How devout Muslims and 2SLGBTQ individuals can co-exist?

Many traditional religions are at odds with modern views on gender and sexuality. Photo by Ahmad Al-Rubaye

Differing beliefs — even profound ones — should not automatically lead to hostility. Rather, all sides should exhibit respect, civility and tolerance for each other.

by Luqman Ahmed

A recent series of protests in Canadian cities drew crowds claiming to be concerned about the way schools educate children on matters of sexuality, particularly with regard to various lifestyles within the 2SLGBTQ+ community. I was not part of these protests but found myself attentively observing from the sidelines.


It’s crucial to acknowledge that my observations might be perceived as generalized, yet they shed light on a concerning aspect. The overwhelming coverage of these rallies seemed to portray the participants as harbouring hate or animosity towards 2SLGBTQ+ individuals. Various politicians, leaders and city officials also released statements expressing support for 2SLGBTQ+ individuals, contributing to the impression that those participating in these street marches harbour hateful sentiments.


There has been notably limited discussion on the central message of the protests, which pertains to concerns over children’s education. It’s possible that some assume protesters are using this subject as a smokescreen, concealing their true intentions.


Regardless, I firmly believe it is crucial to address the concerns raised by people rather than hastily labelling a significant segment of the population as hateful or bigoted. True progress and meaningful improvement can only be achieved when both sides take the time to understand each other. It is through this mutual understanding that we can foster an environment where differing viewpoints are respected or, at the very least, allowed to coexist.


I work as an Imam for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in Ottawa, serving at Baitun Naseer Mosque in Cumberland. Naturally, these topics have found their way into our discussions, including our weekly sessions with youth.


It’s important to acknowledge that, to the best of my knowledge, the traditional interpretations of many major world religions, including Islam, Christianity and Judaism, do not endorse or align with 2SLGBTQ+ lifestyles. Some others also hold dissenting views regarding these lifestyles, with a diverse range of reasons and motivations.


For those who adhere to these traditional religious teachings, the belief is steadfast that 2SLGBTQ+ lifestyles contrast with divine commands. This perspective is rooted in deeply held religious convictions, and therefore such viewpoints may not be easily altered.


Simultaneously, in our community, we uphold the understanding that faith is a profoundly personal choice, one that cannot be forcibly imposed on others. The freedoms afforded to us by Canada should enable everyone to make their own choices and express their opinions without infringing upon the rights of others.


In this diverse, pluralistic society, it is our shared responsibility to find common ground that respects the principles of religious freedom and individual autonomy, while also promoting tolerance and inclusivity for all.


In our gatherings and communal spaces, we have approached these inquiries with a balanced perspective. We firmly believe that while we have the freedom to uphold our religious beliefs, it is equally vital for individuals of all faiths to make a steadfast commitment never to exhibit hatred or aggression towards 2SLGBTQ+ individuals.


Our values and teachings may not align with 2SLGBTQ+ lifestyles, but this divergence should never serve as a pretext for us to display either disrespect or animosity. Differing beliefs should not automatically lead to hostility.


Conversely, we also urge others not to make assumptions or label us as hateful or bigoted solely based on our faith. Striking a delicate balance in this matter is crucial to fostering a peaceful, civil society in order to attain an environment where mutual respect prevails above all else.


When His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, was questioned about this issue, he responded: “Muslims should never hold any ill-will towards homosexual people, and to persecute, attack, or discriminate against them is completely wrong and contrary to Islam’s teachings. Regardless, a person should be able to hold peacefully held religious beliefs.”


This balanced perspective serves as a catalyst for promoting peace and understanding between both sides, rather than fostering alienation or division. It underscores the importance of respecting diverse viewpoints while upholding the principle that individuals should have the freedom to peacefully maintain their religious convictions.


Luqman Ahmed is an Imam (Religious Missionary) with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at of Ottawa, currently working in Baitun Naseer Mosque in Cumberland.

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