Discover more from Avdullah
A look at what's in store.
April 2nd, 2027
The Imam shut the door to his office. It was the early afternoon, after the completion of Jummah at his Masjid in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. A growing community had proliferated there as a result of the influx of refugees from the Iran-Afghan war. Somehow through the settlement process, most of the Sunnis among the downtrodden had been relocated to this underrated, cozy midwestern town.
The day was beautiful with warm temperatures, yet Imam Dawood Johnson was sweating bullets. He’d once been filled with them when he served in the Iraq war as a young man in his Jahiliya days, but such times rarely popped into his head — such as when they were brought up by his critics in the media. He’d just finished giving an impassioned khutba about the dangers of free mixing, filled with a zest and passion he hadn’t felt course through his veins since his days at the University of Madina. To cool off, he decided he’d make a coffee and catch up on his online content, which had taken off in recent years.
He opened his laptop to find 31 new emails, 54 Twitter notifications, and hundreds more comments on his latest Youtube khatira about the purification of the heart. It racked up 136,679 views. A popular Sufi Youtuber had made a response video, but he didn’t even bother watching it. Dawood employed the personal chatbot on his laptop to watch it instead, then make a response video using his likeness. SubhanAllah, what a time-saver! When Dawood opened another tab to check his blog, however, he was welcomed with a gripping headline.
His default browser page was Yahoo News. In a small corner of the news section was a picture of a crying woman in a hijab, with the following headline:
MIXED REACTIONS AS NEW “AFFIRM OUR KIDS” BILL TAKES EFFECT
Huh, interesting, thought the Imam. He clicked on the headline and was greeted with the article, published just that morning. The enlarged photo showed the crying mother in the photo was actually being taken away in handcuffs by police in rainbow-colored armbands. The caption under the photo was titled:
Asiya Mahmoud, the popular Muslim mom blogger, weeps as her trans child, Junaida, is rescued by a local QUEER division, the newest addition to many local police forces across the country aimed at securing the safety and rights of LGBTQ children.
The article itself elaborated. Dawood’s face took a malformed shape as his eyes drifted up and down the paragraphs he was reading. In the middle of the article was a picture of the child, Junaida, standing rotundly as she took a selfie with the QUEER division officers beside her.
“…as one might expect, these decisions are never easy,” says Chief DeShawnda, the officer in charge of the QUEER division that transported Alison to safe care, “it was the usual excuses you hear from these types. ‘My child is autistic, not trans’ and ‘they’re too young to know that’ are what we hear most, but after lots of experience around the block it’s all the same.”
Chief DeShawnda went on to explain that each QUEER division employs renowned experts in the fields of Gender Studies, Child Psychology, and Queer Theory to assess each case of child abuse they handle. In this case, they credit Dr. Aziza Martinez, assistant professor at Yale, who obtained their Ph.D. in Gender Studies from Colombia and a Bachelor of Arts in South Asian Studies from the University of Chicago. They gave the following statement:
“Junaida had been expressing her desire to be a girl for a long time in her social media posts. Lots of indications of depression, anxiety, and discontent with the Islamofascist environment that her mother had been smothering her with. She would frequently post video evidence of her mother’s verbal abuse towards her identity, as well as employing spiritual abuse with religious texts to justify her transphobia. Poor thing, I’m just glad we were able to act in time —”
Dawood clicked away. He’d had enough. He pulled his head back and realized he hadn’t taken a sip of his coffee, which upon touching it to his lips found it had turned cold. He put it to the side. Despite his air-conditioned office, he was sweating again, the rage at this revelation making him boil from his toes all the way to his kufi. Imam Dawood knew he had to do something about this.
The fear then began to drip in his heart, thinking how he would respond if anyone in his congregation asked him about this. No, he thought. They can’t even read English. He sighed in relief.
But his following online would question him about it, wouldn’t they? He quickly took hold of his laptop again and began checking the notifications he’d neglected, and lo and behold, most comments under his recent posts and direct messages were about this very story. It had gone viral in the few hours it had been up, now the prominent topic on Muslim Twitter, Muslim Facebook, and Muslim Tiktok.
Then it hit him. Why not do things the old-fashioned way, with a public statement? Make it official and formal. Perhaps many other Imams and scholars he knew would take part.
Imam Dawood spent the next hour contacting every big Imam he knew, famous online and otherwise. It seemed they’d all had the same Friday afternoon — all concerned with how to deal with this shocking tragedy. By the time Asr prayer had come they’d come to sync up about what to do. By Maghrib, it was decided and all the Muslim American clergy he knew were on board — they were going to draft a real statement in outcry about this pressing issue, all thanks to the initiative of Brother Dawood Johnson.
The next few months were exhausting. It had taken them just a week to draft the initial statement, but then came the process of tweaking it to make sure they got it right. They had to leave no open gaps for misinterpretation, no room for anyone to question their intent behind the public letter.
More than three hundred Imams had at least had a look at the draft by eight weeks since conception. They’d employed lawyers, dozens of Islamic Studies professors in all the Ivy League universities, communication experts from across the political spectrum, Islamic jurists, and heads of every Islamic organization in North America. By the tenth week, after many sleepless nights, it was finally done.
By then, Imam Dawood’s scraggly beard had turned just a bit more white. He could feel the onset of carpal tunnel in both his wrists, the migraines that began to overtake him in the evenings were intensifying. This project, all for the sake of Allah, had taken a physical toll on him in addition to the spiritual. He prayed it would be worth it in the end.
It was time to publish the statement, during Pride Month, nonetheless. They’d agreed on an exact time, and minutes before Imam Dawood sat at his same desk with sweaty hands. He refreshed his page the second it hit noon, and like clockwork, the webpage had updated. He read the work he’d started like a proud father on the day of his eldest son’s graduation. When he reached the end, he scrolled back up to read it again. He thanked God he had the moral courage to do this, to risk his livelihood (and possibly his life!) in this pursuit, as well as all these other brave Imams. Bravo, he told himself and his Imam friends, bravo.
He got up and walked away, so filled with joy he forgot to shut off his laptop, the headline blaring in full definition at the highest brightness:
MANEUVERING DISTINCTIONS: CLARIFYING SEX AND GENDER IN ISLAM
Talking about sexuality has been difficult for religious communities lately. Islamic beliefs about sexuality and gender are different from what some people in society think. This creates tension for Muslims who want to follow their religion but also fit in with what society expects. Some people don't agree with LGBTQ practices and ideas, but they get accused of being intolerant and mean. What's even more concerning is that there are laws and rules trying to teach children LGBTQ ideas without asking their parents first. This goes against the rights of Muslim parents to teach their kids about their own beliefs and stops them from objecting if they disagree. These rules also make it harder for religious communities to be accepted.
We are Muslim scholars and preachers from different schools of thought. We want to explain what Islam says about sexuality and gender. We are a religious group that often faces unfair treatment and being left out. But we don't believe that disagreeing about morals means we're being mean or causing violence. We have the right to express our beliefs while also knowing that we have to live peacefully with people who believe differently.
The most important thing in Islam is to fully, willingly, and lovingly submit to God. God says that when He and His Messenger make a decision, believers should follow it without any other choice. By submitting to God, we are saying that only He knows everything and what is right and wrong. So, we believe that morality comes from God's guidance, not just from what makes sense or what is popular.
Islam has a long history of rules and different ways of thinking that respect different cultures. But there are some important principles in Islam that cannot be changed. They come directly from God, and even the most important religious leaders can't change them. God says in the Quran that His words are true and no one can change them.
According to Islam, people can have sexual relations, but only if they are married. Marriage is only between a man and a woman. God is clear in the Quran that having sexual relations with someone of the same sex is wrong. Islam also says that people should not have sex before marriage or with someone other than their spouse. God says that it is a bad thing to do. These rules are clearly stated in the Quran, the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, and the long tradition of Islamic scholars. So, they are widely accepted by Muslims.
God created humans as males and females. He made them different so they can learn from each other and live together in peace. In Islam, men and women are equal in the eyes of God, even though they have different qualities and roles. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ believed that women are just as important as men. But he also said that it is not right to try to look like the opposite gender. God wants us to respect His choices in creating us. That's why Islam doesn't allow medical procedures to change a person's sex, even if they are called "affirming" or "confirming." However, if someone is born with a condition that makes their sex unclear, Islam says it is okay for them to get medical help to fix it.
In Islam, there is a distinction between thoughts and actions. God judges people based on their actions and words, not on their thoughts and feelings that they can't control. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said that Muslims are forgiven for their thoughts as long as they don't speak or act on them. Islam teaches that a person's actions shouldn't define their identity. That's why it's not allowed for Muslims to take pride in labels that categorize them by their sins. Islam also values privacy and discourages talking about private sexual behavior.
We know that some religious groups have changed their teachings to be more inclusive of LGBTQ ideas, and some people in the Muslim community have tried to reinterpret Islamic texts in favor of LGBTQ acceptance. But we strongly disagree with these efforts because they go against the unchangeable principles of our faith.
We understand that our moral beliefs clash with the goals of LGBTQ supporters. We respect their right to live peacefully and without harm. However, we want to emphasize that we also have the right to hold, practice, and share our religious beliefs in a respectful way. We should be able to do so without facing legal punishment or being marginalized. Living together peacefully doesn't mean we have to agree or accept each other's views. We refuse to be forced into changing our beliefs or be called bigots without reason. Such pressures make it hard for us to live in harmony.
We ask lawmakers to protect our right to practice our religion freely, without fear of harassment. We also oppose any laws that try to limit the religious freedom of faith communities. We are committed to working with people of all religious and political backgrounds to defend the rights of faith communities and promote justice for everyone.
We urge Muslim public figures to respect the importance of our faith and not make false statements on behalf of Islam. We reject any attempt to claim that Islam supports views on sexual and gender ethics that go against our established teachings. It's important to understand that intentionally going against God's will can have serious spiritual consequences.
To those among us who struggle with desires that go against God's boundaries, we want you to know that even the most righteous people can make mistakes. Every Muslim, no matter how sinful, has the chance to be forgiven. Resisting temptation and staying devoted to God is considered brave and has great spiritual rewards. Our main goal is to prioritize our devotion to God over our desires and not give up on our faith. We pray for the strength and commitment to live up to our ideals. May we find inner peace and happiness through our submission to God, and may God consider us among the faithful, which is the most honorable title.
Avdullah is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.