November 1, 2010

Queer Review: A Jihad for Love

A Jihad for Love is a documentary directed by Parvez Sharma that tells the stories of LGBTQA Muslims from around the globe. Most of the interviewees are from very fundamentalist countries, like Pakistan, and therefore the story that is told is that of intolerance towards queer Muslims.

Many of the subjects speak of the prejudices and fear that they face on a daily basis from within the Islamic faith. One memorable passage has a Muslim scholar speaking with imam about passages of the Qur'an that deal with homosexuality. When the scholar claims that the Qur'an passage regarding the fate of the Sodom and Gomorrah nations is really condemning male on male rape, the imam replies with that one cannot interpret the Qur'an as one pleases. The imam then goes on to claim that the only debate should be about the method one uses to kill a convicted homosexual.

There are also plenty of moving and intimate stories told by A Jihand for Love. The dreams of the films subjects are those of ordinary humans, the desire to be close to friends and family or to be able to live openly with their true identity.

The faces of most of the people chronicled are usually blurred or otherwise obscured, thereby underlining the danger most of them face. In an interview with The New York Times, Sharma said, "One young Afghan woman I've interviewed, if her family found out about her being lesbian they would undoubtedly kill her. So it's unavoidable. In certain circumstances, I'm going to have to conceal faces. But I'd rather not."

The film was obviously shot on a low budget, with grainy footage and other then a couple of talking heads segments, uses mostly hand held cameras. This greatly helps to enhance the immediacy of the film and the subject matter that it deals with.

In the end, this is a fascinating documentary and I highly recommend it for anyone who wishes
to know more about LGBTQA issues within Islam.

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