Gay Muslims

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For a general discussion of homosexuality and Islam, see Homosexuality and Islam.
Gay Muslims
Genre Documentary, current affairs
Format Documentary film
Created by Channel 4
Directed by Cara Lavan
Starring Adnan Ali
Narrated by Sonia Deol
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 1
Production
Executive producer(s) Richard McKerron
Producer(s) Cara Lavan, Anshu Ahuja
Editor(s) Jim Hogan
Broadcast
Original channel Channel 4
First shown in 2006
Chronology
Followed by A Jihad for Love (2007)

Gay Muslims (2006) is a Channel 4 documentary about how the experiences of five lesbian and gay Muslims challenge the heterosexual bias within their British communities and illustrate the diversity within Islam.

Background[edit]

Islam, as one of the Abrahamic religions, along with Judaism and Christianity, has sometimes been perceived to reject homosexuality. According to mainstream Islamic beliefs, God sent the prophet Lot to the people of Sodom to preach against their wicked practices and urge them to worship God. Among these practices (as mentioned in the Quran) engaged in by the people of Sodom were sexual acts performed out in the open. Hence, the word sodomite. The exact meaning of this passage has been taken as reference to varying activities. The Quran (Surah Al-'Ankabut> Verse 29) recounts what was preached to the Sodomites. "Do ye indeed approach men, and cut off the highway? And practise wickedness (even) in your councils?" and the Quran also states "If two among you (men) commit it (fornication) punish them both.If they repent and mend their ways leave them both".(4:16)[1]

Diverse perspectives on homosexuality exist amongst new liberated Muslims, ranging from condemnation through to the Muslim Canadian Congress's welcome for legislation redefining marriage to include same-sex partners. In the documentary, a number of Islamic scholars assert that the Qur'anic verse, "we created you as partners", need not be limited to male-female couples. The documentary shows Muslim gay marriages (nikah) in the United States, Canada and India. It states that this diversity may lie at the heart of traditional Islamic practice. In the formation of the different Islamic schools of thought, which have now become different denominations, such as Maliki and Shafi, scholars accepted there could be different interpretations of Qur'anic Arabic and people could align themselves to whichever they felt represented them most. The documentary asserts that the modern-day call of the politico-religious right for a homogeneous Islam is a new invention, and not at all fundamental.

Scholar[edit]

The diverse ways of understanding of the Qur'an are echoed in the documentary by Dr Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle of Swarthmore College in the United States, currently a research fellow at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He believes that sharia – Islamic law – is determined by male jurists whose interpretations of Islamic texts are based on cultural assumptions situated in particular times, and particular political and geographical locations. Rather than sharia being divine, Kugle believes that it offers different avenues for Muslims to live their lives. He also points out that there is no word in the Qur'an for "gay" or "homosexual", and no mention of lesbians.

Activists[edit]

Some 200 lesbian and gay Muslims were contacted by the programme makers but only a handful were willing to be interviewed, and most of those insisted on keeping their identities hidden, to prevent reprisals. Only one was prepared to show his face and give his true name. He was Adnan Ali, an activist on issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual Muslims. Adnan described how, when he first came out in Pakistan, he was physically and verbally abused. He then came to the UK, where he chatted online with members of the American Al-Fatiha Foundation, an international organisation dedicated to Muslims who are LGBT or questioning, and their friends. Adnan then set up a sister group, now called Imaan.

Voices[edit]

The interviewees speak of their commitment to and belief in Islam, though they are mostly ostracised than their beliefs getting support by their community and family. ‘Razeem’ speaks of his pain at being denied access to the children of his previous marriage, despite having a legal right to access and the fact that his wife ran away with another man. He also wishes there were more role models, like Adnan Ali, for gay Muslims. ‘Shakir’ and his parents find it easier to accept lesbianism than gay men’s homosexuality. ‘Farah’ contemplates going back into the closet, to lie about her sexuality to ease the tension in her relationship with her parents.

The programme's presenter, Sonia Deol, says that the gay Muslim group Imaan supports the idea of "keeping sexuality a private matter".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]