Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly. Let it cut you more deep. Let it ferment and season you as few humans and even divine ingredients can. Something missing in my heart tonight has made my eyes so soft, my voice so tender, my need for God absolutely clear
I was born and raised in Shiraz, Iran. My family and I moved to
Canada about three years ago after living in Malaysia for a while. We
left Iran before my brother was forced into military training and to
escape the increasing pressure my father faced from the Islamic
Republic government. Aside from being a defence lawyer, my father
held workshops teaching human rights. Because of him, I developed an
awareness and sensitivity towards social injustice around me.
Growing up in Iran was a contrast of happiness and anxiety. I had
sunny days in gardens eating pomegranates and reading poetry with my
large and colourful family, all of whom loved me dearly. But I also
had mullahs lecturing me on how I should be covered when I was a
child.We travelled often and spent a lot of time with extended family
and family friends. I was a defiant kid but I was studious and mostly
I was brought up mostly secular and encouraged to think for
myself. I slowly came to terms with respecting and being fond of
some aspects of Islam while being critical of others. I knew my Islam
wasn’t that of my teachers. Like most other Iranians who have a hard
time with Islamic governance, my family’s relationship with Islam is
a complicated one. I remember my mum giving my dad the stink eye when
he’d say blasphemous things. To him God is in everything but my mum
had a more traditional view of the religion. She has since become a
lot more secular and open minded. They sometimes make fun of me for
calling myself a Muslim, maybe because they think Islam doesn’t have
a place for people like me.
Today, Islam is a source of solace for me. An identity I get to
define on my terms. At 11, I picked up the daf and studied under a
great master. Exploring Tasawuf has been the spiritual
introspection I yearn for.
As a kid I day dreamt of being suited up and kissing my wife
goodbye like the white couples on TV did. As a preteen, I cut my long
hair short to look masculine because I thought of masculinity as
being synonymous with having power and liking girls.
Roller derby is my favourite past time. In roller derby, I have
found a community that accepts me for exactly who I am and encourages
me to better myself. I did speed in line rollerblading in Iran and
have been doing all kinds of skating (sans ice) my whole life. I
started derby because I wanted to skate and become fearless. Derby offers
the kind of queer space that isn’t focused around drinking or sex
which I am very grateful for.
I picked up skateboarding two years ago and found out that it is
much more convenient and fun than walking. I enjoy going to metal and
punk shows and dream of being a good enough daf player to start a
taqwa core band.
In my opinion, stigma and misplacement are some of the biggest
challenges facing Queer Muslims today. Islam is incredibly
misunderstood and the queer conversation is only just beginning. We
can be rejected by both queers and Muslims. The supposed
juxtaposition of Islam and queerness is only made more complicated by
the North American hostility towards Muslims in a climate where
Muslims strive for acceptance and visibility.
I hope to be able to return to Iran and help make things better
for little girls who feel what I felt. I hope to help move Iran
towards acceptance and support of its queer people. I dream of the
smell of orange blossoms and sunny mountains of Shiraz.