Note from Mary: I am a Christian. This website is Christian, and in the example of Christ's unconditional love for all I choose to support our GLBT Muslim family.
The links found here are for our gay Muslim brothers and sisters, and also to help us, as Christians, to understand something about your journey. May we each choose to try to understand the other.
Comments are from Robert (in Russia), a Christian Transman on our Social Group who, in responding to questions posed on the forum replies: I have read Russian translations of the Quran about 25 times (I have 8 Russian versions of it). I read the Arabic text of the Quran 2 times. I have 2 Tafsirs in Russian (Muslim interpretations of the Quran) and I read them several times. I studied Muslim theology by myself, including the principles of interpretation of the Quran.
Robert is available to answer questions if you want to write to him.
Al-Fatiha Foundation - is an international organization dedicated to Muslims who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trasngendered, those questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, and their friends.
Al-Fatiha's goal is to provide a safe space and a forum for LGBTQ Muslims to address issues of common concern, share individual experiences, and institutional resources. The Al-Fatiha Foundation aims to support LGBTQ Muslims in reconciling their sexual orientation or gender identity with Islam. Al-Fatiha promotes the Islamic notions of social justice, peace, and tolerance through its work, to bring all closer to a world that is free from injustice, prejudice, and discrimination.
Imaan LGBTQI Muslim Support Group - supports LGBT Muslim people, their families and friends, to address issues of sexual orientation within Islam. It provides a safe space and support network to address issues of common concern through sharing individual experiences and institutional resources.
Imaan promotes the Islamic values of peace, social justice and tolerance through its work, and aspires to bring about a world that is free from prejudice and discrimination against all Muslims and LGBT people.
Safra Project - is a resource project working on issues relating to lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender women who identify as Muslim religiously and/or culturally (Muslim LBT women). The Safra Project was set up in October 2001 by and for Muslim LBT women. The issues faced by Muslim LBT women, and the (combination of) prejudices based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, religion, race, culture and immigration status that they experience, are unique and currently insufficiently addressed.
The word Safra is related to the words for 'journey' and discovery' in many languages such as Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. The Safra Project does not seek to provide ultimate answers or solutions, and is not a faith group. Our ethos is one of inclusiveness and diversity.
A unique anthology, placing verses from Qur'an and Bible side by side, with familiar figures ranging from Adam, Noah, and David to Mary and Jesus. The stories of Abraham, Joseph and Moses are also related in verses side by side, as are descriptions of heaven and hell.
Controversial topics - subservience of women, war and crime - are not shunned. Shared human values are likewise charted as are common attributes of God and Allah.
Reflective essays by experts from different backgrounds. Readers are invited to draw their own conclusions.
A Muslim And A Christian In Dialogue Badru D. Kateregga and David W. Shenk
In their book, Shenk and Kateregga write:
"Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Both give witness that there is One true and only God, the righteous and transcendent Creator of all things in heaven and earth. Furthermore, Christians accept with thankfulness all ninety-nine names of God that Muslims repeat in worship and praise to God. Even the name Allah is affirmed by Christians as a name of God. The Prophet Abraham knew God as El or Elohim, which is a Hebrew form of the Arabic Allah. <...>
"Nevertheless, within our common faith in God, Muslims and Christians experience differences. These differences are rooted in different understandings of God's relationship to people. The Qur'an stresses the revelation of God's commands and His names to humans. In the
Bible we perceive God as the One Who reveals Himself to humankind." (pp. 22-23, written by Shenk, the Christian)
"When Christians and Muslims talk about God, they are talking about the same God, although their witnessing concerning God may be rather different. When they speak of God, Allah, Yahweh, or Elohim, they mean the God Who is the only one, the Creator, the loving, the just, the holy, the merciful, the living and eternal, the wise and knowing. Nevertheless, the Christian witness emphasizes the self-disclosure of God (hence the "Trinity"), while in Islam it is the will and guidance of God which is revealed." (p. 94, written by Kateregga, the Muslim)
The Quran says that Allah has the most beautiful names: "Allah! there is no god but He! To Him belong the most Beautiful Names." (Quran 20:8, Yusufali's translation) "Say: "Call upon Allah, or call upon Rahman [the Merciful One]: by whatever name ye call upon Him, (it is well): for to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names." (Quran 17:110, Yusufali's translation) "The Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah: so call on Him by them" (Quran 7:180, Yusufali's translation).
There is a hadith (a story about Muhammad) which says that Allah has ninety-nine names. All the versions of this hadith are narrated from Abu Huraira, one of Muhammad's companions, but there are some differences between the versions narrated through the different chains of narrators. Imams Al-Bukhari and Muslim compiled the most famous books of hadiths and included only those hadiths that are considered authentic (sahih). They give the following versions of this hadith:
"Narrated by Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "Allah has ninety-nine names, i.e. one-hundred minus one, and whoever knows them will go to Paradise." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 50, Number 894, translated by M. Muhsin Khan)
"Narrated by Abu Huraira: Allah has ninety-nine Names, i.e., one hundred minus one, and whoever believes in their meanings and acts accordingly, will enter Paradise; and Allah is Witr (one) and loves 'the Witr' (i.e., odd numbers)." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 75, Number 419, translated by M. Muhsin Khan)
"Narrated by Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "Allah has ninety-nine Names, one-hundred less one; and he who memorizes them all by heart will enter Paradise." To count something means to know it by heart." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 489, translated by M. Muhsin Khan)
"Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: There are ninety-nine names of Allah; he who commits them to memory will get into Paradise. Verily, Allah is Odd (He is one, and it is an odd number) and He loves odd numberss. And in the narration of Ibn 'Umar (the words are):" He who enumerated them." (Sahih Al-Muslim, Book 035, Number 6475, translated by Abdul Hamid Siddiqui)
Other Imams who compiled books of hadiths included not only the hadiths that are considered authentic, but also those that are considered less reliable. At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja, and some others give a longer version of Abu Huraira's hadith which includes the list of Allah's 99 names. The most famous of them is in At-Tirmidhi's book:
"Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "Allah Most High has ninety-nine names. He who retains them in his memory will enter Paradise. He is Allah, other than whom there is no god, the Compassionate, the Merciful, the King, the Holy, the Source of Peace, the Preserver of Security, the Protector, the Mighty, the Overpowering, the Great in Majesty, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner, the Forgiver, the Dominant, the Bestower, the Provider, the Decider, the Knower, the Withholder, the Plentiful Giver, the Abaser, the Exalter, the Honourer, the Humiliator, the Hearer, the Seer, the Judge, the Just, the Gracious, the Informed, the Clement, the Incomparably Great, the Forgiving, the Rewarder, the Most High, the Most Great, the Preserver, the Sustainer, the Reckoner, the Majestic, the Generous, the Watcher, the Answerer, the Liberal, the Wise, the Loving, the Glorious, the Raiser, the Witness, the Real, the Trustee, the Strong, the Firm, the Patron, the Praiseworthy, the All-Knowing, the Originator, the Restorer to Life, the Giver of Life, the Giver of Death, the Living, the Eternal, the Self-sufficient, the Grand, the One, the Single, He to Whom men repair, the Powerful, the Prevailing, the Advancer, the Delayer, the First, the Last, the Outward, the Inward, the Governor, the Sublime, the Amply Beneficent, the Accepter of Repentance, the Avenger, the Pardoner, the Kindly, the Ruler of the Kingdom, the Lord of Majesty and Splendour, the Equitable, the Gatherer, the Independent, the Enricher, the Depriver, the Harmer, the Benefactor, the Light, the Guide, the First Cause, the Enduring, the Inheritor, the Director, the Patient." (Sunan At-Tirmidhi, 724)
All the Sunni theologians consider Bukhari's and Muslim's versions as authentic. However, there are disagreements among them regarding the At-Tirmidhi's version. Some of them consider this version good and acceptable. The traditional and most popular list of Allah's 99 names come from it. However, some theologians consider this version as unreliable. Some of them composed their own lists of Allah's 99 names, based either, only on the Quran, or on the Quran and hadiths, that are considered authentic. In any case, Muslim theologians agree that Allah has more than 99 names.
Mostly, the 99 names of Allah match God's attributes as revealed in the Bible. It means that the Islamic concept of God is not completely different from the Christian concept of God. On the other hand, Muslims do not believe in the Trinity and do not believe that Jesus is God. So, their concept of God is, of course, different from the Christian concept of God.
Surah 1 and Its Use in Prayer
1 In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
2) All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.
3) The Beneficent, the Merciful.
4) Master of the Day of Judgment.
5) Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help.
6) Keep us on the right path.
7) The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors. Not (the path) of those upon whom Thy wrath is brought down, nor of those who go astray. (Quran, Surah 1, Shakir's translation)
Muslims repeat, at least, 17 times a day in their prayers, Surah 1 (chapter 1) of the Quran. It is mandatory to recite it in each prayer. Muslims have an obligation to pray 5 times a day (if they want to pray more, there are additional prayers, but they are optional). In each prayer, there are 2 or more cycles called "rakat", "rakah" or "raka'ah": 1) standing, 2) bowing, 3) straightening, 4) prostration, 5) sitting,
6) prostration. In each rakat, when they are standing, Muslims are required to recite Surah 1.
The total number of mandatory rakats is 17:
1) in the morning prayer - 2;
2) in the noon prayer - 4;
3) in the afternoon prayer - 4;
4) in the evening prayer - 3;
5) in the night prayer - 4.
Many Muslims add additional rakats to their prayers and make the following number of rakats in each prayer:
1) in the morning prayer: (2 +) 2;
2) in the noon prayer: (4 +) 4 (+ 2);
3) in the afternoon prayer: (4 +) 4;
4) in the evening prayer: 3 (+ 2);
5) in the night prayer: (4 +) 4 (+ 2) (+ 3).
I put the additional rakats in parentheses. Thus the total number of rakats becomes 40.
Some Muslims perform other numbers of additional rakats, for example, they do not perform the first 4 rakats in the 3rd and 5th prayers. Some add more additional rakats.
So, Muslims recite the first surah (it is called Al-Fatiha), at least, 17 times a day, but many of them do this more times.
Muslim religious leaders have joined Christian and Jewish leaders for the first time in issuing a joint plea for tolerance for gay people.
In an open letter written in support of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the group, which includes two bishops, has criticised incitement to religious hatred and aggressive proselytisation as practised by some fundamentalist evangelical Christians.
Some Information About Islam For Christians by Robert (in Russia) as part of a discussion on the Christian Gays Social Group
I personally believe that it is true that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, but their concepts of God are different. There are people, both among Christians and among Muslims, who believe that God and Allah are two different beings. Once, I heard a popular song where a Christian and a Muslim had a friendly conversation. It was said there that "God and Allah were smiling, looking at them from the heavens." I believe that this is the wrong concept. Both Christians and Muslims believe that there is only one God.
Basically, there are two main hypotheses of what the word "Allah" means in Arabic. According to one of them, it literally means "the God": "al" is the definite article in Arabic, "ilah" means "god." According to the other hypothesis, "Allah" is just the proper name of God. In any case, it is closely related to the Old Testament words for God. The most part of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, but some chapters were written in Aramaic. The most common word for God in Hebrew is "Elohim." This is the plural form (the ending "-im" is the ending of the plural number). The singular form is El or Eloah. The Aramaic word for God is "Elah." Eloah, Elah, and Allah are very close and basically they are different forms of the same word. No wonder that Arabic-speaking Christians and some other Christians who live in the Muslim world call God "Allah."
According to Islamic law (Sharia), there are three cases when a person may be executed:
3) apostasy (leaving Islam).
It is based, not on the Quran, but on one of the hadith (a story about Muhammad) where he said that a person may be executed only because of these reasons.
Basically, Islamic theologians equal homosexuality to adultery regarding punishment. However, this does not mean that any Muslim is allowed to kill a gay. The decision regarding the death penalty must be made by Muslim authorities. There are different opinions regarding who exactly has such authority, and many Muslim theologians say that only Khalif (the Muslim ruler of the Muslim theocratic country) can do so. However, there are no Khalifs now. Well, this is the opinion of many of Sunni theologians. Other Muslim groups may have other opinions.
I noticed that many Christians study the Bible many years and always find something new there, but after they read the Quran one time, they think that they understand everything there. In the same way, many Muslims study the Quran many years and learn new things there, but after they read the Bible once, they think that they understand everything.
I personally read Russian translations of the Quran about 25 times (I have 8 Russian versions of it). I read the Arabic text of the Quran 2 times. I have 2 Tafsirs in Russian (Muslim interpretations of the Quran) and I read them several times. I studied Muslim theology by myself, including the principles of interpretation of the Quran.
In my opinion, it is harder to understand and interpret the Quran than the Bible. There are, at least, three reasons for this:
1. The understanding and interpretation of the Quran requires good knowledge of Sunnah, that is, stories about Muhammad or those told by Muhammad. In turn, it requires not only to know the stories themselves, but also to discern which of them are reliable and which of them are not.
2. The text of the Quran is not very orderly. Themes are often switched and repeated in another place. Often, there is no context for Quranic passages in the Quran itself (in many cases, the context can be found in Sunnah).
3. The Arabic words may have many meanings. So, many passages of the Quran may be understood in different ways.
Muslims consider that only the Arabic text of the Quran is the Quran. They do not consider translations to be the Quran. They say that any translation changes the meaning of it. In fact, it is impossible to translate something from one language to another language with 100% accuracy. In every translation, there is some loss. It is the same with the Bible.
In principle, a Muslim who has read the New Testament, can make a conclusion that the New Testament treats women badly and quote verses like: 1 Cor. 11:2-16; 14:34-35; Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18; 1 Tim. 2:11-15; 1 Pet. 3:1-6. And it is true that for a very long time Christians oppressed women. Only relatively recently women attained gender equality and until now many churches do not allow women to be priests or pastors.
The Status of Muslim Women
During their history, Muslim countries have had a different attitude to women and it depended and still depends not only on the Islamic law (Sharia), but mainly on pre-Islamic traditions that were absorbed by Islam (adats). For example, generally, Arabs have been more harsh toward women that Turkish-speaking Muslims. However, even in Arabic countries, there were examples of good attitudes toward women. For example, throughout history there have been a lot of female Muslim theologians. The first one of them was Aisha, one of Muhammad's wives. She was highly respected by male theologians and many male theologians learned from her. As far as I know, in Christianity, women were allowed to study theology only in 20th century.
Another example: One of the most popular Russian translations of the Quran was made by a Russian woman who received Islam. Her last name is Porokhova. She married a Syrian Arab and moved to Syria. Her husband and father-in-law are Muslim theologians. They helped her with her translation which includes a lot of comments. Her husband was the editor of this translation. Later, it was checked by the Muslim theologian committee of Al-Azkar University (one of the most prestigious Muslim theological universities in the world, it is located in Egypt). The committee worked 6 years and approved her work.
The Quran has many passages that have to do with women and it is impossible to mention all of them here. However, there are some general principles:
General Principles Regarding Women
1. The Quran promotes the traditional family where the wife stays at home, takes care for children, and does home work while the husband works and provides for the family financially. This model of family existed not only in Muslim countries, but also in Christian countries. Later, women in Western countries (including Russia) obtained the right to work and earn money by themselves. However, even now, in these countries some women do not work, but stay at home and take care for their children because it is not easy to both work and take care of the children. It might be even more so in Muslim countries because in most Muslim families there are many children (unlike Western families).
2. There is a general principle in Islamic law that if something is sinful, then any ways that lead to this action are also considered sinful. Islam strictly forbids sex out of marriage (adultery and fornication). Because of this, it sets some restrictions on the behavior of men and women:
a) A man and a woman who are not close relatives are not allowed to be together without a third person. Men and women pray in mosques in different places: either men pray in the first rows and women in the last rows or men and women pray in different rooms.
b) Men and women are required to be properly dressed. For men, these restrictions are not very strict. They are just required to cover themselves from waist to knees. It means, for example, that they are not allowed to wear shorts or go topless. Women are expected to cover everything, except their hands and faces. Actually, there are different opinions here. In Sunni Islam, there are 4 madhabs (schools of Islamic law): Hanifi, Shafii, Maliki, and Hanbali. These schools have different opinions regarding whether women should cover their faces or not. For Western people, fully dressed Muslim women with their heads (and sometimes faces) covered appear to be signs of oppression toward women. However, Muslims have an absolutely different view. They say that this protects women from men's lusts and thus protects women's dignity. Well, this is true that some of Western women's clothes makes them sexually attractive to men.
c) There are some restrictions on women's travelings. Some madhabs allow women to travel only with a male close relative. Some allow groups of women to travel. This rule is also to prevent sexual violence. BTW, although Sunni Muslims usually follow one of madhabs, they are allowed to follow rules of another madhab for some actions. That is, for example, Hanifi madhab allows women to travel only with their close relatives while Shafii madhab allows them to travel in groups. Hanifi women who cannot find close relatives to travel with, may "switch" to Shafii madhab and travel in groups.
Anyway, according to Muslim point of view, these rules are not to oppress women, but to protect their dignity and to prevent sexual abuse.
3. Islam takes into consideration the natural differences between men and women. For example, in the Quran, there is a principle that two women's testimonies equal one man's testimony. Muslim theologians explain it, saying that usually women are more compassionate than men. So, it may be harder for women to testify against somebody who may be punished on the basis of their testimony. So, they say this is the reason why two women should testify.
4. Muslim theologians say that in pre-Islamic times, Arabs treated women very badly, and Islam was a great improvement of their position. For example, Arabs often killed their female babies because they were pure and gave priority to male babies. The Quran strictly forbade this. Arabs could have any number of wives and could divorce them for any reason. After divorce, women did not have any income. Wives could not divorce their husbands. Islamic law regulated divorces. It prohibited some kinds of divorces. Sunni Islam prohibits temporal marriages (they are allowed in Shia Islam). After divorce, a woman is allowed to stay in her ex-husband's house for some period of time and get his support. He has to provide for their children financially until they reach a certain age. At the time of marriage, a women receives a certain amount of money or a valuable gift from her husband. The purpose of this is that the woman may survive after divorce. The Quran allows a man to have four wives (while before Islam Arabs could have any number of wives). According to the Quran, the man has to provide for every wife financially, take care for each wife equally, and love each of them equally. For many Muslim men, these are not easy requirements. So, the great majority of them have only one wife. Muslim theologians give various reasons why polygamy is allowed in Islam. One of them is that Muslims at the time of Muhammad and later had many wars. Many men were killed. Many women became widows. If was hard for them to marry again because there were less men than women. In this situation, if they became second (third or fourth) wives, it improved their financial situation and they were not lonely. Another reason given by Muslim theologians is that they believe that many men have a tendency to polygamy by their nature. Many Western men have girlfriends, but they do not have any responsibility to them. So, they say that polygamy is "legalization" of girlfriends, but when they become official wives, husbands are required to provide for them financially and take care for them. So, Muslim theologians believe that it is better.
Virgins In Paradise - Houri
Regarding houri (virgins in paradise), in order to understand and interpret the Quran, it is important to know Sunnah. Sunnah gives three principles:
1. Righteous men and righteous women will receive equal rewards in paradise. It implies that there might be male houri for righteous women.
2. Nobody knows what Allah prepared in paradise for the righteous Muslims. This means that the physical scenes of paradise described in the Quran may be allegories of something else. Some Muslim theologians say that houri is an allegory. In the same way, it is hard to tell whether the New Jerusalem described in Rev. 21-22 will be a physical city or if it is an allegory of some spiritual things.
3. The highest reward for righteous Muslims will be that they will be able to see Allah in paradise. So, the main reward will be not physical, but spiritual.
Other passages in the Quran and some hadiths say that righteous men will be with their righteous wives. It gives the impression that houri are for those who do not have righteous wives.
There are many different opinions regarding this matter among Muslim theologians. It is not a simple matter at all.
Robert is available to answer questions if you want to write to him.
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