Sex and Islam: From LGBTQ Rights to Muslim Feminists

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Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Tuesday, September 26, 20175:30PM - 7:30PMThe Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility, Munk School of Global Affairs
1 Devonshire Place
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Islam and Global Affairs Initiative


From marriage equality to wearing the veil, some of the most controversial questions about Muslims in Canada focus on their bedrooms and their wardrobes. But what exactly is the conflict between Islamic and liberal ideas about sex, love, and gender?

Muslim women are typically the topic of this conversation, but rarely have a voice in it. Instead, patriarchal Muslims and Islamophobic white supremacists alike characterize Muslim women as either victims or villains, both equally excluding Muslim women from debates about themselves.

LGBTQ Muslims have also been excluded from these crucial conversations. The horrifying anti-gay hostilities in Indonesia, Chechnya, and Iraq clearly show that LGBTQ persons in these countries are at terrible risk. Closer to home, in a 2016 study, a majority of Canadian Muslim households surveyed said it was not possible to be an observant Muslim and in a same-sex relationship. Living at the intersection, LGBTQ Muslims are therefore confronted with both homophobia and Islamophobia.

When it comes to sex and gender issues in Islam, there is much controversy and little consensus. But what do we actually know about the bedrooms and the values of Muslims? How have Islamic ideas about sex shaped social and political realities of Muslims around the world? Are these Muslim beliefs about gender, sexuality, and family incompatible with widely accepted liberal democratic ideals?

Understanding sex in Islam is an essential part of the conversation about human rights and fundamental freedoms. Do LGBTQ Muslims have any hope for inclusion, both here in Canada and around the world? And how does the field of Islamic feminism challenge patriarchal visions of Islam, as well as white supremacist and Islamophobic beliefs about Islam and Muslims?

To tackle these tough questions, the Islam and Global Affairs Initiative is pleased to host this dynamic panel event, featuring four distinguished leaders.

Ayesha S. Chaudhry is the Canada Research Chair in Religion, Law and Social Justice and an Associate Professor of Islamic studies and Gender studies at the University of British Columbia, where she also serves on the Board of Governors. She is the author of Domestic Violence and the Islamic Tradition: Ethics, Law, and the Muslim Discourse on Gender (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Shereen El-Feki is a Professor of Global Practice at the Munk School, an Associate Fellow of Chatham House, a Senior Fellow with Promundo, and Co-Chair of the Gender-Based Violence Hub at the Joint Learning Initiative for Faith and Local Communities. She is the author of Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World (Penguin Random House, 2013).

El-Farouk Khaki is the Imam of the LGBTQ-affirming mosque El-Tawhid Juma Circle in Toronto, the founder of Salaam: Queer Muslim Community, the co-founder of the Muslim AIDS Project, and an award-winning speaker and activist on Islam and human rights.

Mohammad Fadel is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto, with a specialization in Islamic Law. He has published extensively in leading legal journals on family law in the Islamic tradition, international human rights law, and the compatibility between Islamic and liberal democratic legal traditions.


Melissa Rodway


Ayesha S. Chaudhry
Canada Research Chair in Religion, Law and Social Justice Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Gender Studies University of British Columbia

El-Farouk Khaki
Imam, El Tawhid Juma Circle

Shereen El-Feki
Professor of Global Practice, Munk School of Global Affairs

Mohammad Fadel
Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair for the Law and Economics of Islamic Law, University of Toronto

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