My articles are based on a hermeneutic that is religiously plural, atheist inclusive and LGBTQ affirming. Yet, time and again, I have received strong responses from those critical of faith and Islam. Ignoring socio-economic and political factors, the critics simplistically blame all the ills in the Muslim world on Islam.
Blaming Islam for terrorism is silly as the texts are silent and it is Muslims who speak. This however still does not absolve Muslims of responsibility for internal change to stop those on the cusp of joining terrorists. This means challenging popular speakers who support medieval sharia laws, Caliphates and draconian punishments under Islamic law.
Many Pakistani Muslims are taught that Ahmadis are kafirs (disbelievers) for they do not believe in the finality of Prophethood. Ahmadis argue that their promised Messiah and Reformer confirmed the seal of Muhammad (upon whom be peace). It is this doctrinal difference that has stoked immense persecution of the Ahmadis of Pakistan.
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?