Jun 9, 2012

Not Even Seven Thousand Years of Joy Can Justify Seven Days of Repression: Muslim Mystic Poet Hafiz.

This is a posting on Sufi Muslim mystics and homosexuality (among other things), but first a few notes:

Haven't been blogging for a while. Too caught up with the Prague Fringe Festival now underway, and I'm happy to report that the one 'standing room only' show among the fifty entrants was gay stand up comedian, Daniel Ryan Spalding:

Needless to say, the show was a brilliant piece of gay friendly social satire and it seemed that no country or social group were spared Spalding's acerbic wit as he dissected, parodied and mercilessly ridiculed the variety of homophobic attitudes on the planet. Very very funny, climaxing (if that is the appropriate word) with Spalding's account of his gay bashing experience in a bar in Australia at the hands of a skinny eighteen year old named DEE JAY. I really felt Spalding should have bent DEE JAY over the table and taught him a lesson, but unfortunately, as Spalding confessed, he was too busy weeping in the men's toilet! The comic succeeded in making the incident (real or imaginary) both funny and wrenching. Though not as funny, perhaps, as the banana he was sucking at the waist of a friendly 'straight' member of the audience who agreed to become Spalding's non sexual "bromance" partner on stage - played very straight and good-naturedly by a fellow Fringe actor, who clearly had no idea what was coming at him when he stepped on stage. One of the many highlights of the show - though nothing, perhaps, could surpass Spalding's energetic efforts to conjure forth his "inner Lesbian." A delight from start to finish and hugely appreciated by the largely straight audience (judging by the absence of stereotypical swishes from the men and huge biceps among the women).

On a different, but related note, while browsing this morning and researching Muslim American playwright, Wajahat Ali (author of the award winning 9/11 inspired Muslim family drama, The Domestic Crusaders), I came across Ali's very interesting blog, Goatsmilk Blog. The second article listed today is a fascinating historical analysis of changing Muslim attitudes towards same sex unions, testifying to a similar shift in attitudes to the one now taking place in both Christianity and Judaism (the intransigence of my own Catholic church's misogynistic leadership notwithstanding - though in good conscience I no longer feel interiorly connected in any way to the Vatican, which makes me a non-Roman Catholic I suppose).

 But before getting into the article, I just want to say that it yielded one priceless quote for LGBT people everywhere:

Traditional Muslims analogize ‘homosexuality’ with alcoholism and prescribe celibacy to homosexuals just as they prescribe self control to alcoholics. They view ‘homosexuality’ as a test of life justified by a great reward in the Hereafter. In contrast, the 14th century mystic poet Hafiz stated that ‘not even seven thousand years of joy can justify seven days of repression.’

Well, that was such a powerful quote that it sent me on a search for Hafiz and what did I find but this:

Homosexual love poetry also came from some of the most revered religious figures of Medieval Islam....The 14 century Persian mystic and poet, Hafiz, accompanied his mystical poetry with poetic commentary on the boys he loved. In one such work, Hafiz paints an evocative picture of the bedchamber. "With locks disheveled flushed in a sweet drunkenness, his shirt torn open, a song on his lips, and wine cup in hand. With eyes looking for trouble, lips softly complaining. So at midnight last night, he came and sat at my pillow. He bent his head down at my ear, and in a voice full of sadness he said, "Oh my old lover, are you asleep?'" It's also interesting to note that in contrast to Christian mystics, who have used the analogy of a heterosexual relationship to describe the relationship between God and the individual soul, Muslim mystics, almost without exception, use the analogy of a homosexual relationship between the soul and the Beloved Godhead.

Well, I must say, that statement was a revelation, worthy of a post all its own, but I'm rushing out the door to attend Romanian actress, Ioana Tudor's award winning one woman show, Why the Child is Cooking in the Polenta!

Hafiz quote aken from:

The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations In Human Societies by James Neill

Here is the opening of the article from Goatsmilk Blog which makes for very stimulating reading:

“Towards a dialogue on Muslim same-sex unions”: Dr. Junaid Bin Jahangir

As in Christianity and Judaism, there has been a shift in the Islamic position on ‘homosexuality’. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said that he would not worship a homophobic God. Likewise, Rabbi Harold Schulweis has stated that the counsel of celibacy is contrary to the Judaic affirmation of sexuality.

In Islam, US based Imam Suhaib Webb has expressed regret on his referral to a reparative therapy group and argues against the discrimination of gay congregants. Likewise, Sudan based Sheikh Hashim Al-Hakim has indicated that while, he used to be hard against homosexuals, he has ‘learned to respect their humanity’. US based Imam Johari Malik has said that ‘It’s time to get past our homophobia to help human beings’.

In contrast to traditional Muslim views, several church denominations and synagogues bless same-sex unions. However, Muslim discourse is not shaped by alternative voices in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Groups like Muslims for Progressive Values work towards supporting Muslim LGBTQ rights. However, in contrast to Judaism and Christianity, the discussion on same-sex unions in Islam is fairly recent.
  • Orientation
Traditional Muslims believe that any homosexual conduct is prohibited. Several Muslim medical professionals argue that homosexuality was declassified as a disorder due to pressure from gay activist groups. However, Rabbi Gershom Barnard indicates that medical opinion gradually evolved from hormonal treatment to psychoanalysis to behavioral conditioning to saying that there is no treatment to finally indicating that there is nothing to treat.

Professor Hashim Kamali of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies in Malaysia has stated that both Islamic jurisprudence and science confirm that sexual orientation is inherent. Dr. Qazi Rahman from the University of London and co-author of the book ‘Born Gay: the Psychobiology of Sex Orientation’ also affirms the innateness of ‘homosexuality’.

According to Dr. Bassem Nathan, three medical opinions existed among medieval Arabs. According to one school of thought, ‘homosexuality results when the maternal sperm prevails over the paternal sperm’. Like Al Razi (d. 925 CE), the Nestorian Christian Hunain Ibn Ishaq (d. 873 CE) and the Melkite Christian Qusta Ibn Luqa (d. 912 CE) also subscribed to the view that ‘homosexuality’ was an inherent trait.  Read the rest of this entry »


Lepanto said...

The Koran totally bans homosexual activity whilst apparently promising it to the faithful in heaven! Just proves what a load of baloney the Koran is. If God hated same sex activity in the Old and New Testaments, be sure that He hates it now.

Unknown said...

And seeing as how this god is so powerful and almighty, it stands to reason that he hasn't struck down, intervened, obliterated or condemned those who have followed their hearts, the same ones he gave them? The same hearts god created.... In his image? Or is this god a cruel and manipulative being who is enjoying the suffering of those whose hearts feel torn because of their faith? Nice, loving, understanding all-encompassing perfect god you have there! We are still here and we are all of us, without exception, most welcome in the love and eyes of god. Love to all, everywhere xxx