Ramadan dinners are held everywhere this month, including in my Muslim community in Ottawa , where all are welcome -- gay or straight. At last night's dinner, I was asked to say a few words. Here they are.
Ramadan is a time when we are reminded of what others experience when they have less -- by our hunger, our thirst and occasionally, the rawness of emotions that accompanies these during the fast.
We are reminded that for some, the fast is not temporary, but permanent. There are people who are hungry all the time. And being hungry is a way of life.
Everyone remembers that going without food is part of the fast.
This Ramadan I remind you that going without intimacy and sexual love from sunrise to sunset is also part of the fast. This Ramadan we must be reminded that there are those who fast from intimacy and physical love all the time because they are gay and their circumstances or their mindset make it impossible for them to find and fall in love with a partner of the same gender.
We must be grateful and giving in our provisions and our charity, but also in our knowledge, our compassion, our acceptance.
Muslim family -- we know this is not how life is supposed to be lived.
As always, especially during Ramadan, we must be grateful and giving in our provisions and our charity, but also in our knowledge, our compassion, our acceptance.
Muhammad said, "When you see another who has been given more, look to those who have been given less -- and be grateful."
Ramadan is a holy month, because it's the month in which the Qur'an was revealed, over many years, to Muhammad.
Whether we are fasting or not, we are reminded during Ramadan how fortunate we are to have our holy scripture, the Qur'an, and the enlightenment it can contain. These are the words of Allah, who is described in it as The Compassionate, The Merciful and that Compassion and Mercy is the lens from which we must read the Qur'an.
We know in our era there are many ways of reading the Qur'an -- some of them in reference to our gay Muslim family are not merciful nor compassionate.
But we can find enlightenment if we search for it, as in Surah 30, here:
30:20 And among Allah's signs is this: Allah creates you out of dust and then, lo! you become human beings ranging far and wide!
We are all over the world -- we are everywhere and that includes our diversity.
30:21 Among Allah's signs is this: that Allah created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and Allah placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think.
Does it say "wives"? Does it say "mates of the opposite gender"? No!
Muslims at Edmonton Pride.
30:22 And among Allah's signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your tongues and colours: for in this, behold, there are messages indeed for all who are possessed of [innate] knowledge!
"Colours," according to inclusive Muslim scholars like Dr. Scott Siraj Al Haqq Kugle, is from the Arabic word "alwan." From a translation of the Arabic, alwan includes the shade, the type, the texture, the flavour and the kind -- as in taste.
It means, according to Dr. Kugle, variation among people is not just about outward appearance, but inward disposition. The conclusion is that human nature has been created diverse not just in language, ethnicity and appearance, but also in inward disposition and personality, differences that include our orientation, our sexualities.
49:13 We created you into different tribes and nations so that you may come to know one another (with affection).
So diversity is celebrated.
(More on the story of Lut is here and how his goal was not to make same-sex love a sin.)
We also know that according to historical evidence the early Muslims were accepting of sexual diversity. No one was persecuted for being gay by Muhammad.
Queer brothers and sisters of all faiths and no faith -- you are perfect as you are.
This Ramadan can we, in Muslim communities, who love and accept our LGBTQI Muslim family, take time to educate our fellow brothers and sisters in other parts of the community of our understanding?
This Ramadan can we remind everyone of why the Qur'an was revealed not to be a source of hardship but a source of ease as it states in Surah 2?
Because 49 innocent people did not perish for nothing in the tragedy that unfolded a week ago in Orlando.
Taywakkul ala Allah -- trust in God -- everything happens for a reason -- including our grief, our pain, our sorrow.
We Muslims know the homophobia in our communities, which exists in other communities, too -- how must we confront it?
No matter how hard it is to publicize our inclusive Muslim spaces, no matter how few funds we may have -- what must we do to nurture the well-being of all our children, including those from other parts of the Muslim community, gay or straight?
How do we help those who may be lost off the direct path, as a result of their own anger and left alone to wander aimlessly and create chaos?
Sirata allatheena anAAamta AAalayhim ghayri almaghdoobi AAalayhim wala alddalleena
This Ramadan, may Allah accept our prayers for the people not only who died in Orlando, but who have been killed for being gay -- anywhere -- or persecuted or punished or made to feel "less than."
And we are not praying the gay away.
We are praying that everyone is accepted as they are, because Allah The Greatest made us ALL the way we are, in our beautiful diversity.
And Allah makes no mistakes.
Queer brothers and sisters of all faiths and no faith -- you are perfect as you are. May God protect us all and watch over us ALL -- always.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
MORE ON HUFFPOST:
The Toronto Pride Parade will take over parts of Yonge Street on Sunday, July 3, from Church and Bloor streets to Dundas Square. The parade starts at 2 p.m. and takes about three hours to run its course.
This year, trans activist Aydian Dowling, philanthropist Salah Bachir and singer-songwriter Vivek Shraya are the Grand Marshals of this year's Pride Parade. (Photo shows last year's Grand Marshals). The Parade will also feature honoured group Black Lives Matter and the international honoured guests The Prancing Elites and youth ambassador Jordyn Samuels.
According to Victoria Schwarzl, of Pride Toronto, this is the first year where all three levels of Canadian government are marching in the Toronto Pride Parade. "Keep your eyes out for Mayor John Tory, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau." she tells the Huffington Post Canada.
Shirley Kendall, an elder with the Anishnawbe and Haudenosaunee nations, will perform a smudging ceremony — an Indigenous custom that is used to purify a space — at Church and Bloor streets to open the parade, which takes place on the traditional lands of the Mississaugas of the New Credit.
The Pride Parade will go on no matter rain or shine, so come prepared for both. Pack an umbrella or an easily foldable rain coat just in case the weather calls for rain. If it calls for lots of sun, slap on the SPF and wear a hat!
Are you a person with a disability? No problem, Pride is very accessible. Schwarzl says risers are located throughout the parade route in order to provide easy viewing for guests with accessibility needs. Risers are located on Isabella Street, St. Mary's Street, Maitland Street, Breadalbane Street, and Elm Street. There is also a section specifically for blind and low-vision spectators on Wood Street (which will have live description of the parade) and an area specifically for people with mobility devices at Edward Street.
Traffic is sure to be gnarled the day of the parade, so leave the car at home and take an alternate mode of travel, which will leave you a lot less frustrated. Hop on the TTC, grab your bike or just walk!
Don't want to miss out on any of the action? Volunteer and you'll have the best view in the house! Pride depends on more than 1,500 volunteers to make the festival happen. There's still time to sign up so click here to find out more.
When the Parade's over, head over to Yonge Dundas Square to watch Joe Jonas and DNCE, Well-Strung, Alex Newell and more.
"Know that it's more than just a parade," Schwarzl says. " The Pride Parade represents decades of struggle and oppression for people within our community. It is a celebration of love and life that both commemorates the strides our society has taken and also reflects the long way we have to go in achieving equality."
Follow Shahla Khan Salter on Twitter: www.twitter.com/UniversMuslims