wrote to the Chair of Imaan (Farzana) back in April 2005 inviting dialogue, she ignored me. When I offered again earlier this month (after the comments made by Iqbal Sacranie), she said that Imaan is not interested in dialogue with StraightWay. I offered the following observations:
“If you want people like Sacranie to end up understanding the value of compassion, perhaps your best starting point is to talk to people like us. We already advocate the same idea that the Muslim community, and its leadership, need to learn about this issue and how to help those who are dealing with the dilemma of being Muslim and being attracted to the same sex. Currently it’s a taboo subject, and those who might mention their feelings risk being ostracised or abused.
“What we differ on is the approach to take in helping these people. I take primarily an Islam-affirming approach, about developing the spiritual awareness and Muslim identity, then knowing how to deal with feelings that are unwanted. (It’s significant but less ‘core’ that I follow the Shari’ah’s clear-cut condemnation of acting on homosexual desires.) You might take more of a gay-affirming approach, which says that being gay is part of identity, and that one should accept this in order to be at harmony with oneself – and then one can understand religion in that light, since that is a matter of choice, not essential identity.
“We might not be as full of “incorrect assumptions” as you think, given that many constituents of my organisation have gone through exactly the same as those of yours, except they have chosen a different way of resolving the dilemma.”
Her response was that they don’t have the resources to turn their attention to such matters, with “bigger battles to fight”. It’s a shame that they don’t prioritise their relations with fellow Muslims, instead preferring their moments in the media. I told her the following:
“We are both Muslims, and we are both heads of Muslim organisations. I have no bigger goal than to please Allah – if you’re not the same, just let me know and I’ll realise we have nothing to talk about. You must surely realise that since you’re calling Muslims to come to you and take on your ideas, shaping their lives (and afterlives), you are assuming a huge responsibility on yourself. Do you feel confident, even without having had these views challenged by someone like myself who is not trying to beat you down?
“And given this responsibility, do you really not have ONE person who is willing to spend the time to ensure that the ideas of the group – including its Islamic knowledge – is developed properly?”