Jihad For Love

Parvez Sharma’s A Jihad for Love looks quite promising and I will try and seek it out. It comprises of profiles of various couples from across the Muslim world – such as Ahsan and Qasim:

In India, his home country, director Parvez Sharma documents the lives of Ahsan-a Sunni Muslim and Qasim-A Shia Muslim. Both men, coming from poor backgrounds do not adopt western personae of ‘gay’ and instead rely on local constructs like ‘koti’ and ‘zenana’-used by many men in the Indian sub-continent to self identify around their sexualities. The terms are often also used derogatorily to describe effeminate men but within their own circle of friends they become markers of identity. Ahsan laments the lack of a religious education as he walks the corridors of the Nadhwa Madrassa in Lucknow-an Islamic religious school that is amongst the most prestigious in the Indian sub-continent. Qasim who has faced questions around his sexuality and faith travels with the Director to meet Syed Kalbe Jawad-one of the most prominent clerics and authorities on Shia Islam outside of Iran. This is a meeting that will go to the very heart of the conflict in this film and leave the audience and indeed Qasim, with more questions than answers. Ahsan and Qasim both have found a sense of community within their circle of friends and it is their one moment of celebration and self expression-that finds itself joyously depicted in the film-using the vocabulary of Bollywood cinema-certainly the most familiar vocabulary to a billion Indians. In a remarkable way, the story of Ahsan and Qasim most directly challenges Western notions of sexuality and allows the audience to experience a way of being-and indeed a way of living sexuality, in a way that is different and enlightening.

Sharma also has a post on Ahmedi Nejad’s statement regarding the lack of homosexuals in Iran [posted at HuffPo].

To get a glimpse of this living sexuality on the Pakistan side, I recommend looking at two amazing bloggers: Danial– who has been silent for too long – and the bitingly funny Sin. For Danial, I recommend reading Goal, Million Dollar Smile, and My First Love Letter. For Sin, you just will have to read his entire archive – or at the very least the Queer Rage category. Sin also owes me a post on Hijras. And he knows it.

You can also check out this old post of mine: Eye on Queer Pakistan – which looks really dated.

update: I forgot, duh, to mention that I am greatly impressed by, what I have read so far, Joseph Massad’s Desiring Arabs. I confess that my reading of the book is hampered by the amount of time I can spend in the Sem Coop. Maybe I should just buy the book. In the meantime, looks like Massad is getting good press in Jordon, too.

In Solidarity


روشن کەيں بەار کے امکاں ەوۓ تو ەيں
گلشن ميں چاک چند گريباں ەوۓ تو ەيں

Somewhere the lights of spring have surely appeared
A few collars, in the garden, have surely shredded

ٹەري ەوي ەۓ شب کي سياەي وەيں، مگر
کچھ کچھ سحر کے رنگ پَر افشاں ەوۓ تو ەيں

The dark ink of night remains still, but
Some colors of dawn have surely appeared

ەے دشت اب بھي دشت، مگر خونِ پا سے فيض
سيراب چند خارِ مغيلاں ەوۓ تو ەيں

The desert is still a desert, but from you bleeding feet, Faiz
Their thirst, a few thorns have surely quenched

August 1952, Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

The voices of open dissent raised against the military regime in Burma represent a test for the international community as much as the will of the Burmese people.

update: Please sign the Avaaz petition.

I would also recommend James Mawdsley’s The Iron Road: A Stand for Truth and Democracy in Burma – a truly inspiring work.