Our readings for today's class discuss gay Muslim film-maker Parvez Sharma, and his ground-breaking efforts to reach out to the gay Muslim community. His films have portrayed the lives of those who are socially isolated and endangered because of their sexual orientation, and that it does not identify with their religion as Muslims, according to the laws of many Muslim countries.
This issue has obviously struck a debate, not only in the Muslim countries explored by Sharma and his tiny cameras that were easily hidden at checkpoints while he played the role of a tourist, but the issue has been discussed in America as well. The American Muslim population has grown massively in the last decade, and continues to grow. According to a USA Today article that reported on the many Anti-Islam rallies that are occurring across the country, the number of mosques increased from 1,200 to 2,000, last recoreded five years ago. According to an NPR interview with Sharma, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. With such rapid growth, comes much debate and controversy. This debate and controversy has found itself in the lives of many American Muslims, especially after the US Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states.
A common claim that is made by those who identify as Muslim and homosexual, is that the contract of marriage should be separated from religious beliefs. According to some, marriage is a legal right and should not have to be compromised because of one's religion. Even some who don't agree with the concept of gay marriage still believe it should be separate from religion. According to an article published by The Daily Beast, American Muslim Hawa Fana isn't a proponent of gay marriage but was still saddened by the rude and hateful comments that broke on the day of the US Supreme Court decision. "Religious morals should not be a law of the land," said Fana.
Some Muslims believe that religious scriptures followed by the faith are subject to interpretation, and can be believed in any way one chooses to do so. This is where the argument stands. However, the supportive American Muslim population behind the equal rights decision continues to grow, as it stands now at a hefty 42 percent according to the Public Religion Research Institute. Another article from Aljazeera America stands behind and explains the reasoning behind the opinions of Muslim gay-rights activists.
Although some may disagree, it's important to engage in conversation when it comes to these issues that link religion, law, and human rights. This is why Sharma's films that explore the real daily lives of people who are experiencing the reprocussions of the conflicts between these societal elements is vital to the future of gay individuals everywhere who may or may not be struggling to balance their faith with their rights as American citizens.
|Photo via Wiki Creative Commons|