Muslims Addressing Homosexuality: Some Thoughts

by / Monday, 17 March 2014 / Published in Philosophy

Muslims Addressing Homosexuality

In the past 15 years, the gay rights movement has made significant headway in transforming the public’s posture toward homosexuality in the West. This has put immense pressure on Western Muslim leadership due to the dual realities of 1) sharia’s stance on gay sex and 2) Muslim minority status in Europe and North America. How can Muslim leaders — as representatives of one beleaguered minority group striving for public acceptance  — maintain an anti-gay stance which opposes the interests of another beleaguered minority group striving for public acceptance? This is the catch-22 our imams and public intellectuals are grappling with.

Nowadays, when asked about Islam’s stance on homosexuality, our imams/shuyukh typically focus on a few key points:

1. A person cannot help it if they have certain desires, such as desire for the same sex.
2. Such desires are a test from Allah.
3. A person is not held accountable for desires they may have. However, overt actions such as the act of gay sex is prohibited by sharia.

Of course, while these points are all true and I am completely sympathetic to the need for  diplomacy, I feel like there is something important lacking (well, several things, but let’s just focus on one). It is true that, to an extent, it is not blameworthy to have certain desires. But there are further distinctions here that typically go unmentioned. For example, as scholars elaborate elsewhere, it is also a disease of the heart to fantasize about or be actively desirous of prohibited things. As far as sex goes, it is not blameworthy if initial lustful thoughts about illicit relations encroach upon the mind, but it becomes problematic to nourish those thoughts or to fail to actively suppress them. Obviously, this kind of struggle with the self is as universal as it is continuous, and it certainly is not something with which those with homosexual desires are uniquely burdened.

Another common theme is that many speakers bemoan the gradual loss of sexual ethics beginning with the so-called “free love” movement in the 1960s. Undoubtedly, there have been shifts in sexual norms over the past 50 years in Western society. But, I feel it would be better not to portray these shifts as a loss of sexual morality, since that plays into the progressivist narrative that as people shun traditional sexual mores they simultaneously gain autonomy and freedom. In reality, people are simply replacing one set of sexual ethics with another, i.e., another set of norms with its own requirements, pressures, social dynamics, personal costs, etc.

For example, when traditional marriage is shunned by the masses and premarital sex becomes widely practiced, it is easy to portray that phenomenon purely in terms of “religious obligation vs. personal freedom.” In other words, traditional marriage may mean sacrificing personal freedom and “free love.” but that is a tradeoff that will reap reward in the hereafter. This is true, of course, but, even from a completely secular perspective, we can see the benefits of traditional marriage vis-a-vis premarital sex, namely, curbing, among other things, the STD epidemic, the proportion of children growing up in single-parent households, the psychosocial impact of abortion, the psychosocial impact of “hook-up” culture, etc. That kind of secular cost-benefit analysis will have more currency with the non-religious public at large, which has been acculturated to be suspicious of organized religion in the first place.

Speaking of ideas that have currency with the non-religious public at large, how about the notion that God would destroy a people for the particulars of their sex lives? Both the Bible and Quran relay the account of the destruction of the people of Lot (qawm Lut). Where 60 years ago in the Christian US or 15 years ago in the Muslim American community, this conception of the possibility of God’s wrath upon an errant people had a firm place in the theological sensibilities of the masses (especially in light of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear annihilation), nowadays such a thought is taken as embarrassingly crass, and we have the Pope himself essentially coming out in favor of gay civil unions.

What can we learn from this monumental shift in sexual ethical outlook?

To be continued…

5 Responses to “Muslims Addressing Homosexuality: Some Thoughts”

  1. Mahmud says : Reply

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    We can learn that Allah aza wa jal decreed this act to be shameless and we will hold on to these standards even if the world doesn’t.

    • Hyde says : Reply

      Though a homosexual is different from a sodomite, the zeitgeist is supreme these days. Here is what I wrote in response to an article written actually by a homosexual arguing against the absurdity of homosexual marriage:

      I think I have utterly exhausted myself in discussion of sodomy of every kind. A little reflective, if one thinks that six months ago, I cared less and knew less. But it is a cruel world where one’s aspirations are dashed left and right and morality is played around like balls, and one is fighting a battle – dare I say jihad – to defend the now near obsolete morality of his religion, so one must do what he can (& let’s cut the bs, it always a he and rarely a she, for a she is usually complicit in eroding that wall of morality).
      Ignoring the author’s “lack of chastity”, he belligerently offers a sobering analysis of the sheer downright absurdity of sodomizing husbands or sodomizing dykes (although lesbianism is not considered sodomy)
      No one, not for minute, sees the larger picture in this so called debate. At this point gay marriage is a clear-cut part of western society whether one denies it or not. And Muslims won’t be doing anybody a favor by pretending that they can magically wisp the issue away-trust me, I found out the hard way.
      Kudos to Mr. Jack for telling the truth, which I fathom is not only ‘not sticking it where it does not belong’ but the larger picture of ‘not trying to stick it whenever one wants to’.
      Obscenity and flimsy morals are not only to be blamed on homosexuals, but the saturnine society – a debacle of a society – we find ourselves in is itself to blame. Man has woefully fallen.
      The only good blissful hope that I find in all this mess, is the the ever gnawing love for the Beloved. The more I see the filth of this maddening damned world, the more I want to be close to him. One glance, perchance one dream, off I go.
      How much more ? For how long ?
      One snippet that I have seen all articles relating to “de-sanitizing” of sodomy is none other than the dajaalic Hollywood’s recurrent theme of introducing the normalcy of homosexuality.
      Not one major tv show or alias character is without Gay Bob or Lezzie Linda.

      Now of course in the Game of Thrones serial, two of the major characters are in an incestuous relationship and no one seems to be have a problem with it.
      Today if a man were to state he has fallen in love with his mother, he would considered insane, tomorrow he will rallying on the footsteps of the Supreme Court to give him the right to have sexual relations with his mother. And of course as the apocalyptic hadith goes..’there will be someone form my ummah that will readily go for that’
      Christians and Jews for the most part have given up in the fight for morality (especially these media running secularized Jews).
      Islam is the last bastion of hope: sort of like the last nut in the door that is stopping the sadistic storm from coming in the house. Destroy that house, and the world is yours, on a silver platter with a cherry on top.

  2. Stardusty Psyche says : Reply

    Brother Daniel says “I am completely sympathetic to the need for diplomacy”.

    Sorry Daniel, you contradict the Prophet. The Messenger of Allah said nothing about “diplomacy” as a response to homosexual acts. Iran, IS, and other organizations, more knowledgeable in the word of the founder of your religion than you apparently are, practice the only theologically correct response: death.

    You can quibble as to whether the homosexual should be pushed from the highest place, stoned to death, or hanged to death…but the only Islamic action true to the clear word of the Mercy to Mankind is death.

    Brother Daniel, can you please read the words of the Prophet below and tell be how you get “diplomacy” from them?

    Abu Dawud (4462) – The Messenger of Allah said, “Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.”.

    Abu Dawud (4448) – “If a man who is not married is seized committing sodomy, he will be stoned to death.”

    al-Tirmidhi, Sunan 1:152 – “Whoever is found conducting himself in the manner of the people of Lot, kill the doer and the receiver.”

    • Abdullah Oredegbe says : Reply

      I believe Daniel is saying that he is sympathetic to diplomacy to those whom don’t practice homosexual acts.

    • zekimekri says : Reply

      bro let me notify u dat hadiths ARE FAKE. they contradict quran, they were written 200 after the prophet’s death and so they are very unreliable if the quran dosnt mention it then why take da hadith? its the same as saying God is incomplete withoutthe prophet. some sort of shirk in my opinion especially if there is no mention in da quran

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