How a semester-long practicum turned into Queer Muslim Resistance

‘As a queer Muslim, we’re often faced with this idea of impossibility’

Maha approaches Queer Muslim Resistance with a political, anti-colonial, and anti-oppressive perspective.
“As a queer Muslim, we’re often faced with this idea of impossibility—like it’s impossible to be queer and Muslim. And that’s coming from all sides.”  
Maha,* MA, started a practicum project under Professor Burcu Baba in Sept. 2020 that has since evolved into the Queer Muslim Resistance podcast—she now produces it with the help of dedicated team of volunteers and partners, and partial funding from OPIRG Kingston. 
“That [impossibility] is coming from mainstream queer communities, where secularity and whiteness predominate,” she said in an interview with The Journal. “And there’s also the unfortunate existence of anti-queer sentiment in mainstream Muslim communities which, of course, comes from legacies of colonialism and the spread of Wahhabism.
The project was only supposed to last one semester, but after her practicum Maha knew she wasn’t done. 
“It’s a political approach, anti-colonial approach, and an anti-oppressive approach to thinking about what it is that queer Muslims do, and the ways in which we think, and the ways in which we love.”
Queer Muslim Resistance is currently releasing monthly episodes, each featuring an interview and a debrief session. Though the project is no longer for her practicum, Maha noted during the debrief, she often refers to concepts and readings from her degrees in gender studies. 
During her initial search for guests, Maha did a call-out on the podcast’s Instagram and received an overwhelming response. Her calls centre on finding folks who can share their lived experiences, as queer Muslims or otherwise, to participate in collective healing. 
“Though it’s not perfect with its censorship […] before I started the podcast, Instagram was how I met other queer Muslims, all over the world.”
Maha knows it’s important to acknowledge this isn’t a single-issue project. Muslims come from a wide range of ethnicities, races, genders, sexualities, and class backgrounds. With each episode, she hopes to emphasize how ideas of faith and justice in Islam are tied to concepts like resistance to anti-Blackness and challenging settler colonialism.  
“The idea of queer Muslim resistance is not just about creating space for queer Muslims, though that’s a good foundation. It’s about exploring what queer Muslims can do from our social locations, from the distinct ways we’re positioned.”
Notably, Maha’s second social media call-out has attracted more folks rooting their perspectives on queerness and practiced faith rather than theory. 
“The academy is not accessible to everyone, and it’s lovely to get a wealth of experiences of folks on the podcast. And most importantly, it challenges what is considered legitimate knowledge.”
Queer Muslim Resistance has now branched out beyond the podcast in its community-building efforts. On top of events scheduled throughout pride month, the project hosted a virtual hang-out during the holy month of Ramadan called “Queer Ramadan Resistance.”  
“There’s a huge need for queer Muslims to hear and see themselves and being a part of that is not just about creating a community for other people, it’s also about creating space for me as a queer Muslim myself.”
You can support Queer Muslim Resistance on Patreon, and listen to the show wherever podcasts are available. 
*Name shortened for anonymity due to safety reasons.

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