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“Befriending the Quran” Community Courses

Since January 2020, CSBR has organized a series of short thematic online courses designed to support community building, self-reflection, and knowledge building through textual Quranic engagement for LGBTIQ Muslim activists across Asia and Africa.

These on-going “Befriending the Quran” courses are driven through a collaborative process with activists across South and Southeast Asia, and grow out of CSBR’s movement building work for queer Muslims.

See descriptions of previous courses below, and stay tuned for new course openings.

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Ethico-Emotional Resources in Quranic Narratives (February – March 2020)

In this we will engage in close textual study of Quranic texts in an open and critical environment respectful of all points of view, beliefs and lack thereof, in our class. After setting forth the hermeneutical frameworks in which our studies might proceed we shall be focusing on some Quranic narratives and more specifically on the ethical and emotional content of the events that the characters experience.

While Quran acknowledges that humans have a range of emotions and inclinations, it also proposes an ethical scale for the expression and development of these emotions. Thus, while feeling and being aware of one’s emotions and desires is a sign of maturity, the manner in which emotions and desires are expressed or pursued is situated within an ethical framework provided by the Quran.

In this course, we will explore our own personal ideas, reflections and definitions of these ideas and frameworks. While the ethical framework in the Quran is embedded in a certain theology and cosmology, a secular reader need not subscribe to it in order to appreciate the existential significance of the ethico-emotional character formations dramatized in Quranic narratives.

It is our aim that the course participants will gain a level of familiarity with Quranic texts, an intimacy with Quranic characters and access to ethico-emotional resources of the Quran by the end of the course.

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The Balance between the Prophetic and the Mystic (May – July 2020)

This 8-week community course is intended for Muslim LGBTQI activists to approach and engage with the Quranic texts in a safe and self-affirmative environment. The main aim of this course is to open up the possibility for the participants to befriend the Quran.

Befriending the Quran is a place holder for acknowledging the existence of and befriending the Unseen Ultimate Reality and to synch our wills and actions with this Reality. Those who seek a friendship with the Unseen are called mystics or sufis. Those who attain this friendship are called awliya. Those who act to establish Peace and Justice- the Will of the Unseen amongst humans are called prophets or followers of the Prophet. What we would like to investigate in this course is the point of contact or balance between the seemingly contradictory impulses of the inward moving mystic and the outward acting prophetic.

How can we have a deeply religious conversation, without alienating that aspect of ourselves which is committed to unconditional inclusion and suspension of bias; without alienating those who have been alienated from religion, from Islam, from the Quran due to sociological reasons? We shall discover as we embark on this seemingly impossible task.