A Jihad For Love
Filmmaker Parvez Sharma traveled to a dozen different nations--many of them under sway of Islamic law--to capture the voices of gay and lesbian Muslims.
Sometimes their voices was all that Sharma got: some of the subjects of his documentary were so afraid that they or their family members would suffer retaliation for being in the film that they would only consent to their hands, or portions of their faces, being recorded on video.
But those hands (clenched, pleading) and those eyes (often filled with tears or anguish) tell the story: asked to separate two essential parts of their identities, their sexuality and their faith, these devout gay Muslims refuse: they hold to the truth of their core being, and they hold to their faith with a tenacity that transcends courage and can only be understood as a profound piety.
Sometimes that piety threatens their inner selves: two lesbians pray for Allah to reach into their hearts and change them; a young gay man seeks counsel from a cleric who tells him that to be homosexual is "impossible," and then asks him home for a sexual tryst. An openly gay mullah hosts a radio show on the issue that earns him death threats; a small group of Iranian refugees flee to Turkey, where they cling to the hope that their application for asylum in Canada will bring them to safety at last.
Throughout the film, Sharma keeps to one simple tenet: the struggle of these brave souls who thirst for God and yearn for freedom is a true holy war, a battle waged inside each person and in the wider world for justice and dignity: a true jihad, not to bring about death and terror, but in the name of love.
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This article is part of our "Frameline :: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival" series. Want to read more?
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