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Breaking silences at Edmonton’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services

Scholar discusses Islam and same-sex unions at speaker series

Michel Foucault famously wrote, “There is not one but many silences” — a truism that is being explored this fall at the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services. Kicking off the Institute’s speaker series, scholar and writer Junaid Jahangir will discuss Islam and homosexuality in his talk “Implied Cases for Muslim Same-Sex Unions.”

“Silence — sweeping issues under the carpet is deadly and callous,” he says, suggesting that tension between homosexuality and Islam is caused in part by a lack of discussion. “I associate it with passive aggressiveness. Such an attitude only harms communities on a collective scale in the long run.”

Jahangir is working within the scriptural texts of the Qur´an and Hadith literature to understand what is written about homosexuality within the Muslim context, focusing on the hot button topic of same-sex unions. In his talk, he will argue that, “having established the silence of the scriptures on the issue, and based on the rules of Islamic jurisprudence, three cases are derived for Muslim same-sex unions.”

Aisha Cruz, one for the founders of Edmonton’s DIAM (Diversity of Identity and Acceptance of all Minds) understands this tension. DIAM works with visible minority queers, including many Muslim people. She says silence is a “double-edged sword” for visible minorities who are queer.

“On one hand, silence of one’s sexual identity within ethnic communities may protect the family from criticisms from the ethnic community,” she says. Ultimately though, Cruz argues, “silence closes the door for dialogue.”

Jahangir says that silence is particularly troubling for queer Muslim youth. “Young ones at the tender ages of 13 and 14, who do they turn to, when they cannot speak of what they go through?” asks Jahangir.

Overall Jahangir is not expecting that his one-night presentation will change the world, but he is hoping to open the minds of those who attend. He hopes to convince some closed Muslim minds that there is room for queer Muslims.

“It is incredibly hard to question one’s faith and it indeed is a long simmering process to do,” says Jahangir. “I hope my material instigates people to earnestly and honestly question the authenticity of rigid traditions. I hope they go away with a better understanding of the struggles of religiously observant gays and lesbians. Of who they are, and what they are, not as caricatured in anecdotes and popular cultural references.”

Inside / Out Presentation: Implied Cases for Muslim Same-Sex Unions.
Thu, Sep 24, 5-6pm.
129 Education South, University of Alberta.

For more event details visit: Facebook.com/event.php?eid=121826957263

To read some of Jahangir’s work, go to Thegatewayonline.ca/hope-exists-for-lgbt-muslims-20080402-2498.html

If interested in a Canadian queer Muslim community check out: Salaamcanada.com.