Sohail Ahmed is a Muslim living in London and he is gay. Formerly an extremist, Sohail left behind his beliefs but identifies himself as a “cultural Muslim”.
He recently talked about how his father tried to “cure” him from homosexuality through an Islamic ritual of exorcism. The experience left him psychologically affected.
In 2014 he was taken at the Abu Ruqya shop, a place that specializes in rituals performed to remove “black magic, jinn (supernatural beings) possession and the evil eye, as well as other various conditions.” Muslim religion recognizes the black magic and “jinn” as being real. In the Koran, the Prophet mentions having been affected by black magic.
While this practice called Rugya (Islamic exorcism) is mainly used by Muslims to heal medical conditions, Sohail was taken by his father to this place to “heal” him from homosexuality.
“The guy gave me an example of another guy who had come to him and claimed to be gay and he was now fully healed and married to a woman,” he told The Times.
“There was only one session at the Abu Ruqya shop where the guy was reading Koran and then blowing on me afterwards. At one point during the Ruqya [Islamic exorcism] I felt an urge to just start thrashing out. I had to suppress it. I still don’t understand it till today.”
Sohail went only one time at this shop and his father continued the ceremonies at their home, considering the cost at the shop to be too high.
“It got too much for me and my dad walked in on me when I was going to hang myself,” Sohail said.
“That’s when I realized I had to leave home or else I would have killed myself.”
He also stated that he thinks the Islamic religion will never accept homosexuality and he feels quilt because he knows that his parents cannot understand him.
“I understand the Muslim viewpoint on homosexuality. A mosque saying we accept LGBT people — this is not going to happen in my lifetime, it’s a long process.”
“My parents are going through so much pain, I wish I hated them. I understand why they are doing it, they are trying to help me. I understand where they are coming from.”
Sohail’s case might be one of the thousand we do not hear about. Religions all over the world do not accept homosexuality and this is a story that resembles in many cultures, not only the Islamic one. Yet, the Islamic culture has the tendency to be very hard on people to the point where it can become a life threatening problem.
Sadly, the story of Sohail Ahmed reflects the way people are dehumanized, mostly when they are not understood and when they don’t obey the rules of a certain religion.
We hope that these practices and beliefs will become odd stories for the next generations, that people will value the human beings for their qualities regardless of some preordained conditions.