A Jihad for Love

A Jihad for Love is a 2008 documentary film and was the world’s first film on Islam and homosexuality. It took a total of six years to make and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2007. It premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2008 as the opening documentary film for the Panorama section.

In many nations with a Muslim majority, laws based on Quranic interpretations are enforced by authorities to monitor, entrap, imprison, torture and even execute homosexuals. Even for those who migrate to Europe or North America and adopt the Western personae of “gay,” the filmmaker says that relative freedoms of new homelands are mitigated by persistent racial profiling and intensified state surveillance after the terrorist attacks in New York, London and Madrid.

As a result, many gay and lesbian Muslims end up renouncing their religion. But the real-life characters of A Jihad for Love are not willing to abandon a faith they cherish. Instead, they struggle to reconcile their ardent belief with the innate reality of their being. The international chorus of gay, lesbian and transgender Muslims brought together by A Jihad for Love does not seek to vilify or reject Islam, but rather to negotiate a new relationship to it.

It was a difficult decision for the subjects under threat of violence to participate in the film. According to the filmmaker, Parvez Sharma, those who came forward to tell their stories felt that Islam is at a tipping point and thus they were willing to take the risk.

The documentary will create a new language of affirmation, break down walls of silence and re-address the role of religious fundamentalism in daily life. Producer Sandi DuBowski is director/producer of the award-winning and groundbreaking film Trembling Before G_d. A Jihad for Love is co-produced by five major international broadcasters, Channel 4 (UK), ZDF/ARTE (France/Germany), SBS (Australia) and LOGO (USA).

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