This is in response to a question we recieved, about whether or not a person’s sexuality can change over time. The person didn’t want their information published, so it seems relevant to address the larger point. Can sexuality change if it’s something Allah gave us?
Well, I have to confess I’m not the best at relationship advice. But, before you do anything, asking God for guidance wouldn’t be a bad idea.
In practice, it’s simple. Say, ‘God, I don’t know what to do about this. I’m lost, and I need your guidance. Guide me, God. I am yours. Where ever you say I should go, what ever you say I should do. I’ll do.’
But here’s the tricky part: you have to mean that. Asking for guidance means giving up the notions of where you think you should go. It means surrendering your will for God’s.
Sometimes it’s hard to do. Sometimes we ask for guidance knowing full well where we want to go. But where we want to go, and where we need to go, are sometimes different places.
And really, who better to guide you. God knows your heart, and your girlfriend’s. He can see your past and destiny. And, if He guides you, there is no force in the Universe that can lead you astray.
One day, the Prophet (SAW) came across a friend, Zahif (SAW), shopping or selling something in the market place. The Prophet (SAW) then grasped him from behind. Zahir was shocked, and tried to break free, until he saw who it was. The Prophet (P) joked that he would sell Zahir (P) as a slave. Zahir (P) joked that he was unsellable, And he was told that to Allah, he had great worth.
I think about this exchange this Ramadan, especially when I hear Muslims talk of ‘idle talk’. It’s become fashionable to publicly abstain from ‘idleness’ this Ramadan. It’s a worthy pursuit, But what do we mean by idle talk? What does it mean to be consumed by trivial matters of this world with no effect on the next?
I’m going to propose something radical: nothing — nothing — done in kindness to another is idle. Even if an act of kindness seems trivial, it isn’t. A stray cat meows outside your window. It’s no effort to put milk (or water) in a plate and put it outside. But there is a woman who will sit in heaven for nothing more than giving a dog water out of her shoe.
I think about the Prophet (P) and Zahir (P), joking around in the marketplace. It’s something I’d expect kids to do, grabbing each other in jest and friendship Kids don’t need to be told about this behavior. They instinctively get how to act like this. How to just be kind to one another. Even in the most silly, trivial, ‘idle’ way possible.
There are a thousand ways into Heaven. Allah is merciful for giving us this. we can fast, pray, remember Him and ask for guidance. But the way we remember him in this world is how we interact with others. The way of kindness is broad, encompassing small and large, short term and long. It’s such a core value in Islam, weaved through the sunnah and the pillars. And I thank Allah for granting it to us.
And the best way to thank Allah for granting us kindness, is to show it others. Nothing idle about that.
So I’ve always been one to search for what exactly I am. From a young age I began to have a feeling of being a girl, i always felt wrong the way that I was being conditioned to live as a child. I knew from the first time i could think to myself that I was a girl, but I couldn’t understand why no one would let be be who I was.
As I progressed into teenage years, I threw that identity of being a transwoman to the back. I had always been told by my family that transgender people were really just Gay people in such denial that they have reverted to deluding themselves into thinking they are another sex. But, I knew to my self I was not a gay man, I had no interest in men, I was only interested in Women. What was I then, a transgender lesbian? Is that even a real thing? I thought i was just a stupid delusional kid, so i went on to live reluctantly as a man.
Later in my teen year, while searching I came across Islam. I had been raised by an agnostic Family, so I did not have a preconception as to what an Islamic family would say. My family however was very much transphobic and i was very much reluctant to let that information out. Meanwhile, I was struggling to justify my entry into Islam. All i had ever heard and gathered was that people like me where not welcome, and I immediately felt alienated. I struggled with it, often leaving only to come back. No matter the negative lash backs i got from fellow Muslims i tried to contact, I always felt like my place and my heart was with Islam.
I’ve looked, i’ve prayed to help myself through these problems. Now I’m 18, and ready to begin a medical transition, and through it all, i feel like Allah has been watching over me. My experiences with Islam, at it’s core with myself, i feel good with it, i feel like this is what is right for me. I have never felt rejected by the Almighty, but always felt hopeful.
“Like Allah the Samad, same-sex couples do not procreate, but they love, they create, and they nurture relationships that are tied together not by an earthly womb but by Divine Compassion.”
-GHAZALA ANWAR: "Elements of a Samadiyyah Shariah"
When I was 17 years old I was a senior in high school. I was wearing hijab and I went on everyday with my life with the idea that one day I am going to have a huge fancy wedding with prince charming. That my hijab is part of my identity and who i am, but is that true? It most definitely is not.
I have been wearing hijab since I was 4 years old. Yes 4. How ridiculous does that sound? To be honest that’s not really the problem. I have never identified as gay and I still don’t but that one relationship with a girl that I had turned my perspective around, a 360 degree turn.
My dad used to tell me that gay people are sick, my mom was repulsed at the idea of two men or two women kissing because it was “haram”. Is it haram? Only Allah knows. Anyway, back to being 17 and meeting the most amazing girl in the entire world. Meeting this girl, her name is Nalani. She was the most beautiful, exquisite, free-spirited person I had ever met. There was a problem at the time in my head though, she was still a GIRL. I was so confused at the time that she was a girl that because I had cared about her so much I was actually mean to her because I couldn’t comprehend that I actually had feelings for another woman, it was just so abnormal to me.
Meanwhile, a lot of time passed and I continued to struggle with my relationship because I loved her so much but we were hiding from the entire world. I mainly struggled with the idea of simultaneously accepting my hijab any my sexuality. We hid our relationship from the world for three years. I had been engaged to a man while Nalani and I were together because I thought that it would help mask my feelings for her, that obviously didn’t work. We both struggled for years trying to make sense of the hiding and that no one would ever accept us, it drained our relationship to the point where there was nothing left. On december 16th, 2013 my only girlfriend that I had fought to be with and suffered for years at a time for left me. The hiding was an external factor undoubtedly, but there were other internal factors that aided in her decision to end it.
Everyday for those 3 years i lived in constant fear of someone finding out. After my g/f broke up with me, I decided to take off my hijab and come out. Let me tell you, that this was the hardest thing I had ever had to do. I took my hijab off because I realized that I had no idea who I was, that I was only wearing hijab because I was afraid what people would say about me taking it off. I only stayed in the closet about my relationship because I didn’t want people to stop talking to me and my family to disown me. Now, the whole world knows about the relationship with this phenomenal young woman that I had in my life. Although we are no longer together I will never be ashamed to say that she was my girlfriend. I always struggled with the idea of being Muslim and being in a same-sex relationship, only to realize that those are two completely different things. I still have no idea what to identify myself as, but I ‘d like to keep it that way for now. My family was shocked and so were my friends. I used to introduce Nalani as my “friend” for years and to come to realize that she was my gf they couldn’t believe it. Many people distanced themselves, and many people actually became closer to me. My family still can’t accept it, I don’t think they ever will. That’s alright though, because they are my family. It’s a struggle everyday to say that I am Muslim and that I may like women too. It’s something many Muslims in the LGBTQ community struggle with. I just want you all to know though that it’s not the end of the world. Do not fight what feels right to you. If you are a man and love a man, if you are a woman and love a woman, do not fight it. Allah will judge you and only you. Allah swt is the most compassionate and forgiving, he is the all-knowing so don’t fear, go with what feels right. I wish I would have done this a long time ago. Stay strong.
Solidarity with our Shia family.
Before the Kaaba, we stop at a masjid near the Battle of Uhud to make wudu and change. It’s night, the masjid’s closed. An old man let’s us in. We pray, wash, change in darkness.
I’m struck by how small the masjid is. Four walls, a roof. Not much else. It reminds me of the mosques i grew up in. Converted houses and gas stations. Portable buildings we’d have to repair after Sunday school. Jummahs under an aluminum roof, the khutbah crackling through an old speaker.
The Harem was different in every way. 90 acres of marble, limestone, silver and gold. Lights illuminating every corner. Sound echoing through dozens of speakers. Multiple levels and ready access for the elderly and disabled. An army of staff to keep it spotless/organized at all times. It’s no exaggeration to say it is the most advanced, modern mosque on the planet.
And at the center is the Kaaba: a 40 foot granite box draped in a black tarp. And even that’s ornate compared to the original, a set of walls no higher than Ibrahim and Ishmael. Look at these side by side comparisons:
Look at it! This is house of God, the holiest site on Earth. What does that tell us, that something so revered comes in such a simple, humble presentation?
Every masjid falls somewhere between the Kaaba and the Harem, in terms of intricacy, size, modernity, etc. In the years since my Hajj, I’ve noticed a distinct trend towards the Harem. Even in my hometown, the portable buildings are being replaced by grander and grander structures.
Not that that’s a bad thing. I’m not one to fetishize tradition. There isn’t a single improvement to the Harem that I don’t agree with. Each one helps more and more people perform their sacred duty.
But it’s important to remember that not having these things isn’t something to be ashamed of. The sacredness of a masjid comes, first and foremost, from the prayers we offer there.