Hussein is a recipient of the 2018-2019 MALA Scholarship Program. In accordance with MALA’s mission, this program awards scholarships to individuals who demonstrate ambition, integrity, and leadership through the art of storytelling. To learn more about MALA’s Scholarship opportunities, click here.
My journey isn’t the most cheerful. I am a Muslim boy who also identifies as gay. Some might say that’s a contradiction, but I say that’s just life.
I was raised by two immigrant parents in Arizona, my parents did their absolute best to try and raise me to be the best I could be. Sadly, like every human being ever, I was flawed. Not because of me being a naughty kid at times, but by being a Muslim. I was flawed in the eyes of the world. To add on top of that, I am also gay! Which made me vulnerable to many insults by not just the non-muslim community but also by the very people who I called my brothers and sisters.
It was really hard in the beginning. Trying to understand how a Muslim can be gay. It was a very long inner turmoil that spanned years. I spent so many sleepless nights trying and begging God to one day help me and to fix me. I would go to school and be mocked for being gay, being called “faggot” and “a disgrace to Islam.” Some days the racism displayed by my schoolmates would be too much for me to handle. There was this one kid in my class, his name was Esteven. He had a thing against Muslims, due to what happened at 9/11. He used to get this English-Arabic dictionary and try to insult me in Arabic in front of the class, calling me terrorist or sometimes just cussing me out. I’ve never in my life felt so much enmity from people just because I was a Gay Muslim.
Imagine a kid who thinks the world is this good place and that everyone is good kind, well that was me. I always assumed that if you were to be kind to someone then in turn the other person would be kind to you as well. As everyone knows by now that isn’t true. As stated before I am gay. Now I am extremely happy and blessed to be gay, but at one point it wasn’t always like that. I would go to the Mosque for prayer and listen to the sermons given by scholars, but there would always be a group of people who would sit behind me and insult me in English as to not let the elders around understand.
The extent of people insulting me for being a Gay Muslim or a “Walking Sinner” or a “Muslim Contradiction” got too much for me to bare. I slipped into a deep depression that lasted a couple years. I would harm myself because engraved in my brain were the words “disgrace” and “faggot.”
When I was in this depression, I fell into the world of religion. Not just Islam, but all of the main world religions, but of course Islam was my main focus. I started researching the world of Islam. From the early on Battle of Badr to the occultation of the 12th Imam. Within this research I fell in love with knowledge. I tried my best to learn everything I could within the 3 years I was going through my depression.
I learned a lot, but one thing always bothered me. Gays vs. Muslims. Was there an explanation, or a hadith that would make me feel better about myself… After extensive months of researching and going to the library, I found something that would give me hope, a small vague hadith. I don’t quite remember who the female in the hadith was or when it was narrated or by who, but it was about this village prostitute who was one day exiled from the village, she was walking within the hot and dry heat of Arabian desert. While she was walking she felt thirsty, she wanted to drink, and thankfully she brought water. However, a dog came out of nowhere thirsty, she thought about drinking the water and quenching her thirst, but she decided to give her remaining water to the dog. She died later due to dehydration. The hadith then goes on to say when she was asked by Allah why she gave the water to the dog instead of quenching her own thirst she said that it wouldn’t be right for her to drink when she could help quench a dog’s thirst. She in the end entered heaven.
This hadith is the basis of my belief that Allah (SWT) is indeed a being who awards more than he punishes. This village prostitute, who slept with many people and was seen as a “walking Sinner”, went to heaven for one good deed. I thought if I were to live my life in a manner that please God then maybe I could have a chance. I started having hope, that hope has stayed with me till now and forever will stay with me.
God is love! I believe that God helped me by allowing me to delve into the world of Islam more and giving me hope with that hadith. All those years of begging and crying, asking God to fix me, in the end turned out to be worth it. Now I walk around proud of who I am and no affected by what anyone else says. This path I took not only helps me accept my Muslim self and my Gay self, but also allows me to help other gay Muslims. It allows me to save lives and give hope to the people that think that there is no hope left in this world.
Everyone who believes in a God knows that the Lord works in mysterious ways. I witnessed this first hand. After years and years of suffering all these insults by my own religious brethren, I one day woke up thinking that it doesn’t matter what you are or how you identify. Allah is Al Rahim. He is the most merciful. I came to the conclusion that as long as I do good in this world and not go around doing bad then Allah wouldn’t mind. In the end it’s what’s in your heart.