UK: Imams helping Muslim gays get religious recognition

UK: Imams helping Muslim gays get religious recognition

Via BBC:

Some British Asian gay Muslims are embracing a new identity, based as much on race and religion as on sexual orientation with a number trying to do it with the help of their local imams.

When Khalid Habib decided it was time to come out about his sexuality, the first person he chose to confide in was not anyone in the family but his local imam.

"It was really important to me because I am a practising Muslim. It was about my personal relationship with Allah," said the 35-year-old media professional from the north of England.

This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog -

"I sat in his sitting room struggling to get the words," he said.

"I told him I have issues, but couldn't bring myself to utter the words 'with my sexuality'. We spent many hours sitting in silence," he recalled

When Khalid finally told him, he was struck by the imam's reaction.

"He was really honest. He told me that in his 25 years of experience as a leader in a British Muslim community, he had never thought about homosexuality in a practical sense.

"So, he had approached it in the textbook sense, preaching that it was immoral, wrong and 'haram' in Islam. But he had never looked at it in a human sense."


Asif Qureshi, a key worker at The Naz Project, a London-based support group working with British Asian gay men said: "In my experience, the number of Asian gays coming out has almost tripled over the last three years."

In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that those who dare to come out and seek long term same-sex relationships are sometimes not content with the idea of civil partnerships.

They desire religious recognition of their union, with some reportedly taking the daring step of entering into nikkahs (Muslim marriage contracts).

Mr Qureshi said he was aware of couples who had opted for such nikkahs but stressed that these were performed by imams in absolute secrecy.

Muslim gay activist Ibrahim Ismail has been working on sexual health issues for many years.

He said: "Some of their families and friends may even attend these nikkahs, but they would never publicly admit it for fear of being ostracised by mainstream Muslims.

Even though it is something entirely covert, the idea of Muslim gay marriages sheds light on the role some imams could be playing in helping people reconcile their sexuality and their faith.

As Khalid Habib said, when he came out to his imam three years ago, little did he know that this would be the beginning of a long process to come to terms with sometimes uncomfortable aspects of his faith.

He said, since then, he's been engaged in an ongoing dialogue with three separate imams to discuss what Allah would have to say about various aspects of his lifestyle.

"It has been a difficult but a mutually rewarding process.

"At least I have found an imam who has agreed to perform my nikkah when I get married," he said with a smile as he discussed his plans of having a traditional South Asian wedding one day.


No comments: