#AJustFaith members share their reflections on the massacre at Pulse, Orlando, FL.
Imam Daaiyee Abdullah
I offer condolences to the families and friends of the victims in Orlando. I share in the heartbreak that so many of us feel. The goal of this violence is to terrorize and isolate LGBTQ people, and to bring terror and isolate the Muslim community/communities nationwide. This violence is motivated by an irrational and deadly fear.
Islam is a faith of peace and love. The Quran does not promote or allow anyone to say through their authoritarian views that “punish homosexuals” is a Quranic ethic. History does not support the ideology that Prophet Muhammad supported the killing of gays, but presents far more theological and legal standards for not killing gays. Further, out of more than 50 modern-day Muslim countries, only 5 have a death penalty for homosexuals on the books. These penalties are often remnants of Western colonial law imposed on Muslim societies and cultures. We cannot deny that some Muslims have been taught that gays should be punished or even killed, but those views are found in cultural mores that are supported by societal shaming and political hegemony. We know that ISIS is fueled by a perverted understanding of Islam, an understanding typically learned by word of mouth, not from actual reading of the text and learning the true principles of Islam.
Quranic ethics are consistent with one’s geographic locale and placement in time, therefore, ethical standards of the 7th century are not appropriate in a 21st century context. Remembering the Quranic ethic that there is “no compulsion in religion” should give Muslims pause when encouraged to promote their individual sense of what Islam means.
I am so glad to know that the Orlando community, with its breadth of diversity is working together—LGBTQ, Muslim, Black, Latino, and other groups—to combat prejudice and discrimination in Florida. In support, I would like to share a chapter from the Quran that tells us how God and God’s angels helped the early Muslim community to face the difficulties of having the larger society attack them. God faithfully turns difficulty into ease of mind and circumstance:
COMFORT (OF MIND)
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
1. Have We not expanded for you your bosom (heart)?
2. And We removed from you your burden
3. That was breaking your back.
4. And We honored you with your remembrance.
5. So, with every difficulty there is relief.
6. Indeed, with every difficulty there is relief.
7. So, when you have completed your work, persevere;
8. And towards your Lord, turn (your heart).
Surah (Chapter) 94:1-7
Rev. Yunus Coleman
The people murdered in that sanctuary, that sacred space, covered the gamut of what it is be young and LGBTQS in America. They were not only gay men but also lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people of color. [The shooter] targeted a night when the majority of attendees would be Latinx. White and Black people were also in attendance. Saturday night was the night when there are drag performances by those in the transgender community. And though their preferred names and gender pronouns may never be known, there were people of trans experience murdered that morning.
Encapsulated in their Beingness, as well as being LGBTQS, these were also mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, family by biology or by choice, dear friends, cherished colleagues to someone in the world at large. They were a part of the American network of citizenry. And so was the shooter. To belittle their existence by calling them so much fodder because of their sexual orientation or gender identity or their proximity to them in life is to stroke an ego that is clearly already maligned with damage. These were children of the Most High God.
They were a part of the fabric of life woven by a Divine Creator that constructed it and us with a golden thread that binds us all to her, to him, to it, a thread that we find in every spiritual and religious path clearly stated down the ages and in the sacred text of the Bible: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’
We will not fall into the ‘goose steps’ of any ‘reich,’ American or otherwise, by condemning a whole group of human beings with the actions of a few. And we stand with like-minded Muslims whose vast majority honors peace and lovingkindness toward their counterparts in all spiritual paths, religions, ethnicities, races, sexual orientation, and gender identities.”
Rev. Donagrant McCluney
Our hearts go out and we share the grief of our family in Orlando. We not only identify with innocent people who suffer physical and spiritual violence in the name of God and religious fundamentalism, but we also resonate with abusers who internalize homophobia without healthy ways of reconciling their true affinities with their religious convictions. We celebrate the resilience of the Orlando community presently working together to grieve and heal without regard to the divisive intention of this heinous act.”
Keisha E. McKenzie
Black people have historically made churches, clubs, and their own homes refuges from the wider world. They’ve been spaces for survival and solidarity, for recovering from suffering, and for imagining what life without oppression could be like. Those spaces have always been at the mercy of others with more mob force, more Molotovs, or more firepower.
Historically, LGBTQ people have formed our own faith groups and made sanctuaries within the sanctuary. We’ve created social gathering places where, even if only for a few hours, we don’t have a steady background drone of unimaginative heterosexism. We’ve determined the norms and monitored the boundaries. We’ve nourished ourselves, told our own histories, and remembered kin that the wider world would rather forget.
These are the times when I want to be among people whose spirituality can touch the substance of my life, whose programs aren’t so ordered that they leave whole human beings out.
I send my love to the families and friends of the community at Pulse and I honor the power of their lives. As we learn their legal names, I hope locals will also tell their stories. Because sometimes, this is an exhausting world, and we need to witness each other however we can.” (Read more at their website.)
P. Melissa Thomas
Thank you for your support and standing with the LGBTQ community in the wake of the Orlando, FL, massacre, where so many of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters were murdered. I send prayers and hope to our Orlando, FL. LGBTQ family, allies, doctors, and first responders. It has been a week since this unthinkable act of hate that took the lives of so many of my LGBTQ and allies family. In a space (the club) where so many of my LGBTQ family feel we are the safest. For those of us that are on the front lines fighting for justice and LGBTQ rights, we felt this like a stab in the heart. We will not be silent! Silence fuels the hate that harms and takes so many of my LGBTQ family lives. We will fight harder than ever for justice and our rights! We know that lack of action helps fuel the hate that KILLS us. I am blessed to know I have clergy and friends on my team that value all life. Including mine.”