Changing Visions of Ourselves > Between Two Worlds

Washington D.C.

Faisal Alam

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Founder, Al-Fatiha Foundation

We’ve never been more visible or had more media attention, from the mainstream as well as the queer press. We’ve never had more work to do than we do now – organizing on so many different levels, different issues.

There are so many queer Muslims who did not identify as Muslim before. We are going through a cultural and political awakening. There are more people at our meetings and conferences. In the Arab community especially, religion is what people are fleeing, so most people identify more with their national background. Attacks on Muslims, though, lead to an embracing of Muslim identity.

In the past, Bilal became Billy, Mohamed became Mo. Now more people are reawakening and reaffirming their Muslim identity.

The progressive Muslim community has been very fragmented and spread out. Now they have suddenly realized their role and begun building a national and international movement. For many, dealing with issues of gender and sexuality has not been on the radar screen. Al-Fatiha is a leading example of what a progressive Muslim community can look like. Many straight progressive Muslim without a faith community are joining Al-Fatiha and helping to strengthen the emergence of a progressive Muslim movement that is working for religious change as well as social change.

Recreating Islam as an inclusive faith environment is an enormous challenge. It is hard to organize on a religious level because of our alienation. Ramadan is when our chapters are most active in breaking the fast together, especially with Eid at the end. We’ve met an open, interested response from chapter of the Muslim Students Association on various campuses. Young people who grew up in US can connect with issues our community is dealing with – culture crisis, post-9/11 issues …