What is QIST?
QIST promotes the idea that research into the complex and nuanced consideration of the matter of sexuality including sexual diversity is part of human understanding and part of Islamic studies. During the first 500 years of Islam of the Classical period, inclusive research examined in detail discourse on gender non-binary. Despite this legacy, Muslim discourse slowly entered its most malignant status for all disciplines, including discourse over sexuality. By the time of the impositions of colonialism a new logic promoted the either/or location for Muslim sexualities. Such logic was not used in Islamic Classical intellectual traditions
With the imposition of colonialism positive law was imposed on the colonies which truncated the diverse and dynamic nature of Islamic jurisprudence. In the meantime, the terms to capture the full range of of sexual diversity started to expand in the 18 and 19th centuries including seeing that spectrum as natural spectrum for medical and mental health reasons. Meanwhile, over time we see that the range of sexual diversities has multiplied.
These modern developments did not benefit from Classical Islamic thought in the form of ‘Ilm al- Ba’h. As the full spectrum of sexualities is increasingly more complex and this complexity is greater when also linked to identity politics, then more study is needed. Islamic studies needs to include a re-reading of the frank and detailed discourse of Classical Islamic along side the proliferation of modern diverse discourses about sex and sexuality.
QIST confirms the spaces and activities created by Queer Muslims to align with the sacred mandate of human dignity or karamah. It will highlight the power of the Inclusive movement in creating sacred spaces and activities that embrace all humans as worthy of the karamah Allah created them with. QIST supports and promotes knowledge production as part of a continued collaboration about sexual diversity.
In addition, Queer Muslims and their allies have reclaimed the rights to sacred worship by establishing inclusive mosque spaces. They participate fully in sacred worship without fear of exclusion, disruption or violence. They have set a new standard with regard to a truly universal Islam. Queer Muslims have increased in number and their lived realities are increasingly visible. The strategic embracing of inclusive Islam has become the standard—as it once was and should always be.
The case of sexual minorities offers a strategic mandate about the right to define Islam as inclusive and compassionate. The right to be fully human under the category of karamah is open to a more radical interpretation. While general acceptance of gender non-conforming Muslims is increasing, the need for this standard of Islam to be elaborated with more creative developments is a necessary part of the human rights struggles within Islam. While the Qur’anic mandate of karamah is the basis, its implementation in law, policy and culture needs these elaborate and creative developments. QIST is one response to this mandate.
Introduction: Karamah or Human Dignity
In Surah al-‘Isra’, Allah, (referred to in gender non-binary pronoun)
says ,“We have conferred karamah on the children of Adam.” The use of a plural pronoun to refer to a single sublime God is itself an example queer reflection. Allah chose karamah as an undeniable to the entirehuman race. No person can be denied the dignity due to them unless the one denying is acting in a manner that implies the other is less than human.
The only way homophobia manifest is by denying this Divine dignity to another human who does not conform to the heterosexual model While this runs rampant in all contexts, the focus of QIST is on Muslim contexts. The negative Muslim discourses and practices against nonheteronormative sexualities denies certain human beings their right to exercise their full agency as human beings. They are not allowed full access to places of spiritual practices, to pray and to be prayed over at death, to attend mosques within the fullness of their identities. They are not allowed to legally form loving relationships and raise families. They are not allowed to express their identity if a dimension of that identity as not in conformity to a limited binary expressions of gender identity. For example, men should not wear make up or women should not cut off their hair.
They dominant expression of understanding the content of the Qur’anic story of Prophet Lut (s) has been reduced to a foolish expression since even neo-conservative Muslims with limited knowledge of Qur’an and its sciences and interpretation express their views as if suddenly they experts. They flaunt their misunderstanding of the story and claim unbridled authority. It is astounding how often this story is met with grand statements about the whole of the Qur’an, about Islam, even about Allah, with so little knowledge about the nuances of this particular story.