Sunday, June 24, 2012

Homosexuality in Islam

The way that gays are treated in Islam, perhaps more than any other issue, convinces me that Allah is indeed vengeful and cruel and therefore the creation of a human and fallible mind. 

The Qur’an rather vaguely, but the ahadith very specifically, make clear that homosexuals who enjoy a sex life are to be punished (variously, according to which hadith one reads - but all such punishments are severe and most are fatal).

Many Muslim apologists suggest that it is very unlikely that the prescribed punishment would ever be carried out since the act of sodomy needs to be witnessed by four people. In that case the ruling is hardly the deterrent they suggest it is. What is the point of having a law that any sane person can see is laughable. If that really were the extent of the rules/laws governing gay sex in Islam, then homosexuals would have nothing to fear. They could, to be blunt, bang away in private to their hearts’ content. Are we to assume, then, that gays in Islamic countries feel free to enjoy their sex lives because it is so unlikely that four independent witnesses will be present for the act of penetration? Is this a ruling that is regarded by Muslims as an anachronistic left-over from more barbaric times so that gays are now left in peace as long as they don’t sodomise each other in public? A brief trawl through some Islamic sites suggests otherwise. I quote from,
(but I could have taken my pick from tens of similar sites all delighting in their hatred of gays and quoting Allah as their divine justification... )
“Praise be to Allaah. Firstly: The crime of homosexuality is one of the greatest of crimes, the worst of sins and the most abhorrent of deeds, and Allaah punished those who did it in a way that He did not punish other nations. It is indicative of violation of the fitrah, total misguidance, weak intellect and lack of religious commitment, and it is a sign of doom and deprivation of the mercy of Allaah. We ask Allaah to keep us safe and sound”
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 or ummah, 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 children in school were to indulge in such nasty bullying they would be reprimanded in the severest way. And yet Islam encourages it! 
The Sunan Abu Dawud, named after its editor, is apparently another reliable collection of ahadith (but perhaps Muslims will 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

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.

There can be no excuse for blindly following a doctrine that tells you it is not just acceptable but morally right to discriminate and hound other people simply because of their sexuality. Shame on you if you use religion to justify your petty phobias.


  1. It seems as if everyone’s avoiding this homophobic topic as the proverbial barge pole. Muhammad basically inherited the laws/punishments from the Jewish/Christian traditions. The problem is of course is that Islam is not prepared to modernise like Christianity and Judaism. There are pockets of Christians though in the US, who still go out with there placards calling for the death of Homosexuals but that is such an insignificant minority.

    One would have thought however that it would have been easier for Islam to do away with this barbaric punishment than it would have been for Christianity. I say that because Islam relies solely on Hadiths and not the Qur’an (word of Allah) to implement this decree; whereas the Christian bible, both old and new Testaments, recommend the killing of homosexuals.

    Muslim scholars find so many excuses for getting around much of the absurdities in the Hadiths, so why can’t they with this issue?

    1. Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, but He did condemn all forms of sexual immorality:

      What comes out of you is what defiles you. For from within, out of your hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile you. (TNIV, Mark 7:20-23)

      The apostle Paul, in one of his letters to the Corinthians, wrote the verses most often quoted on this subject:

      Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (NIV, 1st Corinthians 6:9-11)