After reaching out to our past selves, we asked queer Muslims about the world they imagine for themselves, and what they are grateful for. As you might expect, these two questions make up Exercises 12 and 13, the last of the series.
Thank you for holding space for all these voices. I hope you feel less alone in the most visible generation of sexually diverse Muslims, and return to this series again and again, by yourself or with friends new and old.
- 🪴 Community and a garden
- 📿 A welcoming space for prayer and learning
- 💜 A loving family
- 🌞 Supportive societal structures
Meditate and imagine:
After some time, all your obstacles are over. What does the future of your dreams look like?
COMMUNITY AND A GARDEN
"I would love to live on collective land. Hopefully with very queer people! The land wouldn't be in an urban space, it's somewhere rural. Everyone has different skills: gardening, marketing, distribution, ploughing the irrigation. Some of us are speaking to visitors at our market. From the land, we grow and harvest food, and only eat what is enough. We share what is left. We hold discussions, and maintain some kind of co-op. Near the land is my house, it's made out of reusable materials. I'm one of the farmers and fundraisers. Near the land and house is a public space where people are doing qi gong. There are craft workshops, people are working with their hands and bodies. There are fruit and drinks nearby. I imagine I'm watching the scene, with an orange cat and a small purple dog, the kind of dog with eyes that are hard to see. I want to live for a hundred years, so I might be old by then!" (queer woman, Indonesia, she/her)
"A home like Heaven on Earth! There's a large garden with a little greenhouse for growing vegetables and flowers, from which my little family and I harvest food and medicine to feed ourselves and our communities. There's a pool because I need a body of water nearby! If there are kids, we create routines and rituals to encourage them to get involved with nature and whatever sparks their interest. My work remains multidisciplinary and multi-dimensional. When I leave this world for good, my work continues to catalyze beautiful, joyful and transformative experiences far and wide." (genderfluid femme, Malaysia, she/they)
A WELCOMING SPACE FOR PRAYER AND LEARNING
"The future of my dreams looks like— I can see people of our colours go to a mosque that is very friendly. Where they not only accept our sexual diversity but they accept a woman imam leading prayer. But it’s not just encompassed within the mosque, it can be anywhere. In talks. And female muftis." (masculine cis woman, Singapore, she/her)
"I have a queer pesantren, that’s my big dream. Where people can wear anything they want— there’s no dress code or segregation. We can all pray together. That must be so beautiful. On a board somewhere, it reads God loves love. I imagine myself with a small family. I have a partner who really loves and accepts me, and I have a lot of cats." (trans Muslim activist, Indonesia, he/him)
"I want this space in my house, I don’t know where, but it’s a lovely and green house. People and young adults are there, they look happy, they are smiling. They wear all kinds of things, and we are sitting and talking about poetry, literature, and we’re going through the Quran and talking about God. And there’s this openness. I just want this idea of openness and I’m giving back. Spaciously. Young adults who want that space can come over and we can be together." (38, Malaysia, she/her)
"I have a landed property with a garden. I live with my partner and our non-binary child. I have an amazing group of feminist friends and allies. I've always imagined myself as a Mama figure, to be honest! Even before I met my partner, I envisioned myself with a house that's always open to anyone who needs help or shelter. I'll be there like, ‘What can Mama do for you today?’ So I'm cooking for everyone, and there's this space for holding art, poetry, workshops, and forums for theatre, and it'll be a communal space in the house that's adjacent to my own private space. We'd have a nice garden because my girlfriend is a wood scientist. Our child is leading the art workshop, they're probably around 20ish at this time. There are like, 7 people with them at the workshop. I'm looking in from the garden and I'm so proud." (31, lesbian, she/her)
A LOVING FAMILY
"I have cats and dogs, I love them as they love me, my wife is next to me. We’re married! My family is all around. The house is open. I’m still teaching, but in this future all my identities are merged together, and I can just be. I’m going to be old! But happy, playful. I’m obviously wearing a whole flower wreath on my head. No makeup, and I’m glowing. Long white hair. A flowy outfit that’s fuchsia and black, with my shoulders showing. And I’m on the floor sitting, hanging out, everyone’s drinking tea. There’s a lot of plants in this house. I would like that. You’re making me very happy thinking about this!" (38, Malaysia, she/her)
"I will be fully present, joyful and unabashed at secular, posh English dinner parties when I say Bismillah before drinking a glass of red wine and going off to say my Isha' prayers before dessert is served. I will go to the mosque and be able to make the sign of the cross and reply to the azan by singing a Gospel canticle. And all the while, my husband will be beside me, holding my hand, and everyone will look upon us with delight and we will return their gaze with even more reverence and delight. I will be able to go back to Malaysia and explain to the many friends and family members I have that I am very spiritual, and that for people like me, one religion is never enough." (gay, cis man, he/him)
"I get to see the sun out of my window, trees, instead of seeing another block of apartments. I would sit on a rocking chair and enjoy the wind, something I only learned to do at 25. My partner and I have an adopted son running around. My partner is spoiling him, throwing him in the air. The wind's in my hair and I'm thinking this kid is going to grow up to be a demon, I know it and I can see it coming. But my partner loves it. The kid is going to make a mess in the house, I'm stressed out, and he'll join in, I'm stuck with two children basically. But I would love it." (25, Singapore, he/him)
SUPPORTIVE SOCIETAL STRUCTURES
"We have acceptance in the form of institutions. Work, marriage, family, education, fully validates and accepts gender diversity and sexuality. Marriage is legal. Sexual diversity is taught in schools. Workplace equality, full health rights. I don't think these are over the top or a special privilege for queer people, it's just life in our full humanity." (45, housewife, she/her)
"Our society has moved past our fundamental insecurities to accept our differences. Inequality is considered dangerous and unacceptable. We pay attention to everyone's rights. I will have the basic things afforded for people to live, it's available to everyone. We have set aside all our differences and work together so that people don't die of poverty. Maybe we won't have gay marriage yet, or inclusive sex education in schools. But we have the head-space to work towards change, because we're not worried about whether we will be safe tomorrow." (lesbian, Malaysia, she/her)
"We have to stay conscious of who is around us so nobody gets left behind, so that the state of who we are is not in a complacency where we forget others. So in the future of my dreams, nobody gets left behind. But I’d also love to be married to my partner." (34, Islamic studies and gender PhD student, he/him)
from the workbook The Signs In Ourselves
Meditate and imagine: After some time, all your obstacles are over. What does the future of your dreams look like?
Take a few minutes to meditate in silence. With each exhale, add or clarify a detail in your mind about the future of your dreams. You can move from broad to specific, or specific to broad. If you encounter an obstacle such as shame or judgement, give yourself permission to remove it in your next breath and continue sharpening your scene.
Now write down or illustrate the future of your dreams just for yourself. Be as descriptive and indulgent as you can. Remember: this is an imagination exercise, so anything is possible, and no one but God will know what you want to manifest! Set a reminder in your phone for when you would like to reopen and update it again.
Once the meditation is over, discuss your experience and vision in groups. How did this exercise make you feel? Listen and share with the room.
If time permits: Make an artwork of your vision, or create a collective image with as many details as possible. Present your image to the room.
MORE FUTURE VISIONS
"I have a community that can accept all parts of me. I can go to the mosque with my family and pray with my kids and I don't have to hide my partner. I will never be seen as exceptional and patriarchy and white supremacy are torn down. On a personal level, I will live near the ocean with many friends and other loved ones." (41, Canada, she/her)
"I see an inclusive queer mosque, with a library and social support center for queer Muslims, for all queer people. There are dialogues for interfaith harmony, and there are more women-only or women-led mosques." (35, Pakistan, they/them)
"I would have activities with other queer Muslims, have more access to broader community, and participate in collective collaborations with other Muslim activists." (31, Kyrgyzstan, she/her)
"I want to be a teacher or a mentor. I want to teach kids what they should be taught in school, I want to be someone who gives them hope to never stop trying. In this future no one is ever subjected to feel as lonely as I have felt growing up. Everyone has someone they can look up to." (20, Pakistan, she/her)
"I finally have material security. I am a college professor writing research papers, with a beautiful home decorated like an Instagram account. I have a romantic partner with whom I travel with and share all the beauty I worked for. Our place will be big enough to have guests, maybe it's a countryside house. I would use it to shelter queer asylum seekers." (38, France, she/her)
"I’d like to be powerful enough to help other queer people around me in a more meaningful way. I’d like to be able to say “Come to me for help, and I’ll see what I can do” and really help them. I won’t be in the spotlight. I’ll be married to the woman I love, and have 1-2 kids, we bring them back home to my mother every other week for them to all play together. On a typical morning, my partner is rushing for work with toast in her mouth, and I am starting my day by prepping for meetings at my home office. That’s it, that’s enough for me." (bisexual, Malaysia, she/her)
"I’m known as a queer Muslim artist, making works that educate others on sexuality. My art empowers swing voters to realise the power of their choices." (27, Indonesia, she/her)
"I’m a social worker with a masters degree, financially independent and living by myself even if I have a partner. I’ve mastered pole dancing and belly dancing. My core is unstoppable. I’m fluent in 3 languages and my tajweed is on point. I’ve found a group of cool halal baddies to go on hajj with and we protect each other while we’re there. I am active in my community of LGBTQ Muslims, desis, Armenians, and allies. I don’t make art for money, so I write and draw and perform. I visit my parents. I visit their home countries, and I meet my dadi, my namesake. In every country I travel to I pray in at least one masjid. I’m loved, accepted, uplifted, validated, and my family is chosen and deliberate." (18, USA, she/her)
"I am in a tiny self-sustainable off-the-grid home on a hill. I live there with my wife— I don't know who she will be, but she is someone I have a connection with that I haven't had with anyone other than my father. We are happy." (cis woman, India, she/her)
"I have a farmhouse of my own. I have a loving husband and partner, good children, normal relationships with my family and am true to myself." (gay, Qatar, he/him)
"I am volunteering in a remote village, building technology, doing research, writing books, doing activism for a more inclusive society. I am in a live in relationship with somebody that I love and my family understands my goals in life." (27, Pakistan, she/her)
"I'm legally married to my partner in Malaysia while she remains a Catholic and we both have a good relationship with our respective families. We now live together here or wherever her job takes her. My partner joins me every year for Raya celebrations at my parents and she enjoys my siblings' company during these visits. My nieces and nephew know that they can be whoever they want to be without fearing religious and societal backlash." (29, bisexual, she/her)
"In terms of sexuality, I'd want billboards across two states where it'll say, "I love girls!" so that all those years spent being in the closet will be paid back in months. My family will accept me for who I am and I can bring my future girlfriend to meet them. Queer Muslims do not worry about being their full selves at talks and forums, and I can attend them very happily." (27, Malaysia, she/her)
"InshaAllah I will have a partner, be steadfast in my iman, and be a registered psychologist working with the queer community and refugees, especially Muslims." (Gay trans man, Australia, he/him)
"I live openly with my partner wherever we want. We feel the warmth of Allah’s blessings and mercy always. Our families treat us with warmth, kindness, and acceptance." (queer, Egypt, she/her)
"We wouldn’t get caught in the complexities of language and tone. We wouldn’t be misunderstood. People are not left hungry and angry on the streets. The middle class is not guilted into silence. Leaders of the states are not political pawns, they care passionately about the people. The world is harmonious, just, and free." (28, Bangladesh, he/him)
What does the future of your dreams look like?
"I will be a university professor after I complete my PhD. I finally have a loving partner, whose presence in my life is acknowledged by my family as well. After I die, I want to reunite with my late father. I often have this dream where he comes back and I hug him, and it feels so painful when I wake up. So when we meet again, I want to ride our car with him, and have ice cream in the front seat like I did when I was a child. That life would be better than the one in which all my other dreams come true."
(Trans man, Pakistan, he/him)
This post is adapted from The Signs In Ourselves (pp. 92-100), a queer spiritual wellbeing workbook inspired by Qur'an verses 41:53, 51:20-21, and interviews with Southeast Asian Muslims. Written by Liy Yusof and illustrated by Dhiyanah Hassan, it was made available online in 2020 by the Coalition for Sexual & Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies. May Allahﷻ accept this offering and bring it to those who need it. Letters and inquiries: qmcourage [at] gmail [dot] com.
🌈 Image description for the Future Vision garden ⬇️
At the centre of the Future Vision garden is a large traditional Southeast Asian house raised on stilts, built to shelter many. In and around the house, diverse queer Muslims from all walks of life are mingling and communing openly with their loved ones. A wheelchair ramp leads from the house to a garden patch attended to by 4 people, a dog and a stretching cat. Small trees and cacti grow near the house and its stairs. A girl in the house throws a paper plane out the window, high into the air. North of the house is a small mosque with no dress code. People come and go from the mosque, some holding hands and others embracing. A boy runs to his mother waiting by the steps to the house. A person in a sarung walks in the same direction with a loaded basket; a cat walks by their side. West of the house is a group of 4 cross-legged and facing each other on their yoga mats. East of the house, a group of 5 adults and 2 children sit together at a hand-woven mat on the lawn, with art supplies and food. A kitten sleeps nearby. In the foreground, grass and greenery. In the background, a forest of tropical trees and mountains. A large bird flies above the paper plane. A murmuration of smaller birds flock further away, against the clouds and rays of sunlight.