Timings: 10am-1pm Muslim female LBTQ Focus Group
1.45pm-5pm Muslim ALL GENDERS workshop with Sheikh Michael Mumisa
Date: 1st, 2nd and 29th October respectively
Venues: Central locations in each city, exact location on registrations.
This autumn we’re bringing positive answers to those tough questions on Islam and sexuality to London, Birmingham and Manchester. If you’re tired of being asked how you can “justify” being Muslim and queer, or facing family and friends who struggle to accept you the way you are, these might be the events for you.
In each city there are two opportunities for LGBTQI Muslims to attend:
1. Focus Group – For female-identifying lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer or intersex Muslims 10am – 1pm
As part of our three city tour, we invite female-identifying queer Muslims to attend morning focus groups. These groups aim to hold social and legal services to account, document areas where their services need improvement, and give us a rare safe space to share experiences with each other. The focus groups are designed to further the aims of all three organisations; ensuring female voices and needs are heard. Discussions will explore your experiences (of social and legal service provision) as female-identified Muslims. This is a rare opportunity to discuss our specific needs, experiences, what we’d like changed, and how, and have the reality of our lives documented to British policy makers. In other words, we will be envisioning how policy could be made better and thinking about solutions that would work well for us! Findings from this report will be written up formally and presented to policy makers at a launch in the new year.
These morning focus groups are part of a collaboration between The Safra Project, Inclusive Mosque Initiative, and Muslim Women’s Network UK. The findings will follow on from The Safra Project’s 2003 report (http://www.mwnuk.co.uk/go_files/files/Safra_Project-Initial_findings-2002.pdf) and also builds upon the body of research conducted by MWNUK (their most recent reports can be found here: www.mwnuk.co.uk/reports.php). Overall the desire to better understand our voices and particular needs, and communicate them with policy makers to effect real change, reflects all our ongoing work; to promote everyones voices equally, especially valuing the needs of the most marginalised within the ummah.
All voices will be anonymised in the report, and the session is an entirely safe space, run by and for, female-identified queer Muslims. Refreshments and lunch (halal and vegetarian options) will be provided, all venues are wheelchair accessible and have hearing aid loops.
This event is free but spaces are limited; places will book up fast so please register for your nearest city soon! To register, just drop us an email: admin[at]inclusivemosqueinitiative.org
2. Workshop for Muslims of ALL GENDERS who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or intersex. 1pm-5pm
The afternoon trainings will aim to be inclusive safe spaces and are open to all genders of Muslims who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or intersex. We’re fortunate to have a session run by a great ally to the LGBTQI community, Sheikh Michael Mumisa, author of ‘Islamic Law: Theory and Interpretation’ and other facilitators will all be queer-identified Muslims.
Much valued-ally Sheikh Michael Mumisa explains why he is contributing to Our Islam & LGBTQI Tour in a few weeks…
“As a Muslim, you do not have to agree with all of the diverse legal and theological views which have characterised Islam’s rich intellectual heritage; however you have to know that they exist.
One of Islam’s most respected and eminent theologians and hadith scholars, Imam Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d. 1505 CE), wrote (in his work al-Radd ala man akhlada ila al-ard) that it is a religious duty, mandatory upon every Muslim community in every region and every generation to always revisit and re-contextualise the key sources of Islam and its intellectual heritage in order to engage with and address the pressing issues of their time. He cited distinguished Muslim jurists such as Imam al-Shafii, Abu al-Hasan al-Mawardi, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, Izz al-Din Ibn Abdus-salam, Imam al-Nawawi and others from all the schools of Islamic law to support this position.
Today, it seems that Muslims find themselves divided into two crude categories: between those who totally reject and ridicule Islam’s intellectual and traditional legacy, and those who refuse to recontextualise it for contemporary societies, preferring instead to keep it frozen in time. However, these two opposing camps are just the nosiest voices which the media prefer to cite as examples of how the religion of Islam is out of touch with the modern world. They do not accurately represent the intellectual, theological and fiqhi (philosophy of Islamic law) diversity that has always characterised the development and spread of Islam.
Elsewhere, Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti wrote that intellectual and fiqhi diversity is part of God’s mercy. This is important in order to solve the problem of bigotry and sectarianism in our own hearts. What then is the role of classical and traditional Islamic intellectual heritage in addressing some of the challenges faced by devout Muslims living in pluralist societies like Britain? For example, living in a democratic society like Britain means that devout Muslims who also identity as LGBTQAI can come out knowing that their rights are protected by law. However, that can also lead to serious conflict between them and their Muslim families, friends and communities.
The Qur’an teaches that silat al-rahim (maintaining family ties) is an important part of Islam. Similarly breaking family ties is a grave sin*. While this applies to both parties, each and every one of us, as individuals, is answerable to what we do to maintain family ties. What lessons, if any, can be drawn from Islam’s classical and traditional heritage to develop effective tools for CONFLICT RESOLUTION (sulh), NEGOTIATION (hiwar) and DE-ESCALATION when engaging with our families, friends and communities?
British universities and Islamic colleges have been leading the way and the world in providing cutting edge chaplaincy and pastoral training to British imams. Many young British imams have graduated from such training programmes as qualified chaplains who have hopefully acquired the necessary skills and tools to provide pastoral care and protection to LGBTQI+ Muslims as they navigate their faith and sexualities. The reality however, is that there is sometimes still a very understandable fear that imams will try to “fix” people who approach them when in need of pastoral care on matters relating to sexuality, conflict resolution and negotiating with families. How can this mistrust be overcome?”
At our workshops in three UK cities, Sheikh Michael Mumisa, a much valued ally and supporter of the LGBTQI+ Muslim community, will discuss these issues and more. Sheikh Michael is the author of a number of studies including Islamic law, exegesis (tafsir) and hadith literature, and his workshop sessions are a rare opportunity to discuss key issues with such a knowledgeable Sheikh. He will draw upon classical and traditional Islamic intellectual sources to demonstrate that there is truly nothing new under the sun and that there is a lot we can learn from Islam’s past in addressing today’s challenges and problems.
Sheikh Michael Mumisa is a Cambridge Special Livingstone PhD Scholar, University of Cambridge. You can also find him on twitter @MichaelMumisa
*When a person’s physical or mental health are at risk because of toxic or oppressive family relationships, cutting family ties or maintaining distance to effectively manage those relationships is not automatically a grave sin.
The Islam & LGBTQI Tour is a collaboration between Inclusive Mosque Initiative, Safra Project, and Muslim Women’s Network UK. Reflecting the shared ethos of each of our organisations, this tour proves the need to ally and support each other, and affirms all our ongoing work; to promote everyone’s voices equally, especially valuing the needs of the most marginalised within the ummah. The cost of running these workshops are heavily subsidised to make Islamic knowledge and training as accessible as possible. However, spaces are limited and will book up fast so register for you nearest city today!