Friday, July 31, 2015

Via JMG: COLOMBIA: Top Court Considers Marriage

J. Lester Feder reports at Buzzfeed:
Colombia’s top court held a day-long hearing on Thursday on whether it should interpret its constitution as giving marriage rights to same-sex couples — framing the debate in a wider discussion about whether international standards now dictate that marriage equality is a fundamental right. The hearing comes five weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to allow marriage equality, in a move that reverberated around the world. Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, Colombia’s Constitutional Court weighs foreign precedent and international human rights law in its decisions. To discuss the question of marriage equality in Thursday’s debate, the Court’s judges invited a broad range of international opinions, including representatives of the United Nations’ human rights office, the U.S.-based conservative legal group the Alliance Defending Freedom, and Albie Sachs, the former chief justice of South Africa’s Constitutional Court who authored a 2005 marriage equality ruling.
A decision is expected by the end of the summer.

RELATED: Elsewhere in South America same-sex marriage is legal in Argentina, Brazil, French Guiana, and Uruguay. Civil unions are legal in Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador. A same-sex marriage lawsuit is pending before the Venezuelan Supreme Court. Homosexual acts remain illegal in Guyana, but nowhere else on the continent.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

JMG Quote Of The Day - Henry Rollins

"In a nation of hundreds of millions of people, there is one man born to lead. A man who stands head and shoulders above the rest. A lone alpha who burns incandescent in a vast wasteland of darkness. When asked to serve in Vietnam, he said no and took a deferment. He took a few of them, actually, because he is his own man. He got married. The merger didn’t work. She was fired. So was the next one. It’s business, not personal — like America! He has overcome adversity. Like bankruptcy. And with an almost Michelangelo-like genius, he conquered the K2 challenge of his hair. He is what America needs. A man with so much self-confidence that, if you put him in the Oval Office, some of it will no doubt trickle down to you. Who is this man who will put all other world leaders in their place? The same man who just read a cellphone number, allegedly Lindsey Graham’s private line, out loud so the world could hear. (Hey, I laughed.) This man is America. So bend over, relax and hold onto something solid, because here he comes — here comes Donald Trump 2016. And when he puts it in, you’ll know who your daddy is." - Henry Rollins, writing for LA Weekly.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via Sri Prem Baba: Flor do Dia- Flor del Día - Flower of the Day 31/07/2015

“Guru não é um corpo, é um poder que se manifesta através de um corpo. É o poder de Deus que te levanta e te coloca no estágio além da mente; te tira da sombra e te coloca na luz. Guru é uma palavra pequena, mas seu significado está além das palavras.”

"Gurú no es un cuerpo, es un poder que se manifiesta a través de un cuerpo. Es el poder de Dios que te levanta y te coloca en un nivel más allá de la mente; te saca de la sombra y te coloca en la luz. Gurú es una palabra pequeña, pero su significado está más allá de las palabras"

“The guru is not a body: the guru is a power that manifests itself within a body. It is the power of God that elevates us and puts us in a state beyond the mind. This power takes us out of the darkness and places us in the light. ‘Guru’ is a small word, but its meaning is beyond any words.”

Today's Daily Dharma: Rage Can Become Compassion

Rage Can Become Compassion
Rage "whether in reaction to social injustice, or to our leaders' insanity, or to those who threaten or harm us" is a powerful energy that, with diligent practice, can be transformed into fierce compassion.
- Bonnie Myotai Treace, "Rising to the Challenge: Filling the Well with Snow"

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Via WGB: In The Face Of Violent Homophobia, Jamaica Hosts Its First Pride

Jamaica is frequently cited as one of the worst places in the world to be gay: sex between men is a jailable offense, the country’s leading gay activist was murdered, and LGBT youth are forced to live in the sewers.

Just this March, a gay man was stoned to death by a mob, but some brave activists are standing up to the hate and have scheduled Jamaica’s first Pride event next week.

But there won’t be a Pride parade, due to safety and security concerns.
Full story here via NNN!

Thank you Firoozeh!

Via Sri Prem Baba: Flor do Dia- Flor del Día - Flower of the Day 30/07/2015

“Os vícios funcionam como amortecedores ou anestésicos. Podem ser coisas ou emoções que são elementos simbólicos, ou seja, algo externo que representa o que está faltando dentro. Algo que acalme o furacão de sentimentos e preencha, mesmo que temporariamente, o vazio interior. Drogas, comida, sexo, internet, dinheiro... Tudo para amenizar a dor da cisão com a essência, o que gerou a ilusão de que somos seres separados do todo e que dependemos de algo externo para sermos felizes.”

“Los vicios funcionan como adormecedores o anestésicos. Pueden ser cosas o emociones que son elementos simbólicos, es decir, algo externo que representa lo que está faltando dentro. Algo que calme el huracán de sentimientos y llene, aunque sea temporariamente, el vacío interior. Drogas, comida, sexo, internet, dinero... Todo para aliviar el dolor de la ruptura con la esencia, lo que generó la ilusión de que somos seres separados del todo y que dependemos de algo externo para ser felices.”

“Addictions work like shock-absorbers or anesthetics. We can either be physically or emotionally addicted to things that symbolize what’s missing inside of us. These addictions serve to calm the whirlwind of feelings and temporarily fill the emptiness inside of us. Drugs, food, sex, Internet and money are all used to alleviate the pain of the split from our essence. This split created the illusion that we are separate from everything and rely on something external in order to be happy.”

Today's Daily Dharma: Not a Private Journey

Not a Private Journey
The way 'spirituality' is often used suggests that we exist solely as a collection of individuals, not as members of a religious community, and that religious life is merely a private journey. It is the religious expression of the ideology of free-market economics and of the radical 'disencumbered' individualism that idolizes the choice-making individual as the prime reality in the world.
- Robert Bellah, "The Future of Religion"

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jesus was a Buddhist Monk BBC Documentary

The Dhammapada (Sayings of the Buddha)

Dalai Lama - How to Practice : The Way to a Meaningful Life - Full Movie [HQ]

Buddhist Prayer Chants

Have Tibetan Prayer, Will Travel (On the Buddhist Pilgrimage Path)

Where's "Gay Marriage" in the US Constitution?

From another Chat Group: Exclusion Works both Ways

"It may be time to include in workshops for Baha'is and other anti-gay religions to let them know that exclusion works both ways. Their dynamic is that if one is gay, Baha'is cannot give you full Baha'is rights. They are trying to sort that out within the religion. My message is increasingly, there is pretty much NOTHING the Baha'i Faith can do right now to ever win someone like me back. And lots of people like me. Its not that the Faith doesn't want us; rather we do not want the Faith. It is too late and too much damage has been done for the Faith to decide how tolerant it wishes to be within its administrative parameters it has set for itself. So while it is very nice that some people will come to a meeting about how to better tolerate and treat gay people, they should be clearly told many of us gay people have no wish to be tolerated by them. It is not our problem; it is their problem. It is not that they have excluded us, but in fact we have excluded them.  ... They (the Baha'i Admin Order) have a really bad discriminatory rule that has harmed lots of people and which the world increasingly is rejecting and makes them irrelevant and unwanted. People are not knocking down doors to get in to this religion. They have a serious problem. And it is not gay people. But they might use the gay issue and the poor way they have managed it to gain some insight into their irrelevance. They have excluded the very people they need. Now many of those excluded people do not want in. So perhaps include a segment ... that in reality not many gay people want into this exclusive club no matter how well they try to tolerate us." 
- Anon Amigo

Via Social Work Helper / FB:

Via Sri Prem Baba: Flor do Dia- Flor del Día - Flower of the Day 29/07/2015

“Esteja sempre atento, observando e testemunhando. Focalize na beleza e realize sua prática espiritual diária. Faça uso da oração de forma muito espontânea, como se estivesse conversando com a Divindade, assim como faz uma criança que conversa com seus pais. De forma honesta e pura, peça para que o véu da ilusão seja removido da sua visão.”

“Estate siempre atento, observando y atestiguando. Focaliza en la belleza y realiza tu práctica espiritual diaria. Haz uso de la oración de forma muy espontánea, como si estuvieras conversando con la Divinidad, así como hace un niño que conversa con sus padres. De forma honesta y pura, pide para que el velo de la ilusión sea removido de tu visión.”

“Always remain attentive, observing and witnessing everything. Focus on beauty and do your spiritual practice daily. Pray spontaneously, as if you were having a conversation with the divine: like a child talking to his or her parents. With honesty and purity, ask for the veil of illusion to be removed from your sight.”

Today's Daily Dharma: The Process of Awakening

The Process of Awakening
Awakening is not a state but a process: an ethical way of life and commitment that enables human flourishing. As such, it is no longer the exclusive preserve of enlightened teachers or accomplished yogis. Likewise, nirvana "the stopping of craving" is not the goal of the path but its very source. For human flourishing first stirs in that clear, bright, empty space where neurotic self-centredness realizes that it has no ground at all to stand on. One is then freed to pour forth like sunlight.
- Stephen Batchelor, "A Secular Buddhist"

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Via JMG: More Corporate Support For Equality Act

Via press release from the HRC:
Today, just days after the introduction of the historic Equality Act in Congress, five new major American companies announced their support for comprehensive, federal LGBT non-discrimination protections. Each of these new leading corporations -- American Airlines, Facebook, General Mills, Google and Nike demonstrated their belief that all LGBT Americans should have the protections from discrimination in federal law that they deserve. These companies join Apple, The Dow Chemical Company, and Levi Strauss, & Co. in supporting comprehensive federal LGBT non-discrimination legislation.

STATEMENT BY AMERICAN AIRLINES -- "We at American Airlines are proud of our long history of supporting LGBT equality. Now is the time for full equality for the LGBT community in the United States. Ensuring fairness in our workplaces and communities is both the right thing to do and simply good business."

STATEMENT BY FACEBOOK -- "We are open and vocal supporters of equality. Ensuring fairness in the workplace is a fundamental principle at Facebook and we support legal protections for LGBT Americans as outlined in the Equality Act."

STATEMENT BY GENERAL MILLS -- "At General Mills we have a long history of supporting LGBT equality and the time has come in this country for full, federal equality for the LGBT community. Ensuring fairness in our workplaces and communities is both the right thing to do and simply good business."

STATEMENT BY GOOGLE -- "Diverse perspectives, ideas, and cultures lead to the creation of better products and services and ideas. And it's the right thing to do. That's why we support protections for LGBT individuals as outlined in the Equality Act."

STATEMENT BY NIKE – "At NIKE, we are committed to diversity and inclusion, and we strive to treat our employees equally. We believe that diversity drives innovation and allows us to attract and retain world class talent. We need fair and equitable laws that prevent discrimination, and NIKE supports the Equality Act introduced by Senator Merkley and his colleagues in Congress. This is another important step in the fight for equality."
While few expect the Equality Act to get much traction in the current Congress, this sort of groundwork is critical. It's going to be a very long haul.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Thich Nhat Hanh: On Homosexuality

Posted on March 29, 2009

Thich Nhat Hanh, the noted Zen monk, poet, teacher who is the inspiration behind Deer Park Monastery and the Plum Village tradition, shares these words about the Buddhadharma’s view of “homosexuality” in the latest book, ANSWERS FROM THE HEART.

Thanks, Julia — for sharing the dharma for us to read!

excerpt from Thay’s new book Answers from the Heart

Q. What is the Buddhist view of homosexuality?

A. The spirit of Buddhism is inclusiveness. Looking deeply into the nature of a cloud, we see the cosmos. A flower is a flower, but if we look deeply into it, we see the cosmos. Everything has a place. The base-the foundation of everything-is the same. When you look at the ocean, you see different kinds of waves, many sizes and shapes, but all the waves have water as their foundation and substance. If you are born gay or lesbian, your ground of being in the same as mine. We are different, but we share the same ground of being. The Protestant theologian Paul Tillich said that God is the ground of being. You should be yourself. If God has created me as a rose, then I should accept myself as a rose. If you are a lesbian, then be a lesbian. Looking deeply into your nature, you will see yourself as you truly are. You will be able to touch the ground of your being and find peace. 
If you’re a victim of discrimination, then your way to emancipation is not simply by crying out against injustice. Injustice cannot be repaired by recognition alone, but by your capacity to touch the ground of your being. Discrimination, intolerance, and suppression stem from lack of knowledge and lack of understanding. If you’re capable of touching the ground of your being, you can be released from the suffering that has been created in you through discrimination and oppression.

Someone who discriminates against you, because of your race or the color of your skin or your sexual orientation, is ignorant. He doesn’t know his own ground of being. He doesn’t realize that we all share the same ground of being; that is why he can discriminate against you.
Someone who discriminates against others and causes them to suffer is someone who is not happy with himself. Once you’ve touched the depth and the nature of your ground of being, you’ll be equipped with the kind of understanding that can give rise to compassion and tolerance, and you will be capable of forgiving even those who discriminate against you. Don’t believe that relief or justice will come through society alone. True emancipation lies in your capacity to look deeply.
When you suffer because of discrimination, there’s always an urge to speak out. But even if you spend a thousand years speaking out, your suffering won’t be relieved. Only through deep understanding and liberation from ignorance can you be liberated from your suffering. 

When you break through to the truth, compassion springs up like a stream of water. With that compassion, you can embrace even the people who have persecuted you. When you’re motivated by desire to help those who are victims of ignorance, only then are you free from your suffering and feelings of violation. Don’t wait for things to change around you. You have to practice liberating yourself. Then you will be equipped with the power of compassion and understanding, the only kind of power that can help transform an environment full of injustice and discrimination. You have to become such a person-one who can embody tolerance, understanding, and compassion. You transform yourself into an instrument for social change and change in the collective consciousness of mankind. 
Thich Nhat Hanh, Answers from the Heart: Practical Responses To Life’s Burning Questions (Berkeley: Parallax Press, 2009), 119-122.

Are Gay Leaders a Threat to Boy Scouts?

Via Shambala: 5 Practices for Nurturing Happiness

The great Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh suffered a serious stroke in November. (You can contribute to his relief effort, here.) We join practitioners around the world in sending our prayers and good wishes for his full recovery. Thich Nhat Hanh’s life is inspiring, his benefit great, and his teaching, like the dharma itself, profound and practical.

We all want to be happy and there are many books and teachers in the world that try to help people be happier. Yet we all continue to suffer.

Mindfully make the jump here to read the full article

Via Science and Nonduality Conference / FB:

Via Sri Prem Baba: Flor do Dia- Flor del Día - Flower of the Day 28/07/2015

“Nós somos diferentes somente por fora. Por dentro nós somos iguais. Quando experimenta essa realidade, você se torna o amor. Então não é uma questão de amar, porque o outro te dá alguma coisa; você ama porque você é o amor. Tudo que sai da sua boca torna-se uma prece para o eterno Um. Tudo se torna sagrado e divino.”

“Somos diferentes solamente por fuera. Por dentro somos iguales. Cuando experimentas esta realidad, te vuelves amor. Entonces no es una cuestión de amar porque el otro te da algo, amas porque eres amor. Todo lo que sale de tu boca se vuelve una plegaria para el eterno Uno. Todo se vuelve sagrado y divino.”

“We are only different on the outside. On the inside, we are all one and the same. When you experience this reality, you become love. Then, you no longer love because the other gives you something; you love because you are love. Every word that comes out of your mouth becomes a prayer to the Eternal One. Everything becomes sacred and divine.”

Today's Daily Dharma: Waking up to Racism.

Waking up to Racism

Waking up to Racism

I am often asked when talking about racism in Buddhist circles to be specific, give examples. In part, this longing emerges from the reluctance of white people in power to accept, and see clearly by opening their eyes, that white supremacy informs the shaping of Buddhist communities, individual interactions, publications, etc. That reluctance can only be transformed in spiritual practice, not by proof. There is never enough proof.
- bell hooks, "Waking up to Racism"

Monday, July 27, 2015

Via JMG: Quote Of The Day - Sen. Cory Booker

"Almost 50 years ago, a couple tried to purchase a home in suburban New Jersey in a neighborhood they loved, but found their efforts thwarted when the house they wanted was inexplicably pulled off the market. The couple later learned from fair housing advocates who had investigated on their behalf that the home was made unavailable to them because of their skin color. The couple's names were Cary and Carolyn Booker. They were my parents.

"You'd think this problem is relegated to the history books. But in 2015 — today — a couple can try to purchase a home and in 31 states be told it is not available to them on the basis of their sexual orientation. More than half a century after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal government has yet to pass a large-scale law that protects Americans from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It's time for that to change." - Sen. Cory Booker, writing in support of the Equality Act.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Wille Nelson's Gay Cowboy Song

Freeheld - Trailer

Via Sri Prem Baba: Flor do Dia- Flor del Día - Flower of the Day 27/07/2015

“Um passo fundamental para a desconstrução de um padrão negativo é conseguir perceber que existe prazer investido nele. Primeiro você identifica as situações negativas que se repetem e qual o ponto comum entre elas, ou seja, o que causa a repetição. Depois você vai atrás da voz dentro de você que diz: “Eu quero ficar isolado; eu quero do meu jeito ou não quero nada”; “Eu quero fracassar”, ou ainda: “Eu quero ficar doente, não quero mais viver”. Com isso você começa a identificar o prazer que dá sustentação ao sofrimento.”

“Un paso fundamental para la desconstrucción de un patrón negativo es conseguir percibir que existe placer invertido en él. Primero identificas las situaciones negativas que se repiten y cuál es el punto en común entre ellas, es decir, lo que causa la repetición. Después vas en busca de la voz dentro tuyo que dice: “Quiero quedarme aislado, quiero que sea a mi manera o no quiero nada”, “Quiero fracasar”, o aún: “Quiero enfermarme, no quiero vivir más”. Con esto comienzas a identificar el placer que da sustento al sufrimiento.” 

“A fundamental step towards deconstructing a negative pattern is being able to perceive the pleasure we feel in it. First, we identify the negative situations that repeat themselves in our lives and the common denominator between them. This means identifying what causes the repetition. Next, we go after the voices inside of us that may be saying, ‘I want to remain isolated,’ ‘It has to be my way or I don’t want it at all,’ ‘I want to fail,’ or even, ‘I want to get sick: I don’t want to live anymore’. By becoming aware of these aspects within us, we begin to identify the pleasure that sustains the suffering.”

From a FB amiga, soemhwre in Phoenix, AZ:

Today's Daily Dharma: The World Is Made of Stories

The World Is Made of Stories
The stories that make sense of this world are part of this world. It is not by transcending the world that we are transformed but by storying it in a new way.
- David Loy, "The World Is Made of Stories"

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Via Green Renaissance / FB:

Via Mountain Stream Meditation Center / FB:

BREAKING: Despite Threats, President Obama Makes A Case For Gay Rights In Kenya

President Obama is visiting Kenya, the first sitting American president to do so, where he lost no time addressing the subject of gay rights in spite of warnings and threats from some Kenyan lawmakers and demonstrations by Kenyan churches. The president held a joint press conference today with Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, and "went there" on the very first question.
President Obama: 
"Similarly, with respect to the rights of gays and lesbians, I have been consistent all across Africa on this. I believe in the principle of treating people equally under the law, and that they are deserving of equal protection under the law, and that the state should not discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation, and I say that recognizing there may be people who have different religious or cultural beliefs.
But the issue is, how does the state operate relative to people. If you look at the history of countries around the world, when you start treating people differently, not because of any harm they are doing, but because they are different, that's the path whereby freedoms begin to erode, and bad things happen. And when the government gets in the habit of treating people differently, those habits can spread. And as an African American on the United States, I am painfully aware of what happens when people are treated differently. And there were all sorts of rationalizations by the power structure that were provided for decades in the United States for segregation and Jim Crow and slavery, and they were wrong.
So, I'm not equivocal on this; if somebody is a law abiding citizen, is going about their business and working at a job, obeying the traffic signs and doing all the other things good citizens are supposed to do and not harming anybody, the idea that they are going to be treated differently or abused because of who they love, is wrong. Full stop.
And, you know, the state does not need to weigh in on religious doctrine. The state just has to say, we're going to treat everyone the same under the law. And then everyone else can have their own opinions. Alright?"
Kenyan President Kenyatta then replied to the reporter's question, saying about gay rights:  
"There are some things that we must admit we don't share, our culture, our societies, don't accept. It is very difficult for us to impose upon people what they themselves do not accept. This is why I repeatedly say that for Kenyans today the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue. We want to focus on other issues that are day-to-day living foe our people." 
I would suggest to President Kenyatta that as long as Kenyans can be legally imprisoned for having sex, gay rights are an issue.

We'll let you know what the President says on gay rights when he addresses the Kenyan Parliament, where lawmakers have threatened to walk out and/or have him removed, should he bring up the issue. 

Read the original posting here

Today's Daily Dharma: Chanting for Things

Chanting for Things
In my experience, the activity of chanting for material or spiritual things becomes a process of cleansing one's spirit, not corrupting it; and Buddhists who began by chanting for hotter cars ended up driven to awaken themselves and help others, at times with great energy and joy. 
- Sandy McIntosh, "As American as Apple Pie?"

Friday, July 24, 2015

If Gay Marriage, Why Not Polygamy? - John Corvino

Via WGB:

Via WGB: 9.5M LGBT Adults Nationwide Would Be Protected under New Comprehensive Non-Discrimination Bill

Public opinion polling indicates that 78% of Americans support federal protections from discrimination for LGBT people.
The Equality Act, introduced today in Congress, would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, federal funding and jury service.

About 9.5 million adults in the U.S. identify as LGBT, according to Williams Institute Research Director Gary Gates. Discrimination against LGBT people has been well documented in a variety of sources.
  1. In nine surveys conducted in the past 10 years, 19% to 78% of LGBT people reported experiencing discrimination or harassment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity at work.
  2. Gay men earn 10 percent to 32 percent less than heterosexual men who have the same productive characteristics, such as experience and level of education.
  3. About 83% of American adults report in recent polls that LGBT people face moderate to high levels of discrimination.
  4. LGBT workers file complaints under employment non-discrimination laws at comparable rates to female employees and employees who are people of color.
  5. Research has demonstrated that LGBT-supportive policies and workplace climates are linked to greater job commitment, improved workplace relationships, increased job satisfaction, and improved health outcomes in LGBT employees. 

Via JMG: Houston Mayor Annise Parker: We'll Take This To The Voters And We'll Win

"Obviously, I am disappointed and believe the court is in error with this eleventh hour ruling in a case that had already been decided by a judge and jury of citizens. Nonetheless, we will proceed with the steps necessary for City Council to consider the issue. At the same time, we are consulting with our outside counsel on any possible available legal actions. Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance is similar to measures passed by every other major city in the country and by most local corporations. No matter the color of your skin, your age, gender, physical limitations, or sexual orientation, every Houstonian deserves the right to be treated equally. To do otherwise, hurts Houston’s well-known image as a city that is tolerant, accepting, inclusive and embracing of its diversity. Our citizens fully support and understand this and I have never been afraid to take it to the voters. We will win!" - Houston Mayor Annise Parker, via press release.
Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via Same-Sex Relationships & the Fluidity of Marriage in Islamic History

 One scholar’s response to Reza Aslan and Hasan Minhaj’s “Open Letter to American Muslims on Same Sex Marriage”  by ALI A. OLOMI for ISLAMiCommentary on JULY 17, 2015:

"Aqa Mirak" - 16th Safavid watercolor by Aqa Mirak depicting two young princes and lovers. (currently located in the Smithsonian)
“Aqa Mirak” – 16th Safavid watercolor by Aqa Mirak depicting two young princes and lovers. (currently located in the Smithsonian)

Since the legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26th 2015, various religious groups have responded to the ruling. Muslim Americans, who themselves are a minority group in the United States, have struggled to find consensus.

Some have openly condemned the ruling. Others have urged a more hesitant acceptance of the court’s decision. Cognizant of the precarious position of minorities in the United States, Imam Suhaib Webb posted an online message where he encouraged a nuanced perspective that respected the ruling and supported it politically, while acknowledging the theological and ethical dilemmas for conservative Muslims. A group of Afghan American thinkers and activists on The Samovar Network took a more accepting stance when they held an online panel (via a Google hangout) and showed support for the ruling and the LGBTQ community as a whole.

Author, Reza Aslan and comedian, Hasan Minhaj wrote an open letter, published in Religion Dispatches, to Muslim Americans encouraging acceptance and tolerance, reminding Muslims that they too are a minority in the United States and should stand for the rights of their fellow minorities.

People were surprised by the letter and some have attributed the position of the authors to Western influence. Popular representations in America and Europe, tend to depict Muslims as staunchly against same-sex marriage. But I would point out that positions like Reza’s and others like him actually highlight a forgotten part of Islamic history.

Just as in the case of Christianity, the history on same-sex relationships in Islam is far more complex than some would have you believe.

First, we have to acknowledge that though same-sex relationships are timeless and gay people have existed throughout history, according to theorists, like Michel Foucault, homosexuality as an identity emerged alongside heterosexuality in modernity. Indeed, an argument can be made that homophobia itself is a predominantly modern fear tied to anxieties about masculinity within nationalist contexts. The Qur’an itself does not address homosexuality directly, but refers to specific practices.

When it comes to same-sex relationships, Muslims point to the infamous Qur’anic verses on the People of Lot (7:80-84), which some modern scholars — by projecting modern sensibilities on the verse — interpret as being a condemnation of homosexuality. Yet, other scholars point out the context of the verse in the Qisas Al Anbiya, a commentary and history on the lives of the Islamic prophets by Al Kisa’i, that relates the tale of Lot as a condemnation of the corruption festering in the people of Lot, whose bestial carnality led to rape and sodomy; i.e. it’s not a direct condemnation of sodomy.

2. "Haft Awrang"- The Seven Thrones, an illuminated manuscript by 16th Century Jami. Depicts a male youth with his male suitors.
2. “Haft Awrang”- The Seven Thrones, an illuminated manuscript by 16th Century Jami. Depicts a male youth with his male suitors.

In fact, the Qur’an actually supports diversity of desires when it states that God created various mates for mankind (30:21). Furthermore, the Qur’an uses homoerotic imagery to describe paradise as full of eternally youthful manservants so attractive that “when you see them, you’d think them as beautiful as scattered pearls.” (52: 24, 76: 19).

We must also consider the Prophet Muhammad’s life and how his wife, Umm Salama, had a gay or interest manservant, Hit. In addition to Hit, there was also Tuways and Al Dalal. These individuals, known as mukhanathum, were counted as companions of Muhammad, or disciples and friends. The mukhanathum even served as guardians of Muhammad’s tomb when he died.

Same-sex relationships and romance existed throughout the history of Islamic civilization from the 7th century on. The famed Persian poet Rumi and the father of Classical Islamic poetry, Abu Nawas, wrote verses extolling the beauty of young men. Indeed, in medieval Abbasid, Ottoman, and Safavid empires, the normative standards of beauty in works of poetry and art revolved around the youthful and desirable appearance of young men.

While women were absolutely praised, the normative standard of beauty focused primarily on a concept of youthfulness that was equated to vitality and desire. In many of the poems like those of Abu Nawas and Rumi and many others, this meant young men, but these young men were attributed with feminine qualities, highlighting the fluid nature of masculinity and femininity.

Caliphs like Al Amin in the 8th century Abbasid caliphate engaged in same-sex relationships, and it is written that the warriors of Abu Muslim, who overthrew the Umayyads, lay with their male pages. While periods of oppression certainly existed and scholars anxiously debated whether acts were permissible or prohibited, on the whole, Islamic civilization tended to be not only tolerant, but accepting of same-sex romances.

Textual evidence for same-sex relationship between women were not as widespread in the Arabic and Islamic literary tradition, but there is still ample evidence of the tolerance and even praise of same-sex relationships between women. For example, in the 10th century, Jawami al-Ladhdha or, Encyclopedia of Pleasure by Abul Hasan Ali, he relates a story of love and romance between two women, Hind bint al Nur’man and Al Zarqa.

"Shah Abbas and Wine Boy"- 17th Century art by Muhammad Qasim depicting Safavid ruler, Shah Abbas with his lover and wine boy.
“Shah Abbas and Wine Boy”- 17th Century art by Muhammad Qasim depicting Safavid ruler, Shah Abbas with his lover and wine boy.

Some periods of Islamic history were more accepting than others and we should acknowledge that there was regional variation, but the historical arc was significantly towards toleration. When famed 19th century Moroccan scholar, Muhammad al Saffar traveled to Europe he was surprised to find same-sex courtship repugnant to the Europeans in contrast to its acceptance in the Islamic world. Indeed, that acceptance of same-sex courtship and romance was used by European Christian and orientalist writers as a sign of the supposed moral laxity of the “orient.”

Same-sex relationships between men, for example, were depicted in art, including in these images (now in the public domain): 1) “Shah Abbas and Wine Boy”- 17th Century art by Muhammad Qasim depicting Safavid ruler, Shah Abbas with his lover and wine boy; 2) “Haft Awrang”- The Seven Thrones, an illuminated manuscript by 16th Century Jami. Depicts a male youth with his male suitors; 3) “Aqa Mirak” – 16th Safavid watercolor by Aqa Mirak Tabriz depicting two young princes and lovers (currently located in the Smithsonian) and 4) “Sawaqub”– 19th Century Ottoman depiction in Sawaqub al Manaquib depicting sexual relations between a man and his wine servant.

These cultural and social realities of same-sex relationships in Islam have been made subterranean in historical reflection. People who wish to push a singular interpretation of religion conveniently ignore these parts of Islamic history in favor of narratives hewn from their prejudices. While the historical existence of relationships between couples of the same sex is an irrefutable fact, these narratives are often swept under the rug and the history of tolerance is forgotten in favor of depictions of Islam as a homophobic and aggressive faith.

Make the jump here to read the full article
Same-Sex Relationships & the Fluidity of Marriage in Islamic History (by Ali A. Olomi) - See more at:
Same-Sex Relationships & the Fluidity of Marriage in Islamic History (by Ali A. Olomi) - See more at:

Om Mani Padme Hum - Original temple mantra version

Pastor Dewey Smith - Homosexuality

Today's Daily Dharma: Look to Life

Look to Life

I don’t believe we should look to any metaphysical order on the far side of experience nor to any metaphysical subject on the near side of experience but simply, as it were, to life.
- Don Cupitt, "The Eclectic Cleric"

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Today's Daily Dharma: Wishing Others Well

Wishing Others Well
When we really see, in our mind?s eye, a person we think we don?t like, and instead of solidifying our reasons for hatred we honestly wish them happiness, good health, safety, and an easeful life, we start to forget what we thought we hated and why we felt that way in the first place. A sense of equanimity toward everyone arises as we do this practice?we feel compassion for those who were once invisible to us, and our disregard and apathy morph into concern for their well-being and safety.
- Cyndi Lee, "May I Be Happy"

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Via JMG: Obama Jokes On Daily Show: I'm Issuing Executive Order That Stewart Must Stay

The Guardian reports:
Barack Obama mocked foes, talked up his legacy and teased Jon Stewart in a nostalgic final appearance as president on The Daily Show, providing a bittersweet farewell for the old sparring partners. “I can’t believe you’re leaving before me,” Obama told his host, who is due to retire in two weeks after 16 years in the Comedy Central hot seat. “I’m going to issue an executive order: Jon Stewart cannot leave the show. It’s being challenged in the courts.”

The two men bantered on Tuesday night’s show over Iran, Donald Trump, lost opportunities and the “Hope” posters – gentle jabs rather than blows that yielded a fond, affectionate coda to the satirical news show’s prickly relationship with the president. Obama joked that critics of the Iran nuclear deal seemed to think that “if you had brought Dick Cheney to the negotiations everything would be fine”.

Stewart, who reflected liberals’ initial euphoria and later disappointment with the Obama era, noted his guest’s recent run of victories: “It appears that you’re feeling it a little bit right now. Do you feel like seven years in …” “I know what I’m doing,” Obama interrupted. “A lot of the work that we did early starts bearing fruit late. The way I’m feeling right now is, I’ve got 18 months.” He vowed to tackle climate change and fuel-efficiency standards before leaving.

Reposted from Joe Jervis