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BBC World, “Heart and Soul” August 9, 2006

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Media, Queer Muslims, StraightWay.

Shazia Khan has made a half-hour radio documentary on Islam, homosexuality and same-sex attracted Muslims, following her shorter segment, which we discussed here (then here and here).

[Sorry, no link to the programme just now. We’ll try and get one!]

It brings forth various characters, including ones similar to those in the Channel 4 documentary of January 2006, which I analysed here and here

However, the unprecedented thing in this programme is the inclusion of a voice (which is, unfortunately, very distorted by request) expressing a perspective just like what the StraightWay Foundation promote.

[“Aslam”] realised that he was attracted to boys when he was at primary school, but has chosen never to act on his feelings. He doesn’t define himself as “gay”; instead, he says he experiences same-sex attraction.

“According to some people’s definition, if they were to ask me certain questions and say, ‘Do you feel attracted to people of the same sex?’ – and if I said ‘Yes’, then they would say, ‘Well, that means you’re gay.’ People can make their own definition, but I don’t think it makes sense, and I don’t identify myself that way. Because if I said that, I would be saying, well that’s the way I’ve got to be, and I’ve got to live my life according to that. I don’t think I’ve got to live my life according to how I feel inside – I live my life according to what I think is right for me. And what I think is right for me is to stay within the limits of the religion.”

For Aslam, that means never engaging in same-sex relations.

“For a man to be with another man sexually is completely forbidden, so I decided from very early on to not go anywhere near that.” […]

Aslam believes his feelings do not define who he is. For him, Islam is the most important thing in his life.

“I’m choosing faith over anything else, in a sense. I’m choosing faith over my feelings, in a way. But I feel faith gives me much more than any other aspect of life. Why should I feel that I’m missing out, if I feel that I’m living the right path and I’m pleasing God?”

Bravo, brother! Beautiful.



1. Yousef - August 13, 2006

Well done brother Aslam!!! May Allah help you with your struggle!

2. Ned - August 14, 2006

Hello, I stumbled across your blog a few days back and have been going through it. Given that most of the time, Muslims are extremely uncomfortable talking about homosexuality, and discussions often degenerate into hate speech, I think it’s really refreshing to find a compassionate perspective such as this — within the framework you have chosen for yourself, this is clearly the best possible course of action.

Speaking for myself, I am a lesbian and an ex-Muslim from Pakistan. I was a staunch, practicing Muslim until freshman year in college — I read the Quran, Hadith, wore Hijab, etc. But honestly, and I think this had almost nothing to do with the homosexuality, I was very uncomfortable with my religiosity. Since I was perhaps ten years old, I was uncomfortable with rigid dogma, uncomfortable with much of the content of the Quran, and uncomfortable with the institution of organized religion itself — intuitively, it never made sense to me to just accept things on the basis of blind faith. But I pushed most of these reservations aside for years. In freshman year in college, I got an environment where I could think freely, picked up Bertrand Russell, and that was the end of religion in my life as far as I was concerned, and I became an atheistic agnostic. I came out as a lesbian about a year after that.

My point in posting here is just to say that I agree with your basic thesis: that the term “gay Muslim” is oxymoronic. I could never have come out had I stayed Muslim. I’m now a bit more spiritual than atheistic, but organized religion is still something I consider authoritarian and oppressive, for the most part.

3. Taleb Haqq - August 15, 2006

Well it’s really great to hear from you and thank you for your comments. I mean, I’d be lying if I said that I’m not upset with your story (not with you but just the situations that you went through). Alot of the problems could be sorted out, I think, if people just open their heads a little bit and start discussing this issue. Alot of the time what happens is that during the rebellious teen years we label ourselves as different and we never get out of that mentality. I hope that life brings you what is best and I pray that you find peace.
Keep in touch!

4. random - February 25, 2008

There is nothing wrong or shamefull about admitting your feelings. I am very proud of the fact that this brother doesnot act upon his feelings though. Similarly, we can have many different, but wrong or un-natural feelings, and we must recognize them for what they are. May Allah give this brother (and others like him) strength to fight his battle and find peace in this life and the HereAfter, Ameen.

5. Rasheed Eldin - February 25, 2008

Ameen, and thanks for your comments.

6. Jahanzeb Akbar - April 7, 2008

I read ur actual blog and to be honest…that is your own experience…not one that is characteristic of every Muslim “with same-sex attraction”…i am a Gay Muslim…and honestly i hid it for many years…because i felt like I had to (kind of like what u said about being gay, except the opposite)…and now that i’ve accepted who i am, muslim and gay, and many other things….I am happier than I have ever been…I love Islam and i feel like Allah truly does understand His creation and He has made me this way, and please noone who is not in my shoes cant judge, for Allah is Al-Hakim…..and it honestly is a battle…but a battle against society and culture…not against my faith, because after all faith is based on what I believe !… Ma’salama

7. Jahanzeb Akbar - April 7, 2008

btw…i think this site is kind of condescending….

8. Rasheed Eldin - April 7, 2008

Jahanzeb, thanks for sharing your feelings. I will agree with you that one person’s experiences can’t be used to generalise about all people’s. Similarly, the experiences of a majority of people don’t prove anything about those of a particular individual.

But there’s a serious problem with the “Don’t Judge” mantra.

I speak for myself when I say I have not the least bit of interest in judging you, but what is the source of this idea that we can do whatever we want and nobody should say anything because God is the judge? Perhaps you know a verse of the Qur’an or a hadith that would spell this out.

The fact is, Allah has revealed His books and sent His messengers, and His judgement is there for us to go back to. When it comes to matters of right and wrong, it’s not simply about what feels one way or the other. It’s not merely about being happy, or managing to justify something to yourself.

I’m glad you said you love Islam, as that is the basis for our salvation, success in this life and the next. There is no battle to be fought against your faith, but if you saw properly you would know that the battle is against desires – all desires that stop us from worshipping our Lord properly, and from obeying Him completely.

Jahanzeb - May 29, 2009

What you say is correct, but in a very ill informed and ignorant way. Human beings are born with the duty for stewardship “khilafa” of the earth, not of humans. God is the Guide of human beings and also their judge. The fact that God’s name is Al-Hakim “The Judge” is fact in itself to prove his sole responsibility as judge, not yours or mine. Otherwise, humans would have been referred to as Hakims. Furthermore, yes we should suppress our nafs and animal desires, but if I am to suppress my homosexuality, then aren’t you supposed to do the same for your heterosexuality. Islam is a very sex-positive religions. I encourage you to read up on Al-Ghazalli’s books for a better understanding of the role of sex in Islamic spirituality and also read the Prophets hadith regarding sex. Therefore, don’t use the “battle against desires” mantra with me or in any educated debate. My current research focuses on Islam and homosexuality, with field work in Pakistan. I will be sure to update you on my findings etc.


9. Rasheed Eldin - July 11, 2009

Your argument about Allah’s name being “Al-Hakim” is flawed for several reasons, the least of which is the fact that the famous names are in fact “Al-Hakam” and “Al-Hakeem”. More importantly, that doesn’t imply any exclusivity of the act of judging, any more than you would say humans are not allowed to be merciful because Allah is Ar-Raheem! And in fact humans are referred to as ‘haakim’ on many occasions, and if you speak Arabic you will know this very well.

Since you pointed me towards Imam Al-Ghazali, perhaps you could see “Al-Maqsad al-Asna fee Sharh Asmaa’ Allahi al-Husnaa”.

With regards to sexual desire, I am going to put up a new post specially for you so that you can actually see what Imam Al-Ghazali said and not misrepresent him. Islam gives value to the sexual urge, but forbids certain expressions of that desire, and dispraises deviant desires that call towards sin.

Feel free to comment over there, as I do worry for you.

10. Rasheed Eldin - July 14, 2009

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