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First International Retreat fro GLBT Muslims A Succes

Al-Fatiha: an organization for GLBT Muslims

 First International Retreat for GLBT Muslims A Success! Formation of an international organization announced!

"We 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.

It 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 9-12, 1998.

The 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, Pakistan.

The 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.

The 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. 

"Homosexuality 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."

Based 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.

Organizers 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.

The 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."

The 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.


The 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.

By 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


Al-Fatiha - an organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) and questioning Muslims and their freinds.


Tel.: U.S. (617) 522-9232

"The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr".

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