There are many ways to be a Muslim LGBT+ person, but I have only ever allowed myself to contemplate either of two ways.
It is pertinent to undertand first what it means to be a Muslim. What guides Muslims on the path of righteousness? There is a simple and complex answer to that. The simple answer is the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW.) The complex one runs deeper into sectarian interpretations of these two things – something that comes with the added baggage of regarding highly the opinion of long dead ‘scholars’ of the faith who preceded both the prophet and his early followers.
The Qur’an – much like the Bible as it is – is unequivocal about the wrongness of being a sexually active LGBT+ person. And as with the Bible, the Church and its long history of violence against LGBT+ persons, that rigid stance has not eliminated LGBT+ Christians. The persecution of LGBT+ people only forced them to cower for generations until they couldn’t have it anymore and empowered by secular democracy revolted and demanded for their rights to equal dignity.
Being a Muslim LGBT+ person is little different from being a Muslim in the generic sense – sans group classsifications. The message of Islam is submission to the demands of Allah (SWT) as relayed in the Qur’an and the Prophet’s teachings.
If the Qur’an says having premarital sex is a sin, you submit by steering clear of premarital sex. If the Qur’an says being a sexually active gay person is straying from the path of righteousness you submit by struggling however mightily to contain that aspect of your person. But there are two ways to be a Muslim LGBT+ person that I know.
- You can be the perpetually repentant Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans or any other sexual and gender minority Muslim who succumbs to the yearnings of his being while imploring Allah for forgiveness for your weakness. It is a life of self-loathing, but if it could guarantee you an afterlife devoid of eternal torment, it is worth giving a shot.
- Or you can be the queer Muslim who defines their relationship with Allah. Fuelled by a deeply seated rage in your spirit, you allow yourself to love, to know companionship and to live fully knowing very well that you have a lot to iron out with the almighty in the hereafter, and being completely at peace with that.
I have been both at different points in my life.
This should be easy enough, and it is in countries where the right to freedom of religion protects not only the rights of the religious to practice unhindered, but also the right of the irreligious to be free from religion. Nigeria is no such country.
For the Month of May, the Non-Binary blog’s monthly chat which is held on Instagram or Twitter collaborated with QueerCityPodcast – Nigeria’s first LGBT+ lifestyle podcast where no stone is left unturned, to give life to a conversation that remains taboo in Muslim circles. Taking the hot seat, while Timilehin, founder of Queercitypodcast grilled me, to share a personal perspective as someone who is a cultural Muslim, I faced squarely the question, “What is the place of Gay Muslims in the eyes of Allah (SWT)?”
It is not a new conversation, nor is the conclusion particularly groundbreaking because it is one I have advocated before – for instance in this piece written in celebration of LGBT Pride last year.
In between this unnew but emerging conversation and the repeated conclusion lie a rich dissection of the textural facts of queerness as seen through the eyes of Allah per the message contained in the Qur’an. Reflections on my journey from the first kind of Muslim queer person described here to the second and some unintrusive advice to queer Muslims seeking community in a wolrd that is shrunken by hostility against them from kith and kin and wider world that is now laden with Islamophobic rethoric thanks to the atrocities of Islamist terrorists.
You can watch part of the interview on YNaija Instagram (@YNaija) or listen to the full interview on any podcast platform by searching @QueerCityPodcast.