Last night I had one of the most difficult conversations that I’ve had in a while… Please bear with me during this post while I try to articulate how I feel. When it’s this topic in particular, I feel like I’m letting down those who look to me as a source of guidance and how it can all work so I am feeling a sense of guilt as I write this.
One of my friends and I have the most beautiful conversations; everything from the downright silly and stupid to the most heated debates and discussions but there was one topic in particular which affected more than she knows. We were talking about Islam and my dislike and uncertainty with some aspects of it despite being a Muslim. I talked about how we should be careful to label Muslim scholars and academics as pro-LGBT because the bottom line is just because they’re not advocating the killing of LGBT people it doesn’t mean that they’re welcoming us with open arms and allowing us to complete half our deen (religion) by way of allowing us to get married. Once I finished this fierce line of critique my friend simply responded by saying:
‘You’ve had arseholes in your past that didn’t treat you like they should treat a Muslim sister but that isn’t Islam.’
To put it simply, this moved me to tears. My journey of reconciliation between my faith and sexuality has often proved to be a very difficult one but mainly because of the way fellow Muslims have reacted and treated me; fellow Muslim friends. She so simply, concisely and rather comically summed up my experience and how it was wrong and those who do so today are still wrong in their actions. She then went on to say that I should continue to do some work on my relationship with Allah (swt) and forget everyone else. I really do agree with her.
The last time I felt completely at peace with my intersections of religion and sexuality and well, all that I am was the IGLYO ‘Keep the Faith’ conference I attended in Brussels last year. It just goes to show the positive impact that the right people can have on you. I left that conference feeling refreshed in my deen and sense of self and armed with more ways on how to promote inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue in the LGBT youth sector. It’s such an obvious thing to say but it really is important to us generally but definitely and more specifically in terms of our mental health to surround ourselves with like-minded and open-minded people; people who love and support us unconditionally, people who radiate positivity and kindness but also people who aren’t afraid to tell us how they feel both in terms of showing us love but also we’re doing shit wrong.
This conversation couldn’t have come at a better time… It’s Ramadan soon which is the perfect time to be concentrating on myself and improving my deen and ultimately my relationship with Allah (swt). They say that everything happens for a reason but given recent personal events of the romantic kind and last night’s conversation it’s sometimes hard to see that but Allah (swt) really does work in mysterious ways. I’m still finding it rather perplexing that all of this has happened in the last few days and already I have found the reason in why it has happened this way – usually the reason in which why things happen aren’t made apparent so quickly! But, I’m thankful for this because it means that I am able to start Ramadan with no outside distractions alhamdulillah (praise to God).
The times in my life where I have felt the most content and most at peace with myself were the times where I felt closest to Allah (swt); when my relationship with the Almighty was at its strongest and frequently made du’a (a form of prayer). For many of us, in whatever we do, we need have some sort of a refresher to get us motivated again and really feeling it – this is the purpose of Ramadan and I am really really excited for it this year. I have a lot of work to do for myself and for my deen but it is really important for me to do this.
To my friend Salya, thank you for your continued friendship and the love which you unconditionally show me. You make me stronger in my faith alhamdulillah. It’s actually through our discussions and (heated) debates about Islam that I feel more of a connection with my deen.
Let me leave you with a little something which sums up some of the purpose of Ramadan:
‘It was in the month of Ramadan that the Qur’an was revealed as guidance for mankind, clear messages giving guidance and distinguishing between right and wrong. So any of you who sees in that month should fast, and anyone who is ill or on a journey should make up for the lost days by fasting on other days later. God wants ease for you, not hardship. He wants you to complete the prescribed period and to glorify Him for having guided you, so that you may be thankful.’