June was Pride Month and this year, Ramadan, Islam’s holiest month also fell squarely in June. Unfortunately, in early June Orlando, Florida saw one of the worst mass shootings in United States history with the victims being some of the most marginalized in American communities. That is LGBTQ Latinx and other people of color were the victims of a homophobic, hypermasculine bigot. But this article really isn’t about the shooting as much as it is about the existence of Muslims who aren’t straight or cisgender and who weren’t so in Medieval Islamic societies.
Traditionally it has been supported that being gay is a sin not only in Islam but the other Abrahamic faiths as well. Most Muslims and non-Muslims alike who believe that being gay is a sin cite the story of Prophet Lot (peace be upon him). Many scholars suggest that the people of Lot practiced homosexuality and that is what was sinful, while others hold that it was actually rape (which is in fact a sin in Islam.) No verse of the Qur’an gives a legal punishment for either homoerotic inclinations or behaviors. As such many Muslims in America and all over the world have been pushing back against the idea of our sole existence being sinful for a variety of reasons.
For example, during the Prophet Muhammad’s time (and earlier) the Mukhannaths who in Western terms would now be classified as transgender women, intersex individuals, bisexuals, and gender nonconforming people. The mukhannaths remained a staple of Islamic society well into the Abbasid period, two hundred years after the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) death. Additionally during the rise of the Caliphates many were classified as eunuchs and were allowed to move freely between the men’s and women’s quarters. Famous poets like Abu Nawas (756-814), had poetry that circulated until the 20th century. Rumi, everyone’s favorite poet was writing homoerotic poetry to both Allah and other men.
Another and most important reason is that at the end of the day Allah (SWT) is the most beneficent and most merciful. Muslims state so every time they start a task from eating to our ablutions for prayer. We say so before starting every chapter in the Quran. “Bismillah ir rahman ir rahim.” A God who is most merciful, beneficent, and our loving creator does not love God’s own creation? I refuse to believe so.
And on a planet that has had so many storied years with so many different cultures, especially those with non-binary understandings of gender, it’s impossible to say with complete certainty that being different is wrong. Nor should it be.