International Retreat for GLBT Muslims A Success! Formation of an international
have finally taken the first steps to come together to address the issues
that are important to us as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Muslim
community." - Faisal Alam, Coordinator, First International Retreat for
GLBT Muslims & Founder of Al-Fatiha.
was indeed a historic occasion as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender
(GLBT) Muslims and non-Muslims came together for the First International
Retreat for GLBT Muslims, held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, from October
thirty participants represented the cultural and religious diversity of
the entire Islamic world, coming from all over the United States and abroad.
Countries that were represented included Belgium, Canada, Egypt, India,
Germany, Holland, Lebanon, Maldives Saudi Arabia, Syria, South Africa,
retreat served as a forum for the discussion of issues important to GLBT
Muslims. Workshops and sessions addressed such topics as faith and sexuality,
the oppression of GLBT persons in the Islamic world, GLBT identity in Islam,
and the historical perspectives of GLBT behavior in Islamic societies.
Additionally participants examined the opinions of the Prophet Muhammad
on sexual minorities in his time, as well as the different interpretations
of Quranic verses which appear to address homosexual acts.
highlight of the retreat was the decision to establish an international
organization to address the concerns of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender
Muslims around the world. Titled after the first chapter of the Quran,
"Al-Fatiha" (The Opening), which was also the theme of the retreat, the
organization will work together with other organizations, gay and straight,
Muslim and non-Muslim to address the social and political issues facing
GLBT Muslims around the world. In most Islamic countries, homosexuality
and transgendered behavior is a crime, punishable by imprisonment, flogging,
and even death.
is so highly stigmatized in Muslim communities, that many gay, lesbian,
bisexual, transgender and those questioning their sexuality end up internalizing
the shame and disgust which surrounds them in their families and communities.
They are often unable to come to terms with their own sexuality, fearing
ostracization and even physical punishment," said Faisal Alam, coordinator
of the retreat, and founder of Al-Fatiha. "We (Al-Fatiha) see it as our
moral obligation to help in whatever way we can," he added, "and we have
decided that we need to implement different strategies to address the various
problems, both on a local level as well as on an international one."
in the United States, Al-Fatiha will establish chapters across the U.S.
and abroad to support gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning
Muslims on a local level. The organization will also work with human rights
organizations to advocate against abuses of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and
transgender persons in Islamic countries.
of the retreat said that the event was something that has been needed in
their community for decades. "The retreat has given us the opportunity
to come together as a community in a way that was never possible before,"
said Alam. "But the GLBT Muslim movement has only just begun. Much of the
prejudice and discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender
people in Islamic societies is culture-based and does not stem from Islam
as a religion. We want to celebrate our identity as GLBT people who are
also believing Muslims.
noble and fundamental principles of respect, human dignity, tolerance,
understanding, and justice, in Islam have been ignored when dealing with
the issue of homosexuality and gender identity. We hope to change all that
- God willing."
Second International Retreat for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender
Muslims is tentatively scheduled to take place in June of 2000 in Capetown,
South Africa. Meanwhile, plans are already underway to organize a meeting
for GLBT Muslims in the United States, tentatively planned to be held in
New York City in April of 1999.
First International Retreat for GLBT Muslims was sponsored by the Gay-Muslims
Listserv, an internet-based, email discussion group for gay, lesbian, bisexual,
transgender, questioning Muslims. The purpose of this list to bring gay,
lesbian, bisexual, transgender Muslims and those questioning their sexuality
together in a forum to communicate issues of common concern. By using our
own individual experiences, our knowledge, and our faith in Islam and in
Allah (God), the goal of this listserv is to bring two important aspects
of our lives together. Being Gay and Muslim is not mutually exclusive,
nor is it an oxymoron.
participating in this list, the hope is that each and every one of us will
realize that God certainly does not discriminate. Indeed we can be both
practicing Muslims and still identify ourselves as being gay, lesbian,
bisexual, or transgender. To subscribe or for more information, send an
email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- an organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) and questioning
Muslims and their freinds.
U.S. (617) 522-9232
ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr".