My name is Salma. I’m 21 years old. This is the first time that I’m coming to the Jama Masjid. I got married around three months ago and my husband brought me here. No! I’m not too young to be married. We courted for five years and then we had the nikah.
”I have always felt afar from my surroundings. And then there are the hours…the hours that I can’t overcome…the hours that are a loosing battle…hours that never end!”- Zoya
Zoya’s thoughts make me uncomfortable…they prick a little at my heart. Her loneliness seems so familiar, she feels like a kindred soul. But then Zoya is just a made up character she writes about on her blog , insists Noor. There’s a vulnerability about Noor that is hidden behind her tough exterior and almost boyish charm:the ease with which she can make me blush would put many a men to shame.The intense look on her face when she champions for women’s rights, the impeccable timing with which she recites Urdu prose, the passion with which she protests against rape online, successfully hides the palpable pain of ‘Zoya’.
So as Rehana Kausar and Sabia Kamar made history this year – by going against the Islamic Sharia and being the first Muslim Lesbian couple, to get married in the U.K. Here in the subcontinent, I chat with our very own non-conforming Muslim woman- Noor Enayat.
Can you tell me a little about yourself:your religious identity as well as your sexual preference?
I am a Muslim by birth, by choice I follow no religion. I believe in God but I don’t believe in any religion, whatsoever. It’s the spiritual versus the religious conflict.
Professionally, I’m a brand consultant and on a personal front I am a lesbian.
When did you realize that you were attracted to women?
I started realizing I was more attracted to women when I was 14-15. Couldn’t really deal with it, so had a boyfriend at that time. I went to a coed school and then from that went to an all girls college and suddenly it was like wow! So many of them around! Okay they come in all shapes and sizes. There are no men around so one has to pay no attention to them.
Was it hard coming out?
It was hard coming out to the family despite the fact that I belong to a very progressive one. In a country like India, it is a very big taboo.
Was it harder because you are Muslim?
No my family does not believe in any construct of Islam other than, ‘islam ka matlaab hein insanayaat.’ It’s just that my mother felt guilty because she thought that maybe it was because of her divorce. We had our battles… for years we talked about everything else other than the women I was with. My grandmother was the most open-minded and accepted all my girlfriends with open arms.But now my mom has come around. I wasn’t allowed to tell my brother about it for the first three-four years. But he always knew and now we give each love advice.
Are you afraid of ending up alone?
I know I am going to be alone it’s a reality. In a place like India, most people can’t even accept the fact that they are gay and I can’t be with someone who wants to live a lie.
Was it difficult in the workplace?
In the workplace it was not as difficult as I thought it would be. But yes, at times it has been a bit awkward and that’s only because of with some homophobic people. I am no different from any straight person. Their work is not affected by what they do in the bedroom nor is mine!
© Saadiya Kochar 2013