May 18, 2019
After Years Snubbing My Religion, I’ve Finally Made Peace with It

“I know I’ll never be a true Muslim, and that many of the teachings conflict with my personal beliefs, but I’m so much more than my sexuality or the religion I follow.”

by Nami Fathya
Issues // Politics and Society
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Religion has always been an important part of my life, but it was never something that I truly hold on into. Being both Muslim and queer, I always find it hard to balance both my sexuality and my religion since homosexuality is strictly prohibited in Islam (progressive Muslim scholars might have a different say about this, but homosexuality is generally seen as unfavorable by majority of Muslims). After years of confusion, I finally found the light.

No, this isn’t one of those preaching “finding my way back to religion” stories you typically find in religious magazines. This also isn’t an academic article. This is just a self-reflection. Something to take note of. A pure opinion.

I was never really interested in learning about Islam, but I like observing the Muslim community. I noticed that the Muslim community is more conservative nowadays compared to 10 years ago. I’ve seen how this trend towards conservatism leads to fundamentalism and radicalism. I’ve seen the division within the Muslim community itself. I’ve heard hateful comments from Muslims towards people based solely on identity. Those who decry the kafirs (infidel)Chinese, thogut (enemies of Islam)communist, everything.

For the longest time, those sentiments and their general stupidity made me stay away from Islam for a long time. I feel like an alien in my own community. Even going to the mosque to pray and seeing people with syar’i hijabs and long beards makes me feel weird.

I’ve also shunned people who are queer and religious, thinking that it’s such a waste and a balance between both could never be achieved. I’ve read more lenient interpretations of Islam’s view on homosexuality. I’ve read about queer imams and queer friendly mosques, and I thought these people doesn’t know shit about Islam. Mostly because these liberal Muslims are people coming from countries like Germany, UK, and the US where Muslims are generally more liberal compared to Muslims in Muslim majority countries. Being a minority, they generally struggle because of their religion and ethnicity while I struggle because of my sexuality.

Although it’s not perfect, I feel much more comfortable inside the queer community where people are more educated and open minded. The queer culture is interesting. Secular discourses on feminism and LGBT are interesting.

But I always feel like there’s something missing. No matter how much I stray away from Islam, every adzan from the mosque always feels like it’s calling me to come back. So I started praying again, even fasting on Mondays and Thursdays. I started reading journals on political Islam and Islamic Feminism. When no one is there for me, I know Allah is always going to be there for me. I feel like my my connection with Allah is stronger than those hateful sentiments from the Muslim community. Religion makes me feel better, and I want to keep living with it no matter what.

I know I’ll never be a true Muslim (hell, what is the parameter of being a true Muslim anyway?). I still don’t wear the hijab. I still like girls. I’ll never associate myself with the Muslim community. I’ll never fully embrace the true essence of being a Muslim, that is to fully submit to the righteous path of Allah. Hell, I’d probably still go to hell. There’s still a lot of Islamic core values that conflict with my personal beliefs. And I’m okay with that. I am so much more than my sexuality and/or the religion I follow.

Religion serves different purposes for different people. To me, religion gives a sense of peace, security, and fulfilment that I couldn’t find anywhere else. Religion reminds me to always live a modest life no matter how far I’ve gone in life. Religion gives life a purpose. Indeed, religion is abstract. I’d probably never fully understand why praying makes me comfortable and it’s okay. No need to rationalize the irrational.

The point of all this is I’m not convincing you guys to follow the path of religion or to stay away from it. You should keep doing things that makes you happy no matter what. Sleeping around with girls makes you happy? Go, just make sure they consent to it. Drinking makes you happy? Go, just don’t drink and drive. Practicing your religion makes you happy? Go, just don’t be a bitch about it and force your beliefs upon other people.

I can already hear religious mobs calling me munafik already. My middle finger salutes them.

Ilustration by Adhitya Pattisahusiwa

Nami Fathya, known as @namivague online, is a Jakarta based political science student. A self-proclaimed jack of all trades, she is particularly interested in politics, visual arts, and French new wave cinema.