What’s Queer About Queer Muslim Resistance?
O those who believed! Be staunch in equity as witnesses to God and let not that you detest a folk drive you into not dealing justly. Be just. That is nearer to God-consciousness. [The Sublime Quran, 5:8)
Navigating the world as queer and Muslim can be challenging to our hearts, spirits and livelihoods, to say the very least. Our very existence is constructed to be impossible. As a queer South Asian Muslim femme based on Turtle Island, I am learning in community that collective resistance – acting in solidarity with our siblings invested in justice and anti-oppression of all forms – has transformative power. This refers to the ways queer Muslims love, and love hard, to challenge the dominant structures that claim we cannot and do not live lives of happiness.
It is essential to believe in and work towards possibilities of collective liberation – of futures free from trauma and oppression. I explore the following questions in this piece: how do we queer our resistance to centre and work towards justice? How do queer Muslims transform conditions of impossibility to possibility? And what’s love got to do with it?
I like to think of ‘queer’ as an analytic, a way to think and act transgressively, radically. It goes beyond an identity label: it is a tool to think, analyse, create, act, and desire new worlds of justice. As José Esteban Muñoz explains in his illuminating book Cruising Utopia, queerness is not something we can just be, achieve or embody, but we can feel its warmth in the everyday acts of resistance we enact. This pushes us to go further towards creating the futures we deserve. Queerness offers potentials for radical futures and alternative presents to those who are constructed as non-existent. It is a useful framework to think about how queer Muslims resist and what potential our resistance offers ourselves and the world.
You don’t have to ‘be queer’ to resist ‘queerly’. To queer is to transgress the norm in hope of working towards something better – something liberatory. Queer Muslims challenge the surety of what is considered normal not just through our existence, but also in the ways we resist to dream the supposed impossibility of justice for all. We ripple the very fabrics of oppressive structures through the ways we love, create, and generate. There are alternative ways we live that don’t confine us to the pain of impossibility. These ways illuminate moments of queer utopia in the present while giving us tangible evidence of how we can create futures of liberation. When I hear a story of two women living together for years, never getting married (but they’re just friends of course), or when the love of my chosen family soothes my soul after a fight with my parents, we are resisting the idea that queer Muslims are solely confined to our pain and traumas. The futures we want – freedom from the burdens of oppression in all forms – can and do exist through radical love and desires for more than what the world can currently offer.
I can’t help but return to love here. For if not fuelled by our love for humanity, for all beings, for the land we interact with, where does our resistance come from? Belief in the possibility of new worlds – where we are all free from the traumas of oppression, where oppression does not exist – is an act of radical love. It is in learning that the same dominant structures impact us all differently – whether it’s anti-Black, brown, Muslim, Indigenous racisms, and/or queerphobia, and/or anything else – that I have come to believe collective liberation will be achieved through collective resistance, Inshallah. To love radically, and collectively, is an act of queerness. There are no limits to what we can do with queer love in our hearts!
Islam is, at its core, a faith of justice. It is argued our purpose here on earth is to be God-conscious, which, according to the featured epigraph, is to be just. Thus, as queer Muslims, we must continue to centre queerness – transgression, creativity, radical hope and love – in our resistance to create worlds of beauty for all. To my fellow co-conspirators: we’re here, we’re queer(ing resistance), and we’re mobilising from the knowledge that we can create conditions of justice for and with each other.