07/12/2015 09:43 EDT | Updated 07/12/2016 05:59 EDT

Straight Muslim Allies Must Work With LGBT Muslim Activists

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In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Muslim celebrities Reza Aslan and Hasan Minhaj wrote an open letter to Muslims on accepting same-sex unions. Likewise, in his Al Jazeera podcast in June, writer Wajahat Ali asked his guests about accepting Muslim LGBT youth.

Sidelining scholarship that includes a book chapter and Kugle's book from 2010, Ali's guests, both Haroon Moghul and Mehdi Hasan, indicated that they were not aware of any Islamic case for Muslim same-sex unions.

It seems that straight Muslims find it easier to address LGBT concerns in a secular context than a Muslim framework. However, straight allies can take heart from LGBT Muslims, who walk the tight rope between anti-Muslim bigotry and homophobia and assert their truth irrespective of personal costs.

Indeed, such activists remind us of our common humanity, that it is not about "Muslims versus the LGBT" or "us versus them," for they exist in the intersection.

Shaykh Daayiee Abdullah and Faisal Alam, who continue to receive online abuse from hateful Muslims, have been speaking out at great personal cost since the 90s, before it was mainstream to speak out on LGBT concerns. Like El Farouk Khaki and Imtiaz Popat, they have invested tremendous efforts towards all-inclusive community spaces.

Similarly Omar Sarwar, a young graduate student in New York, spends a considerable amount of time educating fellow Americans against anti-Muslim bigotry and fellow LGBT persons against racism.

There exist many other LGBT Muslim activists, with different genders and identities, like Mark Brustman, Terna Tilley-Gyado, Tynan Power, Urooj Arshad, and Kaamila Mohamed, who may differ in their approaches to activism. As such, the LGBT Muslim movement is not comprised of a centralized uniform approach.

Regardless, straight Muslim allies can include LGBT Muslim voices in their conversations to avoid usurping the agency of LGBT Muslim activists. This may also help diminish unreasonable arguments churned out by conservative Muslims ad nauseam.

By including an LGBT Muslim voice, Ali would have enriched his podcast conversation. Ali's guest had asserted:

"no young, single Muslim male goes to the mosque and says , I'm here to pray Juma (Friday prayer) but I just want you to know that I had some liquor last night and I slept with my girlfriend last night, these are private things ... the mosque is not the place ... how much do we talk about these things in public spaces ... and we demand that you accept things that might make you uncomfortable"

An LGBT Muslim activist may have retorted that the human need for intimacy, affection and companionship should not be conflated with alcohol consumption and fornication.

Conservative Muslim leaders, who feel that "democracy and equality are a sham," who prefer "a pre-modern morality of Islam" and "black and white answers," often try to stall a reasonable conversation on LGBT concerns.

Such leaders are unable to distinguish LGBT persons who strengthen families from those who break families through incest, by sexually traversing ties based on milk, semen and blood.

Some conservative Muslim leaders unreasonably argue that the LGBT community is responsible for its own oppression through public display of "homosexuality." Would such leaders make the same argument for Muslims through public display of hijabs and beards?

Recently, sidelining texts that show how Lot's wife opposed his hospitality, an Imam started fear mongering that straight Muslims supporting same-sex unions were like Lot's wife.

When Faisal Alam asked the Imam to tone down his rhetoric during Ramadan given the struggles of LGBT Muslim youth, which at times lead to suicide, he hastily retorted as follows.

If a gay person commits suicide then they are only speeding up their trip to the Hell Fire; and that is on them and only them.

Faisal simply prayed for the Imam expressing, "May Allah bring peace and mercy to your soul."

LGBT Muslim activists continue to educate heterosexist and homophobic Muslims against hatred. However, this is an uphill task, which will require straight Muslim allies to stand shoulder to shoulder with their LGBT Muslim sisters and brothers.

To this end, it would be great if influential straight Muslims like Haroon Moghul, Mehdi Hasan, Wajahat Ali, Reza Aslan and Hasan Minhaj can include LGBT Muslim voices in their spaces and work.

As Muslim academic Emran El Badawi asserted:

Salvation is not paradise or a world to come but living life and the constant struggle to make life better for those who are different and less fortunate than you - for the sole purpose that they are not you.


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