Longest Days, Sacred Nights: A Queer and Trans Muslim Ramadan
A Welcome Letter by Mahdia Lynn
Ramadan can be hard, especially so for the most marginalized in our communities. It’s also an opportunity for people to reconsider their prejudices, step out of their comfort zone and strive to enact positive change in the world. Ramadan is a time of generosity, family, introspection, temperance, struggle, heartbreak, frustration and tears. It can be hard to explain just how beautiful and devastating this month can be at the same time.
Last year hit many of us the hardest. On the seventh day of Ramadan in 2016, a man opened fire on 49 LGBTQ people at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub on Latinx night. Our community was devastated, and the LGBTQ Muslim community came out in droves to educate others on Islam and to support our community. Suddenly “LGBTQ Muslims” was on the lips of every news source in the world. A lot of us came out that week — I did. Much of Chicago’s LGBTQ Muslim community did. Many lives were lost, many families were broken that week.
But something big came out of all that tragedy and chaos. Queer and trans Muslim organizers came together in unprecedented numbers to speak out and to support one another. We realized just how desperately we need support and resources for people like us — people who understood that being LGBTQIA+ and Muslim is a beautiful, valid identity with a thriving culture. We needed to help others realize it’s perfectly okay to be who you are; we needed to ensure that the work reached everyone who needed it. We needed to get the word out, that it was valid and beautiful to be us. That we can be okay and be loved. That we have a future.
A year has passed. Many great changes occurred in the wake of the chaos. In Chicago, those of us who came out in the Muslim community last year formed a committee that would develop into something beautiful and dynamic. We built a mosque: a ground floor from which our community could flourish. We created something unprecedented and new, so we can share our mission of spiritual support for marginalized Muslims with anyone who seeks the truth of Islam.
We needed a safer space where everyone could celebrate the beauty and truth of our faith without fear, so we founded a community of our own. We built a mosque on the sacred principles of accessibility, equality and pluralism. We named it Masjid al-Rabia.
A year has passed and here we are. A fully independent women-centered, LGBTQIA+ affirming Muslim community in Chicago, Illinois. After hosting weekly prayer services, advocating for LGBTQ Muslims and fostering new spiritual leadership in our local community, we want to share our mission with the rest of the world.
We at Masjid al-Rabia have partnered with Everyone Is Gay to create another something, unprecedented and new: A month-long campaign of support, shared resources, and endless love for LGBTQ Muslim youth. We’ve got letters of support from prominent queer & trans Muslims. We’ve got Punkjabi’s Queer Ramadan Playlist up on Spotify. A collection of resources and organizations to share with the world from advocacy organization OUTMuslim. Art. A social media campaign encouraging others to speak out and support LGBTQ Muslims.
We’re kickstarting an international campaign to support LGBTQIA+ Muslim youth. It’s our mission this Ramadan to make sure no Muslim is alone in their faith over this holiest of months. We’ve started something new. Let’s keep the momentum going.
This project is for you: For people trying to navigate fasting while living with an eating disorder. For poor Muslims surviving on free iftars and holiday generosity. For disabled Muslims fighting for a space in the masjid. For reverts and converts struggling to find a place in the faith. For those of us marching in the streets for economic and racial justice. For those of us kicked out of the mosque for being who we are. For those of us with families who don’t understand. For those of us without families at all.
Ramadan Mubarak. This is for you.
Here is my prayer for you: May you have a peaceful, fulfilling Ramadan. May these longest days lead to sacred nights full of support, growth and endless love. I pray for peace and blessings upon every single one of us. I pray we find purpose, and find new creative ways to uplift one another. I pray we find greatness.
In this most sacred of months, dream big. Think about what you want and what you need from your community. Step out and start doing it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re feeling raw or vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to stick your neck out there to make some real change in your community. Don’t be afraid.
We’re here for you if you need us.
Get involved and help make this project the best it can possibly be. Start conversations in your community about LGBTQ Muslim inclusion. Invite new people to join in your community and events. Send love and support to the most marginalized. Contribute artwork, poetry, essays, memes — anything you can think of, anything you excel at — post it on social media, tag it #LongestDaysSacredNights and share with our community! Ramadan Kareem!