In October, I attended a panel discussion at George Washington University entitled Islam & Homosexuality: Muslim Perspectives. The room was packed, standing room only. There were four Muslim speakers and each approached the topic from a unique perspective, I found the discussion illuminating.
Imam Johari Abdul-Malik’s portion of the discussion:
Dr. Amal Amireh of George Mason University: Began the discussion by introducing the idea that “talking about homosexuality is risky, but not talking about these issues is even riskier.” She stated that we cannot talk about Islam and homosexuality without being islamophobic, because framing the discussion in this manner treats Islam with undue exceptionalism for the discussion would be similar even if the talk had been titled more generally as Religion and Homosexuality or Christianity and Homosexuality.
Trying to create categories of Islamic homophobia or Islamofascism is troubling, no other religion is treated in this exceptional manner. We do not see anyone using the terms Christian fascism or Judeofascism, etc.
A side note: Dr Amireh mentioned that Jerusalem, which is a divided city, amongst the three major monotheistic faiths was united by hatred against the annual gay pride parade.
Imam Daayiee Abdullah of Al-Fatiha Foundation: The most bizarre and unorthodox set of comments came from Daaiyee Abdullah.
Daayiee Abdullah interprets the story of Lot as a story about heterosexual men using rape as a tool of power. He explained that he views hadeeth as stories to guide us, not to be taken literally, certainly not to harm people, especially since there are fabricated or inaccurate hadeeth.
He mentioned that “LGBTQ Muslims need to work towards justice for all, not just us.” He mentioned three prominent Muslim thinkers that he believes are performing cutting-edge work today by reinterpreting Islamic texts: Amina Wadud, Khaled Abou Fadl, and Scott Kugle.
During the question and answer session, Daaiyee Abdullah, had an emotional outburst which received the largest applause of the night by the mostly non-Muslim crowd. Daaiyee Abdullah took exception to the framing of the discussion in terms of the prevailing heterosexual prism and how anything outside of that prism is presented as wrong. And that homosexuality is always presented as a test to be overcome, and so he asked, “if it is a test, what does a passing score look like?” Continue reading