“I Am Not Haraam” – A New Blog Celebrating The Diverse Lives Of LGBTQ Muslims And Their Families

S Hasan

I heard about this new platform for LGBTQ Muslims, Allies and supportive families to blog on the simple theme "I am not Haraam" on the AWID website. A safe space for individuals to break down barriers and impact positive social change. So naturally, I feel the need to share it with you! They write:

"We are not kafirs, we are not deviant, our existence is not a sin. This is our space to say: WE ARE NOT HARAAM."

And a personal disclaimer, if I may be so audacious and inadvertently offend anyone: No matter what your stance is with regards to LGBTQ issues in our communities, please remember to approach with a broad mind, respect peoples’ freedom of speech and set any wild expectations (or fantasies!) aside.

Ready?? If ya think so, check out the blog at http://iamnotharaam.tumblr.com/

Perspective

S Hasan

The often quoted, often misunderstood verse of An-Nisa [4:34]:

Men are the support of women as God gives some more means than others and because they spend of their wealth (to provide for them). So women who are virtuous are obedient to God and guard the hidden as God has guarded it. As for women you feel are averse, talk to them suasively; then leave them alone in bed (without molesting them) and go to bed with them (when they are willing). If they open out to you, do not seek an excuse for blaming them. Surely God is sublime and great.

An inner, esoteric translation. Matter of perspective?

A Moment to Rant on Support…

S Hasan

After a relatively happy Monday home from work, my mother sweet-talked me into watching a prerecorded episode of a ‘really great drama; you’ll love it, just watch’.
<SPOILER ALERT> It was about a lady and a gentleman who were best friends and fell in love. Then they got married. Yes, I sat through 3 episodes, but after the fourth I was hooked. So the gentleman is a passionate talk-show host, dedicated to exposing land mafias and the rampant corruption of his homeland, making ardent speeches in hopes of impacting positive social change, while the lady just stays home, makes tea for her parents, giggles, looks pretty and voices her opinions only when triggered- the perfect description of a good desi daughter. Anywho, so the two finally get married after several futile attempts of convincing her father, and so fourth episode rolls around and BAM! their wedding night they were ready to get it on, but gentleman’s crime-reporter-coworker-friend gets murdered, so they rush to the hospital only to be stopped by land mafia hooligans who kidnap them, beat them up, threaten the gentleman and rape his bride in front of him. …it was too much for me to handle. Now I can’t sleep. And so I thought HELLO, it is still April- not only the loveliest month in the year but also Sexual Assault Awareness Month so why not blog about it?

As I watched 2 more episodes (I just…I couldn’t stop, as upset as I was that they hadn’t decided to seek counseling of any sort), I learned that Lady Giggles had more to her than just her pretty demeanor; honestly, made me respect her more. She started talking. Breaking the Silence- you know, something we should ALL be doing. Because remember, there is no shame, no guilt in being a survivor of sexual violence. And if you aren’t a survivor, being an advocate for a family member, a friend, and yes even an acquaintance who has survived sexual violence, sexual assault, rape, incest, sexual abuse. It’s what survivors need most in order to cope with Rape Trauma Syndrome– support.

Here are some brief tips on how to be positive source of support:

  • Let the survivor know you believe him/her without doubt
  • Be non judgmental and sincere
  • Acknowledge their confused feelings, don’t tell them how they should/shouldn’t feel
  • Listen actively without giving advice or talking about yourself
  • Don’t make victim-blaming statements (here’s a moving collection of those!)
  • Encourage them to seek help or call a Domestic Violence hotline anonymously to see what resources are available for them
  • Don’t ever place conditions on the support you are providing
  • Allow them to make their own decisions, and respect those decisions even if you do not agree with them
  • Call the police if you witness physical violence
  • LASTLY: make sure to take care of yourself! Get support if you need it

I’d like to wrap this rant up on an action-inspiring note, so click here and feel inspired.

Food for Thought

This article by Wajahat Ali is worth a read. In just a few paragraphs, he humorously and eloquently demonstrates why sex education for our Muslim youth is more crucial than ever.

As he explains how often the "sex talk" is limited to a simple "don’t do it", with the "it" not even being defined, he highlights why this is not only confusing for our young people, who develop and undergo the same adolescent changes as the rest of their peers, but it also creates a challenge for them to understand, find, and maintain healthy relationships. Using a driving metaphor, he explains "Muslim youth are expected to go from 0 to 60 mph with a spouse, 2.3 kids, and a suburban home without being taught how to start the engine and how to maintain the vehicle on its journey."

Wajahat Ali hit the nail on the head. The sheer amount of fear of intimacy, clash of expectations between spouses and sexual tension that is all too familiar to many Muslim newlyweds is contributing to years, if not a lifetime of marital discord and unhealthy relationships in our community. Moreover, the lack of culturally-appropriate sex education for our youth is leading to much confusion, risky sexual experimentation, and unhealthy attitudes toward sex.

Our work is now more crucial than ever. Raising awareness about the need for sex education in the Muslim community, and working together to develop culturally-appropriate curriculum is not only necessary, but extremely overdue. As the author ends the article, "There is hope that the birds and bees talk of today will evolve from "Don’t do it!" to "Do it!" – in a manner that is respectful, comfortable and natural to the sensibilities of Muslim individuals and communities." Totally totally agree. Teaching our kids about sex is not necessarily going to result in increased promiscuity. Rather, if we teach them about sex, the wisdom behind the boundaries Islam has placed, and teach them to have healthy attitudes and expectations of sex, perhaps our youth will have the tools to behave in a manner that is more in line with our values.

Nadiah Mohajir

Dear Parents

There is a normalization of a certain type of sexual culture in popular media that is seeping into our collective mindset. As humans, we have a voice and responsibility to confront perverted notions of our sexuality that are promoted as the norm. Islam is a belief system which not only encourages but requires us to confront these issues. Your sons and daughters are exposed to certain ideas of sex and sexuality that are harmful to their development and growth. The first step is to realize that your child is not especially immune. Someone or something WILL fill the gap in their education and development on this issue. What steps will you take to ensure that "Keeping up With the Kardashians" isn’t teaching your child about self esteem and body image? How are they going to grapple and come to terms with their sexuality and changing bodies? Their equally misinformed peers can only teach them so much. We need to present an alternative and go against the trend and establish our own and this does not mean pulling our children out of sexual education. We need to repackage, reform and rebuild the curriculum. It should be a curriculum that empowers the youth with decison-making skills, literacy in media, self-esteem and reaffirms their respective identities. This curriculum should be culturally appropriate and really speak to our youth in a language they can understand and relate to. We must confront issues and not sweep anything under the carpet for them to learn about later through other less educational and religiously-sensitive means. We should create a space wherein our youth can be comfortable to learn about themselves and be honest themselves… distinguishing from what magazines, tv shows and movies are telling them to think about themselves on a daily basis. This curriculum must reaffirm the psychological, emotional, spiritual, physical and social aspects of our youth and reassure them that they are not mere objects divorced from these aspects of themselves as popular media would like to have them think. These are just a few reasons why we need a truly comprehensive sex education for our youth. This post does not mention the numerous examples that demonstrate just how much popular culture normalizes an idea of sex and sexuality from within our schools to our own households. This post also does not include the various steps one can take to create a curriculum for educators to practically address these issues. These are something that, we as HEART peers, are researching and writing on at this very moment. We share our insights with you through this blog, please do stay tuned.

Sehar Sufi

Khutba-Raising Muslim Women

Hey All,

Please watch this youtube khutba http://www.halaltube.com/khalid-latif-its-tough-being-a-girl. This well spoken and intelligent religious leader is advocating for gender equality in the Muslim community. His speech is powerful and inspiring. I am still in shock. He addresses sexual violence, abuse, domestic violence, gender inequality, and issues concerning hijab. He critiques the Muslim community regarding gender inequality and gives solutions on how to change this problem. Unfortunately he does not address how sexism affects men or how transgendered Muslims are treated. This is very forward for the Muslim community. I truly believe this is how you jumpstart change! If we can convince religious leaders there is a gender inequality problem within the Muslim community we can start to fix a problem that has ravaged and broken our community. We must speak loudly and with good reason in order to change minds and hearts.

A Muslim Woman’s Sexual Experience

Muslim women writing about their sexualities is absent from literature. I advocate for all Muslims to write about their sexuality and demand social change within the Muslim community. Yet I struggle with writing about my own. It’s a part of me that’s so deep, fluid, and unexplored. As a teenager I did everything I could to make it disappear. I was too busy being a good Muslim girl. I did not want to be that shameful and dirty woman that broke the most sacred rule of all. Also I wanted nothing to do with men. I saw what my mother and the women in family went through with men. They were all heartbroken and hardened by their experiences with men. Men often felt they had all the power, privilege and Allah given right to treat women like objects. So I decided at an early age any love, romance, or intimacy with men was for fools. My iron demanded that I would be free of any kind of sexual or romantic attachment or interaction with anyone. I challenged Allah (s) with my arrogance saying send me whoever you please because I will remain pure and unburdened by heartache. After all I had no time for such foolishness, I wanted to continue my education and become successfully independent. I was in expecting life would be so uncomplicated.

I was certainly unprepared for my first semester of college. I was unprepared for the experience that ignited my path of enlightenment and self discovery. I embarrassingly admit that it took a man to make me realize that my sexuality exists and is a part of me. The very moment I met him I felt this intense sexual and intimate connection. It was pure electricity. I pretended it did not exist because I did not know how to handle such powerful and inexplicable emotions. My Muslim upbringing only taught me to feel shame with such feelings. But it was really hard to resist how I felt about him. I was enamored by his intelligence, openness, kindness and compassion. I could tell he had respect for women unlike most of the men in my life at that time. His cynicism challenged me to think more critically about what I had accepted so willingly. He seemed to follow life according to his own rules. I was willing to compromise my good Muslim girl role because I wanted him. I wanted to touch his shoulders, chest and his cute and perfectly plump ass. After all there he was smiling at me. He was provoking me to go with him. I looked at him one last time and walked away. My womyn’s intuition and wisdom told me this was not my path. Anyways I ended up finding out he was a frog. For some reason during that short time that weird and wondrous man made me feel desire I thought never existed. If Allah (s) thought sexual desire was so shameful then people would find no physical, emotional, and spiritual pleasure in it.

This experience opened up a whole new chapter that changed my life. I thought about what it really meant to be “a good Muslim girl.” It’s socially constructed by male Islamic scholars and men in power to keep women’s sexualities submissive. Why do the Muslim community and scholars make Islam and sexualities so fucking hard to reconcile? I am determined to make this reconciliation! Islam and sexuality are intertwined. Muslim educators and parents should be telling their community that such sexual pleasure with consent is encouraged. My message to all Muslims is to embrace your sexuality. Do not be ashamed of it because narrow-minded people power and authority say that you are sinful. Please educate your community about sexuality. And for the love of Allah (s) please do not judge and punish other Muslims who have had sexual experiences before marriage, during marriage, with the same sex and/or multiple partners.

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