London Queer Muslims, 2018
On Queer Ijtihad and Taqlid
London Queer Muslims, 2018
It is the responsibility of every Muslim to follow the Divine’s words as recorded in the Qur’an and to follow Sunnah, through an understanding that includes Submission, Covenant and Seeking the Beauty (Islam, Iman and Ihsan), and to take intellectual responsibility for their interpretations of this in order to practice Islam in a way that is authentic to their experience.
The Qur’an and Sunnah (example of The Prophet) are the keys and it should be made the fundamental goal for every Muslim to understand them. However, people are of differing types with regards to understanding and comprehension. Some do not understand the meanings of Divine Revelations (jahil), and may not be able to interpret them alone. There are also those who can derive meaning intellectually (fiqh), usually a level of Qur’anic Arabic understanding is involved at this stage. There are likewise a whole spectrum of people whose understanding lies in between the previous two, and they may combine their understanding, awareness and knowledge with contemplation and meditation, but we would not call them scholars. The first type of people are called ‘muqallidun’ (those who imitate), and the second are ‘mujtahidun’ (those who reason [with scripture]), (for some there is a third type which may be called ‘muttabiun’ [those who follow]). Generally it is considered (by normative fuqahha) mandatory (fard) for the first type to imitate mujtahidun and for mujtahidun to grapple with the texts and help guide others. Muqallidun are generally mandated to follow rulings based on their awareness, knowledge and contemplations. Taqlid is not usually permissible for those who are able to deduce meaning for themselves (mujtahidun).
In a Queer (gender or sex non-normative) context a mujtahid must be able to reason with Qur’an and Sunnah (scripture and tradition) in order to ascertain that queerness is Halal. They can thus give informed opinions on how to practice Islam with faith (iman) that Allah permits the expression of gender non-normativity, bisexuality and same-sex love or asexuality. This expression of queerness through Islam must fundamentally include the practice of Ihsan and so a mujtahid must also be able to not only justify queerness using Qur’an and Sunnah but also must be able to show others that its expression is also good for society and the individual and is beautiful.
Some Queer Muslims may not be able to fully understand scripture or sunnah but have faith in Allah and believe with their heart that they are Muslim and are permitted to express their queerness, therefore they may follow the rulings/advice of queer/ally mujtahidun; indeed it would be fard (mandatory) for them to do so and would be an act of Ihsan and Iman in order to maintain Islam for them.