Apart from Queen Rania the Jordanian queen-consort to King Abdulla, I know of no queen anywhere in the Muslim world. So who would have thought that another kind of “queen” would be used to powerfully assist the internal ‘reformation’ that’s going on within the household of Islam.
Queen No.1 – ‘Drama queen’, a voice of the Muslim ‘moral majority’
The first “queen” is Malala Yusefzai (1), the Pakistani schoolgirl who was jointly awarded the Nobel peace-prize after challenging the edict of the Taliban that all girl’s schools in the Swat Valley should close down.
Malala then endured with dignity the breath-taking “drama” of being shot in the head by jihadis for continuing to attend a school and championing the rights of girls to education.
She was re-patriated to receive medical treatment in Birmingham, where her family were given asylum. Malala has just completed her GCSEs at Edgbaston High School for girls, where she has achieved a dramatic clutch of six A*s and four As. While she aims to complete a university education and one day become President of Pakistan, while her mother – Toor Pekai – remains illiterate.
Queen No.2 – ‘Drag queen’, a voice of modern liberal Muslims
The second “queen” is the drag queen Asif Quraishi (2). The son of devout Pakistani Muslim parents, Asif prays; fasts; attends mosque; has read the Qur’an; has been to Mecca; gives to Muslim charities and can’t bring himself to pray in a bar area due to alcohol.
Yet Asif is one of the estimated 100-150 British Muslim drag queens in the “Gaysian” community, which is said to be a thriving (if hidden) sub-culture, which holds events somewhere in the UK every weekend.
Asif’s alter-ego is drag character Asifa Lahore (pun probably intended). She has attracted death threats from Muslims who curse his parents for bringing him into the world and claim they know where he and (worryingly) his family live and will kill him.
Drag queens championed gay rights in the 1960s and the Gaysian drag queens want to do the same now in the Muslim community where they are campaigning for the right to exist unmolested. Asif won the Attitude Gay Pride Award in London, which his mother attended.
These are the two “queens” who are emboldened, under British law and European human rights.
But both freedoms (i.e. gender and sexuality) only exist because of the Judeo-Christian heritage, which underlies them both. These two “queens” are touching the hearts of some Muslims and resonating clearly with the wider western general public.
This force for change is another aspect of the ‘reformation’ process, which is slowly but inexorably confronting the house of Islam. Many crucial debates among Muslims are being held here in the freedom of Europe. As a world traveller, I can report that the issues are imperceptibly being fed back into the conversations going on within the Muslim world.
These are the ways of God who is still using the “Christianised” cultures of the world as a platform from which closed societies can be prized open.
(1) The Times, Sat 22 Aug, 2015, p9
(2) Muslim Drag Queens, Channel 4 , Mon 23 Aug, 2015, narrated by actor Sir Ian McKellan