“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"
I am asexual, aromantic, non-libidoist (no sex drive), and sex-repulsed. I have no attraction of any kind to men except rare instances of aesthetic attraction. I have never had a romantic or sexual relationship with a man, I do not want one, and I would not know how to navigate one. I am not willing or even able to have sex with a man and I do not believe I ever will be able. This is not something I can compromise on. This means that a romantic/sexual relationship with a man would be a site of oppression for me. Marriage is out of the question.
This is what it’s like being asexual and Muslim.
Marriage is not actually religiously obligatory in Islam. If you dig into enough detailed texts of jurisprudence, you’ll eventually find statements that it’s merely neutral and not even considered as recommended for people who do not experience desire. Marriage in Islam is understood largely as a way of regulating sexual desire and giving it a lawful outlet. If you don’t experience desire, you don’t have anything to regulate or need a lawful outlet for, thus the exhortation towards marriage is not really directed at you. Moreover, the “goes away from my way” saying was actually addressed to a married man who had turned away from his wife out of a misguided sense of piety. It was actually meant to say, “Your wife has a right on you, and it is part of the religion to give her her rights.” In another instance, the Prophet told a man who said he was unable to marry that it was OK to not marry and to follow a course of lifelong celibacy (the phrase translated as “castrate yourself” (!) could mean figuratively “live as a eunuch”) because God had written out that fate of inability for him (yes, I believe that God created me to be asexual).
In my searches, I also found this quote from an early mystic:
God has decreed neither marriage nor celibacy… But he has decreed integrity of heart, preservation of faith, a soul at peace, and the execution of commands needed for these… And if one’s healthful condition, integrity of heart, and peace of soul reside in celibacy, then that is better for him, since these are the things that are desired of marriage. If one can reach these without marriage, then celibacy causes no harm.
That’s talking to me right there. I could not find a healthful condition, integrity of heart, or peace of soul in marriage to a man. I take this quote as explaining the meaning of Quran 57:27, which says in part:
We [God] did not prescribe it [monasticism] for them except for seeking the good-pleasure of God.
I believe that through not subjecting myself to what would be a kind of psychic violence on me, but through pursuing a life of health, integrity and peace in celibacy, I am seeking the good-pleasure of God.
So, yes, there actually is a place for me as an asexual in Islam and I don’t need to fear that I’m somehow failing in my religion by not being able to marry.
It took me years to find the handful of texts I’ve mentioned here, to find these interpretations. Many Muslims might not know about them or agree with the way I understand them. Even if they did, that’s an awful lot of explaining to do just to justify my being 40, single, and not planning to ever marry.
And then I have to explain that stuff in the first paragraph of this post. That, yes, it is possible for some people to innately have no interest whatsoever for sex. Even a lot of Western liberals seem to have trouble with that concept, judging from some of the reactions to asexuality. That I’m not just not interested in sex but that it would actually harm me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to have to engage in it. That it’s because I am not straight, that God created some people to not be straight.
When your sexual orientation cuts you off from how your community or your society expects you to experience and express your sexuality, when you have to search for alternative interpretations and obscure texts to justify the existence of your sexual orientation and its validity within the religion, when you have to tell people that your sexual orientation is not “normal”, is not how they believe God created everybody to be, you’re queer.
I’m queer. As an asexual Muslim, I’m queer.
I’m still trying to figure out how to even have that conversation with anybody but LGBT Muslims, or if I ever will.
In the meantime, my not being married and not seeking marriage isolates me. Converts to Islam who don’t have a larger community they already belong to are often very marginalized in Muslim communities in America. Many can find a way in by marrying. But I can’t do that.
Being asexual and Muslim has often meant a profound loneliness and a silence about everything that made that loneliness. That’s a queer experience too, to be isolated and alone because of where your sexual orientation puts you, and to not be able to explain why.
And another thing is, strawberreli is pretty much the only other asexual Muslim I’ve come across even on Tumblr, except for a couple of blogs that have long since gone inactive. I’m glad I’m not the only one, but that’s really freaking lonely. I’m guessing that most of the other asexual Muslims (and yes, they exist and are out there) are like me, isolated and alone. Part of my motivation in finally writing this post is in case an asexual Muslim finds it and realizes they are not broken and not alone, not failing at the religion. There are a lot of answers I still don’t have, but I hope I can give someone that, at least.
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.
joy. It feels very complicated and hard and difficult to explain to myself and to others at times. How do I figure this out? How do I, as a queer muslim woman of color, live my life and not leave Islam?
The first command given to Prophet Muhammad was to read. If you question your religion, then read and discover the answers you seek.
For any Muslim, not just those under the queer umbrella, there is a constant struggle to hold onto our imaan. Some let it slip away without noticing, some fight and cry over it. Since we are queer, we are constantly asked to validate our religious existence, and through that, I have always found a bittersweet blessing. Because in being faced with spiritual existentialism, we are forced to search; to read.
And in this way, I find myself going back to Islam again and again. Imaan is not always forged through comfort and conformity, after all.
Read the Qur’an, read different interpretations, study the history of our religion and how it has endured and how it has been misconstrued. Perhaps you will find your way back to Allah, and perhaps you will leave.
No matter the choice, you will be making an educated decision that best suits your life.
Whether you decide to stay or leave, may Allah bless you on your journey and beyond.
A lot of people come to us asking for advice on coming out, specifically coming out to muslim families and parents, and how best to approach this massive hurdle that many muslims of the spectrum face. In truth, there is no one way in which to approach this matter, as each individual will have their own set of circumstances unique to them, and this will greatly affect the way that this process will work for them. Having said that, there are some universal things that can apply to many of us, and aid us in preparing best to deal with this part of our lives. These “tips” will not apply to every person word for word, of course, but they may be able to help pave your own path in revealing the truth.
Confidence in your faith and yourself
Before asking your family to accept you, you must make peace with yourself. Growing up as both queer and muslim takes its toll on many of us, especially for those that are from practising muslim families. You will feel many things both negative and positive about your place as a queer muslim. Whatever you feel, you must deal with what is raging within yourself first and foremost. This can in a lot of cases be the longest and most difficult part of the process, but if you haven’t accepted yourself, then how can you expect others to do the same? Whatever and however you may be, remember that the Almighty has created you in this way with His own hands and He makes no mistakes, which brings forth the next point:
Many of us feel isolated from our religious communities because of what we hear in the media and the masjids, and even from our own relatives and friends about islam’s stance and interpretation of non-heterosexuality. We hear stories of condemnation and punishment and of course this is disheartening, but please remember that these are interpretations of our religion by people - and there can be more than one. Read the Qur’an and study religious texts for yourself, particularly from scholars who are known for alternative viewpoints. There is a wealth of information available to those who are willing to seek it, and you may be surprised by what you find. The Qur’an is beautiful in that it may reveal a message to you that it does not for other people, and you can only find this if you study it.
Realise that you have time
For many people, discovering their sexuality is a bittersweet process that toys wildly with emotions, especially because of the young age at which it happens. This can cause someone to make rushed decisions, and coming out may seem like the most important thing in the world that has to be done straight away. This does not have to be the case, if you are young and have years ahead of you inshaAllah, it may not be necessary, or even safe, to come out until you are prepared in every way possible. It is a delicate subject that must be approached with sensitivity and caution, and is not something to be rushed into head first with no back up.
Unfortunately, we must prepare for the worst-case scenario. Nobody knows how your families/friends will react upon hearing what you have to say, even though the best person will probably be yourself, and it is essential that you have somewhere to go/someone to confide in if things go belly up and you are left stranded. If possible, ensure that you are able to support yourself if it comes down to it, and do the best you can to provide yourself with an alternative if your families are not accepting right away. Finish school and your degrees if you are doing them; save money; make friends who may be able to help you out if need be; learn of the resources available around you because regrettably, rejection happens more often than it should.
Gauge a “test” response
The topic of queerness may arise in conversation, and this can be an opportunity to find out what your families and friends stances are with regards to it. But this must be done carefully and not forced in order to minimise suspicion if it is a danger to you. It’s not a definitive indicator of a response, but you will most likely get an idea of how they feel and then how best to approach the matter.
Find the right time and place
Coming out in our communities is by no means a simple task, and it must be stressed that sensitivity and caution is key. It makes sense to leave the conversations until later if your family is going through a difficult time, or when stress levels are high, because coming out will no doubt add a level of stress that can push certain people into making rash decision that are not in your favour. If you are worried about any physical/verbal abuse, try to conduct the conversation in a public place, perhaps at a restaurant when out for a meal with your family or when going for a quiet walk in the park. This will inshaAllah help minimise the risk of violent outbursts and, if necessary, provide witnesses to any adverse outcomes.
Patience is key
Be patient with your family. They may accept you straight away in which case Alhamdulillah, but if not, you must understand that their initial response does not necessarily reflect their final attitude. It is likely that they will be hurt and confused, and may blame you or themselves. It takes time. It took time for you to accept yourself, and it will take time for them to accept you, and you should be supportive of their attempts to make sense of what you have told them. At this point perhaps space is good if that is financially/socially possible.
Many queer muslims find themselves alienated from the muslim community and this can unfortunately lead to detachment from faith as well. It is important to keep close to Allah despite what others may say, as after all your faith is between you and your creator only. Prayer is one way in which closeness to God can be established, and can reaffirm ones relationship with religion. Salaat-e-Istikhara especially is a valuable tool that we can use to help us make the difficult decisions that many of us face, especially when the line between right or wrong is blurred. Allah has all the answers that we seek and through Him you will InshaAllah find what is the best path for you.
To conclude, there is no one way to come out, and there is no one best approach, but several. Patience, caution, and sensitivity must be exercised in order to make the process of coming out safe for yourself, and easier for those you are coming out to. We pray that you are met with compassion and understanding, but if not, we hope you are able to move on without guilt, knowing that you did the best you can to convey your feelings towards the people that you love. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of you, no matter what you are going through.