Living Out Islam

Voices of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims

275 pages

December, 2013

ISBN: 9781479894673



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Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle is Associate Professor in the Department of Middle East and South Asian Studies at Emory University. His previous books include Rebel between Spirit and Law: Ahmad Zarruq, Juridical Sainthood and Authority in Islam; Sufis and Saints’ Bodies: Mysticism, Corporeality and Sacred Power in Islamic Culture; and Homosexuality in Islam: Critical Reflection on Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims.

All books by Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle

2015 Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award presented by the Stonewall Books Awards of the American Library Association

Muhsin is one of the organizers of Al-Fitra Foundation, a South African support group for lesbian, transgender, and gay Muslims. Islam and homosexuality are seen by many as deeply incompatible. This, according to Muhsin, is why he had to act. “I realized that I’m not alone—these people are going through the very same things that I’m going through. But I’ve managed, because of my in-depth relationship with God, to reconcile the two. I was completely comfortable saying to the world that I’m gay and I’m Muslim. I wanted to help other people to get there. So that’s how I became an activist.”
Living Out Islam documents the rarely-heard voices of Muslims who live in secular democratic countries and who are gay, lesbian, and transgender. It weaves original interviews with Muslim activists into a compelling composite picture which showcases the importance of the solidarity of support groups in the effort to change social relationships and achieve justice. This nascent movement is not about being “out” as opposed to being “in the closet.” Rather, as the voices of these activists demonstrate, it is about finding ways to live out Islam with dignity and integrity, reconciling their sexuality and gender with their faith and reclaiming Islam as their own.


  • "As is the case with followers of other religious traditions, Muslims today are engaged in a passionate debate over gender and sexuality. Kugle provides an indispensable chapter in this saga by redirecting our attention to the voices and lived experiences of Muslim people who are living out this debate in the context of their everyday lives."

    —Omid Safi, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • “An excellent contribution to the emerging literature on LBGTQ Muslims. Living Out Islam provides fascinating biographies of Muslims facing both homophobia and Islamophobia in the context of modern secular democratic nation-states and creates a platform for LBGTQ Muslims to speak for themselves about their lives and struggles. I was riveted in following the details of their efforts to overcome the conflict of competing identities.”

    —Amina Wadud, Starr King School for the Ministry

  • "An interesting, well-researched book; easy reading."


  • “Persistently and helpfully rooted in Islamic texts, traditions and juridical practices, Kugle’s work . . . is clearly anchored to specifically Islamic communities and practices.  The careful, knowledgeable, and conscious location of arguments buffers against a possible critique of being too ‘Western,’ or too ‘modernist,’ and subsequently that it cannot easily ‘fit’ into the study of Islam and Muslim societies.  The experiences of Kugle’s research participants indicate clearly that even within conservative religious social spheres, some Muslims reconcile their identities as both queer and Muslim.  This work is well-worth the read and should be suitable for advanced undergraduate and graduate study as well as for those generally interested in gender activism, and complications that gender and sexuality bring to religious debate.”

    Sociology of Islam

  • "Kugle's careful attention to the lived experiences and multiple contexts of gay, lesbian, and transgender Muslims makes this a highly valuable and much needed contribution to the religious studies and gender and sexuality studies areas." 

    Sex Roles

  • “[…] I applaud Kugle’s commitment to articulating the voices of this under-studied and much misunderstood minority.  The 15 stories this book tells constitute a unifying narrative about the human capacity for positive meaning-making, as well as personal and socio-political change.” 

    Sociology of Religion