Sunday, April 14, 2024

I, a non-apologetic Muslim queer in a very homophobic and Islamophobic society

Muhammed Unais

Since childhood, initially, as part of the stories I grew up with and later as part of my thoughts and search, I have always believed that Allah’s creations are indeed filled with many secrets and knowledge. Ever since my self-identification as a Muslim Gay and throughout the process of it, I have been searching for an answer for the question as to why Allah had chosen me to be a Gay Muslim. When I say Muslim Gay, I reflect on the uniqueness of my creation itself. I’m among the very chosen ones by Allah to be created as queer. When you ask me whether I’m proud of my identity, all that comes to my mind is how can I not be proud of being among the very unique and dearest creations of Allah.

I’m one among the very few people who live with their dignity held intact and high. My Allah has given me the courage and confidence to be non-apologetic for being myself(a Muslim and a queer) in front of a very homophobic and Islamophobic society. Yet you ask me, whether I’m proud?

I come from a very orthodox religious family. Many of my close relatives, including my father, are religious scholars. My father, just like many others, used to propagate homophobic speeches. However, my coming out as Gay made them rethink and retreat from their earlier opinions. Now they do not isolate Queer people in the name of Islam. Are you saying that I, who made this change in their thoughts possible, shouldn’t be proud of who I’m?

When people who are said to have attained secular education, discriminate queer people from their family, even their children, I have a different experience to tell. Being a Gay who did his coming out at a very young age in a religious household, I still am fortunate enough to be surrounded by the love and affection of my family. Are you saying that I shouldn’t be proud of this blessing I have been showered by Allah?

Prophet Muhammad(s) is known for his compassion and love for people like me. He is known to have given excuses to us that weren’t shown to others. I’m of the understanding that Prophet’s engagements with Gender-Sexual diversity were just and poetic. Prophet was always ready to hear out and understand rather than hurrying into judgments about others. Haven’t many of you lost this quality somewhere? Are you saying that I don’t belong in Allah’s Deen which was brought to us by this same Prophet who kept utmost care to be just in his life? Who has bestowed you with the authority to say so? Isn’t Allah’s inclusiveness and kindness larger than the perceptions of justice set by humans with their limited scales? Is there even a Complete Muslim? Isn’t everyone, in one or the other way, incomplete humans? Can there be a Complete Muslim here if only looked through the eyes of legality? Isn’t Muslim life in itself a journey that strives through self conflicts inherent in humans and one that relentlessly learns and accepts?

You should know that apart from my family, my Identity as a Gay Muslim had influenced many other Muslims to think, reflect, and rethink. My coming out has inspired many other closeted queer people to find courage in themselves to live in this world. They might even be your son, daughter, brother, sister, or close friend. My experience and my life inspire them to live their life with hope. Are you saying that I, who was the reason for this hope, shouldn’t be proud of it?

Before you spread hatred and Islamophobia for the sake of Islam, rethink and reflect on your own and try to correct yourself. Muslims are the only religious community in India who faces such brutal marginalization and violence. This marginalization and oppression have ghettoized the Muslim community like no other religious community in India. However, that being said, one should also be cautious of not being an oppressor, all the while being oppressed on the other side. It goes against the concept of justice and equality for the Other as put by Islam.

Muhammed Unais is a queer activist from Kerala.

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