Marriage Equality During the Holy Month

Yesterday a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling humbled humanity: The United States of America officially legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, putting one of contemporary society’s most pressing civil rights battles to rest.

The nationwide LGBTQ community and its loyal allies erupted in jubilant festivity; well wishes and congratulatory messages reverberated from all over the world. But I found myself holding back my joy, choosing instead to celebrate quietly.

In the midst of the holy month of Ramadan, my chest ached with the bittersweet feeling of an overfull, teeming heart. But to celebrate, I thought, would be to disobey the God whom my fasts are kept for, the God whom I fall prostrate in prayer before. It would disobey the religion that has given my heart a home — not just in the gravity of my sorrows, but also at the peak of my happiness.

Gillian Blease for The Economist
Gillian Blease for The Economist

Paradoxical, I knew it. There must definitely be an inconsistency in my life if my faith stands in stark opposition to the societal beliefs that I passionately wish to advocate for. But after today I realized that I do not live my life pained with cognitive dissonance. Rather, I can achieve inner-peace by understanding that, surely, a deistic approach to Allah exists.

And that is exactly where my desire to strengthen my devoutness resonates from: A deistic Allah. The One who gave life to every creature, loves unconditionally, accepts and forgives. The One who created every race, every gender, every color of the rainbow. The One who gave us all the same heart and the freedom to love with it.

And five times a day — even more during this holy month — I will remain resolute in my belief, bowing my head to the ground to ask Him for strength and for guidance, as I have done since my prepubescent years. So yes, I am Muslim. And yes, it is possible to be a Muslim who supports gay rights, for it is the religion of Islam that stresses the significance of ethical conduct and has ultimately inspired me to become an activist for all of humanity — for ethnic and religious minorities, for homosexual and transgender people, for all human beings battling oppression and facing discrimination.

Fellow Muslims, I call on you to join me in my novice attempt to facilitate empowerment for all marginalized individuals and to silence the close-minded people who wish to limit our religion to very specific, destructive constructs and adhere only to centuries-old traditions.

We must be progressive, and our values must reflect this. Simultaneously, we can still carry our creed in our hearts and souls. We can continue to strengthen our belief not by subjecting ourselves to the diction of ancient manuscripts, but by serving humanity and fighting for a better future for all humankind.

That’s exactly what Islam has taught me, after all.

34 thoughts on “Marriage Equality During the Holy Month

  1. Do read up on Qaum e laut. Its a story in a book called Quran.
    Do ponder on the punishment Allah brought upon them for disobeying.

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    1. Yes, I am familiar with the story of Prophet Lut in the “book called Quran.” But I also understand that it is possible to follow my faith without forcing its laws on others. Actually, Islamic law isn’t even the word of God. It may be based on the Quran and on Hadith (stories of the prophet, pbuh), but it was created by early Muslim scholars and caliphs. I’ve adopted this section from Muslims for Progressive Values’ section on Sexuality and Diversity on why Islam can accept homosexuality:

      “In Islam, there is a solid basis for respect and acceptance of diversity—including sexual diversity. Although historically many Muslim law-makers forbade homosexual acts, it is important to remember that Islamic law is not the word of God. Islamic law is the result of reasoning by law-makers, so the law is made by human beings. That doesn’t mean Islamic law is not important for Muslims, but it does mean that it is not a perfect reflection of what God wants for human beings. Many Muslims do not accept homosexuality because of prejudice or sexism—and many jurists share these views. As a result, it is important to continue to re-examine the shari’ah to better understand the true meaning of the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH). By re-examining the principles of shari’ah, scholars—along with other believers—can help recover it’s original purpose: to protect civil liberties, promote human rights and help people lead more ethical lives.”

      Even more, I am aware of the fact that there are literal, semantic, and thematic methods for reading the Quran – all of which greatly affect the way chapters are interpreted. There are different ways to interpret the story of Prophet Lut – some of which point to homosexuality as a sin, as you have mentioned, and others which believe the sin addressed in the story of Lut is actually rape.

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  2. Salina your comment above is in contradiction to the point of your article. Of course you cannot force the laws of Islam on those who do not follow the faith, however by writing such a piece you are indirectly endorsing something that you believe is punishable according to your faith. That’s similar to saying, I know theft is a sin, but it’s not my place to judge the criminal, as everyone deserves forgiveness and love, so go ahead and commit theft, I will support you. If a young Muslim happens upon your article and is currently torn about their sexuality, what you are indirectly doing is substantiating their decision to seal their fate on the day God calls on them to face their sins. My point is, why write such an article when at your core you don’t believe in homosexuality. It’s not Muslims in America who are the decision makers on gay rights, it’s Christian America. You don’t have to appeal to Muslims, just pray privately for all of humanity to do according to God’s will. That is what us good Muslims are doing. #redundant

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    1. I am struggling to rationalize and accept your analogy, mainly because I do not appreciate how you are equating a criminal to a gay person. There’s a flaw in assuming that theft is comparable to loving freely and without prejudice. With that being said, I would like to be my own, rightful last line of defense because I truly do know what is at my core: I do support homosexuality, which is why I wrote this article. But I also identify as a practicing Muslim – one who is trying to redefine Islamic morality within the contexts of contemporary society. Through it all, one maxim remains: Allah loves all of us. And I do not see disagreement possible for that truism. But if a young, gay Muslim happens upon my article, I would hope that it serves as a reminder to him or her that it is possible to continue to love Allah. Plus, I sure hope that that young person reads this article first, before he or she stumbles upon other columns penned by Muslims who are propagating hadiths that call on Muslims to “Kill the one that is doing it and also kill the one that it is being done to.” (Tirmidhi, a sahih [authentic] hadith).

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      1. Actually, it’s Islam that equates a criminal to a gay person (or an Atheist, a Jew, a Christian on different occasions).

        Just a clarification there… I don’t consider myself Muslim at all, so I’ll get myself out of this. Take care.

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  3. Today it is homosexuality, 40 years later it’ll be nudity, incest, bestiality. We will be falling back into the moral less state humanity began from. How far will the boundaries of right and wrong be pushed in the name of this so called equality?

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  4. Disgusted by this article. Some one rightly mentioned quom e lout. If you are so fond of these things and have no faith in the punishment that qoum got for indulging in such filth. It’s better you join that society where you will be applauded for this. And I agree this is just the start. See what’s coming next. Your own son might get married to some other guy. Now say it’s his life and he should do what he wants? Lol

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    1. If my son is gay, I would want him to be raised in a society that is tolerant and accepting and in a country that acknowledges his life and validates it. And if he is gay, I would hope to remind him that he can still love God: The Most Beneficient, The Most Merciful. I’ve heard too many stories from gay, now ex-Muslim friends that were chased from the mosques and abandoned by their families when all they were in search of was compassion.

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  5. You dont have to force your laws on others, but you have to know what is wrong and say that it is wrong. That’s a basic requirement for a Muslim.
    You should be convincing people that being ‘Gay’ is a psychological disorder like many other disorders, there needs to be a proper treatment for it instead of us fighting for ‘Gay Rights’.
    First look at it for what it is and have the courage to say what it is: a mental disorder
    Dont try to please the west with this ‘liberal’ nonsense.

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  6. This far its correct tht Allah loves us all. But arent u condoning homosexuality? Why are u equating God’s love with sth tht is explicitly forbidden in islam? Why r u calling things written in the Koran as ancient decrees? This tantamounts to saying that u don’t believe in the relevance of the Koran.

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    1. Wrong. I absolutely do believe in the relevance of the Quran, and I am understanding of the fact that Islamic morality is not strictly bound to a Muslim’s precise observance of the rituals delineated in the Holy Book, but instead in acts of kindness, tolerance, and empathy.

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  7. This article is a reflection of your immaturity . You are far from knowledge and depth of Islam ( though you claim you are representing the teachings of Islam). Ok, leave alone the religion , just concentrate how unnatural it is. Just imagine two people living unnaturally, adopting a child claiming to be their offspring. Just imagine the agony of that child. Where are the child rights then !!

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  8. The way you envision God, as a loving God who loves everyone unconditionally, is more aligned with modern day Christianity (not traditional) . Saying how we must be progressive and not base beliefs in ancient scripture are also aligned with modern Christianity (they base their beliefs on the new testament rather than old). Just wanted to point that out and to say there is absolutely nothing wrong in what you believe. Good luck in your Ramadan.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I would like to believe that the same can be said for all Abrahamic faiths (the notion that God hates the sin, but not the sinner). In Islam, one of God’s 99 names is The Loving One (Al-Wadud), and all 114 chapters begin with the statement that He is the most compassionate, most merciful.

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  9. Some of the comments on this post are so hurtful that I am left speechless. You have penned the words that I have been thinking for so long, I feel this could have been a post written by me. Thank you for writing this, please don’t lose hope in love and in muslims around the world who believe in this religion of peace, respect, equality. Please don’t let self proclaimed moral high ground people who have ‘chosen’ the correct sexual orientation bring you down and make you feel less of a muslim or less of a person.

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    1. Your message means so, so much to me. It’s such a relief to know that I’m not alone in this belief. A simple thank you will not suffice; for you, I have too many words of gratitude!

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  10. It is my belief that when you truly have an open mind to accept the divine and miraculousness of Allah, and this amazing and complex yet succinct world he has created for all life forms, in turn the innate reaction is that you accept and trust and have faith in ALL of the rules and life teachings he brought through his Holy book(s) for there must be a divine reason for them all. Even when they create doubt and irrationality in your mind, the answer should always be to have faith in his miraculousness. We know there is evil on this earth, it is through devotion and faith in Allah that evil is overcome and love for all prevails.  All we can do is show our children the miraculousness of this world and of Allah in the hope that they also become willing believers and so world can become a better place and man doesn’t have to be the judge and jury for all of humanity.

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  11. Being Muslim is not a word that you put in the religion column of official papers. It’s a philosophy of life. If you say you’re Muslim and then don’t believe in the way Islam prescribes life to be lived, then I don’t know where that leaves you.

    Refer to 7:80-84 in the Quran for the story of the Prophet Lot (AS) where you can learn that even just for sympathizing with the people who indulged in homosexuality, Lots own wife was punished in the same manner as the wrong doers.

    Rejoicing for that what Allah has clearly mentioned is wrong in the Quran, is a sin in itself. It has been said that if you see something wrong happening, stop it with your hands. If you are unable to do so, stop it with your words. And if you are unable to do even that, know in your heart, that it is wrong, although this is the weakest form of iman.

    Allah knows best, and may He guide whom He wills. May He forgive me if I was unable to get the right message across.

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    1. I mentioned this briefly above, but I will expand on the topic here. The story of Prophet Lut remains debated, as do many chapters in the Quran. Why? Because there are different methods that can be employed when reading the Quran. Aside from just a literal translation, readers can pay close attention to diction and syntax and again to morals and themes. Firstly, readers can semantically monitor how specific words are used in sentences and throughout the book. Note: You mentioned “homosexuality” when you brought up 7:80-84, but the word “homosexuality” is never mentioned in the Quran. Also, readers can read with the intent to look for larger themes illustrated in entire passages and chapters throughout the book (thematically).

      When it comes to a semantic and thematic reading of the story of Prophet Lut, the underlying meaning of the story can shift. Like I did above, I am going to include passages from Sexual and Diversity.

      Semantic Reading:

      “In the story, the Prophet Lut (PBUH) first advised the people of the city of Sodom to follow God’s path, but they ignored him. Later, the men of Sodom threatened to rape Lut’s male visitors, who were angels disguised as men. God then punished the entire city of Sodom for rejecting their Prophet (Lut) and for ‘transgressions.’

      Some scholars interpret the ‘transgressions’ in the story of Lut to refer to male homosexuality. Yet the word ‘transgressions’ in the Qur’an can mean something sexual or something non-sexual. Men were not the only ones punished in the destruction of Sodom. According to the Qur’an, the whole city was destroyed. Lut’s wife is specifically mentioned. Were Lut’s wife, other women and the children of Sodom punished for male homosexuality? That does not seem to be a reasonable conclusion.”

      Thematic Reading:

      “A thematic reading of the story of Lut can be found in the Qisas al-Anbiya (classical stories of the Prophets). A story written by the scholar Muhammad ibn Abdallah Al-Kisa’i puts the strange behavior of the men of the city of Sodom in a context that makes sense. Al-Kisa’i suggests that the people of Sodom had taken to showing their city’s dominance by raping strangers. They were showing that they could take what they wanted from others. In that way, people became afraid to raid the city. This showed aggressiveness, stinginess and greed—all things that would justify their punishment. A thematic reading also tells us that the story’s main purpose was to show that people had rejected their prophets in the past, as some rejected Muhammad during his lifetime, and how those who rejected prophets were punished. This is clear from the context of the story of Lut, which is placed among other stories with the same theme.”

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      1. 7:80
        And [We had sent] Lot when he said to his people, “Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds?
        7:81
        Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people.”

        from the above verses of the Quran, in every interpretation, the transgression mentioned is that they approached men with desire instead of women. In the very literal translation of the arabic verses, we can see that indeed homosexuality is referred to.

        15:71
        [Lot] said, “These (the girls of the nation) are my daughters to marry lawfully) if you must act so.”

        ^furthermore in another mention, we see Prophet Lot asking his people to marry daughters of the nation, i.e. females, for that is the lawful way. If, as the article you mentioned about progressive Islam said, if the people of Lot were punished for being rapists, the prophet would surely not offer women as sacrificial goats to satiate the sexual appetite of rapists. So please, in any sort of translation or interpretation of the Quran, it is clear to know what the sin was, and therefore those who want to know more of the story should look directly in the Quran, rather than online articles or papers. Jazakallah.

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  12. What l clearly see here is digression from the core and, just like many readers, sometimes I get lost in translation, what the writer further elaborates in semantic vs thematic. I believe that for a miraculous script for all times to come (i.e. The Holy Quran) such ambiguity actually is a proof of omnipresence. This is clearly stated in the book as well. Some verses are clear as crystal while others intend to guide since times immemorial and for times to come.
    Adressing the core issue of homosexuality, I admit, I used to get disgusted by the mere thought and still do, but I am no Diety ( yet ) nor will ever be to judge anyone. ( I mentioned “yet” as I believe our existance will revert to Him eventually, like all parts shall revert to its Whole). Through ages of maturity though my opinion has moved from homosexuality being a psychological disorder to actually a social disorder. I don’t care if anyone agrees with me but the fact is that it prevails even within God’s other creations, so let us leave it to His wisdom and not question His logic of creation. And by no means it gives us the right to judge, berate or humiliate another “fellow being” let alone punish.
    In fact, more important than gays rights, is legalizing “Prostitution”. GLTBZ ,whatever that is, will automatically subside, if it really is a social disorder.
    Now we all know what all comments will proceed this. Someone also mentioned earlier that this way we would legalize all other sins one by one and revert to dark age.Maybe we will maybe we won’t. Only God know all, however, one thing is for sure. Let Allah be the judge whereas our human limitations give way.
    May Allah bless us all for this effort i.e. “JIHAD”

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  13. My dear sister,
    Islam teaches us mercy and forgiveness but not to support sins. Quam e Lut was destroyed due to homosexuality. The prophets wife who did not follow this but supported this act was also destroyed. Our progressiveness should not be considered as a reason to create these new laws that are forbidden by God.
    Maybe Allah will forgive the gays and maybe we are more sinful then them in our deeds. It’s for him to decide not you and me. We should stay away from what he said is wrong and do what he said is right.
    I would deff suggest not writing something as a Muslim that completely disagrees with Gods word because in that way we might be encouraging someone to do bad when they are in that gray area. Islam has become the mess it is today due to us ill literate people suggesting our brilliant ideas. On one end its the illiterate mullahs and on the other end the modern Muslim. My own opinion is if it’s better to stay quiet specially if there is a big chance you are wrong.

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  14. Appauling to read some of the comments here and how homophobia is easily being practiced in the name of our religion. If someone chooses to express their sexual orientation the least the society can do is guide them towards Allah and his righteous ways rather than abandoning them. As the author rightly said Allah is the most beneficiant and merciful – gays, lesbians or straights should have equal rights to love and worship Allah. Applaud you for writing this article, you couldn’t have said it better.

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    1. Thank you so much for these words. I mentioned this in a previous reply, but it truly makes my heart so warm to hear from fellow Muslims who harbor the same belief as I do. Thank you again for reading and taking the time to write this message.

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  15. I don’t know how I found this, but I’m glad that I did. It warmed my heart that there are some rational people out there who are fighting this good fight of teaching tolerance and love instead of hatred and bigotry in the name of religion. I have already given up on homophobes and religious extremists as a lost cause, but it’s good to see people like you are trying to spread compassion because God is Merciful.

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