Alex Blaze

Gay Muslims in the NY Times

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 07, 2007 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Islam, Muslims, theology

The NY Times has an excellent article up about gay Muslims in the US and some of the theological inroads they're making into changing religious prohibitions against same sex loving.

They're making headway in the West to develop a queer-affirming theology:

For gay Muslims, change may come via a nascent body of scholarship in minority Muslim communities where the reassessment of sacred texts used to damn homosexuality is gaining momentum.[...]

As a rule, gay Muslim activists lacked the scholarly grounding needed to scrutinize time-honored teachings. But that is changing, activists say, partly because no rigid clerical hierarchy exists in the West to bar such research.[...]

Mirroring the feminist school of Islam, gay advocates pursue a holistic interpretation that emphasizes accepting everyone as equally God’s creation.

It also sounds a lot like Christian queer theology, borrowing from feminism and looking to teachings of equality over a few specific and rigidly interpreted passages that condemn something known as homosexuality to people over a millennium ago.

But what's apparent here is that change for queer Muslims and Muslim society regarding sexuality and gender isn't going to come from the West, rather these movements need to develop internally. And the possibility certainly is there:

Renowned poets wrote odes glorifying handsome boys. Some were interpreted as metaphors about loving God, but some were paeans to gay sex. Rafique and others argue that homosexuality became criminalized only under European colonialism.

“From the 10th to the 14th century, Muslim society used to be a far richer mix of the legal, the rational and the mystic,” said Rafique, an anthropologist. “They looked at sexuality as one aspect of life’s many possibilities, and they saw in it the hope for spiritual insight. I came across this stuff, and it helped me reconcile the two.”

It's not religion itself that condemns homosexuality or sexuality, it's the lens through which people view it. And that epistemology developed secularly, as Rafique here mentions.

But enough sampling, go read the rest!

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beergoggles | November 7, 2007 7:43 PM

Ugh, there they go again mistaking homosexuality for pederasty.

And then we act all offended when anti-gay nutjobs do the same thing.