Majlis-e Âshiqân – the Meeting of Lovers – is the name given to our spiritual Sufi activities, which we hold separately from our Ijtihad workshops. The style of our Zikr and the beautiful ceremony that it is held within is authorised and taught to us by Haydar Ozan Baba in Istanbul of the Bektashi Tariqah. We are historical in having a Queer led Meydan (zikr circle) for Queer people blessed and given full permission to operate within an established traditional Sufi order. The Meydan is inclusive of all genders, sexes and sexual orientations, and visitors will feel the sense of family and friendship that we have worked hard to achieve in our group.
Our Meydan is opened by a request for permission from those present to lead the ceremony, followed by an invite to resolve any disputes between members (in order to achieve peace), which is sealed by a respectful kiss of the hands of those to either side of us with the phrase “Hu Dost” (The Divine Friend is That which Is). The individual elements – or Hizmet (services) – of the ceremony are led by different members of the group which creates a sense that everyone is leading. We recite Fatiha and Ayat-i Nur before lighting three candles, and we go around the circle washing the hands of all participants and giving water out ceremonially. All translations of prayers and Qur’an are in gender non-binary language and so we never refer to Allah using male-centric language. Trans, Non-binary, Intersex and Asexual people as well as Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals are specifically honoured in our blessings. The actual Zikr part of the ceremony is done in silence (khafi zikr) and is opened and closed with a period of Huzur (mindful presence). The conversation that follows is based on a prepared teaching or on a random reading from our Queer Saints series. To close we invoke our Saints, Pirs, Imams, Teachers and the Prophet and His Family before closing the circle with the Bektashi kissing of the hands and phrase “Hu Dost”. We then share food with guests always served first.
At London Queer Muslims one of our core activities is #QueerIjtihad. We apply the principle of Ijtihad (independent scriptural reasoning) to our Queer lived experiences, taking the view that our Queerness is empowering and of fundamental importance to our practice and understanding of Islam. Men with patriarchal mindsets have dominated Islamic thinking for centuries, viewing Islam through their gaze, at London Queer Muslims we rebalance this by reading our own realities into the same issues the scholars addressed. This is not an exercise of heteronormativity, in fact it is quite the opposite. An example of Queer Ijtihad might be the way a gender non binary person problematises the mixing of genders, or a same-sex couple comes to their own view of marriage based on their needs, or perhaps a fem-proud gay person decides to wear loose clothing or cover their hair etc. The fundamental principles at play are that Our Queer experiences are valid and empowering, and that we can weave Islam into that and own our Islam independently through reasoning and prayer.
Ijma’, or consensus building, is another Islamic tool used by scholars to come to agreement about matters of Islamic law. At London Queer Muslims we might reject the term law and rather view the term Shari’ah as a set of guidelines that combines Ijtihad and Consensus. We discuss our views on certain issues and as a group we seek to come to a shared understanding of what some Islamic guidelines on various matters could be. We use Qur’an translations alongside the Arabic, and we apply the principles of The Four Doors, looking at the apparent as well as the mystical interpretations of Qur’an and Hadith. Nothing is set in stone, this is a process not an end goal. Insha’Allah