Irshad Manji continues to amaze and inspire me.
“Do homosexual Muslims deserve happiness?”
That question comes from a Muslim teenager in Norway. Here’s the entire, abrupt, email:
Salaam, Irshad Manji
But I have to say that there is something bothering my mind and soul. Do homosexual Muslims deserve happiness? From a teenage Muslim in Norway.
To be candid, I didn’t know how to answer — not because I don’t believe gays and lesbians deserve to be happy, but because the question itself opens up so many possible responses.
Do I offer my interpretation of what the Qur’an says (or suggests) about homosexuality?
Do I talk about democratizing the spirit of ijtihad, Islam’s tradition of independent thinking, so that any of us with wrenching questions feel the permission to seek responses through our own consciences?
Do I reconcile Islam and human rights, faith and free will, duty towards others and fulfillment of self?
Do I analyze “happiness”?
Do I ignore the question altogether, given my tight book-writing deadlines and a slew of other commitments? But if I ignore the question, am I intensifying the isolation that a potentially queer Muslim teenager may be feeling right now? How does exacerbating someone’s pain serve my integrity as a person of deep faith in God?
As if on cue, landing in my inbox this week was an email that answers the question more convincingly than I could have. It comes from a religious Muslim who’s also a lesbian. Despite her broken English, you’ll grasp the wholeness — the integrity — in which she now exults:
I always denied that I am gay. It is sinful. How can a religious girl like me being a lesbian? I knew which is Haram [forbidden] in Islam and which is not…
Every time, I pray to Allah. I asked Him, why He give me this test? This is too much for me. Allah gave me everything I wished. I am a bright girl. But why Allah tests me with the very sinful thing in Islam, being a lesbian?…
I met one girl and we both loved each other so much. She is my true love and my soul mate. She is the ONE for me. We lived together for many years and we kept it as a secret. No one knew, as both of us are lady-like and wear scarf.
Last year, we broke up and I was totally a mess. I lost my feet. I nearly insane because I just can’t live without her. But, she already made her decision, even though I beg her, she stick with her decision. I lost so much weight. For months I was in pain.
Until one day I asked for a help from one of my friends. They brought me to see a counselor. There are a few questions from the counselor that really, really woke me up. She asked me, Why am I afraid to accept that I am a lesbian, and I answered, Because this is one of the biggest sin in Islam, I don’t want to dishonor my family, and Allah will also send me to hell.
The counselor asked me the second question, How I measure my goodness, and I said, by serve and praise Allah.
And the last question she asked me, Even you know you are gay, did you still pray and feel the connection to Allah when you pray, and I said YES, I still feel it.
So, she said, Allah still love you and you are one of His creation, being a lesbian is not your choice, you just got it from HIM. So accept who you are and keep serving Allah.
The next day, I performed my morning prayer and I just can felt that Allah is closer to me than before. I just like a new born baby, and by accepting that I am a lesbian, has changed my personality and life for 180 degree. I am totally a brand new person.
For all of my life, I am questioning Allah why I love and like women more than men, and now I found the answer… Allah is not cruel to human. He LOVE us. Only Man discriminate people like us.
There is no word to describe my feeling of happiness.
Happiness: It appears that the Almighty believes she deserves it. And if she deserves it, why not the Muslim teenager in Norway, too?
In their new book, Made for Goodness, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Rev. Mpho Tutu, tell us that “God’s call to be perfect is not just a command — it is an invitation.” An invitation, that is, “to something life-giving, something joy-creating.” Far from being flawlessness, “Godly perfection is wholeness.”
In short, to be one with yourself is to be one with God. May The One go with you.