Aesthetics and Ethics of Islam: The Art of Being a Gay Muslim

Ala Rabiha Alhourani

Abstract


This essay explores the ways in which the aesthetic experience of Islam enables LGBTIQ Muslims to form and claim an Islamic identity, beyond the debate and contradictory views of the compatibility of homosexuality with Islam. The ethnography focuses on a gay Muslim artist from Cape Town, Igshaan Adams, whose life trajectory and artwork offer an insight into LGBTIQ Muslim’s struggle and reconciliation of their religiosity and sexuality. Despite the freedom and equal rights that the post-apartheid secular constitution grants its citizens, LGBTIQ Muslims in Cape Town do not compromise their religiosity and their right to claim an Islamic identity. While historically, they have reconciled their religiosity and sexuality on the bases of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in post-apartheid South Africa, LGBTIQ Muslims in Cape Town have “gone public” and challenged the constraints of heteronormative interpreta-tions of Islamic traditions, claiming a constitutive part of the debate, reason-ing, knowledge, and history of Islamic discursive traditions. The formations of Islamic discursive traditions are marked with diversity, contradiction, contesta-tion, disagreement, rupture, and transformation. While the compatibility of homosexuality with Islam is an open debate, aesthetic experiences of Islam offer LGBTIQ Muslims a technology of self-perfection that allows them a sense of being a Muslim and belonging to a Muslim community. This in turn empowers them to overcome the doubt of heteronormative interpretations of Islamic discursive traditions and to openly perform an Islamic identity.

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14426/ajgr.v26i2.73

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