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The Iranians
Ahsan & Qasim
Maha & Maryam
Ferda & Kiymet
Imam Muhsin Hendricks

Ferda and Kiymet: Ferda is a 42-year-old devout Sufi lesbian who lives in Istanbul, Turkey. A fearless leader with a profoundly deep laugh, Ferda fills up most spaces with her joie de vivre- a quality that is unique for a woman who struggled for many years for her place and financial independence in a male-dominated Turkish society. Ferda grew up in a non-traditional household though, where her mother was the strongest influence. It is to this mother, now religious and 80-years-old that Ferda takes her new lover, Kiymet, 37 and a mother of two, to meet. This on camera-meeting between the mother and her daughter's choice of life partner is profound and meaningful, but also provides delightful moments as the older Mrs. Gavdar's pet parrot talks to all present, in Turkish, about love. Ferda and Kiymet undertake a spiritual pilgrimage of a lifetime to Konya, where Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, the 13th century Sufi Mystic and founder of the Sufi Mevlevi tradition is buried. Tearful and very much in love they pray with intense devotion at his 'turbe' (grave) and also seek blessings for their love at the grave of Shams al-din of Tabriz (now in Iran)- rumored by many to have been the Mevlana's male lover and indeed the source of inspiration for his greatest work, The Masnavi. It is in Konya that we see the love of these two remarkable women come to life under the watchful eyes of Islam as they wander the streets, pray in the women’s corner of a mosque, and weep as spectators when the Mevlevi dervishes undertake the ancient meditative ritual of whirling as a sign of unity with God. Ferda and Kiymet are seen in a variety of remarkable scenes that traverse much of the landscape of contemporary Turkey, a nation struggling with a return to conservatism and memories of a difficult past. They talk openly about their youth and childhood and indeed Ferda confesses to the camera about her first love- a deeply religious Imam (a story that was reported in the Turkish press some years ago). They fearlessly demonstrate their love of each other and life in many public spaces and even lead us into the secret world of other lesbians in Istanbul. These remarkable women, both equally devout become the fulcrum for A Jihad for Love of a life lived in a comfortable and indeed empowering union of sexuality and spirituality.

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