Lives are at stake. This much is clear from the murders in Bangladesh. One death is far too many. The big organizations of Muslims can really send out a strong and powerful message that despite theological differences, there is no room in Islam to so poorly treat our LGBT Muslim brothers and sisters.
For many Muslims, God is not a stingy merchant engaged in debit-credit accounting or a partisan bully that enforces hollow rituals by threats of eternal damnation. For them ritual prayer is not about seeking material gains from a stern taskmaster but having an undying trust in the power of hope, mercy and compassion.
Ahmadi Muslims, Christians, and other religious minorities in Pakistan remain oppressed due to draconian blasphemy laws and institutionalized discrimination. Their oppression seems to have no end. Unfortunately, one cannot claim that these would be the last of such horrific incidents, which also affect many Muslims.
Valentine's Day will soon be upon us. Many Muslims celebrate it in their own special way. Some celebrate it to honour the love for their beloveds, while others cherish it with their parents or children. Indeed, human beings were created with deep desire for belonging, companionship and above all love.
We are told that the prohibition of homosexuality is black and white in Islam. Comparisons are often made between sins like eating pork, drinking wine, committing adultery and homosexuality. However, all such arguments do not reflect a reasonable understanding of Islamic law, which is meant for the welfare of human beings and not for sole subjugation.
Given the press on Islam about draconian punishments, face coverings, supremacist ideologies, Caliphates, etc. it is ever so important for us to assert our voice on Islam. It is important for us to speak out for religion is too powerful to be left to the hands of those who seek to usurp it for their nefarious purposes.
If it is not right to host Islamophobic or white supremacist speakers, then it is not right to host Muslim supremacist, homophobic and transphobic speakers. Indeed, all zulm (oppression) is connected. Muslims overwhelmingly condemn ISIS. However, according to Muslim human rights activist, Shafiqah Othman Hamza, it is not enough to quote Qur'anic verses on peace while ignoring the systemic persecution and discrimination of minorities.
Recently, a bloodthirsty mob torched an Ahmadi owned factory in the Pakistani city of Jhelum. In contrast to Canada, where communities galvanize against hate, there were no rallies in defence of Ahmadi neighbours, and social media was ablaze with their "heresies" instead of condemnation of persecution.
How can Muslim LGBT lead the dialogue if a majority amongst them segregate their lives from conservative spaces? The importance of dialogue within conservative Muslim communities cannot be over-emphasized. Such a dialogue will have to be part of a much-needed internal critique, for outside solutions may be rejected as anti-Muslim bigotry.
Prescribing gay Muslims to remain in the closet is a bullying tactic that has no basis in the Islamic tradition. Likewise, caricaturing the genuine human need for mawadda as a compulsive desire is a dehumanizing tactic that violates the core Islamic values of human dignity, egalitarianism, compassion and social justice.
Early this month, anticipating stiff opposition, Syed Adnan Hussein showed much inner strength to openly initiate a religiously plural, gender equal and queer affirming Unity mosque in Halifax. Unfortunately, soon after the media announcement from CBC, online spiritual bullying by homophobic Muslims began. Their comments, which alluded to the "homosexual agenda" and "the wrath of Allah", showed lack of a reasonable understanding of a mature faith.
Some kids have been targeted by bullies because the hatred towards gays, lesbians, trans and "others" runs so deep in North American society that even appearing different may merit ostracization. Who are we to complain about bigotry against our children if we perpetuate it against others? And so we must ask them, our fellow (otherwise peaceful) Muslim parents, how does the intolerance you teach at home, affect all our youth and our Muslim communities?
On Saturday, October 26, more than 60 Saudi women got behind the wheel and drove in Saudi Arabia to challenge the ban on women driving in that country. Some of them posted their videos on YouTube. Several people were detained and fined. Last week I interviewed another brave woman who drove on October 26, human rights activist and photographer, Samia El-Moslimany.
Last Friday Dr. Reza Aslan was interviewed by Fox News on his recent book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Bigotry reigned as Green repeatedly asked Aslan why as a "Muz-lim" he would write a book about Jesus. Meanwhile, halfway around the world, another secular Muslim sat in a Saudi prison, awaiting his sentence. His crime? Attempting to liberalize religion in Saudi Arabia and criticizing religious police.
In the last few months the world has witnessed, once again, atrocities planned and in two cases, carried out, disguised in the name of Islam. The debate among Muslims in the West is filled with tension. And as Muslims what more must we do to stop the chaos, in addition to demanding changes in our Western countries' foreign policies?
This weekend the Quebec Soccer Federation votes on whether to lift a ban that prevents kids from playing soccer -- specifically Sikh players who wear turbans. In sports, you learn to participate and take risks. And you learn to include everyone. It is a lesson that some of the grown-ups still don't get.
In his April 11 show, "The Arab Underground," conservative political activist Ezra Levant interviewed a former Israeli army officer to highlight the imparting of homophobia in the government funded Edmonton Islamic Academy. Conservative Muslim parents need to be concerned whether their children are being taught values of tolerance or exclusion.