Basic idea: Majlis-e Aashiqaan is the practical Sufi spiritual branch of London Queer Muslims and conducts a monthly Zikir Meydan (remembrance circle) with Muhabbet (sacred conversation). The Majlis is explicitly inclusive in terms of membership and leadership, welcoming and encouraging LGBTQI+ Muslims. Members are called ‘Aashiqaan’ (lovers [of God]) and membership is attained via a process of direct democracy after a period of committed attendance with agreement of all aashiqaan, each new member is introduced at the monthly Zikir Meydan and welcomed with a kiss of the hand by each member. The Majlis is also flexible in format for their spiritual activities, encouraging appropriate contributions from members, whilst maintaining a blueprint. It has permission from a qualified Bektashi Baba in Turkey and blessings from other Sufi Sheykh/as (Nur Ashki Jerrahi and Mevlevi).
1. Activities and Their Formats
Activities are held in the zikir meydan in which a number of spiritual activities are performed. The general format of these meydans are as follows:
- Iftah (opening) – the session is opened with a reading of “Come, Come, Whoever you are….” by Mevlana Rumi.
- Ijaazah (permission) – the facilitators seek permission from all present to lead the zikir meydan, to which the aashiqaan respond “May Allah accept our Zikir”.
- Cherag (lamps) – the lighting of the three candles with recitation of Ayat un-Nur.
- Fatiha (opening) – recitation of Surat al-Fatiha in Arabic and English.
- Gulbenk (rose prayer) – invocation of the rose prayer, seeking permission and blessing from Allah, The Prophet, Imams, Ahl-ul Bayt, Pirs/Saints and Murshid.
- Huzur (presence) – a period of silent presence (huzur) is invited by a facilitator who leads the group in a mindfulness exercise.
- Zikir (remembrance) – essentially the main part of the session where spiritual formulas are chanted. The zikir facilitator (zakir) will bring the group to silence and then call the next formula. Usually this should begin with khafi zikir (silent zikr) of the name of Allah, followed by shahadah of “la ilaha ila Allah” (there is nothing but the Divine), followed by a free-form repetition of Ya Rahman Ya Rahim, followed by Dhul Jalali wal Ikram. The Zakir is ultimately responsible for the format and correct conduct of the zikir.
- Muhabbet (sacred conversation) – a selected member gives a brief talk related to a prepared reading (copies will be available for all present). Everybody will have the chance to hear and read the selection. The member introduces the reading and gives room for everybody to reflect on it. Sharing is encouraged with the proper adaab (manners) observed (see adaab section).
- Salwaat (blessings) – the prophets, ahl-ul bayt and saints are saluted audibly whilst everyone repeats the name of Allah rapidly. Blessings are sent on queer saints and activists and on all who work against oppressors, past and present.
- Closing qasidat, nasheed, ginan etc.
The circle is closed by prostration followed by the kissing of the hand of the people to one’s right and left with the greeting of Hu Dost, this is called Temena.
- Zikr booklet – a booklet of the format used in Majlis-e Aashiqaan is given to all attendees. This booklet includes a statement of ethics, inclusivity and democratic leadership of London Queer Muslims.
3. Web Presence
LQM has its own website under the title of London Queer Muslims.