Ramadan Reflections 2013: Grace Period

Salaam all,

TTG, Al-Sarah, Laura Marie and I have been in a whirlwind of experience the last week or so. We all safely arrived, trickling in from all ends of the country, and have been sharing Coming Out Muslim with all who we encounter – both through the show and the living/breathing of the conversation.

It’s been stressful, I’ll tell you that. Shlepping, figuring out transport, maneuvering the spaces in which we are performing, and personally, it’s an emotionally overwhelming time for me (more to be shared later this month, I’m certain). In the midst of all this, I am realizing Ramadan is coming!

I am almost certain that God is bringing me to another Ramadan so that I may do exactly as this blog says, reflect. I am excited and nervous too with anticipation of what is ahead, but I cannot foresee them now. I must trust in what is intended.

And so, to our Muslim brothers and sisters who have begun their Ramadan, I/we wish you a mubarak start to y/our month.
For Muslims, like myself, who have not started, for those of us in this in-between 24 hours, take this grace period to prepare yourselves and your intentions for what is ahead of us.

I leave you with my first meditation for the beginning of Ramadan (also words of advice from Terna): SLOW DOWN.

… which I certainly will after tonight’s show 🙂

xoxo Waz

This moment is a benchmark.

Last Tuesday Rosie and I had the opportunity to check out The Out List at the NYC premiere – it was great!

I was honored and pleased to be part of a human tapestry of stories that tell the stories of LGBTQ Americans.
And there are many more that need to be told – that is certain.

The next day, I woke up to a sobering reality (uhh, a little late here Wazina) that the documentary would be seen not just by people in my circle or just the folks at the premiere… but by people all over. And more than that, it would be viewed by people who, let’s put on pause the part about never having met someone (out) about a sexual orientation other than hetero – they may have never interacted with a black person before and in my case, a Muslim or an Afghan person. 

I mean, really, that is possible.

It boggles my mind and really, it doesn’t at all either.
The limited caricatures of us (whoever we are) on CNN or Fox News… or whatever a person’s source may be all they have to go with. We cannot let that be. We must alter realities to match the truth!

I’ve been remarking with Laura Marie (or LoMo) that there is a need for an Out List in 2013.
And then, I am reminded that there is a need.

…on Tuesday night (June 18th) I started scribbling this down before the premiere. I wanted to elaborate, work on it more/differently but I figured I should get it out because I’ll just keep sitting on it:

tonight is a benchmark
in our collective struggle
striving & thriving

because an Out List is still necessary.

a point for me
a plus
for the parts of me that are palatable,
alahamdillulah.

We need a ___ List
because brown people darker than me
more Muslim than me
get looked at stone cold and hard.

because there are men behind walls who look like them
and having nothing to do with them

are behind gates with no end in sight.
with no one to look warmly and lovingly their way

please don’t forget what a loving smile feels like.

peoples living out sentences that have never been issued
within false borders
so that we
in new york city/baghdad/istanbul/west bank/chicago/-istan
are still enemy:

surveillanced  as enemy
internalized as enemy.

this moment is a benchmark.
—-
With this said, I will say, I am proud and I am not done.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vpzB_jP7yU

preparing for exile

when preparing for exile
I remind myself that
this march is in
my bones.
flight is muscle memory
and fight is inherited.

this diaspora
is born of a new breath.
humility and tenderness
masks pride and righteousness

calling for my                       departure.

when preparing for exile
remember:
we were conceived on the move.
born into the reluctant memories
decorating new homes.

when preparing for exile,
what do you pack?

file old memories how and where?

in exile,
we wait for later
to return ourselves to each other

bodies together in soil.

if in our shared living breath
there is no space for us to breathe
honest truths
how  in quiet side by side
can I find you again?

when we share buried eternity
an endless chatter:
on the lives we loved and opportunities missed.

why wait that long?
why must I want that long.

There’s so much I’m anticipating with Thursday’s premiere of The Out List documentary – life as a live wire.
I fear what it could mean for my family and loved ones: judgment, sadness, shame, upset, disappointment and possibility for knowing one another wholly.

I am almost done with a letter to my parents. I feel foolish for having waited this long – and I just hope I get to them before anyone else does. I would hate myself (even more) if that were the case. And, I also didn’t want them to anticipate the worst in the documentary if I told them too far in advance.

And mostly, when I am afraid, I am frozen and inactive.

Relief will be welcomed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gathering with family

Salaam lovelies,

This past weekend marked the 3rd Annual LGBTQ Muslim Retreat. There had been the previous weeks and month of intense planning and countless emails, in the service of creating an incredible, loving, thoughtful space for 80+ LGBTQ Muslims from North America and even a few other countries to come, find respite for a few days. An oasis for all of us in some way. If I haven’t said it already, I love my LGBTQ Muslim ummah (community). What a joy simply to witness folks in a space where we can be all of ourselves, a space in which no one has to worry about appearing too “gay” or too whatever. At the first Retreat we had a wedding, at this one we had our first baby naming! The whole community gathered together for a beautiful, moving and celebratory ceremony. We get married. We have babies.

Allah. Originally I’d been scheduled to attend just the last two days of the Retreat. I was due to travel for a family funeral. Just as I was leaving to go to the airport, my flight was cancelled and no flights were available to get me there the next day. Suddenly, in a matter of moments, I could be at the Retreat almost the entire weekend. A sadness overcame me since the funeral would have been an opportunity to see relatives I hadn’t seen in years and eat some very delicious food, but nothing is outside of Allah’s knowing so I decided that Allah determined it was more important for me to be with my queer Muslim family.

For me, the prayer space is always one of the most significant elements and this year no less so. Anybody who wanted to call the adhan and lead prayers did so, regardless of gender. We prayed shoulder to shoulder regardless of gender. In one workshop, I got to talk with other practicing folks about what their practice looks like, how they hold their Islam, their iman. A quiet thrill of sugar-highesque delight ran through me as we talked about the articles of faith and what Islam means for us in our lives, every aspect of our lives. I only wish we’d had more time. Sometimes I’ve found it challenging to do some of my practices on my own, not in the presence of a physical community. The Retreat renewed my commitment. I even asked one of my Retreat loves to call me each morning to make sure I’m up for fajr. Though I was still in a dream, hearing his voice the other morning wishing me a good day made a difference.

And the conversations. The opportunity to look deeply into the eyes of new and known beloveds, to shower them with love is such a precious gift. All the more amazing to know that through their encounter with Coming Out Muslim, a couple of folks were at the Retreat for the first time. We got to take some walks together, eat together, laugh, ham it up with one another, stay up real late, zikr. I even got to give some healing sessions to a few folks. Inshallah, I mean for my local crew to stay connected and get together regularly starting during Ramadan.

Today the Washington Post published an article about the Retreat on the front page of the Style section. Those of us at the Retreat have varying opinions about its quality but it’s certainly a sign of changing times, inshallah. And mad props to our beautiful community members who agreed to be interviewed, especially using their names! Mad props y’all! Just don’t read the comments! The usual hodgepodge of support and hateful nonsense. I’ve learned that the haters gon’ hate and I don’t need to read it time and again. Inshallah at the very least it will mean those LGBTQ Muslims suffering in isolation will know that they are not alone. There is a whole family ready for them.