Monday, July 25, 2011

Homosexuality in Islam (2) : Letter pt 6

...being the 6th part of a letter to a Muslim convert friend.
But why should we turn to the ahadith in the first place? Why do Muslims feel the need to go beyond the Qur’an for guidance on this issue? It is because surely, like so many other areas, the Qur’an leaves its readers unsure.
It condemns homosexuality in the stories about Lot, which were told during the Meccan period, but in the Medinan period, Sura 4:15-16, the only reference that seems to come close to dealing with this sin, is so ambiguous that it seems that Muslim scholars cannot reach a consensus on its meaning.
Again, surely this contradicts Muhammad’s frequent claim that the Quran provides complete guidance for life. In this major area of human sexuality, the Qur’an leaves us floundering. So we must turn to the ahadith, where things are less ambiguous.
I understand that it is believed that when Muhammad uttered a curse against someone, it was so significant and powerful that it carried eternal damnation—or at least it put its recipient outside of the Muslim community, which hangs hell over his head (see Sura 9:30). If we study the ahadith we see Muhammad doing a lot of cursing...
For example, Muhammad cursed effeminate men and masculine women (WHY??) in this hadith edited by Bukhari and narrated by Ibn Abbas, Muhammad’s cousin and highly reliable transmitter of ahadith:
Narrated Ibn Abbas: The Prophet cursed effeminate men and those women who assume the similitude (manners) of men. He also said said: "Turn them out of your houses." He turned such and such a person out, and Umar [a principal companion of Muhammad] also turned out such and such person. (Bukhari vol. 8, no. 6834; see vol. 7 nos. 5885 and 5886)
Thus, effeminate men and masculine women were cursed and driven out of the early Muslim community. Is this not just an example of a very HUMAN response to the strange ... a xenophobic knee-jerk reaction of the sort that should be DISCOURAGED by a divinely inspired teacher? If my pupils were to indulge in such nasty bullying they would be reprimanded in the severest way, and yet your religion seems to encourage it!
The Sunan Abu Dawud, named after its editor, is apparently another reliable collection of ahadith (but perhaps you’ll correct me on this...). Ibn Abbas reports the following about early Islam and Muhammad’s punishment of homosexuals: . . . "If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done" (vol. 3, p. 145, no. 4447).
The next one from the same collection says that an unmarried man who commits sodomy should be stoned to death: "Ibn Abbas said: if a man who is not married is seized committing sodomy, he will be stoned to death" (vol. 3, p. 1245, no. 4448).
Thus, these two passages in Sunan Abu Dawud go further than merely rejecting and banishing homosexuals or sexual sinners, as in Bukhari’s collection. Rather, Ibn Abbas says that Muhammad and the early Muslim community commanded their execution.
The hadith editor Timidhi repeats Ibn Abbas’ narration: "Ikrima reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas that God’s messenger [Muhammad] said: ‘If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.’" (Recorded in Mishkat al-Masabih, trans. James Robson, vol. 2, p. 763, Prescribed Punishments).
In the same hadith collection, the Mishkhat al-Masabih, a compendium that brings together other hadith collections, are found the punishments of being burned to death and having heavy objects thrown on the guilty homosexuals:
Ibn Abbas and Abu Huraira reported God’s messenger as saying, "Accursed is he who does what Lot’s people did." In a version . . . on the authority of Ibn Abbas it says that Ali [Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law] had two people burned and that Abu Bakr [Muhammad’s chief companion] had a wall thrown down on them. (vol. 1, p. 765, Prescribed Punishments; cf. Maududi vol. 2, p. 52, note 68). This is a punishment that was carried out as recently as 1998 in Afghanistan. Please see the attached Reuters news report: This website also lists links to US war crimes and Nato misdeeds, so please don’t dismiss it as Zionist propaganda.
I’m not suggesting for one minute that homophobia is restricted to the Islamic community. I am suggesting that when the holy scripture of a religion makes plain that a group of individuals are to be vilified, lists abhorrent punishments for them, and the scholars and leaders of that religion do little, if anything, to distance themselves from these views and exhortations to violence, then stories such as this will become increasingly common.
What is written in Islamic texts is used to justify and excuse hounding, terrifying, maiming and killing homosexuals. It seems to me that the lives of thousands of gay men and women around the world are being destroyed in the most hateful way because of what is taught in Islam.

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