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

Imam Muhsin Hendricks: A very different kind of story for A Jihad for Love emerges from South Africa – that of Imam Muhsin Hendricks. He is a 37-year old gay Imam living in Johannesburg. His father and grandfather were the spiritual centers for the Orthodox Muslim community in Cape Town when he was growing up. He is a divorced father of three children from an arranged marriage. From this learned lineage of religious teachers and family he has taken the extraordinary step to come out as an openly gay Imam who dares to take on orthodoxy.

Muhsin is a seeker of truth and his entire life has been defined by that search. This is a character that truly lives and embodies Islam. His speech is always peppered with quotations and examples from the Quran, which he has committed to memory in its entirety, making him an ‘Hafiz Quran’-one of the most respected members in his community. On his journey he has faced tremendous opposition: from his community - which excommunicated him; from his family; and even his Muslim gay partner who would rather see him live a quiet and unthreatening life.

In a historic first, Muhsin was invited to address the Islamic Social Welfare Council (ISWA)– a conservative organization that had many years ago ex-communicated him for being open about his sexuality. This is a historic event because at no time in modern Islamic history has an openly gay Imam been invited by the orthodoxy to workshop with them on Islam and homosexuality. Muhsin’s two-day interaction with the members of ISWA was unparalleled. For their time together, Muhsin and the group engaged in a thought-provoking, often dissonant discourse about his life, his choices, homosexuality, and the Quran. In the end each one of the members of ISWA testify to a better understanding of Islam and homosexuality coupled with a feeling of affirmation of gays and lesbians.

Muhsin is documented going through a period of intense introspection about his faith, his activism and fundamentally his belief system. He goes on this journey with many questions about the work he does with gay and lesbian Muslims and whether he should continue it or abandon it. He asks if Allah is a god of punishment or a god who forgives and loves all of his creations. His Umrah (a journey to the holy sites in Mecca and Medina-which happens outside of Hajj time) is a significant and critical step in seeking the truth. He has taken his questions to Allah and to his house. This is a remarkable spiritual journey and one that we hope will resonate with the thousands of Muslims who will view this film. In this case, Muhsin comes back with a renewed energy to continue his holy work.

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