Living out Islam: Voices of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims

Living out Islam: Voices of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims

Living out Islam: Voices of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims

Living out Islam: Voices of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims


Muhsin is one of the organizers of Al-Fitra Foundation, a South African support group for lesbian, transgender, and gay Muslims. Islam and homosexuality are seen by many as deeply incompatible. This, according to Muhsin, is why he had to act. "I realized that I'm not alone- these people are going through the very same things that I'm going through. But I've managed, because of my in-depth relationship with God, to reconcile the two. I was completely comfortable saying to the world that I'm gay and I'm Muslim. I wanted to help other people to get there. So that's how I became an activist."

Living Out Islam documents the rarely-heard voices of Muslims who live in secular democratic countries and who are gay, lesbian, and transgender. It weaves original interviews with Muslim activists into a compelling composite picture which showcases the importance of the solidarity of support groups in the effort to change social relationships and achieve justice. This nascent movement is not about being "out" as opposed to being "in the closet." Rather, as the voices of these activists demonstrate, it is about finding ways to live out Islam with dignity and integrity, reconciling their sexuality and gender with their faith and reclaiming Islam as their own.


If I’m going to end up in hell then I’m going
to end up in hell, but God is the judge and not
human beings.

~Fatima, a transgender volunteer with Imaan
in London

Now this is very bizarre, but through gay life I
came closer to Islam.

~Rasheed, a gay volunteer with Habibi Ana
in Amsterdam

The voices of Muslims who are gay, lesbian, and transgender are rarely heard. Their voices have been silenced in the past. Now if they speak, they are expected to express contrition. Yet they stand up against those who denounce them. The quotes above capture the tenor of the voices of activists who volunteer to run support groups for lesbian, gay, and transgender Muslims. They strive to live out Islam even as they acknowledge their sexual orientation and gender identity. The fact that they speak is surprising to some. What they say will startle many.

This book presents interviews with a range of gay, lesbian, and transgender Muslim activists, weaving their voices together to offer a composite picture of their struggle. Theirs are voices of an oppressed minority group within its religious community, a group which struggles to achieve liberation from oppression. Their struggle has psychological, social, political, and spiritual dimensions. Their experiences arise from diverse circumstances but are unified in reclaiming Islam as their own . . .

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