The Signs in Ourselves: Exploring Queer Muslim Courage
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Cover Image of “The Signs in Ourselves: Exploring Queer Muslim Courage”, written and compiled by Liy Yusof, with art and design by Dhiyanah Hassan. Cover image shows a rainbow with clouds on either end, with …

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Connections, Possibilities and Joy: Reflections from the Healing Circles (2020)

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“Collective healing spaces are hard for me to do on my own. Sometimes you need collective motivation. This really helps me work on my well being” – Saleha. [A quote from the Healing Circles, hosted by CSBR & RESURJ in 2020, illustrated by Sonaksha Iyengar (www.sonaksha.com)]

From October – December 2020, CSBR and RESURJ collaborated to host the Healing Circles, a 5-part workshop series to deepen solidarity, connection and care. As networks, we hoped to create a space for feminists that centred the politics of pleasure, wellbeing and resilience, while collaboratively addressing the deep impacts of personal, systemic and intergenerational traumas that as activists we face daily in our movement building. It felt especially timely to hold these gentle spaces, as we passed the first half-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eighteen of us participated in the virtual spaces, connecting from all across the globe. We joined together from Brazil, Chile, Canada, Egypt, France, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Spain, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and the UK. Throughout the Healing Circles, we explored varied body-based, spiritual and communication practices. This supported us to articulate what healing meant to each of us, within the context of our daily lives, our mother tongues, our gendered experiences, and the socio-political landscapes we found ourselves within. We journeyed together through a mix of casual conversation, creative expression, practices of non-violent communication. We were led through experiences of somatic exploration, authentic dance, and shamanic journeying by healers & activists embedded within feminist movements.

Our shared experiences and reflections affirmed the ways healing and transformation emerge from an attention to our bodies & spirits. They also affirmed the expansive pathways that arise from decolonizing the mainstream, capitalist & individual takes on self-care & wellness which increasingly dominate public discourse. We left with a consensus on the strength & necessity of work that supports collective care and resiliency as an integral part of movement-building.

The Healing Circles were co-facilitated by Marisa Viana and Rima Athar, along with Aizat Shakieva, Hilal Demir, Niza Solari Oyarzo. We’re glad to share records of the conversation highlights here, documented by Jamila Abbas and illustrated by Sonaksha Iyengar (www.sonaksha.com). Email us with thoughts, and please share widely with attribution. We hope it inspires similar spaces wherever you are.

Opening Circle: Connections, Possibilities & Joy

“Connections, Possibilities & Joy”: a graphic record by Sonaksha Iyengar of the opening of the Healing Circles, co-hosted by CSBR & RESURJ. Click the image above to view in full detail.
“I am the soft of my upper arms, and the firm rounded curves of my strong tan shoulders. I used to think I am the things I carry, and now I want to be the person holding myself, me and my shadows all in one embrace” – Syar. [A quote from the Healing Circles, hosted by CSBR & RESURJ in 2020, illustrated by Sonaksha Iyengar]
“I see communication as a tool for human connection. The goal is to hear ourselves from the heart. We are different not only culturally, but personally too. But if there is pain in the heart, will it come through? Our emotions and needs are the universal language that we all know, and we can hear each other’s heart through it” – Hilal Demir. [A quote from the Healing Circles, hosted by CSBR & RESURJ in 2020, illustrated by Sonaksha Iyengar]
“Is it possible for us to begin to hold space to feel comfortable in our bodies? It is interesting to be able to do this virtually, giving us the chance to share as much or as little of ourselves as we want” – Marisa. [A quote from the Healing Circles, hosted by CSBR & RESURJ in 2020, illustrated by Sonaksha Iyengar]
“Being older than all of you, I can say this: Take time for you. Do things nobody else can do for you because you have to do it. Play instruments or listen to music that moves your soul. Touch yourself, make love to yourself. Take your time, it’s very important. Don’t go for peace, peace is an invention. Go for revolution, revolution is life. The capitalism systems want us to be sad and angry. Resist it. Resist it by being joyful.” – Niza Solari Oyarzo. [A quote from the Healing Circles, hosted by CSBR & RESURJ in 2020, illustrated by Sonaksha Iyengar]

Closing Circle: Connecting Mind, Body & Voice

“Connecting Mind, Body & Voice”, a graphic record by Sonaksha Iyengar of the closing of the Healing Circles, co-hosted by CSBR & RESURJ. Click the image above to view in full detail.

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