Even in white queer spaces, there is often a kind of unease about taking a stand on Islam or anti-Muslim racism. This leads to performance pressure for queer Muslims to constantly have to prove their progressiveness and queerness.
Are these spaces actually able to think along with queer Muslims without re-stigmatizing?
By associating the problem with ‘the’ Muslims. They take on the function of a scapegoat who is collectively held responsible for homophobia, sexism and many other abuses and is supposed to cleanse our conscience, so to speak. The more naturally so-called imported dangers are discussed, the easier it is to exonerate the majority.
There is an asymmetrical simultaneity: We live in a society that idealizes itself as tolerant and egalitarian in dissociation from others, while the structures exclude and violence remains everyday life.
It is an aspect of anti-Muslim racism that we can observe historically in European colonialism and Orientalism, but also in contemporary relationships. Muslims are declared a social evil and are made the target of suspicion, observation and exclusion. We therefore have to ask ourselves: What does it actually do to a person who grows up with these demonizing images?
And what possibilities are there to question the vocabulary of distrust? It’s about finding ways to be yourself or to be able to reinvent and develop yourself.
It all depends on which disciplines and departments we are talking about. But it is true that the “I” of the researcher does not appear in the German scientific tradition. After all, it cannot appear under the claim of supposed objectivity and neutrality.
So I wouldn’t be surprised if the book is dismissed as unscientific and subjective. But I also recognize a wide range of writing processes in which biographical elements are processed in colleagues from postcolonial theory, critical migration and racism research.
People like May Ayim, who was a scientist, activist, author and poet at the same time, show that you can bring different roles into dialogue with each other. I wanted to interweave the scientific archive with the biographical and everyday, the literary and artistic archives in the past and present.
The legacy of early Islamic societies, i.e. the ambiguity of gender and sexuality and the more open handling of desire and intimacy in society, religion, art and culture is unknown even among many Muslims. European colonialism has played a major role in making the situation different today. Remembering the forgotten and repressed past also means unlocking ways we can write, speak, think and live differently.
Poetry helps, and its power continues to collide with the power of queerness today. They subvert notions of absoluteness and truth, respectively, and they deny the clarity of our lives. I want to show that we can invent new queer-Muslim utopias and that poetry and queerness can be combined in a special way.
In my research I not only came across poets like Abu Nuwas or Saadi Shirazi who wrote about intimacy and desire between men, but also contemporary poetry. For example, by Seema Yasmin from the USA, who celebrates love between women while creatively challenging religious motifs. Or Omar Sakr in Australia, who writes about gay dates in the park or the relationship with his father.
Such contemporary queer Muslim voices are also treasures that accompany me on my own journey as a poet. My debut poetry “Prinzenbad” will be published soon, in which queer-Muslim perspectives have a central place. It is important to me to show that people who experience racism also act as producers of art and culture.
The problem with Muslims is often that they are hyper-visible and that all facets that actually make up their lives are invisible.
This experience of being an object in the eyes of others is common to many in dating and romantic relationships, even in white queer spaces.
I agree! I observe that queer Muslims are doubly suspect: Basically, they can’t please anyone because they lead a life of sin for some, and for others they are traitors to left-wing values because they don’t break away from Islam. Therefore, they are under pressure and suddenly have to make a decision.
Those who are queer and Muslim risk leading a lonely life and being marginalized in spaces and debates. It’s not just about whether you have antiqueerism in Muslim spaces or racism as an issue in white queer spaces.
It is generally about topics that concern people in these rooms. Why shouldn’t religious needs and Muslim concerns also be carried into queer spaces; That doesn’t contradict being queer. It becomes difficult when queer Muslims cannot express themselves in the way they want or are viewed in a wrong way. Even if lesbian Muslim women with hijab don’t feel comfortable at every demo or party.
It’s a different approach that raises new questions of visibility and empowerment, and it’s a term that’s becoming very popular among queer Muslims. Some cannot or do not want to come out and others see no need to do so because it also marks the “deviation” from a norm.
Of course, “coming out” can mean freedom and self-empowerment, these are important processes. But those who don’t take part in this performative act for a variety of reasons often remain outside of queer spaces.
The term jihad quickly comes under suspicion, it is a provocation – especially in connection with queer. It contains the contradiction when jihad is seen as terror, murder and threat. But I focus on another level of meaning, namely a translation that means “purposeful effort and effort on the way of God”.
Many Muslim socialized people who refer to the term jihad mean by it more a spiritual development and personal development or even moral commitment.
It was important to me to merge the two things in order to dissolve the contrast between Islam and queer. Queer jihad is an emancipatory message that sabotages all of our usual notions of what is queer and what is Muslim. Therein lies the potential for an alternative perspective – for a new form of solidarity that doesn’t stop at the fringes of our prayer rugs.
Queer Jihad is also a plea to break out of the roles assigned to us, to no longer play the boring clichéd theater about Islam and Muslims, but to ask different questions and generate fresh narratives. We’re not used to seeing confident Muslims who can do both pray and flirt at Gayhane.
For me, the chapter “Queer Jihad” is a kind of prelude. I used it to address other topics and work on them for myself, for which I previously had no space in this form. I myself, as a queer Muslim, appear in a new context, scientifically, culturally and literary.
That surprised many. But for me this is just the beginning of a search for further possible answers in the process of community building.
This is a big topic that often depresses me a lot. It’s easy to flaunt solidarity and we’re used to doing it with one click, with ritualized lip service, with tiles on social media, and with slogans or banners at demos.
But when it comes to translating these words into everyday practice, we see that we don’t even know what solidarity actually means or how it is lived.
It is no wonder that in many projects that claim intersectionality, Muslims of all people do not even appear as a group that, like others, is dependent on support. Many shy away from showing themselves and being associated with Muslims.
This is fatal and very violent, because the marginalized in particular long for other spaces and are then not considered where intersectionality is spoken of. That’s a slap in the face.