Since then, the group has grown and has successfully hosted two further forums and now has a representative voice in lobbying, health, education and advocacy. AGMC Inc. I was still the only one.
‘I thought I was the only one!’
But then I remembered a promise I had made. In the late s, during one of my attempts to come out, I looked online for relevant web groups. Although there were some networks in the very early stages of forming overseas, there were no support groups for queer Muslims in Australia. I promised myself that if I ever felt strong enough, I would set one up. My desire to explore these aspects of my life led me to read and learn about religion.
Eventually religion came back to me in a different form — as spirituality. Organised religion is about dogma and doctrines corrupted by interpretations. It allows me to feel good, rather than to experience unnecessary guilt that I am not practising the exact religious principles as someone else tells me that I must. We use a strict screening process. I thought I was the only one!
- Project MUSE - Islam and Homosexuality!
- Account Options.
- Origins of Homophobia In the Muslim Community;
Some of our members have come out and have lost crucial community and family support. I have read gut-wrenching stories from members who used to self-harm but do not now that they have found a community.
Sometimes we have people looking for sham marriages. This saddens me greatly, but I do not judge. Of course, not everyone in the group agrees with each other; this is to be expected when dealing with such personal and deeply sensitive issues. Through a strict code of conduct, I and a co-moderator ensure that people are respectful in their dissent.
Islamo-Correctness at Hartford Seminary
Discussions, many of which become debates, are sensitive and passionate. As well as offering opportunities to share and connect, online spaces like the Yahoo! Although the Yahoo! History has shown the great harm that religious conversion groups can do. I am not aware of any Muslim gay conversion organisations currently in Australia, but international websites that perpetuate self-loathing and internalised homophobia in LGBTIQ Muslims do exist.
We have had lively discussions on the Yahoo! The debate divided people into two camps: one side arguing that such groups may have something to offer by teaching that same-sex attraction in Islam is not wrong but acting on such desires is sinful; the other believed passionately that these groups care less about helping gay Muslims than fostering confusion and harm.
With the finite resources and money available to most queer-friendly Muslim groups, there is limited opportunity for direct campaigns targeting the conversion movement. For me and others in the local Yahoo! Group, the important thing at the moment is to build internal networks. Our small alliance provides a crucial space to support each other and to share information — and yes, heartache — about the issues associated with being LGBTIQ and Muslim in Australia.
But the life of being openly Muslim in Australia nowadays is not easy either. We have just over members on the Yahoo! Group — I am well aware that this is a tiny number in the world of the internet age, but it is a hundred brave people who have decided to find and make their own community.
Birkbeck Institutional Research Online
Hartford Seminary does employ brilliant, highly-educated Muslim and non-Muslim professors who value scholarship and were helpful to me in my academic formation. Unfortunately, it was my experience that their efforts were often overshadowed by the many other HS professors who seemed more interested in engaging in Islamic apologetics than in critical historical or theological exegesis about Islam. This produced many curious results in the classroom. In some cases, the course material presented did not correspond with its advertised content.
In other classes professors would ignore, denounce, or belittle students who asked questions critical of Islam. Students who spoke favorably of Islam, however, were permitted to speak and engage in discussion. I realized that my beliefs were strongly different from those of the majority of HS students and professors, but I did not fully internalize the extent of it until two incidents occurred in early It began when I sent a private email to a blogger friend in which I mentioned Dr. My email referred to recent events in the news surrounding Dr. Mattson, ISNA, and its indictment by the federal government over terrorism charges.
What happened next I did not expect. My friend published my email online, with neither my knowledge nor my consent. I was not aware of this until I was asked to come to the office of the dean of students. I maintained my composure, but internally I was furious, because this was the same faculty member to whom I had made appeals after being harassed and discriminated against by fellow students who were Muslim and by professors because of my differing beliefs and opinions. When I asked the dean if he, Dr. My advisor at the time was a Jewish professor known for his work in interfaith relations with Muslims.
About a week later he called and asked to meet with me at the seminary. All the questions had the underlying theme of attempting to link my disagreement with Islamic theology in my thesis to a personal hatred of Muslims. I repeatedly explained to him that I do not hate Muslims, and that my views on Islam are borne out of Islamic theological teachings, not personal experience.
He was expelled from Al-Azhar and labeled an apostate from Islam, for which the penalty is death under Islamic law. Abu Zayd and his wife fled to Holland as refugees, where he worked as a professor until his death in As I reflect on my time at Hartford Seminary, I realized that in almost no class was I ever required to delve deep into Islamic sacred tradition, especially if it involved challenging Islamic beliefs.
If a student wants to learn about specific spiritual beliefs, there are religious schools dedicated to that purpose. Hartford Seminary posits itself as the opposite—a secular seminary with a religious history in which all faiths are welcome to dialogue.
As such, students there must be free to believe and think as they wish, and teachers must be free to express their own opinions. Typically, the situation is the worst in programs that have significant foreign funding from Muslim sources, such as from Saudi Arabia or the UAE, because academic institutions are unwilling to allow criticism of Islam lest it jeopardize endowments. I fear that as orthodox Islam takes deeper root in Islamic studies in America and Europe more institutions will come to resemble Hartford Seminary until eventually their scholarship is swallowed up by submission to Islamic orthodoxy.
As long as Islamic studies uncritically defers to Islamic theology the situation will never improve. This is because Islamic theology, compared to the theology of the other great faiths, is extremely intolerant of everything that does not support its own viewpoint and aggressively seeks victory over, rather than an understanding of, opposing views. The greatest threat to Islamic studies today is that the intellectual freedom that characterizes the Western approach to scholarship will be abolished if the discipline operates in accordance with Islamic principles.
The case of Islam becomes further problematized because there is no single kind of Muslim. More than a billion Muslims inhabit this planet, and they inhabit geographic, linguistic, and cultural spaces that are enormously different. In fact, nothing in thereligioncanfallintotheproblematicmonolithdiscussedmost ofteninthemediainWesternsocieties. Many scholars within Islam have also argued that the very ijtihad, or independent reasoning, that the gay Imam from South Africa, Muhsin Hendricks, brings up eloquently at the end of the film, is not an option because the doors to that were closed in the seventh century.
And some who have agreed with the premise of the need for ijtihad have also said the exercise is not available to every Muslim, but only to the most learned alim men of learning in the Ummah worldwide community of Muslims.
ThisnoteofpessimismIstrike,however,shouldbeheardmore as a note of caution as we rush into seeking solutions that are merely theological. For our times, history has seemingly been dividedintoaneasybefore -and-afternarrativefollowingSeptember Much is made every day in the media and in the countless booksproducedsinceoftheneedforanIslamicReformation.
AsI traveledfirsttomakeandthentosharemyfilm,Irealizedthatthe process is ongoing and if anything, the moment for Islamic reformation is now. We are living it. Having met more imams and religious figures over the years than I can count on my fingers, I realize a few things.