ijtihadist

Who is Raquel Evita Saraswati?

In Biography on May 13, 2008 at 2:08 am

Raquel Evita Saraswati (aka Raquel Evita Seidel)Raquel Evita Saraswati (formerly Raquel Evita Seidel) (b. 1983) is a postmodern performance artist and lesbian activist who currently works as Irshad Manji’s executive assistant.

Saraswati recently (until ~2005) attended Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, where she majored in International Relations. During this time, she identified as a Catholic of Latin heritage and became known locally for her gay rights activism, interest in poetry and spoken word, and belly dance lessons and performances.

She now claims to be a Muslim, amongst her many personalities, and has appeared in this capacity on CNN’s Glenn Beck show.  Her long-standing activism in the gay rights movement, the absence of any actual connection with Islamic institutions, and her revelation that she “doesn’t believe that the Qu’ran is the absolute perfect word of Allah” make this claim worthy of deeper investigation, however.

On August 2, 2005, Saraswati married Ms. Anh Ðào Kolbe, a Vietnamese-American photographer at Revere Beach, Massachusetts, U.S.A; in 2007 they happily celebrated their second wedding anniversary.

Raquel Evita Saraswati

I view the spiritual as an integral part of my identity, just as integral as my sexuality. Both my spirituality and my sexuality have been journeys — in the acceptance and exploration of myself, and in challenging the status quo. While I am a member of Dignity/USA [an organization for GLBT Catholics], my connection to Islam is also incredibly important to me, as are the practices of yoga, transcendental meditation, tantra, the Buddhist vow of ahimsa and veganism. It has been quite a struggle to find a balance where spirituality and sexuality meet peacefully. That journey led me to both Dignity/USA and Al-Fatiha, an LGBTQIA Muslim organization.

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  1. I do not verify the information on this webpage, and it is not condoned or approved by me.

    RaquelEvita@raquelevita.com

  2. Dear Raquel,

    We actually are fans of some of your work, in particular your stand against child executions. Your clear diction and eloquence are a real asset in that worthy battle to make the world a better place.

    As for the information above– if any of it is demonstrably false, please let us know and we will happily correct it. Nothing there is derogatory or highly personal; all the information provided is simply compiled from very public sources — marriage records, your alma mater’s web site, and your own web site.

    Like you, we believe that all Muslims who hold themselves up as leaders should be accountable and transparent. The world has too many corrupt, secretive, and less-than-forthcoming Muslim leaders, and we fully agree with you that everyday Muslims need to summon the moral courage to critically investigate both the claims of these leaders and the basis of their legitimacy, rather than just uncritically take the words of these mostly self-proclaimed leaders at face value.

    Thankfully, you are not one of these narcissitic, authoritarian leaders who tries to control even the most trivial details of their public activities. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by!

    p.s.: We would love to hear how you came to be a Muslim!

  3. Has there ever been a response as to how Raquel Evita Suriel came to be a Muslim?

  4. No, but I did find this quote:

    My work is deeply connected to my experiences as a woman of color, a queer woman, and a survivor. Refusing to be silenced and challenging the causes and the people who permit the current societal power structure to remain are my forms of activism. I am an activist in other ways as well, but I feel that writing is the medium I am meant to use–it drives me to take risks.

    What connections do you see between sexuality and spirituality?
    I view the spiritual as an integral part of my identity, just as integral as my sexuality. Both my spirituality and my sexuality have beenj ourneys — in the acceptance and exploration of myself, and in challenging the status quo. While I am a member of Dignity/USA [an organization for GLBT Catholics], my connection to Islam is also incredibly important to me, as are the practices of yoga, transcendental meditation, tantra, the Buddhist vow of ahimsa and veganism. It has been quite a struggle to find a balance where spirituality and sexuality meet peacefully. That journey led me to both Dignity/USA and Al-Fatiha, an LGBTQIA Muslim organization.

    I wrote a very long post elaborating on this, but haven’t felt the need to post it. Essentially, it seems that RES is a very modern person, in that she is totally unrooted. I’m guessing that she really does not have a loving family behind her, and therefore is bereft of any firm familial or cultural identity. To fill the void, she has grasped the tenuous links she has to Catholicism, Islam, various ethnic identities, etc. At the same time, since she is so individualized, these identities are distorted by a strong emphasis on self-centeredness and victimhood and are thus not very deep — just lifestyle choices, not ways of being. (This postmodern “all is subjective” fluidness is reflected in her fluidity with truth sometimes – a hijabi expert-on-Islam one day, a busty heroine at a gay gala the next – I think she bends and breaks it without realizing it herself.) (See the background information section of this site, which contrasts the self-centered orientation of modern culture with the self-abnegating focus of traditional cultures.)

    SO… I do believe RES has a sincere interest in Islam, even if it is highly confused and distorted. I sincerely hope that, for her own sake, she will rise above the void that modernity has given her and develop a secure identity that enables her to embrace the faith with peace and greater understanding.

  5. As someone who knows (or, more accurately, knew) Raquel, you hit the nail on the head beautifully.

    Do you have any information on why Raquel is no longer with Project Ijtihad?

  6. No, I have no idea why Raquel is no longer with Project Ijtihad, but it seems to have come as a surprise to her. Irshad never really gave Raquel much credit, probably because Irshad knows how thin her own credibility is and doesn’t want to risk damaging it any further and/or she is not keen on sharing the lucrative “reformist” spotlight.

  7. Very interesting. Great conversation too… I didn`t know that Raquel isn`t with Project Ijtihad anymore but honestly….I didn`t see her being on board for that long anyways. I mean…come on it`s Irshad`s spotlight and she aint gonna share it with anyone else.

    Of course Irshad Manji wouldn`t give proper credit to Raquel… Irshad Manji is all about getting all the credit herself.

  8. Also the quote you state above ….(That journey led me to both Dignity/USA and Al-Fatiha, an LGBTQIA Muslim organization.)…written by Raquel is nothing more than a justification of her decision to become a Muslim….Interesting how people will come up with long winded remarks when the truth is simply a few words long….

    I changed who I am for FAME!

  9. […] discovered this website which posted an unauthorized biography of Saraswati in 2008.  Let’s just say she’s had a rich and varied […]

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