Hijab Butch Blues

I really loved how Lamya H. interprets the Quran through the lens of queerness. (Maryam's parents promised her to Allah so she lives in a mosque, doesn't have any interest in boys and balks at the angel telling her Allah has chosen her.)

In one of my favorite chapters ("Yunus"), Lamya and their friend have a discussion about the prophet Yunus, who gets trapped in the belly of a whale. Lamya's friend says that Yunus is her favorite prophet, and Lamya wonders why. In Lamya's interpretation, Yunus's claim to fame is getting swallowed by a whale and "giving up" after trying to convert people to Islam and the people don't listen.

But the friend argues that Yunus doesn't "give up." He is, in fact, a fighter who has the maturity to realize that he doesn't need to waste his energy trying to "win" people over. He picks his battles. Lamya muses on how perhaps Allah sent the whale to protect Jonah, a shield to keep him safe so he could rest. Lamya muses if preaching is a form of fighting, or if fighting (i.e. pushing back against people saying and doing bigoted things, as Lamya often did in their 20s) can be a form of preaching.

As an ex-Catholic and current Unitarian Universalist, I loved and admired Lamya for questioning her faith and engaging with it and ultimately deepening her faith and love of Allah while rejecting human homophobia and transphobia. (Their queer Muslim friends and queer Muslim study groups seem an important piece of their healing, but is far from the only piece.) I grew up Catholic and though I became a Unitarian Universalist, I haven't been able to deepen my faith in a similar way yet. Lamya H.'s story gives me hope to keep trying. Despite being a cis white woman, I found Lamya's journey very healing.