Last night, I was fortunate to have attended a talk by Cikgu Mohd Khairiri Hj Ramli, a Malaysian teacher who is now renowned for his efforts in helping former gays to reform and return back to the fold of Islam. A former gay himself, Khairiri shared how he developed inclinations towards the same sex at a relatively young age. He struggled with the conflict of gender identity for more than two decades of life; cross-dressing, wearing thick make-up, spending so much money on plastic surgery and, to cap it all, engaging in prostitution along the dark alleys of his own hometown.
It was only after experiencing a great calamity in his life that Khairiri decided that it was time to make a change. He was abused and beaten up by his gay partner until his nose broke. The mental effects of that violent episode persist till today and it did much to scar him permanently. He began to think about the many years of sinful life that he had led. And yet, reforming himself to be a good Muslim was not easy. Here are the two pointers that he had shared which I hope would be beneficial for our LGBT brothers and sisters who are looking for ways to make a change for the better:
The biggest obstacle that all LGBT folks would need to overcome, according to Khairiri, is their desire. Their desire for sex with those of their own gender, the desire to commit sins knowing full well of the ill-effects such actions and their desire to attract the attention of people around them by being “different”. These desires become even more powerful and overpowering when gays such as themselves keep them away from the faith that they belong to. Khairiri advises gays to never neglect from prayers (solat) and the remembrance of Allah. Why? Because remaining close to one’s faith and rituals would help to bridge oneself back to the straight path. It worked for him. And he is currently helping his LGBT friends to get back to reclaiming the faith they had long forgotten.
To be gay is to be defiant towards one’s own traditions, religion, families and close friends. Khairiri shared that his defiance made him what he was, a gay prostitute who ran away from home during his teenage years to pursue what seemed to him was the perfect way of life. Despite constant advice from the people around him to change his lifestyle and despite him realizing in many moments that his gay inclinations were not right, he remained defiant to do what his desires told him to. His defiance was so strong that he chose to remain what he was despite witnessing friends dying from HIV and AIDS. Defiance, as Khairie described it, led him to a life of endless difficulties until he finally told himself it is pointless to defy his true beliefs. Once he had moved beyond defying to accepting what Islam enjoins mankind to do especially in regard to male-female relationships, he managed to get his life back on track. Khairiri finished his studies in a local tertiary college and became a teacher who helped his students cope with their sexuality. He poured hopes that someday he would have a wife and children of his own and be proud of it.
I have listened to so many talks in life. But this one is the best one I have sat in. Listening to Cikgu Mohd Khairiri Hj Ramli made me think deeply about our other LGBT friends who are willing to transform their lives and beliefs. The distance between them and Islam and its injunctions of proper sexuality as enshrined in the Quran and Sunnah is really not too far off. All it takes really is for them to control their desires and do away with the defiance that has taken over their lives – as the noble Cikgu Khairiri has handsomely put it – towards becoming exemplary Muslims. I believe they can be better Muslims than most of us. What is required now is for them to take that Leap of Faith, with us giving them the helping hands in the difficult process of transition.