Homosexuality in Islam

In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful

Traditional Muslim scholars interpret some verses of the Quran as a condemnation of homosexuality altogether. However, more recently there has been a new breed of liberal Muslims who have commented on the Quran in a slightly different manner to those held by most Muslims. To the vast majority of the Muslim gays and lesbians the threat of hell fire cited by the Shariah scholars is the main cause of their uneasiness, anxiety, and the utter denial of their homosexuality. The fear of God’s punishment in the Hereafter if a homosexual person is to get tempted and have sex with a member of his or her sex brings a huge amount of stress and conflict between religion and sexuality and consequently leads a lot of Muslims away from their faith altogether. The verses that are used to refer to homosexuality are those narrating the story of the people of Lot and their eventual annihilation by God because of their unrepentant transgressions and way of life.

We also (sent) Lut: he said to his people: “Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you?”For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.” And his people gave no answer but this: they said, “drive them out of your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!” But We saved him and his family, except his wife: she was of those who lagged behind. And We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime! (The Holy Quran, 7:80-84) “Of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males, “And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing (all limits)!” (26:165-166) “And Lot! when he said unto his folk: Will ye commit abomination knowingly?

Must ye needs lust after men instead of women? Nay, but ye are folk who act senselessly.”(27:54-55)

And (remember) Lut: behold, he said to his people: “Ye do commit lewdness, such as no people in Creation (ever) committed before you. “Do ye indeed approach men, and cut off the highway? – and practise wickedness (even) in your councils?” But his people gave no answer but this: they said: “Bring us the Wrath of Allah if thou tellest the truth.” (29:28-29)

To the Muslim gays and some straight liberals, these verses are taken to mean that the people of Lut were not homosexuals per se but heterosexuals who raped men and indulged in gay sex as a pleasure and culture. They also quote the following verses from the Holy Quran and the Hadiths (or sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him)) to indicate that homosexuality is not illegal at all and that there are allowances for it in Islam:

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss. (24:31)

It is said that Almighty God is referring to the Gay men with the words “or male servants free from physical needs”……However, many commentators of the Quran interpret the above mentioned words to mean old men who have passed age of sexual desires. They do so deliberately in order to avoid the word “homosexual”. To me this is very unreasonable as the following points indicate:Some people lose their sexual vitality and vigour as they grow older but many are sexually active even into the eighties! Remember prophet Ibrahim had both Ismail and Isaac with his wives Hager and Sahra respectively when he was very old. Also, the very old people are not usually employed as servants as their efficiency and ability to do jobs have greatly diminished with age. Therefore, the only logical interpretation of the above mentioned verse is that it refers to gay men.

“Unto Allah belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. He createth what He will. He bestoweth female (offspring) upon whom He will, and bestoweth male (offspring) upon whom He will; Or He mingleth them, males and females, and He maketh barren whom He will. Lo! He is Knower, Powerful.”(42:49-50)

And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female – Allah knew best of what she was delivered – the male is not as the female; and lo! I have named her Mary, and lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast. (3:36)

Volume 7, Book 62, Number 13h: Narrated Abu Huraira: I said, “O Allah’s Apostle! I am a young man and I am afraid that I may commit illegal sexual intercourse and I cannot afford to marry.” He kept silent, and then repeated my question once again, but he kept silent. I said the same (for the third time) and he remained silent. Then repeated my question (for the fourth time), and only then the Prophet said, “O Abu Huraira! The pen has dried after writing what you are going to confront. So (it does not matter whether you) get yourself castrated or not.”  What does God Almighty mean when He said: “……..Lo! I am delivered of a female – Allah knew best of what she was delivered – the male is not as the female;…………”?

The last Hadith is interpreted by some that Abu Huraira was referring to His homosexuality and that the Prophet allowed him to get castrated (to follow his homosexual instincts) if he wished.In one Hadith the prophet actually explicitly forbade the mutilation of the testicles!

Malik’s Muwatta Book 51, Number 51.1.4: Yahya related to me from Malik from Nafi that Abdullah ibn Umar disapproved of castration and said, “The completeness of the created form is in the testicles.

So in that sense the prophet (pbuh) might not have told Abu Huraira to cut off his testicles but rather to follow where his nature takes him. To be honest I do not completely understand the meaning of the word ‘castration’ in the context of the aforementioned Hadith but just compare the Prophet’s reply to Abu Huraira’s question with his stern reply to the other companions in those Hadiths. If Abu Huraira wasn’t gay then why would the Prophet (pbuh) allow castration for him and forbid it to the rest? Some people are of the opinion that even if homosexuality is natural thing that people are born with, it would be illegal to practice as the Quran expressly prohibits it and that the commandments inscribed in the Quran by Almighty God will not be affected irrespective of its nature. Many Muslims also cite the fact that life itself is a test and that everyone will have his or her test whether it is with health, wealth, family, or in this case sexuality. They say that the homosexual people are being tested by God to stay chaste as gay and lesbian sex would violate the laws of God and hence call for His punishment both in this World and in the Hereafter. But the opponents of the gay rights are clearly contradicting themselves. In their argument, they say sex between members of the same sex is a violation of the natural order of things as males and females are made for each other to reproduce offspring. On this basis Muslim gays and lesbians are often advised by their families and the wider Muslim community to get married in the traditional sense or not to have sex at all. What I found more absurd is that abstinence by a straight men or women is strongly discouraged by Muslim legal scholars. The reasons given for this stance are many but the most important one is that marriage forms half of one’s Imaan or faith according to the following authentic Hadith of the holy Prophet (pbuh).

Volume 7, Book 62, Number 11: Narrated Sad bin Abi Waqqas: Allah’s Apostle forbade ‘Uthman bin Maz’un to abstain from marrying (and other pleasures) and if he had allowed him, we would have gotten ourselves castrated. (1)  Volume 7, Book 62, Number 13o: Narrated ‘Abdullah: We used to participate in the holy battles led by Allah’s Apostle and we had nothing (no wives) with us. So we said, “Shall we get ourselves castrated?” He forbade us that and then allowed us to marry women with a temporary contract (2) and recited to us: — ‘O you who believe! Make not unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you, but commit no transgression.’ (5.87)  Volume 7, Book 62, Number 1: Narrated Anas bin Malik: A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet asking how the Prophet worshipped (Allah), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said, “Where we are from the Prophet as his past and future sins have been forgiven.” Then one of them said, “I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever.” The other said, “I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast.” The third said, “I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever.” Allah’s Apostle came to them and said, “Are you the same people who said so-and-so? By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also marry women. So he, who does not follow my tradition in religion, is not from me (not one of my followers).”

Moreover, when Muslims accept if at all that one is born gay, lesbian, or straight and cannot help but feel attracted to one’s own sex, some go on to say that gays, lesbians, or bisexuals should never reveal their sexuality to others as this will promote vice. In effect, they are arguing one to lie about one’s sexuality which is actually a violation of Islamic law as lies is strictly forbidden in Islam.

And cover not Truth with falsehood, nor conceal the Truth when ye know (what it is). (2:42) Ye People of the Book! Why do ye clothe Truth with falsehood, and conceal the Truth, while ye have knowledge? (3:71) To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and the Day that the Hour of Judgment is established, – that Day will the dealers in Falsehood perish! (45:27)

What is completely ignored though is that for a homosexual to have sex with a member of the opposite sex is a violation of his or her natural feelings and hence should incur God’s anger. Also what is not thought about when dishing out “religious advices” to homosexuals is that coercing them into marriage would almost certainly lead to friction and the eventual break up of that marriage for there is an absence of that sexual bond to sustain such a marriage. There is a wealth of evidence from married homosexuals that straight marriages lead to depression and a host of other problems not only for the homosexual but also for his or her straight partner in the ‘marriage’. These problems clearly undo the purpose for which marriage was instituted in Islam as the following verses indicate:

And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.(30:21) 

They (wives) are garments for you, while you are garments for them. (2:187)

As according to the following Hadith found in the collections of Abu Da’uud, the prophet makes it clear the undesirability of divorce, wouldn’t it be hypocritical to push the gay Muslims into such actions hated by the prophets whilst advising the straight Muslims to avoid it by choosing the most suitable partners?! Of course a divorce is inevitable in most of the marriages involving one homosexual and one straight partner.

The most hateful of all lawful things, in the sight of Allah, is divorce.

And arguing the believers not to rush into divorces before exhausting all other options, Almighty God says in the Quran:

Live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah brings about through it a great deal of good. (Qur’an 4:19)

If homosexuality is a “test” in life for some believers as many people claim, then we will have the problem of contradictions in the Quran since God Almighty mentioned in the Quran that there is relieve after every hardship as the following verse clearly demonstrate:

So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief (95:5) 

So keeping in mind the meaning of the above verse; where is the relieve for the homosexual Muslim from the daily temptations that is brought on them directly as a result of his or her unconventional sexuality as the provision of marriage is not an option for them? Well, some people might argue that disabilities and other forms of misfortunes which are by the way a test of faith for some people can also be life-long conditions too. But then let us not forget that disabilities do not necessarily lead one to temptation as does homosexuality which means that a disabled person due to his or her disability does not have to fight Satan’s “whispers” as does a gay or lesbian due to their sexuality.In fact, homosexuality is not a short term “problem or a trial” at all but a life-long characteristic of a human being (or an animal as we all know) that is an enduring and natural as the attraction between males and females in the animal kingdom.There is also the other question that comes to mind when homosexuality is condemned: will the merciful Creator of all punish His creation for just following the natural order He ordained for them? If yes, then that means a large section of His creation is already doomed from its inception and so the doctrine of freewill in Islam becomes meaningless.  According to the above mentioned arguments, it becomes manifest if the legal line of the traditional Islamic scholars is follows, there will be one set of laws for the homosexuals and another one for the heterosexuals. Since without a doubt Islam is a religion of reason, the current position of the Muslim jurists is unsustainable and an open and honest debate about the legal status of homosexuality and the homosexuals is paramount. In the end God will judge us all as only He knows the ultimate truth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *