To my fellow LGBTQ siblings in Islam,
It’s Ramadan again, alhamdulillah, and if you’ve ever experienced a Ramadan like I have, it might look something like this: everyone is getting closer to their faith, boosting their iman, people who might not pray as often as they should start to pray more (this has been me on more than one Ramadan, I must admit), everyone gets together all the time for everything, most notably the countdown to iftar where everyone makes jokes about dates (you know the ones—“Ramadan is the only month that I have a date every night,” possibly you’ve had a cheesy relative ask if you’ll be their “date” for iftar, etc.) and eats a lot. It’s a month that so many Muslims look forward to and enjoy. Often when I was younger, even though I knew that I should be enjoying the community involvement and strengthening my relationship with Allah SWT, I still found that rather than feeling excited or inspired I instead felt so painstakingly… alone.
If you’ve ever felt alone during Ramadan—especially if you feel alone this year—then this letter’s for you. Perhaps you’ve already come out to those around you and you’ve faced a less than ideal reaction, or perhaps you haven’t and that’s what’s making you feel alone. As a transgender woman and a lesbian who has identified as just about every letter of “LGBTQ” and who has spent many Ramadans “closeted” and recent ones “out,” I understand the way that Ramadan can make us LGBTQ Muslims feel isolated and rejected from the ummah. We don’t get a break from other Muslims calling us (either to our face or behind our backs) nonbelievers, telling us that our existence is a contradiction, saying that we are haram or that we can’t be Muslim if we’re LGBTQ—so instead of focusing on our faith and our community, we feel shut out from it. We feel unloved, depressed, and alone.
If you feel or have felt this way, then I’m here to tell you this:
Your existence is love in its purest form. Nothing about who you are or what you do disappoints Allah SWT or replicates a sin. Other Muslims will try to get you to believe otherwise, but it’s not true. They might throw out-of-context ayah at you or cherry-pick the parts of the Quran that allows them to feel justified in their homophobia and transphobia, but despite what they say you are not haram. Not once does the Quran imply or state that you are; Rather, the Quran calls for tolerance and diversity and allyship with the oppressed. You will not burn in Jahannam. Not for feeling attraction to your gender, not for acting on that attraction, not for accepting yourself as the gender that you are, and not for transitioning. And if you believe that Islam doesn’t accept you, know that there is just as much of a place for you in Islam as there is for cis Muslims and straight Muslims—in fact, I would argue that you are more welcome than them. Allah SWT would never punish or reject you for your existence when you’ve done nothing shameful or wrong. These Muslims who say otherwise do not speak for Allah SWT, their disappointment is not equivalent to His, and their hate in no way overshadows His love. Allah’s SWT love for you outweighs everything that homophobes and transphobes think and believe. They are in the wrong, always. Not you.
And you should also know this: You are not alone. This Ramadan, I want you to know that I exist. And I will know that you exist. And our existence is proof that it’s possible—it’s proof that LGBTQ Muslims can and do exist, that we are loved by Allah SWT, that we represent the greatest parts of love and acceptance in Islam, that we resist the institutions and communities and people that attempt to erase our identity, and that we aren’t going anywhere. There are people just like us all over the world experiencing this Ramadan together, even if we are alone. That is part of what inspires me about Ramadan—knowing we are here and knowing that will never change. Knowing that more people like us are coming out to themselves and learning more about themselves every day.
InshAllah you find something in this letter or in the knowledge of my existence that inspires you and lets you know that you can make it too.