Monday, April 09, 2012

Miracles Do Happen: Gay Imam Blesses the Union of Same-Sex Muslim Couple ~ item from the blog Queerty

It seems that there is at least one Muslim clergyman out there willing to break ranks with Islam’s unfavorable view of gay people.

According to Al Arabiya, a gay Mauritian imam named Jamal presided over the marriage of Ludovic Mohamed Zahed, a French man of Algerian origin, (on right in photo) and Qiyam al-Din (left) in Din’s native South Africa earlier this year.  Furthermore, Zahed says Jamal introduced him to his new life partner at a conference on AIDS in South Africa a few months earlier.

Zahed tells France 24 TV of how he met his new partner through the gay imam:
“I was in the lecture hall when an imam, who incidentally is gay himself, introduced me to Din. We discovered we had a lot in common and a mutual admiration was cemented. I stayed on after the convention for two months, deciding to get married, since South African laws were more friendly [to same sex unions]…
“Being married in front of my family, was like a new start of life for me, I could have never imagined such a day would come, seeing the joy in my parents’ eyes after they had battled with my sexuality and tried with all their might to change the course of my sexual orientation.”
Zahed and Din returned to France recently, but have been having trouble getting their marriage recognized by the French government. Continues Al Arabiya:
"Zahed wants to pursue his doctoral studies in Islam and homosexuality and he also heads an organization that researches issues relating to Islam and homosexuality. He said his absolute priority is to get a legal permit for his new spouse to stay and work in France.
The couple does not intend to travel to an Arab or Muslim nation for fear of being discriminated against. “We want to stay in France, because my husband really likes this country. However, if it becomes impossible for him to stay, we will return to South Africa to live.”
What an amazing, inspiring story. Zahed and Din can hold out hope that Francois Hollande will beat Nicolas Sarkozy in the upcoming French presidential election. Hollande has stated he will push the legalization of gay marriage as a priority in 2013.


I included a picture from our walk-around in Nashua, NH a couple of posts ago.  Here's another of the pictures I took, a gilded eagle on the tower of a church on Nashua's main drag.  I'm not sure what the intent of the sculptor was but I don't see the configuration of the eagle's head and "neck" (do eagles have necks as we know them?) as being  anatomically correct.  We went up close and underneath, we went far away, we went across the street and on the side, but no matter where we viewed the eagle, that angle never worked.  I came to think of it as Brokeneck Eagle, and wondered if it wouldn't have looked better as a hood ornament on some massive 1950s Buick or Chevrolet.


I found this picture on the web -- I don't remember where -- and fell in love with it.  The closeness of the man and his dog, who was perhaps not feeling very well or simply scared to be going to the Vet, is so sweet.  And the big dog looks like a cuddly stuffed animal.


New England has several Shaker villages, most open for the public to visit.  The Shakers are for all intents and purposes extinct; one or two young people have in recent years elected to become Shakers, but after the lengthy continuing tradition of large numbers of Shakers living communally according to well-defined gender roles had ended.

About an hour by car from us is the town of Canterbury, NH. where Mother Ann, the leader of religious dissidents from England called the United Society of Believers (popularly, Shakers because they engaged in ecstatic dance as part of their worship), who had immigrated to the American colonies in 1774, established the Shakers' seventh community in 1792.

Shakers practiced celibacy, so if their numbers were to be maintained or to grow, it had to be by attracting new members from outside the community.  While Shakers lived in specific, self-contained agricultural and industrial communities, they did not deplore or wish to escape from the world at large, but to engage with it toward the goal of improving the quality of life.  In the 19th century, which saw experiments in utopian communities of varying kinds in several places in the U.S., the Shakers were extremely prosperous.  Their "brand" grew to include not only their famous furniture and wooden goods, but also garden and farm seeds, preserves and patent medicines, and a great many devices invented in the Village's workshops, among other products.

At its height in the 1850s the Canterbury Village numbered 300 men, women, and the children of members who joined as existing families; its lands consisted of 3000 acres on which there were 100 buildings including the original Meeting House dating to the 1792 founding, as well as many other 18th and early 19th century structures, most of which survive.

The 20th century saw a long, slow decline in membership which ended in 1992, exactly 200 years after Canterbury's founding, with the death of the last Shaker in residence, Ethel Hudson, who had helped arrange the conversion of the village into a non-profit museum and education center.  (The last few surviving Shakers from other communities were taken into secure retirement at the Sabbathday Lake, Maine Village.)

The Village has extensive gardens from which seeds and plants can be purchased, an appealingly simple restaurant serving food prepared from Shaker recipes, and a superb store that features art and craft items built by contemporary craftsmen working to the designs and standards of the original artisans.  The Village is a national Historical Landmark.

We are members of the Museum and visit it occasionay, sometimes with vacationing friends or relatives.  We've also bought gifts from the shop.  And over the years we've seen the development of many supportive events and programs the museum has instituted to generate funds sufficient to maintain its many buildings, and the vehicles and machinery that do the heavy work on the property.  Here is the latest, from the Village's announcement posted on the internet:

Days of Peace and Harmony  May 16 - May 20

"The Drepung Gomang Monks will visit the Village in the days leading up to our season's Opening Day on Sunday, May 20, when tours will begin and buildings will open.

"Witness the creation of a sacred sand mandala, participate in traditional Buddhist stone painting, and see the monks' costumed Snow Lion Dance. Learn about the parallels between Shaker and Buddhist traditions and the monks' concepts of community, compassion and the monastic life.

"This is a joint fundraising event in support of Canterbury Shaker Village and the Drepung Gomang Monastery. In lieu of an admittance fee, we would appreciate a suggested donation at the time of registration."

LIke so many of your posts grouping diverse pieces, this collection has been a treat. Never have made an opportunity for myself to know really anything at all about the Shakers; thanks for the history.
The Shakers sound fascinating; almost a self destructive cult but with a lot of positive attributes. I should learn more about them.
A college roommate was an American Studies major who did a project on the Shakers at Canturbury. He spent about a month there and had some very interesting stories about being a suburban boy immersed in farm life when he returned.

The eagle on the weather vane looks remarkably like the cartoon eagles of Thomas Nast.
"The eagle on the weather vane looks remarkably like the cartoon eagles of Thomas Nast."

I love having friends who can make comments like that and who share some of my hundreds and hundreds of interests!
Will, if I may, I just saw your comment at Ur-spo on comments. I have surmised myself a lurker, as I do not blog, but enjoy so many.
This is funny, as I have property in Nashua but live in France.
My comment for you, is that I have read your blog daily for a long time and find it so incredibly vastly entertaining and informative that my comments would only be to thank you for this resource!
And if you blogged about your sex life, I would have to place you in another section or interest! :)
Thanks tim
I love everything in this post... but, I am a sucker for a dog photo.
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