For many Americans, the concept of halal, an Islamic dietary standard, is likely not something people associate with anything other than food. However, the Arabic word also means “lawful” or “permitted.”
As we mark Ramadan, our fundamental question here is – are LGBTQ people permitted in Islam?
Dr. Imam Ludovic Zahed, an Islamic scholar and founder of the first inclusive mosque in France, aims to tackle this important question at the Inclusive Islam Workshop, co-sponsored by Muslims for Progressive Values and HRC Foundation’s Religion and Faith Program.
The workshop, generously funded by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, explores ways in which sacred Islamic texts can be read to affirm the human rights of all individuals, with a particular emphasis on LGBTQ rights and Islam’s inherent values of inclusion and justice.
Two interactive workshops will take place, one in Dearborn, Michigan, on Monday, May 21, and another in Washington, D.C. on Friday, May 25, followed by breaking of Ramadan fast with iftar, sponsored by Muslims for Progressive Values.
This comes at a special time when the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims celebrate the holy month of Ramadan. Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset to bring the faithful closer to God and remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate.
These workshops also come at a time when American Muslim support of LGBTQ equality is at an all-time high. According to a recent Public Religion Research Institute survey, almost two thirds of American Muslims favor non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, including more than 35 percent who strongly support them. More than 50 percent of American Muslims now support marriage equality, up from 43 percent a few years ago.
General Muslim attittudes toward LGBTQ people -- especially LGBTQ Muslims -- remain complex. In 2014, HRC Foundation released Coming Home to Islam and to Self, a guide to help LGBTQ Muslims seeking to reconnect with their faith and build more inclusive communities.