Love Jihadi, Parvez Sharma Blogs Here

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Parvez Sharma also blogs at The Huffington Post,

Parvez writes for The Guardian

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30.6.08

Am I Homophobic?

Question of the day, maybe the week, as all these PRIDES and much of the drug-infused hoopla that comes as a part of them ends...
Am I homophobic around these endless public displays of homosexuality?
In addition-what is worth fighting for? So in the 'Western mindset'-will it now be the battle for gay marriage in America (God knows in some other parts of the 'West'-it is a battle that is over) and then if that is won, what will be left?
Will the nicely packaged POC's (People of Color) find greater satisfaction if the Whiteness all around them condescends to give them, maybe a few more floats during Pride, maybe more representation on 'Queer' television, maybe carefully chosen Grand Marshalls that can represent 'diversity' in 'our community'?
Why on earth is Delhi now holding a 'Queer' pride-what is the word for 'Queer' in Hindi, or in Urdu, or even in Punjabi?
When will homosexuals really be free? Maybe after they win all the battles of 'identity politics'? Maybe when the Mayor of Tehran marches as Grand Marshall in Tehran gay pride?
Will Americas deep and profound racial divide finally end if Barack HUSSEIN Obama tries (and succeeds) in being less Black (and therefore more acceptable to every bleeding-heart liberal whose heart might just skip a few beats in a Black neighborhood at 2 in the morning?)....

Is the Obamapill really the bitter one America needs to swallow to really be free? And then what is 'freedom' anyway, and on whose terms? For that matter what constitutes the Change we can truly believe in?

Send me your thoughts....

COMING SOON-AM I RACIST?

29.6.08

900 New Love Jihadis!

At the Victoria theater in San Franciscos Mission district, 900 people showed up to see the film. Their love and the admiration for the film has been palpable and beautiful. This is a city where, in many ways, I did start my journey, so to be here again is amazing.

I must confess-I am feeling a little bit post-gay today-as the pride parade goes on outside my hotel window. The middle-eastern float just passed by and I wonder why all the 'people of color' are always put together in a section with the other non-whites. It is a phenomenon I have often referrred to (infamously) as 'the unbearable whiteness of being (and I did try and seek copyright)...By statistical fact 'queers' (or whatever they call that these days) should constitute a minority and even this minority, like many others, likes to ghettoize its very own...

This email from Brad
"Loved your film A Jihad for Love. Saw it yesterday at Frameline. Will definitely try to organize a group of friends to see it in August. I'm friends with Bassam here in SF, and the boys back at Helem in Beirut. Congrats on the wonderful doc!! Brad.".

This is a blog post comment I find interesting...I reproduce only the part I agree with (Its on a blog called "Life with Movies and Maxxxx)
"This could be one of the biggest, if most unique documentaries of the year. It is a simple look at the dilemma, sometimes life threatening, of being a gay Muslim. Interviews with Muslims all over the globe reveal a diaspora of people who have chosen to live true to themselves, yet honor the religion that condemns them. It can be difficult to view, as a great deal of the film protects the anonymity of its subjects. Much of it is out of focus. However, it isn't done out of shame, as much as to protect the interviewees and their families from arrest and, in some cases, death sentences. The technique is used to nearly poetic effect, as these people who we can not see, are also not "seen" by the cultures they are part of. The segments which are in clear focus are also some of the most disturbing: i.e., a discussion between a father and his children about what they feel is just punishment for being gay. They talk in harrowing frankness, particularly since they know that the man they are talking to, their father, is gay."

Ofcourse, this one (badly spelt and framed)
hey assholes islam, is the religion that made a person stop killing the women... and you assholes used to have sex with your sisters but islam prohibit it.not even islam but ur sense do not allow to be gay.... if you assholes have god then go ask your god that why he ceated women..... go read some bible or something and then come and talk .....and for the muslims that support gay then u have chosen right path to go in hell asholes/

This from someone in a '100 percent Muslim society'...
I'm a muslim, and I support the gay rights! Unlike what you may think, I don't live in a western country but a 100% muslim society. Tolerance is essential. In order for you to condemn gays, what do you know about them? And who the hell do you think you are in order to decide who should live or die? This movie is about gay muslims who are attached to their faith and are gay.

And here is another comment...
As a Muslim, I truly believe that being gay is wrong, God created Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve. Being gay is a sin in the laws and rules of Islam.But if a Muslim decides that he is gay, then I would disagree with him being gay, but it is his life. There are thousands and thousands of Muslims that break Islamic laws, and I would be lying if i were to say I've never broken them. But if a muslim wants to be gay then let him be gay. Its better than blowing yourself up and killing innocent people

25.6.08

Houston Chronicle

Am on the road again. And am constantly amazed- at how much this film is speaking to Americans in this year, being billed as the 'Change' year.
Meanwhile do read this new feature in The Houston Chronicle

A Battle for love and religion

I am now in San Francisco-more coming soon!

18.6.08

CNN Interview with Parvez Sharma

The interview is on YouTube-click on the link below (I will soon find a way to embed it in here, its amazing how technologically challenged I can still be after making this film-but then all of this embed/ html code stuff is new to us filmmakers ; )

http://www.ajihadforlove.com/video.html or just click on the hyperlink above.

Today I will also be doing a panel discussion about 'How Documentaries Get Made' -get info by clicking on this hyperlink


Finally, off to Houston tomorrow where I will be doing Q and A's at the Angelika theater the entire weekend. Please tell all your friends and lets get all those Desis that live down there in Bushland to come out in large numbers! Again click on this hyperlink to buy your tickets!


Some interesting tidbits in today-
"
it should be clear that homosexuality is sinful and shameful. In Islamic terminology it is called 'Al-Fahsha' or an atrocious and obscene act. Islam teaches that believers should neither do the obscene acts, nor in any way indulge in their propagation. Allah says, "Those who love (to see) obscenity published broadcast among the Believers will have a grievous Penalty in this life and in the Hereafter: Allah knows, and you know not." (Al-Nur: 19)"

and
In Hadith, the Prophet, pbu peace upon him, clarifies the gravity of this abomination by saying: "Allah curses the one who does the actions of the people of Lut" repeating it three times; and he said in another Hadith: " If a man comes upon a man then they are both adulterers"
Here, he considered homosexuality tantamount to adultery in relation to the Shari'ah punishments because it is an abomination on the one hand and the definition of adultery applies to it on the other hand.

Finally...
"We severely disapprove this act of homosexuality in Islam. However we have to remember to hate the act and not the people.
I have a question for the muslim brothers and sisters who have fallen into homosexuality. Obviously we all have faults,we all make mistakes,and we hope and ask our rabb for forgiveness for our shortcomings. and we try to stay away from those mistakes and sins. But from the Islamic view, what evidence do u find to publicly declare that IN ISLAM homosexuality is allowed."

17.6.08

CNN!

I was just on CNN International-The World Today (promise to upload the video soon)
But in our strangely online world-within minutes of my finishing the LIVE interview I received on facebook the following email from Kent!

hey there...i'm in Mozambique this week conducting a training and just saw your piece on CNN! Very well done....and definately getting some great expsosure! Congrats!

ISLAM=SUBMISSION

I have just returned from screening the film in the heart of Mormon country-Salt Lake City (much more on that soon) to find this:

This website is a joke. Islam translated into English = Submission to Almighty God. The Quran is quite clear regarding its strong stance against homosexuality. You should really take the time to learn more about Islam before creating such a blog.
Salaam

The person does sign off with a very polite 'Salaam'.
The film is now in its LAST THREE DAYS at the IFC in New York-Come one, Come all ; )

Meanwhile Hassan writes:
It bring tears to my eyes to see there is still so much ignorance within the muslim community. I'm tired of people in general using religion as an excuse for their bigotry.
Love is a beautiful thing and I'm sure Allah agrees. :)

And this from my time in LSD land...
I'm a "recovering" LDS Mormon and I saw your film at Hollins. My brother went on a Mission and went through a program to re-condition himself OUT of being gay...I'd be interested to hear what kind of response you get as it seems to me the LDS Church has a lot in common with Muslim faith in that you should "Marry, Pray or Fast the problem away" and there is NO other options offerred than that.
Melanie

This from someone who actually saw the film-
i saw the film tonight - it is ABSOLUTELY AWESOME.. some of the cinematography is so breathtakingly, severely beautiful...and so appropriately positioned along with the narratives - i am so so so proud of u!! Bravo! And congratulations for the fantastic response it got - my only shikva is that my beloved Pakistan is covered briefly..But i still loved it and so did my friends who i took along.

13.6.08

Jewish settler attack on Palestinian shepherd family caught on video.


The Israeli human rights group, Bt'selem, handed out over 100 video cameras to Palestinians in these volatile areas in the West Bank to document examples of settler violence in the hopes that it will force the behavior to change.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7451691.stm

BBC's description of the footage:
Over the brow of the hill walk four masked men holding baseball bats. To the right of the screen, in the foreground, stands a 58-year-old Palestinian woman. Thamam al-Nawaja has been herding her goats close to the Jewish settlement of Susia, near Hebron in the southern West Bank. Within a few seconds, she, along with her 70-year-old husband and one of her nephews, will be beaten up.As the first blows land, the woman filming - the daughter-in-law of the elderly couple - drops the camera and runs for help.

11.6.08

Death Threats and Love

Infact does the whole team including the remarkable human beings in the film need security, now? So there is this email (misspelt again)...

Im going to by to tell it how it is....Parvez Sharma needs to be killed no long thing
not forgeting the whole cast of the movie..make a example of sick people who try to mix there bullshit it the truth

Also this 'priceless' one
Parvez:
a gay muslim movie by 'Halal films'?? 'haram films' more like
Yes, 'gay muslims' do exist even tho its a contradiction in terms.
They can't read from the same Quraan that we do....how can they ignore the verses on homosexuality? the stories of the people of Hadhrat Lut PBUH are mentioned countless times in the Quraan...and still they do not heed... will they need a shower of hailstones/ an earthquake before they understand???


And then there is this email from Karin, someone who actually saw the film TWICE! And yes she is straight, no she is not Muslim and yes she brought her husband-how beautiful is this email and how heartfelt...

Dear Parvez,

As I walked into the dark hallway, a man holding a flashlight asked me “are you here for Jihad?” Without thinking I said yes. An hour and a half later I stepped out of the theater a fighter for Jihad, a Jihad for Love that is.

That same night, when I started to hand out flyers for the movie, I got responses going from “Why do you even care? You are a straight Catholic” to “I don’t know if that flyer creates a good image. I do not have an issue with the guys holding hands but that crescent moon looks so radical.” Those reactions are exactly why your movie, and its message, is important.

In my opinion we live in a society of boxes. Most people only socialize within their religion, their ethnicity, their standards. I feel that this unfamiliarity with other people creates mistrust and hostility and lately Muslims and homosexuals had to take a big burden of it. Gays and lesbians are accused of jeopardizing straight marriages simply by fighting for the right to have their own nuptials. Muslims see their religion deemed as radical and their people as savages who will not stop until the last infidel is beheaded. To my astonishment this anxiety grew to such proportions that a presidential candidate is easily branded a closet terrorist for having Hussein as a middle name and a coffee ad is being pulled because the spokesperson is wearing an ‘Arab looking’ scarf.

My husband (Indian Hindu) and I (Belgian Catholic) learned first hand that different cultures don’t merge without its problems and misunderstandings but we also found that some troubles and joys are the same wherever. It is easy enough to recognize the feelings of pain, sorrow, happiness and the need for belonging as seen in your movie. The pain of a mother who can no longer visit her son, the sorrow for a love lost, the joy of a pleasurable first meeting with your love’s family, the need for a spiritual connection…

I convinced my husband that this was a must see movie. Secretly I was looking forward to hearing his opinion, the opinion of a straight thinking guy. “That was great wasn’t it,” he said when the credits started rolling. Prodded to explain what he thought was so great about it, he held “it was very emotional; it must be so difficult for them.” He also added something that to me clarifies the success of the movie “it is well put together, very smooth and what he did with the penguin was the best part.”

Your movie is indeed “well put together”. This second viewing gave me a chance to take in even more of the wonderful editing, splendid details and subtext. Being that the filming had to be done in secret most of the time, the photography is surprisingly beautiful. I wish you all the best showing ‘A Jihad for Love’ in different cities and countries and hope for many successful Q&A’s.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. As John Lennon said “you can say I am a dreamer but I am not the only one.” As much as I would like to see a world without boxes, for now I’ll settle for seeing bridges between them. Simple things make me happy. Noticing your and Sandi’s name as Producers was one of them.

Love,

Karin



RC saw the film and made 'Parvez' her middle name!


hi parvez
I went to see your film yesterday (as part of celebrating my 30th birthday) and was just so, so moved. i thought it was beautifully done, and i was struck by all the sheer effort that must've gone into a project like this. many many kudos to you for making something this important. i'm going to make sure everyone i know sees it during its fourth week.
- r parvez c (!)

Finally Imam Muhsin Hendricks has responded to Ashok Row Kavi's 'Hindutva' email as follows:
On the contrary Ashok, Allah is an arabic word made up of "Al", meaning "the" and "ilah", meaning "diety of worship". It is an Islamic first injunction to bring all attention to The Single Original Force which we call "The only diety worthy of worship", simply because HE/SHE is the Origin of all things that became possible. Allah (as redefined through the Quran) has nothing to do with pre-Islamic idolatory which you want to create a connection to. I'm sorry if Islam seems to you as an attack on the gods you wish to worship. I totally respect your choice of worship and I will defend your right to do so. I'm requesting the same.
Love
Imam Muhsin

10.6.08

The Fourth Week is Upon Us

Tomorrow we will begin our fourth week at the IFC with two new showtimes: 3 45 and 6:45. Please show up in large numbers this weekend-we need to prove that this film has longevity at the US Box Office, so that more films like this one you love can follow behind our example!
Here are two new emails:
Parvez,
I thoroughly enjoyed watching "A Jihad for Love" this last weekend and have been thinking about it ever since. One of the points I have been coming back to is that it is a portrayal about the diversity of Islam itself. From the outside, I think many of us lump all of Islam into one homogenous entity. I imagine that similarly, many non-Christians view all Christianity as the same, non-Jews Judaism, etc.
In your film, I saw first-hand how different Islam can be from country to country, and thus by extension how different the experiences of gay Muslims can be from one country to another. While I knew Turkey was a secular state, it still amazed me that gay Iranians could find sanctuary in another Muslim country.
Which brings me to the sad and angry emails you have been getting. What they seem to have in common is a sense that there must be a single right way to be a Muslim (which seems to include a 'death to all gays' line item) and that all other paths must be wrong. To me, the fact that Islam is interpreted so differently in so many different places around the world suggests that there are in fact many right ways to be a Muslim and that some of those approaches might involve tolerance towards gays and lesbians.
I don't expect that your film will change the most closed-minded people out there, but I do believe that as more people see it, more will begin to understand the complexity around reconciling an individual's sexuality with their religion and culture. What our all-too-often violent world needs is more understanding, not less.
Wishing you all the best,
L. James

And this rather tongue-in-cheek email from Indian gay rights activist, Ashok Rowk Kavi (who I love but whose Hindutva rhetoric sometimes escapes me!):
Honourable Imam Muhsin Hendricks,
I read your comments to my posting which first appeared on the SAJA list. I am a bit surprised that you insist on calling Allah by the female gender. The word Allah is the male version of Lat, one of the three Holy Virgins of Arabia, Al-Lah being the male term of her name LAT. The three Holy Virgins being Lat, Ozza and Mannat.
The Prophet usurped their temples in Makka six centuries after the Jewish myth figure of Yesuha bin Yusef (Jesus, son of Joseph). So if you wish to use the female gender please use the correct one by saying LAT.
However, the Prophet DID try and revert to the cult of the Holy Virgins of Arabia in what are called the Satanic Verses, mentioning which got the Islamic apostate Salman Rushdie into trouble.
I recommend you read Al-Kindy to know about the damage caused by Islam to the cults of the Three Holy Virgins of Arabia....
I am preparing a bigger version of my retort to you on my blog 'Gileri Uvacha', which means 'The Squirrel Speaks', after the legend of the blessed animal which contributed little pebbles in building the great Bridge Maryada Purshottam Sri Ram built from India to Sri Lanka in 3000 BCE to cross over and rescue his wife Sita from the demon Ravana.
There I will give you the historical context of the hatred for homosexuality that is a cultural indicator of the Semitic tribal cults of the Judaic group of Abrahamic theogonies.
I will not go further in talking to you on this blog as my friend Parvez Sharma calls it the Islamic "Universe" which I deny as there is more to humanity besides Islam -- or Hinduism!.
In the name of the Three Holy Virgins of Arabia, I bless you with the symbol of their mukut (crown) the Crescent and Star, which has been appropriated on the pendant of Islam.
-- Ashadevi Saundatti, devotee of Her Holiness Renuka Devi in South India, where the Dharma of Holy Temple Prostitution is still followed as in pre-Islamic Arabia (Ashok Row Kavi)

9.6.08

KEEP A STRONG HEART

That is the title of an email I just received from "J" in Massachusetts. I reproduce it below

Dear Parvez,

So much has happened to all religions over the centuries. God has been reinvented as disapproving of His own creation, His own manifestations. Yet the great beings of all times have repeatedly assured us that God dwells within us as we are, in whatever form we take, and that we must honor and respect ourselves as living forms of God.

Your Muslim brothers who may condemn you are victims of forgetting these truths. I know some so-called Christians may also condemn you. I feel sorry for their ignorance of God's true nature, which is love for His entire creation, every one of us. Stay strong in the truth as you know it, no matter what. May we all know God's true nature of unconditional love one day.

Love to you, "J"

7.6.08

STONING ME?

I have just received the email below from someone who goes by "Bashar Abu Kwaik". Other than the abusive tone, the 'emailer' also needs a spell check.

"How can a fag call him self a muslim this fuckin queer butty boy fi fi man must be stonned to death, ur kind are doomed.Allahu Akbar wake up Muslims"

Today seems to be my day of abuse- Here is another choice email from someone who saw me on DN! I am 'this bastard'.

"This bastard has never read the Quran, otherwise he wud have heard of the people of Lut who were destroyed for this sin (gayness). This person has never tasted iman, and he is the furthest away from islam. He has no right to call himself muslim when he doesnt even understand islam. It because of people like him may people turn gay. Thats why he should be killed, to stop this disease spreading.Many lives can be ruined from letting him speak like the donkey he is.homo isnt biological, its mental"

And then someone else, who does not seem to get the nuance of my positions on Iran in these times- says

"By all means keep your opinion to yourself. Do u belive there is a competision between Mobarak and Ahmadinejad? Ahmadinejad said exacly what he said and he meant it. "we do have this(gay people) in Iran."

More emails that I have found and some of which have been sent to me directly- a couple use very offensive language but I find it necessary to reproduce them to try and make you, my dear readers understand why this film and this work is so important:

"Muslim and Gay can't go together! If Islam is "treating gays badly" then go to another religion GOSH! And just change religions quietly if you don't want people to know so Sharia Law won't kill you in Islamic Countries. Sharia law isn't even enforced in Iran and Afghanistan. So why would you"


"1. Why still be a "Gay Muslim" if the religion treats you bad? Why not become something else.
2. Allah says in the Quran that he flipped over a whole entire city of homosexuals. Why? Because he felt like it?
No, because in our religion and others such as Judaism, and Christianity, homosexuality is prohibited.
Be gay, just not Muslim or any other religion that prohibits it.
Think of it, you wouldn't go through all that "Jihad" if you just said you weren't Muslim."

"I have not seen this movie yet, although I want to. But with all due respect to the filmmaker, the best way to live your life openly and happily, and to be who you are, is to leave Islam behind. This is the same advice I have for any gays and lesbians who are religious, regardless of what your faith is. Until you leave all that superstitious nonsense behind you, you will not be able to live the way you want and truly be free."

"astagfriallah! Allah is going to throw all of these homosexuals in jahanem!"

"al-Tirmidhi (1456), Abu Dawood (4462)and Ibn Maajah (2561) narrated that Ibn 'Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.". Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.
"And (remember) Loot (Lot), when he said to his people: 'Do you commit the worst sin such as none preceding you has committed in the 'Aalameen (mankind and jinn)?
81. 'Verily, you practise your lusts on men instead of women. Nay, but you are a people transgressing beyond bounds (by committing great sins).'
82. And the answer of his people was only that they said: 'Drive them out of your town, these are indeed men who want to be pure (from sins)!"

"Allah has created 2 paths in this world for us to follow...the good and the bad..and it is up to us to choose whatever path we want to be in...Allah also remind us that we have to be responsible on the path that we choose...but then again Allah is merciful..Allah says that if you commit sins, u can still ask for forgiveness from Allah..and with sincere apologies, insyaAllah, Allah will accept your taubah and with the condition that you have abandoned ur sins...allahu a'alam..."

"As a visitor to Kuala Lumpur, Oman, Dubai, Morocco and other Muslim countries, I respect and follow your conservative islamic traditions. In MY country, our values are not the same... England and much of Western Europe enjoys a non-religious society and the freedom and tolerance this brings. Increasingly I am sick and tired of Islam invading our Western libertarian values. If you don't like it here in the West, piss off back then. It has to work both ways!"


"the greatest jahad is against desire (nafs) its to stop your desires from being attracted to men Allah mentioned in Quran story of the peoples of hazrat loot in which Allah destroyed the people when they were told to stop being involved in homosexuality they chose to carry on so Allah Punished them and the only reason i think its in the Quran is becasue for those people who are gay can learn to stop because gay is not a choice that we make but having gay sex is a chice made my us so please stop"

"This is sad in whatever way you look at it. It doesn't rightfully show what really Islam is about, and that "shiekh" or whoever he is. Homosexuality is not punishable. If you commit "homosexual sex" , that is punishable for, and its not nececcarily by death. Its true, ofcourse u can be a homo and still pratice Islam, its rude to say otherwise. Just a word of advice to you muslim homosexuals, go learn more about your religion. Then, you'll reach a level when ull realise how grave is ur sin is."

"You know what? If you're gay, FUCK YOU! If you're a leasbian, FUCK YOU! And who the fuck would nail someone from behind fucktards? That would get some shit and such on your cock that has a delicate membrane then the shit would get into your blood, then you'd be shitbloodded then I would blow your fucking chest with a rock if I saw you.. Homosexual cunts are against all religions and should be fucking killed and left for the hawks."

Finally here is a response someone posted after abusive emails (she was referring to one of my interviews and not the foul email above)

WORD!!! May Allah SWT protect this man, he speaks TRUTH!!!

6.6.08

Gay Muslims Make a Familiar Point

Please read this review of the film on The Huffington Post
Gay Muslims Make a Familiar Point

Here is a quote:
In the end, Sharma is challenging us to understand God as all knowing and God as love. Such a spiritual commitment, disarming in its simplicity, would bring crashing down religious bullies and murderers all over the world.

WATCH this great interview with Muhsin, Sandi and myself with Laura Flanders on GRITtv
Laura says:
Ostensibly a film about lesbian and gay life in Muslim countries, this film is much more than a standard account of repression or intolerance. A Jihad For Love is as much about Islam as it is about sexual preference. In fact, it's a sort of coming out story for a culture.

Karin writes:
It was so nice to meet you at the IFC center. As sad as ''A Jihad for Love' is at times, it is also a beautiful and inspiring story about love and religion.

And we really need you all to show up in very large numbers this weekend! AGAIN-WE NEED THE WEEKEND BOX OFFICE NUMBERS TO CONTINUE PLAYING IN NYC-AFTER OR SMASH SUCCESS FIRST TWO WEEKENDS!

4.6.08

SOLD OUT!!!

YES! On a Tuesday night (yesterday) for the 8 pm show "A Jihad For Love" was sold out-out-performing every other film at the cinema. This is amazing and the momentum, buzz, word on the street about this film is HUGE!
We have been extended into a THIRD WEEK at the IFC which begins today with new showtimes. Joining us was an amazing panel of immigration and asylum activists and experts.


Check out their website and get your tickets NOW

We are also opening in Cities ACROSS AMERICA. Check out the website for First Run Features, our distributor to plan now and be there when THIS JIHAD ROLLS INTO YOUR HOMETOWN.

A conference I highly recommend

MUSLIMS FOR PROGRESSIVE VALUES
2nd Annual National Conference
July 17 - 20, 2008
Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York
Muslims for Progressive Values cordially invites you to our second annual National Conference
Join fellow progressive Muslims from around the United States for two days of spiritual refreshment, strategizing for the future, and exploration of this year's theme, Establishing the Progressive Mindset.
Conference Highlights Include:
* Community Building and Media Training by KNP Communications, a
firm whose clients include Fortune 500 companies and Members of
Congress Artists and Authors Night
* An Artists Night showcasing some of the best work by progressive
Muslim artists, authors, and musicians
* The Prophet Muhammad and Social Change, a presentation on the
spiritual message of Islam by Sultan Hameed, co-founder and Director
of Education of the Muslim Reform Movement Organization
* Community in Twelve Houses, an exploration of astronomy and
astrology in Islamic history and the ways in which these lessons still
apply today by internationally-syndicated columnist Jack Fertig
* A Dinner and Evening Entertainment in downtown New York City
* New This Year! Progressive Muslim Youth Conference, a program to
begin a lifelong journey of spirituality, faith, progressive values,
and open, equal community for youth ages 14 and up (a select number of
scholarships are available)
For more information or to register online, please visit http://www.mpvusa.org/
Fee Table
Conference Registration Fee: $65*
Meals (does not include Saturday night dinner and outing): $88*
Lodging for two nights only: $110
Lodging for three nights: $165

* required payment for all participants

3.6.08

Back on FaceBook

Yes!
Back with a cryptic message of my misuse-but Hallelujah! May my recent FaceBook travails serve as a warning to all of us to be extra careful in how we use the site.
Disability is just a mouse click away...
And yes there was a friend request waiting with the following note (from the Netherlands)-
I really loved this film-it fills me with hope-Can I please be your friend?

Also from the same country another message:

‘A Jihad for Love’ is one of the most touching movies I have ever seen. The movie about people who aren’t as other people want them to be. About people who didn’t do anything wrong then only are as they are. I admire them, also for the way they tell the people about their experiences!
It is a shame that what the movie shows, exists in real. It is a shame that there are countries with a very low standard of human rights for gays. It is a shame that in such countries gays can’t live in freedom and with respect and that they have to leave to have a life. To prevent for repudiation, torture or even worse. It is unbelievable hard to leave your country, your family, your friends because of the human that you are. Maybe you will never see them again.
I feel close to them, as I am one of them. I have luck that I am born in a country that has human rights that are equal for both gays and straights.
I am not a better person, so I don’t deserve to have a better life.


My FaceBook remains disabled

A search through a friends account revealed that some other 'Parvez Sharma' had set up an account. Another friend thinks it could be because of some of the groups I had joined-one which supports the Palestinian cause. Someone else says it might be because I was sending emails to my friends lists promoting the film. Yet another theory is that I was adding and accepting too many 'friends'. I have requested the films publicists to take up the matter with FaceBook and we are trying many channels to get through their opacity. So if you are trying to reach me there, as of now I do not exist there. If I am re-instated with the mercy of those tireless facebook employees, nameless and churning out all that html code ; )-then I will let you all know!
I mourn the loss of more than a 1000 friends, many of whom had seen or wanted to see this film. But I also wonder if this is a unique kind of a freedom from a strange online parallel universe.
Most of all I mourn the loss of a young gay Muslim man who was communicating his immense personal struggle with his family to me via FaceBook. You all have read some of his communications.

2.6.08

How do we show this film in Yemen?

I just got this and I feel a little bit helpless. I know people like her really need to see the film.

Dear Paravez,
My name is "E" I am an Arab Muslim lady who leave in Yemen ( Yemen is Conservative country like its neighbors Saudia) I am lesbian and I am no freedom as I might be to killed at any time.
You film give a hope to open an eyes to our rights in the Muslim worlds, I have a wish and I will be grateful if you help me to watch and down load this movie, as this is the only way to see it.
Thanks.
"E"

And this email is from one of our panelists last week...


"I just wanted to say THANK YOU for including me on the panel last week. It was a really great event and it made me really happy that I could be a part of it.
Thank you for making an incredible film: so rich and nuanced, I can't wait to buy it for NYU and teach it. Parvez, I really loved the India section in particular. That material is just priceless (the class stuff, the
discussion about kothi, the persistence of queer desire/practices despite
state or religious sanctions, etc.)
Looking forward to many continuing conversations.
xoxo,
G
"

A Beautiful Email

This is a very erudite deconstruction and analysis of the film from a Muslim audience member I know- with superb intellect. I expected him to have a profound response and I am not surprised that he sees some of the things I tried hard to achieve in this film. I consider this a uniquely Muslim response to a very Muslim film

Dear Parvez,

I didn't get a chance to talk with you much after themovie, so I want to tell you some of my thoughts (Ihope you will indulge me and read them!) before I lost them all.

I am very glad that thereis a film like this out there on this subject. For people who are curious about Islam, for people curious about LGBT people in Islam, and for people who want to enjoy a beautiful movie. I loved it.

I found it very touching, a very personal exploration for the different subjects of what it means to them to be Muslim and gay and how they reconcile the two (or for one - don't; it was sad to see her wish to be punished because she is so conflicted).

As I think I told you, I especially enjoyed the visual comments on political issues related to the subject, like how you raised an issue for lesbian Muslims ofthe secondary status that woman have in contemporary Islam through a variety of scenes, like the one wheremen insist they must be given a right of way through an area of a mosque that is reserved for women, and the sign at a mosque that prohibits women entry through the front door. These are just two of the many other commentaries I found in your film which were not made explicit, but filmically delivered.

I do wonder whether people who don't have even a basic understanding of Islam and the issues facing Muslims today would "get it." Would they understand that these are regional traditions not required by Islam? The same with the lesbian from an African country that practices FGM (Christians in those countries do it to- and Muslims from other areas don't). She does say"it's all nonsense," about those who say it is Islamic, but it's not an exposition or anything.

I am
tired of meeting non-Muslims who think it is required by Islam. To someone who doesn't know this, it couldbe confused, but then again, I know, no one in themovie says of any of the practices depicted, "This is Islam" either.

I can only imagine the amount of work it took to findenough people who were devout and willing to be filmed, and I think you did a great job of trying to have gender balance. It's not a 1:1 ratio, but youhave a fair balance. I think it's great two of thefive women in the film chose to show their faces.Even better that they participated in the panel at the
film's premiere in Turkey (even more interesting because of the subject of faith within the one majority Muslim country that is a secular state).

I really like that the film showed a great part of the diversity within Islam without being an apology for Islam (and thank you for including parts of the sermon from the Turkish imam on the importance of love as the basis for all human relationships). Yet I do wish it had been more diverse (a southeast Asian country: Indonesia? and a majority Muslim Sub-Saharan African country: Mali or somewhere around there? Maybe Muslims from Guyana? Maybe I would have been satisfied with a slide at the beginning that showed a map of the Muslim world, members of the IOC?). I realize that as hard as it was to get the people you did get, doing more would have been that much harder.

Anyway, I don't think I realized some of the pain I carry around until I saw (and was moved to tears at some points) the real pain of the people you filmed. Pain from their inner struggles, but also pain that results from the persecutions of LGBT folk in different countries and the real fear that they live with -- and the consequences to their families.

I think your film will start (has started! must start!) a dialogue within Islamic communities and families about how we should be treating our brothers and sisters (and hopefully every part of Creation).

And for Muslims it has some important reminders: as the quote from the Qur'an carved into a mosque's walls that the two lesbians read warns, there are hypocrites and falsely pious people whose outward signs of piety cannot obscure their lack of Islamic ethics in how
they treat their fellow human beings, and the Turkish Imam and Muhsin Hendricks talking about loving God and stress the compassion and mercy of God.

ANYWAY -- that was a bit longer than I originally intended. Thank you again for making this movie. I would definitely recommend it to all my friends and family. And I have. :) I hope to see you soon. Let
me know in what way I can volunteer and help you with this project.

Love/Peace, K

1.6.08

"To a Real Muslim this is an Attack"

This from Egypt:

"i know that by now; all the western world considers the gays issue to be a normal thing; not only this but it also gays have organization to defend them and their rights.
but to Muslims; this will never be a normal thing to deal with, as Islam consider this kind of human behavior to be one of the greatest sins that can be ever committed.
the main idea of Islam is to make the world look more and more like a Utopia, and this can not be achieved by challenging nature or changing the way that GOD set things to be.
i mean what will happen if the majority of men became gays and the majority of women became lesbians; Human race will start to extinct, there will be now children no Love in way we always knew it and all relationships will be based on sexual needs only, what kind of world is that.
i am not saying that there are no gays or lesbians who still call themselves Muslims.
but according to Islam they can not be considered Muslims anymore, so you can not take this movie by any mean as a point of view of a Muslim.
i know that what is being said about Islam every time you open the news channel do not support what i am saying, but please remember what was said about Christians and Jesus in the days of the roman empire.
i just wanna say that not everyone grows a beard or says i am Muslim is a real Muslim."

But as I discover every night as I answer questions in the theater-things are not always as they seem. The discussions audiences are having with me and the 'subjects' in the film seem to be widening in scope and depth...so much, really-happens in that cinema every night. I feel that in some small way I have already contributed something to the world.

Here are some more emails (as always I dont reveal a persons identity unless they permit me to)

O jihadist of love,
I cried thru the movie, almost of all of it, from as soon as it starts.
It’s amazing how really it’s a movie about faith – despite all the odds and the terrible wrongdoings of clerics – the desperate clutching to hope, faith, god, book, rays of light is immensely touching and inspiring.
I can see how this film, like trembling, can have a serious impact on generating conversation and change in the Muslim world. This is incredible and if only a tenth of the impact trembling had – it is already enough. Amazing grace.
Thank you much....Love you for doing this and very in awe of the work you have done on this.

And one more:

Hello, Parvez!

It was a pleasure (and an unexpected surprise) meeting you at the screening of JIHAD at IFC last night. Again, congrats on the success of the film and my appreciation on the dialogue it is bringing up. Hope that you feel the six years were well spent.Please stay in touch. I look forward to hearing what is on the horizon for you...

Followers

This JIHAD IS ON FIRE

September 2007 is when I started (with a finished film, my first) and now some 49 countries and 8 million people later, the whole world is talking. The movement around this work has begun worldwide. We will be screening next year around the world and yes in Muslim countries as well.

For more updates email me at parvezsharmaATgmailDOTcom and post your comments here as well.


Imam Muhsin Hendricks and his website for the Inner Circle

Director/Producer Parvez Sharma

Director/Producer Parvez Sharma
All the Breaking News around 'A Jihad for Love' is at this blog address. You can email Parvez directly at parvezsharmaATgmailDOTcom

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