I’m Gay..Are you?
A topic of discussion amongst those who try and discredit or malign Islam and the Shariah is its views on the Gay community. An understanding of the definitions, and Islamic perspective on such matters is paramount if we are to be able to adequately respond to and educate both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. I have broken down arguments into three broad categories. Some of the arguments overlap across all three categories. In this article I will try and clarify some definitions and provide a framework for discussions primarily with those individuals from the first category below.
The modernists or reformist Muslim arguments, which try to justify their non-compliance to unanimous scholarly legal injunctions will not be covered in this article.
1. Those from Sincere Muslims
2. Those from Muslims who have ulterior motives to discredit Islam
3. Those from Non Muslims
Gay – Traditionally means “happy”. However is now used primarily to define someone who is romantically/sexually attracted to people of the same sex. It is more often used for male to male attraction/relationships but can be used to cover female with female relationships. The word homosexual is often used interchangeably with gay
Lesbian – Exclusively describes a female homosexual
Bisexual – someone who has a romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behaviour toward both males and females
Transgender - Transgender is the state of one's gender identity or gender expression not matching one's assigned sex (at birth).
Homosexuality - is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same sex. It "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviours, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions
LGBT Community – An initialism for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.
To Act Or Not To Act
Islam clearly demarcates between action and thought. Actions deemed to be contrary to the teachings of the Shariah are sinful for example lying, cheating, disobeying/disrespecting parents and dealing in usury. Every action is preceded by a thought and a thought/feeling that is contrary to the teachings of the Shariah is not something that is necessarily regarded as sinful. Following this thought through into an action is when this falls into the remit of being sinful.
Sahih al-Bukhari :: Hadith 5269 The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Allah has forgiven my followers the evil thoughts that occur to their minds, as long as such thoughts are not put into action or uttered." And Qatada said, "If someone divorces his wife just in his mind, such an unuttered divorce has no effect.
Explanation Or Justification
Every action is based on a choice we make. Some people may be more inclined to certain actions than another. For example, a man with high levels of testosterone may be more inclined to be aggressive. Does this high level of testosterone then justify if he swears, shouts and punches someone in the face? It may explain why he does the action but not necessarily justify why he carries out the action. In the same way a differentiation needs to be made between the feeling or desire of wanting to do a homosexual act with the actual action itself. The action in Islam is what is prohibited, but even then if this action happens behind closed doors it is of no relevance to the wider community. It is a matter that will be accounted for between Allah (swt) and the sinner.
Five Children raised by the same parents in similar environments with similar external stimuli can easily end up with five totally different personalities. Those with siblings or children will be all too well aware of this. The lives of the Sahabah clearly point to personalities with widely different traits. Some personality traits and characteristics may be a greater test for an individual to control a certain behaviour, but it can never justify an action which goes contrary to the teachings of Islam. Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield’s ear may be be explained but never justified. In the same way, a man sexually inclined towards another man may be explained through nature and nurture arguments but not justified from the Shariah perspective when it manifests into an action
The prophet ﷺ said, “Allah has overlooked for my nation what their souls contemplate over, so long as they do not act on it or speak of it” [Reported by Bukhari & Muslim].
Im no sinner!
A recent national debate programme on the BBC debated this very issue amongst Muslim and non-Muslim youth. The passions and emotions were high on both sides. A homosexual Muslim on the program was challenged to leave his faith if he could not abide by the principles of his faith. To ask someone to leave the faith because of a sin they are committing is very disingenuous. Postulating that a person should leave the folds of Islam if they continue to commit a sin is absurd. Following that thought process to its logical conclusion would require the majority of the Ummah having to the leave the faith as we are all sinners in one shape or form. The Muslim who is going against a tenet of the faith should either try to fall into line with the tenets, or if he is weak and finds it difficult should not propose the faith and unanimous scholarly interpretation be changed to accommodate his individual position
All human beings are sinful. Missing prayers, disrespecting parents, committing homosexual acts all fall into the category of sin by scholarly consensus. There is a problem in the Muslim community where we are quick to demonise people based on non-compliance to basic teachings. This self righteousness is rampant primarily amongst “practising youth” and is ignorance of the religion rather than practise of it.
As a Muslim community we need to accept sins happen and not judge the individual on one specific act or sin they commit. But, at the same time we need to challenge those individuals who ask for the tenets of the belief to be changed in order to make their sinful actions acceptable. Being Muslim and being sinful go hand in hand. They have lived side by side since the creation of Adam (AS). The sinful acts that have been defined by scholarly consensus should be accepted as such. If we do not want to follow them that is our prerogative, but please grow up and don't ask for a doctrine to be changed because of our own weakness or inability to follow it. Disclaimer.
I'm gay/happy in the traditional sense and I pray you are too.