Published on June 24th, 2013 | by Omar0
Islam and Homosexuality
Before I start this post, I want to state that I’m not a scholar of Islam so therefore my view on this topic carries no weight and should not be use as a justification for or argument against anything.
Secondly, the impetus for writing this post is simple, I find that the vast majority of the discourse on this topic is oriented around proving the other side wrong rather than analyzing the very real issues people are facing and looking for solutions. No one should hate someone because they have an physical attraction towards someone of the same gender. This is regardless of whether you feel that the attraction is real or imagined (ie the whole born with it or a choice debate). If one must feel hate, our scholars recommend that you hate the action(s) but not the actor and therefore you may hate the impermissible actions that take place but not the person who is committing them. This is because we are all sinners and therefore need to approach people sin with mercy in the hope that Allah will do the same with us.
Thirdly, my post will focus on Muslims who have these feelings rather than the population at large.
Lastly, I am not advocating changing our religion in anyway. In Islam, marriage is defined as a contract between a man and a woman and physical relations outside of marriage are not permissible.
Principles I hold to be true
I will start by stating a few things that I hold to be truths in Islam and our sacred law/sharia:
- One is not held to account for one’s thoughts or feelings. In other words, one is not rewarded or punished for having a thought or feeling.
- One IS held account for the actions one partakes in based upon the intension behind them.
Therefore, even if one has the though to help someone, they are not rewarded unless they at least make an attempt to do so. Even then if the intent is to help that person in order to get something from them then there maybe no reward for the act from God. The same is true of someone thinking of committing an impermissible act such as say theft. If they don’t make an attempt to steal a given item then they are not punished for it by Allah.
Is homosexuality a choice?
When it comes to the topic of homosexuality, the common response from religions figures is that “Homosexuality is a choice!” They then state that homosexuality is a sin just like any other and usually proceed to compare it to murder and other horrendous acts such as murder, rape, etcetera which in itself is disturbing at so many levels.
As for whether one consciously chooses to have feelings towards someone of the same sex or not (ie choice vs born this way), it is my opinion that the answer to that question isn’t important from an Islamic standpoint. Like I pointed out earlier, one is not held accountable for one’s feelings or thoughts and therefore the source of those feelings is not relevant. The fact remains that there are many people who do have feelings towards someone of the same sex and to them the feelings are very very real and needs to be addressed by our community.
The Human Archetype
Human beings (especially men) have two cardinal desires/feelings, food and relations/sex as outlined by Imam Al-Ghazali in his book “Disciplining the Soul and Breaking the Two Desires: Books XXII and XXIII of the Revival of the Religious Sciences“. As Muslims, keeping these two desires in check is what is mandated by God.
For heterosexual males and females, the desire for relations with someone of the opposite sex can be address through legitimate/permissible means. When a heterosexual male or female has strong desires for relations they are recommended to get married and if they can’t get married then they are recommended to fast. In extreme cases one is even permitted to ‘self pleasure’ if the alternative is to commit an impermissible act or acts.
One will find many married men who have illegitimate feelings towards women other than their wife. For those who have such feelings there are options such as divorcing their wife and marrying the other woman or for those living in a “Islamic/Muslim country” and more importantly meeting the legal/sharia requirements, they could potentially marry that other woman (Please note: there are many requirements that need to be met before being able to marry more than one woman of which most men would NEVER meet but that’s a topic for another time).
But what about a male or female who has desires/feelings for someone of the same sex? Islamically there are no options for fulfilling these desires in a real way. Islamically, marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman therefore two people of the same gender are not permitted to marry. Intimate relations outside of marriage is forbidden whether you be heterosexual or homosexual. Even for legally married couples, the act of sodomy is strictly forbidden.
For every heterosexual person out there, how would you handle having feelings that could never be fulfilled? For the majority of men in specific, the desire to have relations in general is very strong, so think about how you would control such feelings if there was no way to legally fulfill them…EVER.
There exist practicing, God fearing Muslims who have feelings towards others of the same gender whether we like to admit it or not. Again, having the feelings is not sinful in itself; however, acting upon them is sinful. So the imperative question is what should Muslims with such feelings do?
As I mentioned from in the beginning of this post, I’m not a scholar so I don’t have any solutions or recommendations. However, what I do know is that we as a community need to provide support and services to help our brothers and sisters who have such feelings and more importantly we need to work with these individuals in a respectful and merciful manner. Those educated in the sacred sciences need to research, devise and provide solutions.
Let me clearly state again, I’m not suggesting in any way that Islam legitimize the act of same sex relations or same sex marriage. What I am saying that I hope and pray that Allah has provided some means of dealing with these feelings as we have been promised that one is never given a burden that we can not bare. By the grace and blessings of Allah, this is not a burden or tribulation I was given but I cannot help but feel the pain being faced by those Muslims who have been given this burden/tribulation and are looking for a means to dealing with them.
May Allah bless us all and protect us from all tribulation and may He provide us with guidance on how to overcome the tribulations we are a faced with. Ameen!
Imam Suhaib Webb has posted the following articles on this topic that are worth reading. There are many comments from Muslims who have an attraction to others of the same gender and how they cope:
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf also posted a somewhat related blog post: