Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Jihad for Love

The New York Times describes the just-released film A Jihad for Love as

a documentary on devout Muslims struggling with their homosexuality. Angst is the norm in this heartfelt debut by the filmmaker Parvez Sharma, whose documentary ranges from Johannesburg to Istanbul, from doubt to despair (with a happy detour among the drag queens of India). He does manage to locate a headstrong lesbian in Paris, albeit one whose face, like those of many of the subjects here, has been digitally blurred.

“If we are truly Muslims,” runs her contradictory lament, “we have no right to alter his creation.”

Mr. Sharma’s film emphasizes testimony over context to such a degree that it feels at first of little use to anyone except gay Muslims who might take comfort in knowing they’re not alone. But the documentary gains depth of feeling as it goes and even develops something of a nail-biting narrative as it follows a clique of Iranian men who flee to central Turkey in hopes of applying for political asylum in Canada.


Becky C. said...

The whole issue of homosexuality in Islam in fascinating. A while back I wrote a piece called Pakistani Bikini which is by far the most popular of all my posts--almost all the viewers coming from Islamic countries.

Even though homosexuality is a crime, punishable by a beating at best, at worst execution, and there is no non-perjorative word for it in Arabic--male homosexuality is actually the norm Young men are not permitted to associate or even look at women--as a result there is a lot of, essentially rape, of young boys and enfeminate men. There is a silence about this--but it goes a long ways toward explaining some of the sexual tensions and suppressions in Islamic countires--and the culture as a whole.

It is different with women. Can you imagine anthing more oppressive than being a woman AND gay in a Muslim country? But it is interesting that Osama bin Laden's worst nightmare may be the spikey haired lesbian Muslim. Irshad Mnji is a reformer of her religion, who lives under a fatwa.

But another interesting thing is that in the Koran, like the Bible, there is exceedingly little space devpoted to the suject of homosexuality, and in each there is only one ambiguous passage that might refer to lesbianism. Nonetheless, it has, in its fundie form, like in Christianity, taken on an imortance all out of proportion.

One closeted soltution that has been happening is gay men marrying lesbians--a marrige of convenice that they can find shelter under, without the hypocrisy of marrying an unknowing partner of the opposite sex.


Kate Evans said...

If you see the movie, Becky, let me know what you think. I'm going to find it on Netflix.